A preliminary sketch of a thesis on what it means to be “Midwestern”

March 13, 2013 § 1 Comment

A preliminary sketch of a thesis on what it means to be “Midwestern”:

  • The defiance of cliches is key . . .
  • But so is the fact, and I think it is precisely that, a fact, that the “Midwestern” cannot definitively be identified on a map.
  1. Geographically, it is neither coastal nor southern; Texas wouldn’t claim it . . .
  2. But only the dullard would so limit the mind to its location on a map.
  3. (Nor is it strictly suburban.)
  • One can, of course, pinpoint some semi-shared sociological markers . . .
  • By that I mean broad-stroke generalities, not highway-precise measurements.
  • The broadest of strokes, though it is more accurately a swipe, concerns political conservatism.
  1. We can do — or should do — but, if history be our guide, will probably never manage — better than this dim-witted shorthand . . .
  2. Which feeds on its multi-course cliches, in order that to all the more appreciate the surprising anecdotes served up on the weekend by This American life.
  • The unifying characteristic of Midwestern politics isn’t best measured, though, on a Left-to-Right spectrum . . .
  • But more of a I Think That’s Total Bullshit-to-I Don’t Think That’s Total Bullshit spectrum.
  • There’s a desire to get to brass tacks — details & feelings along the way be damned . . .
  • And indeed, there are often a lot of hurt feelings and repressed details left in the wake of these tacks, whether they be brass or gold.
  1. In general, I’d say there is a desire for something that “makes sense” . . .
  2. The divisions arising from what that “it” is, & why it makes sense (or, of course,  doesn’t) . . .
  3. And in general, too, an impatient “to get on with it.”
  4. (Again, differences arising from the failure to agree on what “it” is or how exactly to “get on” with it.)
  • Which is to say, there is something shared — not communally, though; more, like a neighbor’s drill or rake — within the Midwestern mindset, whatever the ideological persuasion or moral convictions, that cuts across rather than settles upon that primary thing that tends to unify these same convictions elsewhere (that is, in a different mind) . . .
  • Namely, money.

§ One Response to A preliminary sketch of a thesis on what it means to be “Midwestern”

  • Td says:

    It means to say “bowlth”, as it were; essences must be compromised in definition. The defiance of cliches is brilliant. Knowing someone who refers to their particularity as “God’s country” helps. Formation by interstate is key. I wonder about freedom as phenomenon of interstate possibility, as going somewhere on the main roads, through the important cities, to meet someone, for an interview, for coffee, for reunion.

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