Wednesday, April 18, 2007


HOMER - Born 8th Century B.C.

My publisher, in planning the contracted book of Interviews with the Dead, has been hounding me lately. I am to interview twelve other dead writers from history for the upcoming book, and am not allowed to post them here, for rights issues. However busy I am with accomplishing the interviews, I certainly don’t want to leave this blog empty of my good work, and had originally planned on posting half of my interviews here, and half kept for the book. Unfortunately, I have had a bad situation arise. For every useful interview I conduct, an awful one occurs, hence the reason these interviews seem to be nearly pointless in their direction. The good and professionally conducted interviews are being saved for the book, I’m afraid, and I’ve but the occasionaly, lesser product to place here. The failed interviews. The interviews that went awry, or were just plain boring. I should apologize for it, but my rent needs be paid, and my publisher is tersely specific about the details of our arrangement.

The following is one such botched interview. I had intended to discuss some of the historical layers of ancient greece with the very figurehead of ancient Grecian verse, Homer (8th century B.C.). His Iliad and Oddysey are staple reading in most colleges and his skill in writing these epics is unparalleled for centuries in either direction. He had an entire range of verse named after him, after all: Homeric verse. Epic books were often referred to with the adjective ‘homeric’, in small tribute to this man who had changed the art of storytelling immeasurably.

I wanted to get to the real grit of how he wrote, mainly using blocks of text he needed to press and repeat using for longer sections, the almost primitive equipment he needed to use, and the reception of his grand works in his own time. I am sad to report this did not happen. A misunderstanding before the actual interview began led to a complete dissolve. When he had been summoned, I found not the old man (of whose statue I had focused on when trying to locate him in the outer ether), but a young and incredibly strong man who couldn’t have been more than twenty-five. It looked like he threw cows around for a living. It occurred to me, upon seeing him, that the term ‘Greek physique’ seems to be quite apt. No wonder they say body builders look like Greek statues. Seeing Homer was the only thing about the interview, or lack of, that actually went according to plan. My short time speaking with Homer was dispatched suddenly, and on the wake of anger, resentment, and violence.

The problem arose when young Homer, summoned and sitting in my study, eyed the leg of lamb I had prepared for him. I generally want my interviewees to be comfortable, and so try to provide something of their own time, in a way that might be soothing and kind. It is hoped they will open up more and feel at ease with me, the interviewer. Homer had a large bite of the lamb and grunted, very pleased. I was trying to affix his microphone.

H: I see the art of firing a leg is still with you.

RS: Thanks. I’d never made an entire leg before. I used a little mint when I basted it.

H: And well. The host is kind, and it is I who should give thanks; my body seems so young. I haven’t felt so lively in a very long time.

RS (with a nod and wink): Sure thing, man. Young is good, right?

[I was pleased to have received the compliment on my Greek preparation from an actual Greek man, and a notable and ancient one, at that. However, his approval seemed to change almost instantly. He became disturbed after my last statement.]

H: Why... what are you getting at?

RS (clipping the microphone finally and standing): Hmm?

H (coming to a conclusion and shaking his head violently): Hades have you, woman. I cannot abide your shame. How could I? The manner by which you lie with your love is not mine... and I will not tolerate your fashion.

RS: Woman? I don’t—

H: To think I would be so easily coerced into effiminancy... I have fought battles, written of man’s history by the gut and sinew. I have eclipsed the seas in conqueror ships and lain with many women in the hidden, glorious worlds those perilous waters keep. Mind your temptations and harbor my image in no place near them.

RS: Wait, you think I made a pass at you?!

[I figured it must have been the wink. I had meant it in the manner of saying ‘no problem’ or ‘I got it covered’, but he had mistaken it. Did winking mean an advance that far back in history? I had to wonder if there was any evidence to the fact. Well, this seemed to be evidence, certainly. Perhaps I was the mistaken one, in winking without thinking. Unfortunately, Homer was no longer comfortable and was in all ways disgusted.]

H: Either pass or passion, pass by, boy.

RS: No, I’m not— You’ve got it wrong; I’m actually married.

H (snorting): Marriage as a false award is tragedy. You have won nothing if her contest is waged in a dull care.

[Homer rolled his eyes and waved his hand harshly at me, as if dismissing me outright.]

RS: No no, Homer, I think—

H: I’m done with you.

RS: —I think you misunderstood. I’m not gay. Winking has a—

H: Stop! I’ll have no explanation. Your cheer is not for my care. Sadness is no excuse to vouchsafe the splendor of women.

RS: Wait, these days, men who like men are called ‘homosexuals’ is the term I meant. And I’m not that.

H: Homer... sexual?! How wrong you are to sour my name with your contritious error. Is this the way of your millenium? That my good name is the casement for your unsensual debauchery?!

RS: No, you misunderstood. The word—

[Homer was no longer talking, and had pushed forward from his chair at me. I put my arms up weakly and, as I shook my head, saying ‘wait’ repeatedly for lack of a better term in that short moment, he simply knocked my hands aside with one hand and punched me with the other. I twisted sideways out of my chair onto the floor and looked up at him, covering my face. It occured to me that Homer had not only socked me in the side of the head, but he’d done it really, really hard. My ear had begun throbbing and ringing and I found it difficult to figure out what was even going on.]

RS: Man, listen...

[Homer only swiped an armful of the items on my desk through the air at me. Paperclips, pens, stapler, two coffee cups, a letter opener... they all struck the area around me. Some coffee, complete with grounds, managed to get into my eyes. After rubbing them out while kicking at the air (in case he was coming at me again), I was able to see enough to notice he was no longer present. The link had been broken and he had returned to his grave. I laid there in my study, looking at the ceiling for several minutes, contemplating the violent difference even a small amount of time can cause. I didn’t think I’d be doing interviews with authors so long dead again. From now on, I’d stick to centuries, not milleniums.]

In the end, I required three stitches where the lobe of my right ear meets my head, and it broke my account at the bank. So, I’ve learned several things from this failed interview:

1. In the future I should try to summon only the older-aged versions of these writers.

2. Homer, the esteemed and historical, ancient poet, is a southpaw and has an ear-tearing, brick-handed, ‘homeric’ left hook.

3. You can’t send a medical bill to a man that died upwards around three thousand years ago, and it turns out you shouldn’t try to interview him either.