Every culture regards certain places as special, distinct, transcendental, holy. They are the wellsprings of a community's myth and legend. A cave, whence imagined ancestors first strode forth into sunlight to populate a valley with offspring. A mountain, its summit trodden by watchful gods. A riverbank haunted with antique memories of murder. Points on the map where geography and geology and history and happenstance join to define a place as more than just a place, as a psychosocial repository of collective hope and fear and curiosity and respect. Points on the map that once served -- in older days, when there was still such a thing as folk music -- as fitting subjects for balladeers rooted like turnips in a particular patch of soil. Here, mere cartographical convergence of latitude and longitude, gossamer webs, are laden with abstract weight. Some such places are reasonably permanent -- Jerusalem, the Chisos Mountains, Altamira -- and can carry the load. They are their own monuments. Others are fragile -- College Station, Woodstock -- and eventually collapse, degenerating into status as "states of mind." Worse still, places are designated as "historic," just a... More >>>