Monday, January 21, 2013

Talking to the Dead

Do you believe in ghosts? Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did! The idea of communicating with the dead fascinated him and leaves me puzzling over how to reconcile a personality of a person that loved logic, held scientific degrees, and still believed in ghosts.

Still married to his first wife, the creator of Sherlock Holmes met and fell in love with a spiritual medium in 1897. Her name was Jean Elizabeth Leckie. The couple married in 1907, after the death of Arthur's first wife.

Doyle had complete faith in Jean's skills as a medium. He really believed she was psychic, could predict future events, and speak with the dead. His faith was evidenced by the fact that he would later offer her services to Harry Houdini to help him contact his deceased mother.

How do I reconcile Doyle's mysticism from the logic based aspects of his personality, that I believed helped him to write Sherlock Holmes, when they seem like an utter abandonment of rational thought?

It's difficult to understand anything when you take it out of context. Many of our respected writers of the 1890s belonged to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. This was a decade when the public wanted the assistance of psychic Robert James in solving the case of Jack the Ripper. What interests me about this aspect of Arthur Conan Doyle is that none of his spiritualism worked into the solutions of Sherlock Holmes' cases; instead, Arthur preferred to write about problems that could be solved in this world.

Upon reflection, and after a visit to Wonders & Marvels, I would add that, maybe, Sherlock Holmes does hold the key to understanding his author's belief in the unbelievable.

The character, Sherlock Holmes, was based on a professor that Arthur knew in school, who had amazing powers of deduction. Arthur was captivated by the way that he could see things no one else could see just by looking at what was right in front of him. Maybe Arthur was fascinated by all unbelievable things, but saw that the most unbelievable things are right in front of us!

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