darkemeralds: Purple patent leather Doc Martens against a multi-colored carpet with the title True Colors (True Colors)
[personal profile] darkemeralds
This is the best scene ever written for television. Was anyone else as bowled over by it as I was?

SHERLOCK: I've given further consideration to your rebuke regarding my capacity for "niceness."

JOAN: I didn't mean it as a rebuke. I was trying to have a conversation.

SHERLOCK: Either way, you have a point. There is, unquestionably, a certain social utility to being polite, to maintaining an awareness of other people's sensitivities, to exhibiting all the traits that might commonly be grouped under the heading "Nice."

JOAN: I think you'll be surprised how easy it is to earn that designation.

SHERLOCK: No. I am not a nice man. It's important that you understand that. It's going to save you a great deal of time and effort. There is not a warmer, kinder me waiting to be coaxed out into the light. I am acerbic. I can be cruel. It's who I am, right to the bottom. I'm neither proud of this nor ashamed of it. It simply is. And in my work, my nature has been an advantage far more often than it has been a hindrance. I'm not going to change.

JOAN: You have. You're not the same person I met a year and half ago. You're--

SHERLOCK: --good to you? Yeah, for the most part. I consider you to be exceptional, so I make an exceptional effort to accommodate you. But you must accept that for as long as you choose to be in my life, there will occasionally be fallout from my behavior. That must be a part of our understanding.

JOAN: No one can accept something like that forever.

SHERLOCK: "To thine own self," Watson.

And scene.

There have been quite a few well-meaning Joan Watsons in my own life over the years who accepted me as I was while rooting for me to become nicer. Some of them had letters after their names and billed my insurance by the hour. And I was fully on board the "cure me of being me" train for years.

What else could I do? I'm not a brilliant detective or an attractive and financially independent white male--things that allow all versions of Sherlock Holmes to withstand the consequences of being fundamentally--what's the word? Attachment-disordered? Spock-like? A wee bit sociopathic? Introverted? Poorly-socially-networked? A natural loner? An edge-dweller?

It's a strange minority position to be in. The scene emphasizes the strong belief among more connected humans that we edge-dwellers could join the majority if we just tried a little harder.

So we try, most of us, most of the time. Often our livelihood depends on it. If I'd been born a couple of generations earlier, the need to conform to a "marriageable" standard of nice-girl behavior would have been nearly a matter of life and death.

None of this is to disregard the advantages I do have in life--I have them, I make use of them, and I'm grateful for them. (As it happens, I think my combination of coldness and competence has just plain scared employers into keeping me on and paying me a salary all these years. And now I get to retire.)

Nor am I advocating for antisocial behavior. I'm not completely separate from the continent, and yes, the bell tolls for me, too. I abide by common please-and-thank-you standards, and what I care about, I care about deeply. I experience enjoyment and pleasure in non-evil things like laughter and food. I'm capable of love, albeit to a limited extent: I let things and people go much more easily than others do. I've tried not to, but I just don't care as much as I "should."

Jason Tracey, who wrote this episode of Elementary, has perfectly captured the tension between the edge-dweller and the more connected among us, and that's no small thing. But the scene goes a bit further by explicitly stating the edge-dweller's acceptance of himself and the consequences of his nature. Sherlock knows--and does not regret--that his nature is what makes him good at the singular thing he's really good at.

That's what made it revolutionary for me.

Date: 2013-11-24 09:07 pm (UTC)
dine: (me - coffee & laptop)
From: [personal profile] dine
wow - that's a great scene. and this post is beautifully written!

there's nothing wrong with being an edge-dweller, with not connecting in the same way 'everyone' does. often people can't grok that there is a minority who doesn't conform in that respect, and that feeling of being an outsider, a minority, means one figures out how to navigate that world while not really fitting in, by camouflaging some aspects of self. but you are pretty terrific as is; it's great that you didn't end up cured of being you.

I think I mimic 'normal' and 'nice' pretty well, but admit generally my attachments are shallow and I don't always react the way others do. I'm mostly fine being alone, and happiest spending people time when *I* want to be social. I'm only semi-joking when I claim my motto is "I hate people"

Date: 2013-11-24 11:42 pm (UTC)
ranunculus: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ranunculus
I clearly remember the time, a little over 20 years ago when I looked up and said "forget being normal". Since then I've just been me. Obsessive, often energetic, and not terribly social.

