|In the Tarot, the Lady Justice is not blindfolded but stares at the viewer. I wonder which iconography is more reasonable?|
For this has not been a regular mystery novel. In most mystery novels of this type, the cases follow a certain pattern. First, the context is set: the Watson and the Holmes are invited to a location, or the Holmes begins to recount an episode of his youth. At this time, the principle cast are introduced. Second, the mystery begins: a body is found, or the police discuss the hideout of a suspect, or an artifact goes missing. The social order has been ruptured. Third, the Holmes gathers evidence: he asks questions, he goes on errands that baffle the Watson, he examines or sends the Watson to examine scenes surrounding the crime. Fourth, the Holmes reveals the killer, the act of crime, and how he solved the crime (for Fisher, it usually revolves around some feature of human character or cognition). Fifth, the denouement concludes the story: the guilty party is taken away, the goods are found, order is restored, and some feature of human nature is discovered. The interest and emphasis is always on the Holmes’s explanation (the fourth point). This is what closes the suspense opened by the crime (the second point). The denouement has the effect of a logical conclusion; the necessary narrative clean-up following the emotional completion. Most of this pattern remains the same for The Man Who Knew Too Much, but for the denouement. The criminal is never apprehended. Fisher always knows who did it and why, and he always tells March, but part of his explanation is often also why he cannot reveal to society at large who the killer is. (This is not always so. Usually, though, when someone is sentenced with a crime, there is nonetheless the feeling that justice has not really been done—often because someone involved in the legal process was the guilty party.)
For what it is worth, I believe that The Man Who Knew Too Much has hit on something true here, both about the world and about the trouble with the very idea of justice. (I have written about justice before.) I should not sell it as so bleak, though. It contains much humour, including my favourite kind of satire, which simultaneously laughs at characters while being endeared by their faults (cf. Emma, Arcadia, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town). And there is room enough still for courage, though of a different tenor than that of glittering knights. When March meets Fisher, the latter is actually fishing, and another character in the novel is called, in a kind of dark parody, a “fisher of men.” The character given this title is not especially Christ-like, despite the title, but Fisher maybe is: he has seen into the hearts of men and their darkness, and he recognizes “that only God knows how good they have tried to be” (Ch 8). He does not fail to notice crime, or to seek it out, or to assess what kind of character a person has, but he rarely judges and he rarely condemns, because society itself could not take that strain. He also takes risks to his own person in the name of that rotted-out civilization that he interrogates. Unlike Christ, however, he is only a man, and a flawed one at that; the grief and frustration have taken their toll upon him. Realizing (or believing) that justice and truth can be opposed to the greatest good is no easy burden to bear.
|Does anyone know where this image originally comes from? I found it used on another blog.|
EDIT: On 27 September, 2012, I edited some grammatical errors.