Ozymandias – the king of kings

King of Kings
King of Kings (photo by Charlie Phillips)

The frequency of postings having gone down a bit, the readers may be wondering what I am up to. I am preparing for the first anniversary of this blog.

Today I want to share with you a second poem that has persisted in my memory since school days – the first one having been Twenty Froggies. The name is Ozymandias and was written by Percy Bysshe Shelley in a competition with Horace Smith. The poem is below:

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 lips, 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.”

The competing entry was (and this one is also nice, but presents a slightly different field of view):

In Egypt’s sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desart knows: —
“I am great OZYMANDIAS,” saith the stone,
“The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
“The wonders of my hand.” — The City’s gone, —
Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.

We wonder, — and some Hunter may express
Wonder like ours, when thro’ the wilderness
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
He meets some fragments huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.

The message the both convey is simple: Time is bigger than any and all of us. For the believers, it also means that God mocks your pride.

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The Arrow of Time

Being the fan of Stephen Hawking that I am, it’s quite surprising that I have not devoted even a single blogpost to his works. Let me do that today, with the adding of a new category to this blog: Science & Technology.

One of the most interesting of his thoughts is about the arrow of time. We take ‘time’ for granted as a fixed entity universal for everyone. However, as Theory of Relativity tells us: time is personal. Everyone carries his own clock, and they may not necessarily agree. Now, the problem is, how do we define time? I will let the master speak in his own words:

The increase of disorder or entropy with time is one example of what is called an arrow of time, something that distinguishes the past from the future, giving a direction to time. There are at least three different arrows of time. First, there is the thermodynamic arrow of time, the direction of time in which disorder or entropy increases. Then, there is the psychological arrow of time. This is the direction in which we feel time passes, the direction in which we remember the past but not the future. Finally, there is the cosmological arrow of time. This is the direction of time in which the universe is expanding rather than contracting.

He goes on to explain why all three arrows point in the same direction, and why its impossible for intelligent beings such as us to exist in conditions where the three arrows do not point in the same direction.

Read more here, or better: buy the book as I have.

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