“The greatest friend of truth is Time…” –Charles Caleb Colton [1780-1832]
Richard Gary Brautigan (1935–c. September 16, 1984) was an American novelist, poet, and short story writer. During the 1960s, Brautigan became involved in the burgeoning San Francisco counterculture scene. In the summer of 1961, he completed the novels A Confederate General from Big Sur and Trout Fishing in America. When Trout Fishing in America was published in 1967, Brautigan was catapulted to international fame. Literary critics labeled him the writer most representative of the emerging countercultural youth-movement of the late 1960s. Also during the 1960s, Brautigan published four collections of poetry as well as another novel, In Watermelon Sugar (1968). In the spring of 1967, he was Poet-in-Residence at the California Institute of Technology. Later he was generally dismissed by literary critics and increasingly abandoned by his readers; then his popularity waned throughout the late 1970s and 1980s. Brautigan’s writings are characterized by a remarkable and humorous imagination. The permeation of inventive metaphors lent even his prose-works the feeling of poetry. Evident also are themes of Zen Buddhism like the duality of the past and the future and the impermanence of the present. In 1984, at age 49, Richard Brautigan had moved to Bolinas, California, where he was living alone in a large old house that he had bought with his earnings years earlier. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. [summarized from Wikipedia]
“Ozymandias” by English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822), January 1818
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.”
Time marches on (as if Time can march), and the desert wastelands are poeticized by Brautigan:
Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt
—San Francisco Chronicle headline
June 26, 1942
Rommel is dead.
His army has joined the quicksand legions
of history where battle is always
a metal echo saluting a rusty shadow.
His tanks are gone.
How’s your ass?
So how are things in the Syrian Desert?