For some reason, I have been a bit preoccupied recently with the great character, Sherlock Holmes. Especially interesting is Holmes’s unique ability to raise the level of experience of everyone around him in the stories. Not just to solve the crime, but to bring a degree of the joy of “the chase” to us all.
The “chase” is a key concept. Holmes loved the chase more than anything else. Indeed, he despaired when he was not presented with one. Not so much the physical running around. But the sheer pleasure of exercising his mind and conquer the unknown at a moment of urgent need.
And there you have it. The magic word: unknown. Holmes’s love of the unknown set him apart because most of us fear it. To overcome that fear, we simplify it. We even try to ignore it. And in doing so, we create mental prisons that become more and more difficult to escape as we lard them with creature comforts.
This may sound a bit harsh. But I believe it is true. And I believe that it is a huge cultural problem. Greg Satell writes
The truth is that patterns can only be validated backward, never forward, so there is no way to know for sure what comes next. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to jump to conclusions based on the information that is most readily available and discount things that lay outside our immediate field of vision.
And therefore, we are less able to find value added – to add to innovation. To maximize the chances that our children will inherit from us a better world than the one we were given. If we do not chase, we do not play at learning. Instead, we assume that we have learned.
I wonder whether the 21st century will give us a cultural shift where we appreciate the freedom that the unknown offers. Whether we will become more like the master, Sherlock Holmes.