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Cluster index: Christopher Landrum

The Round Church, Cambridge.

Christopher Landrum: ‘Whatever was not said, I felt it important for my memory to try to mark the events that had unfolded there that day…’

The wages for reading is rage.

Christopher Landrum: ‘It must be admitted that the recent sentence-by-sentence inspections of some books from some of our school libraries may mean–because the inspections occur under sunlight, accompanied by the use of magnifying glasses–some volumes run the risk of spontaneous combustion. But such incidents should be considered statistical outliers.’

In defence of les femmes françaises.

Christopher Landrum: ‘Is it so shameful to seek beauty? To seek it in books? In the human body? Or how the beauty of the body or of a book can reveal, whether intentionally or otherwise, some speck of the inner beauty of the mind and the greater ineffable beauty of the soul?’

Rereading O. Henry’s ‘The Last Leaf’.

Christopher Landrum: ‘“The Last Leaf” is about using art to heal. The plot is almost too short to summarize without spoiling, but essentially, three painters in Greenwich Village each come down with pneumonia. Sue recovers quickly, Johnsy (Sue’s flatmate and painting partner) engages in a long struggle with the illness, and the third (their friend Behrman, much older and unhealthier than the two women, but also a painter) dies after only a few days.’

Gospel of honour.

Christopher Landrum: ‘Sommers asks important questions about the limits of honor in terms of quantity (or what he calls “escalation”) as well as quality (“moral content”) within an honor group. These limits are needed to balance a “well contained honor framework.” Still, it often seems as if Sommers wants this framework to be all-encompassing, and therefore, too disproportionate for my rural sensibility. He writes how “honor’s emphasis on reputation is crucial for building a cohesive and responsible community.” But there are times when he doesn’t seem to realize that what benefits a single town may not be beneficial for an entire country. ‘

A charming sense of novelty.

Christopher Landrum: ‘Machiavelli writes that legitimate governance, by either a prince or a republic, tends to accomplish new things for their people. This is because illegitimate governance is so common that its opposite always feels quite remarkable. But these new things, in order to be effective for the people, must resemble the previous things––even if their resemblance is completely contrived. For it is only the tyrant who tries to make everything appear so new that nothing resembles the old.’

Between history and myth in Austin, Texas.

Christopher Landrum: ‘ Like mushrooms in moist soil, overnight all over Austin appeared high quality epics, poems, novels, symphonies, and visual art. This was the first time citizens could recall their city breaking free of the bureaucratic interests of state government and the handful of monolithic multinational corporations that made up their coterie. And the first myth made in this new era was that the hurricane was to blame for the statues coming down.’