In his brilliant riff on Steve Bannon, Bill Murray slipped in a single word that may have passed by some folks. That word was “Ozymandias.”
Fans of Shelley (Percy, not Mary) might remember his poem:
I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
Murray’s sly reference, of course, was aimed at our current president. It’s pure Bannon and I would not be surprised if Bannon himself does not refer to Trump as Ozymandias.
I wonder if someone will mention the reference to Trump, who will have no idea what it means, or perhaps to Jarvanka (as Michael Wolff terms Jared and Ivanka), who probably won’t know either but who will want to be told. I have visions of the “quaking” Hope Hicks, charged with explaining to Trump the meaning of what Murray said.
I visited the “colossal Wreck” today, which is actually what remains of the great statue of Ramses II in his mortuary temple in Luxor. It’s a good place to ponder the nature of power and fame. Ramses, once the center of the Egyptian world as Pharaoh, is now no more than a name for historians to think about and poets to mention somewhat derisively. As far as the world at large is concerned, he is nothing and no one. “Nothing beside remains.”
And so shall it be with Trump. As much as he seems the center of our world now, in 50 years he will be a footnote, in 100 years just another deservedly obscure president, and in 3,000 years, utterly forgotten.