Tag: Homer

The Homeric Argus of Alexander Pope

Sunday, 21 May, 2017 0 Comments

In Homer’s Odyssey, Argus is Odysseus’ dog. After ten years fighting in Troy, followed by ten more years struggling to get back to Ithaca, Odysseus finally arrives home only to hear that rivals have taken over his residence in hopes of marrying his wife Penelope. To secretly re-enter the house and spring a surprise attack on them, Odysseus disguises himself as a beggar. As he approaches the entrance, he finds the once-majestic Argus lying neglected and infested with lice. Unlike everyone else, Argus recognizes Odysseus at once and he has just enough strength to wag his tail. Unable to greet his beloved dog, as this would betray who he really is, Odysseus passes by (but not without shedding a tear) and enters the building. Thereupon, Argus dies.

Alexander Pope, who was born in London on this day in 1688, is the second-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations after Shakespeare: “A little Learning is a dang’rous Thing.” His tribute to Argus is a classic, in the Homeric sense. The image is of Prince, our very own, always-majestic, Argus.

Argus

When wise Ulysses, from his native coast
Long kept by wars, and long by tempests toss’d,
Arrived at last, poor, old, disguised, alone,
To all his friends, and ev’n his Queen unknown,
Changed as he was, with age, and toils, and cares,
Furrow’d his rev’rend face, and white his hairs,
In his own palace forc’d to ask his bread,
Scorn’d by those slaves his former bounty fed,
Forgot of all his own domestic crew,
The faithful Dog alone his rightful master knew!

Unfed, unhous’d, neglected, on the clay
Like an old servant now cashier’d, he lay;
Touch’d with resentment of ungrateful man,
And longing to behold his ancient lord again.
Him when he saw he rose, and crawl’d to meet,
(‘Twas all he could) and fawn’d and kiss’d his feet,
Seiz’d with dumb joy; then falling by his side,
Own’d his returning lord, look’d up, and died!

Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744)

Prince as Argus


The algorithm will read your story today, Homer

Wednesday, 15 February, 2017 0 Comments

Modern mythology is created in film studios. There, the stories the global village has come to depend on for its entertainment and inspiration are turned into drama, comedy, action, science fiction, fantasy, thriller, horror, crime, noir, epic, western, war, romance, musicals, blockbusters…

As in the days of Homer, the secret of success is to tell the tale with emotion and imagery that the audience cannot forget. Easier said than done, of course, but if you’ve got $43,000 the American Film Institute Conservatory in Hollywood Hills will take it and, in return, you’ll get some of that old storytelling magic. Blurb: “Tomorrow’s storytellers are placed in a hands-on, production-based environment and are trained by a group of dedicated working professionals from the film and television communities.” In the end, however, it all comes back to Homer: “The AFI Conservatory doesn’t believe there is a formula for making films. Fellows are instead encouraged to find and develop a unique voice as they are trained in the art of storytelling.”

This is all very touching but it doesn’t mention the Epagogix algorithm. Epagogix is a privately-held UK company that “brings together expertise in risk, finance, artificial intelligence and film analysis to create innovative tools and solutions for the hard decisions that senior company directors need to make.” Yes, that’s right, “film analysis.” So, how does it work? Here goes:

Epagogix works confidentially with the senior management of major film studios, large independents and other media companies, assisting with the selection and development of scripts by identifying likely successes and probable ‘Turkeys’; helping to quantify a script/project’s commercial success; and advising on enhancements to the Box office/audience share potential.

Epagogix’s approach helps management of this most critical financial risk by delivering accurate predictive analysis of the Box Office value of individual film scripts, and by identifying and quantifying how and where to improve their commercial value. If requested, Epagogix sensitively bridges the gap between the financial and creative aspects of film production by providing quantified insights and advice to those responsible for script development.

Note the advice “to those responsible for script development.” That’s you, Homer.

Homer


The Great Phatsby

Friday, 26 August, 2016 0 Comments

Just in time for our annual reading of F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic jazz age novel comes news that The Simpsons will hit their 600 episode milestone later this year and the series will celebrate with a 60-minute special titled “The Great Phatsby”, which will be shown in January. The story focuses on Mr Burns and his friendship with a hip-hop mogul called Jay G (a nod to Jay Gatsby and Jay-Z). The action will take place in the Springfield Hamptons with Homer providing the narration in a Nick Carraway manner.

“This was just going to be a regular episode but the table read went so well, in a fit of passion and excitement and ambition and excess, we decided to supersize it,” executive producer Matt Selman told Entertainmnent Weekly.

The Great Phatsby will also see Marge open her own boutique store and Lisa snag a rich Bae, while Empire‘s Taraji P Henson will voice a “Simpsons version of Cookie” called Praline who helps Homer, Bart and the gang take their revenge on Jay G after he takes over the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. Until then, there’s the timeless original.

“If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that registered earthquakes ten thousand miles away.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby


D’oh

Wednesday, 17 December, 2014 0 Comments

The Simpsons are not politically correct, but they are human. Created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company, the dysfunctional cartoon family have appeared in 561 episodes since the show had its debut on 17 December 1989, and the 26th season began in September this year. But the Simpsons is not simply a TV series; it’s a language says Chris Turner, author of Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Documented an Era and Defined a Generation. As to the precise nature of the language the Simpsons speak, linguist Mark Liberman called it Homeric.

Best episode? Take your pick. Ours is “Homer’s Enemy”, the 23rd episode of the eighth season. During a “Design your nuclear power-plant” contest for children, Frank Grimes alters the competition poster in hopes of embarrassing Homer, but Homer wins the contest in typically surreal fashion. Filled with rage, Grimes goes mad and, well, no spoilers here. The subversive message of the story is that sloppy sloth is OK. The punctual, efficient, ambitious Grimes is a bore. Homer, by contrast, is happy. D’oh.