Fairy Photographs

Audrey Wollen at Bookforum:

Conan Doyle was a true believer in ghosts, afterlives, psychics, magical beings, other worlds—a conviction strengthened by the deaths of his son, brother, two brothers-in-law, and two nephews in or shortly after World War I. He was fervent and evangelical, determined to use his eminent literary reputation to add credence to otherwise dismissed possibilities. Maybe he hoped that the almost mythical rationality of Sherlock Holmes could lend some excess coherency to the supernatural predilections of his creator. This is why the photographs were so urgent, why the private scenes of play between two Yorkshire girls became so central. The fundamental principle of Sherlock Holmes is that every problem can be solved if one only looks hard enough. There are no secrets, no mysteries, only missed details: everything you need to know is right in front of you. Pull out the magnifying glass. Zoom in. Enhance! And there they are. The fairies are right there.

more here.