Monday, March 28, 2022

Excerpt from A Previous Kaplowitz Media. Article | On Sherlock Holmes and his Copper Beeches Pipe

Excerpt from A Previous Kaplowitz Media. Article | On Sherlock Holmes and his Copper Beeches Pipe

This excerpt is taken from a previous post of mine entitled: On "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches" from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Parts of it are re-worked from the original.


"... taking up a glowing cinder with the tongs, and lighting with it the long cherry-wood pipe which was wont to replace his clay when he was in a disputatious, rather than a meditative mood--" The Adventure of the Copper Beeches. Thusly, Watson narrates an element of Holmes' smoking mores.

Here's the thing: the pipes seem reversed. They scan wrongly. Cherry-wood pipes tend to offer a cool, sweet smoking experience (meditative). Whereas clay pipes smoke hot and dry (disputatious). The other pipe at home in Holmes' canonical pipe rack was a briar--which does smoke even cooler than the typical cherry-wood--so he didn't grab his calmest here. All told, however, I trust in ACD's tobacco IQ, as he has more than proved himself in that realm of expertise. Particularly in alignment with mood.

Perhaps it helps to think of tobacco, like everything else, as a part of the setting. Doyle tends to employ settings as characters in his adventures. Think of his use of the word melancholy to describe both people and places (a particular brought to my attention during a recent The Sound of the Baskervilles meeting). Better yet, think of the moor in Hound of the Baskervilles. Or, this own tale's "cheery fire." Nevertheless...

Elsewhere in the canon, we have seen an anxious Holmes with a cigarette. Elsewhere still, cigars are offered in social situations to guests who are often of the official police persuasion. Finally and coming back to them--pipes as tools of contemplation, famously in problems and in threes. Perhaps this is why I'm also so ready to engage in the picking of nits here. I expect more. I'm not mad, I'm disappointed? This cherry-wood bit seems simply out-of-step. Again, Holmes grabbing for an incinerator-like hot burning clay seems so much more apt for pairing with verbal pugilism.

What I'm left with finally is the further realization that Holmes just likes to be an ass on occasion. I believe for more reason than just feces and facial gestures, however. This practice often is at the cost of Watson and the getting of the good doctor's goat. So Holmes here is calm-ish in his excitement and also exercising his skills. "answering, as was his wont, my thoughts rather than my words," notes Watson mid tiff. Leaving Watson to simply narrate this noted pattern to the best of his abilities. Holmes' mind here is a lot like those kitchen knife sheaths that sharpen the blade inside them, while at rest in a silverware drawer.

If Holmes felt in a more cheese knife-like strictly meditative mood, he'd have reached for that more sedate briar. In other more succinct words, Holmes is calmly exercising, and not looking to spar, Watson simply misread the situation. The brilliance of Doyle shines in these tricks.

Now why Watson would continually include in said narrations Holmes' harsh critiquing of his writing, is an item best left for another time. I'll allow him the final word here: "'It seems to me that I have done you full justice in the matter," I remarked, with some coldness, for I was repelled by the egotism which I had more than once observed to be a strong factor in my friend's singular character." SLAM!

::: very :::

Since adding Sherlockian content to Kaplowitz Media., I've thoroughly enjoyed myself but have also found that I'm feeling more and more remiss. There is much to discuss with Holmes and premium tobacco (which, of course, is the other and main topic of this blog). Perhaps the best way to view this excerpt is me dropping a pin on the map where this idea is marked.