Back on the old blog, I had a weekly series called The More You Holmes, which was me pointing out Doyle canon references in BBC’s series Sherlock (and sometimes CBS’s Elementary). I am hereby starting this habit again. This week, it’s what I call “The Attic Speech.”
From: Sherlock ep. 1.3, Elementary ep. 1.2
E!Sherlock: “Attic theory. I’ve always believed the human brain is like an attic: storage space, facts, but because that space is finite, it must be filled only with things one needs to be the best version of oneself. It’s important, therefore, not to have useless facts: the natterings that comprised your support meeting, for example, crowding out
S!Sherlock: Listen. (He points to his head with one finger.) This is my hard drive, and it only makes sense to put things in there that are useful … really useful. Ordinary people fill their heads with all kinds of rubbish, and that makes it hard to get at the stuff that matters. Do you see?
JOHN: But it’s the solar system!
SHERLOCK: Oh, hell! What does that matter? So we go round the Sun! If we went round the Moon, or round and round the garden like a teddy bear, it wouldn’t make any difference. All that matters to me is the work. Without that, my brain rots.
Reference: The original “attic speech” is from the very first Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet. Here is the speech from the horse’s mouth, as it were:
“You see,” he explained, “I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”
“But the Solar System!” I protested.
“What the deuce is it to me?” he interrupted impatiently; “you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.”
Thanks to Ariane for the stellar Sherlock transcripts!