Sherlock Holmes and the art of finding Surprises

A lot of people want to live a life full of surprises. There is an art to it, and who knows that better than the great Sherlock Holmes?

Anmol Mohan

In the first scene of the 2009 movie-Sherlock Holmes, the main antagonist, Lord Blackwood, is about to kill a lady as part of his supernatural sacrifice.

At the last moment, Dr. Watson intervenes and stops Lord Blackwood.

After a brief verbal exchange, Lord Blackwood insults Dr. Watson. Infuriated, Dr. Watson is enticed to enter a duel with Lord Blackwood.

Dr. Watson closes in quickly while Lord Blackwood is seemingly unnerved by the charge.

Just before that, Sherlock intervenes, stopping Dr. Watson from moving forward. He then draws Dr. Watson's attention towards a weapon that Lord Blackwood is holding. It is a long, pointed sword made of glass, so transparent that it is almost impossible to notice.

Dr. Watson, shocked at the cunningness of Lord Blackwood and the existence of such a weapon, asks Sherlock how he found it.

To which Sherlock replies: "Because I was looking for it."

If we want to find a surprise, we should be open to the possibility of its existence and actively work towards finding it.

You might ask, how do you look for a surprise? It is a surprise, after all. If you are looking for it, it cannot be a surprise.

The only way to find a surprise is to have a vague idea of its existence and put yourself in unfamiliar situations.

Putting yourself in unfamiliar situations increases the probability of finding something you have never encountered before.

Once in that situation, you cannot close your mind to new possibilities. You can't remain fixated on the things that you know.

We should have the courage to see things beyond our comfort zone by confronting the possibility that what we might find can harm us. Then, we must have an open mind to see the surprise.

In short, we must question our assumptions about shape, size, colors, and perceptions. Nothing can have a fixed definition. Every knowledge is tentative. Everything has a guideline, but there are no rules.

Another thing that helps is to hone your senses. The more active our senses are, the more data they can collect, the more likely we are to encounter something novel.

That also means we cannot be lost in our thoughts. We need to be present in the current moment to process the information in real-time. We should use our intellect instead of our memory.

In the case of Sherlock Holmes, naturally, because of his high-risk appetite, he found himself in this unfamiliar situation, facing a formidable enemy that claimed to have supernatural powers.

When he saw Lord Blackwood insulting Dr. Watson, he would have found it out of character for a person with his reputation and class. He would have sensed a hidden purpose behind it.

Others might dismiss this as a real insult or an angry outburst because Dr. Watson disrupted his plans. But Sherlock was questioning all these assumptions, and he would have found the theory of hidden purpose more suited.

Also, he would have observed Lord Blackwood's calmness when Dr. Watson charged him. While others might dismiss it as bravery, Sherlock knows that Lord Blackwood is highly intelligent and thus not likely to show mindless machoism. He would have known by then that Lord Blackwood wanted Dr. Watson to come towards him. And that's when he would have started looking for the weapon in his hands.

Of course, I have tried to break it down for you. But all this would have happened in real-time in Sherlock's head. Over the years, he has trained himself for curiosity, courage, and patience in tough situations. So, his reasoning has become almost intuitive. He is always present, and he uses all his senses.

That's the art of finding surprises.

Movie Analysis

Anmol Mohan

I am just trying to make sense of this world. I am interested in the hardest puzzles like Consciousness, Humanity and Multiverse. Sharing my honest learning during this journey.