Saturday, August 23, 2014

Circular Reasoning or The Eyes Have It

The AV Club has a fairly interesting piece by Scott Kaufman on The Hudsucker Proxy, arguing that the Coen brothers film is all about lines and circles.  Maybe, maybe not, but there's certainly a case to be made that the movie features a world of lines invaded by circles.

But then came something entirely tangential that caught my eye:

Thinking he has found a moron who can accelerate the company’s “downward spiral” aggressively enough to allow the board to buy the stock cheap when Hudsucker Industry goes public, Mussburger invites Barnes to be the new president of the company. His face is featured on the front page of The Manhattan Argus—which may be a reference to Odysseus’ faithful dog, who waited 20 years for his master, who was out having himself an Iliad and an Odyssey, to return so he could die—and he seems to be the epitome of that archetypal American rise from rags to riches.

No, not the use of "epitome" and "archetypal" so close to each other, but the speculation regarding "Argus."

The Coen brothers are very careful with their words, and "Argus" is a great title for a newspaper* in a movie set in the 50s (even though much of the film is their version of a 1930s screwball comedy).   In fact, "Argus" is (or was, anyway) a not uncommon name for a newspaper, though Kaufman doesn't seem to be aware of this.

It's true that Odysseus' dog was named Argus, sometimes spelled Argos, but it's not the only Argus in Greek mythology.  It's the most famous Argus, in fact, that these newspaper are referring to. That's Argus Panoptes, the giant with 100 eyes.  Argus was a great watchman, since he could sleep with half his eyes closed while the others were open.  In English, Argus has come to refer to a watchful guardian.  Thus all the journals.

*Another great fictional newspaper name, for different reasons, is the small-town paper in Green Acres, the Hooterville World-Guardian.


Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

Is this part of Common Core?

8:25 AM, August 23, 2014  

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