Date: 2013-11-30 04:15 am (UTC)
greghatcher: (Default)
From: [personal profile] greghatcher
Whenever I hear a story like this I am reminded of the divorce year, back in 1992-93. During that mercifully brief marriage it had become more and more apparent that I was not measuring up to whoever it was my wife had thought she married, and I kept suppressing more and more of my actual personality trying to MAKE IT WORK, because, well, that's what you do, isn't it? Everybody said you had to work at marriage, and I was going to by God work at it. Until it became painfully obvious that I was the only one doing so. And when I let that go, it was bitter, it hurt, but it was such a RELIEF feeling my actual self snap back into its natural shape, like letting go of a rubber band.

Here is something that I've never forgotten from that year. I was having lunch with my old friend Janet-- you probably don't remember, but you met her once, we went to see Michael Thompson's hideously awful one-man play together and then for beer and pizza after-- but anyway, I was trying to explain to Janet what had gone wrong and at one point I mentioned that my ex had hated the home library and considered it 'clutter.' And Janet just EXPLODED with exasperation. "For God's sake! Why did she even marry you then? How in the hell did she not know you come with books?! *I* know you come with books! That's who you ARE!"

It seems like such a petty little thing. But it's always stuck with me. I loved her so much for being so exasperated over it, because this was so OBVIOUS to her. From that point on, that was the yardstick: My real friends know who I am. I'm anti-social, I loathe crowds, I like shitty movies and old comics and quirky weird pieces of pop culture, I disappear into my own head often and without warning, and I come with books. The people in my life who are still in it know all of that and either are that way themselves or don't mind that I am.

I eventually met a woman who found it all endearing and I married her. And I didn't have to adjust my personality for her at all, though I behave a little better towards Julie than I do to a total stranger. But it's not WORK.

I obsessed about it a lot when I was younger, probably because of my parents who were Popular in high school and college and never quite reconciled themselves to having somehow birthed me, who was the kind of kid they loathed when they were kids themselves. I suppose it marked me some, but I got over it. As I get older I am less and less interested in putting up a front just in case people are offended by who I really am. I have enough people who know the truth and hang around anyway, and those people are generally pleasanter and more interesting. It pleases me that we are still in touch after all these years, and I've never minded your edge-ness in the least. Personally, I think like calls to like and that's all there is to it.
Edited Date: 2013-11-30 04:16 am (UTC)

Date: 2013-12-19 07:52 pm (UTC)
tehomet: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tehomet
It's an excellent scene in so many ways.

That being said, there are things I have issue with in it, just as I have issue with the Cumberbatch!BBC version of Sherlock saying certain things such as describing himself as a high-functioning sociopath. I don't think the Miller!American version of Sherlock is actually cruel, or capable of more cruelty than anyone else, for example...

But! Dragging myself back on topic, I do take your point. And I think that the Miller!American version of Sherlock is right on when he gives Watson fair warning of his personality and nature. And he's *right* to accept himself as he is.

This version of Sherlock is living an examined life and living it fully.

I can see why you found it revolutionary.

Date: 2014-01-12 07:34 pm (UTC)
tehomet: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tehomet
What about the high-functioning sociopath line did you take issue with?

I thought it was inaccurate. He's not a sociopath. Not taking the time to be polite, not being concerned with social conventions, and not caring what people think of him isn't the same as being a sociopath. Sherlock can be rude, can be unconventional, and can not give a toss for what most people, except John and a few others, think. But if that's the measure of a sociopath, then the overwhelming majority of children and the majority of adults are sociopaths. Cobblers, I say!

As well as being inaccurate, I deplore the intellectually lazy and over-medicalising tendency of many in society to slap a label inscribed with a psychiatric diagnosis on everyone who isn't rigidly average at all times and all places. It gets up my metaphorical nose. I tighten my grip on the handle of Occam's razor and suggest that Sherlock, if he were a real human instead of a fictional character, is simply someone who prioritises crime-solving over manners.

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