“It’s broad daylight, good visibility, yet mountains move. You perceive that the so-called permanence of the mountains is illusory, and that all phenomena are mere wisps of the cosmos, ever changing. It is its very evanescence that makes life beautiful, isn’t that true? If we were doomed to live forever, we would scarcely be aware of the beauty around us.”
This conversation between Howard Norman and Peter Matthiessen, part of a collaboration between 92Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center and The Paris Review, was recorded live at 92Y on December 15, 1997. We are able to share this recording thanks to a generous gift in memory of Christopher Lightfoot Walker, longtime friend of the Poetry Center and The Paris Review. Read Matthiessen's full interview, which ran in The Paris Review as the Art of Fiction No. 157 in the spring of 1999.
Christopher Lightfoot Walker (1954—2012) served as poster director, prints director, and advisory editor of The Paris Review. He also volunteered at the 92nd Street Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center, making transcriptions, which were models of their kind, of audio recordings of live literary events. Chris was born in New York City, attended the Buckley School, then went west to Fountain Valley School and back east to Hampshire College. He was engaged in a number of entrepreneurial efforts (some in collaboration with his father, Angus Lightfoot Walker, longtime chairman of the City Investing Company) when, at the age of thirty-one, he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. He wore his adversity lightly, retaining, in addition to his considerable wits, his sense of humor and sense of fun. Against the odds he remained a person on whom no delightful thing was ever lost. Chris was always grateful for the refuge he was able to find in the work provided by the Y.