The Maniac Collector's Inbox
Something In the Air
I once worked with a gay man who took a trip to West Texas. He met a cowboy in a bar and had, as he described it, a fantastic weekend. This was years and years before the film Brokeback Mountain was released. That was a less tolerant time in Texas and I asked him how he was able to pull off such a feat without being beaten to a pulp. His answer was that he had ‘Gadar’. It made sense at the time. It makes sense now. It seems to me that regardless of one’s pursuit, however, whatever it is one is looking for tends to find them. Point in hand is I seem to have gained a knack of Forlocking. I have become a ‘Forlockian’.
I started noticing this several years ago when I was driving through Los Angeles with fellow Forlockian John Farrell. As we came around a curve on the freeway, the traffic ahead came to a screeching halt. John, being a lifelong Los Angelian, knew a shortcut so I promptly exited the freeway/parking lot. This shortcut took us right through the east end of downtown and just past a Chinese bookstore. We pulled in.
We were the only non-Asians in the shop and it took us some time to find a clerk that spoke any semblance of English. Between John and me, we were able to get the message across that we wanted Sherlock Holmes books in Chinese. Sadly, the clerk told us they had nothing of the sort in the store so we turned to leave. As I turned, right there in front of me was a nice four volume set of Sherlock Holmes that even included a DVD of the stories, all in Chinese. Forlocking. A couple of months later, I was in San Francisco and experience a Forlockian déjà vu. This time I was with a co-worker and another Forlockian, Jim Cox. I was in town working and Jim lives there and he was showing us around Chinatown. We stumbled into the middle of the Mid-August celebration complete with the Chinatown King and Queen. There were so many people crowding the street, we ducked into a Chinese bookstore and this is where the Forlocking déjà vu happened. Right after being told there were no Sherlock Holmes books, I turned around and found the Master’s silhouette staring out at me.
I am not gay so I have not developed gadar but collecting foreign translations of Sherlock Holmes has made me a Forlockian. How else can one explain what happened to me this week. I was in Orange, California and while setting in my hotel, I decided to search eBay. I have searches saved that will notify me if any item comes up with the words ‘Sherlock’ and any of the known languages the Canon has been translated. I do get the occasional notification when a Sherlock Holmes –Polish Finish item come to auction. This is when eBay thinks Finish is Finnish and mistakes the polished surface for an item from Poland. I can live with these idiosyncrasies.
For reasons I can only attribute to Forlockian, I decided to search just on Doyle but for all regions. What I found was pure Forlockian intuition. There was a Greek magazine ΠΑΝΟΡΑΜΑ that had just been listed about fifteen minutes earlier. It was published in the early 1930’s and it has the “Boscombe Valley Mystery” in it. This is one of those wonderful items not listed in De Waal. I am reluctant to mention this because the auction is still going on and I would hate to jinx it. However, my heightened sense of Forlockian would most likely prevail in ferreting out another copy.
Greek magazine on eBay.
I have hundreds of examples of Forlocking. Once I found Sherlock Holmes for dyslexic children in simplified Dutch while vacationing in Aruba. I discovered a small Spanish paperback edition of the Canon in the backroom of a tiny antique store in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I have also experienced bouts of Forlockian Astral Projection. People in places like Beijing, Tehran, and Istanbul have contacted me out of the blue with offers of divine translations.
There are many things in the world worse than being a Forlockian but I won’t go into those. I will just enjoy adding Canon-fodder to my library, even if I can’t read most of them.
Past 2009 Columns