just click for source width="220">A fter my Texas-born wife and I moved to Michigan—an eleven-hour drive in the snow, during which time itself seemed to widen and flatten with the terrain—I found myself pressed into service as an expert on the region where I was born and where I have spent most of my life.
I knew these were inadequate. I soon learned that I was hardly the only Midwesterner left tongue-tied by the Midwest. Articulate neighbors, friends, colleagues, and students, asked to describe their hometowns, replied with truisms that, put together, were also paradoxes: Nor, at least in my experience, does one hear such language from people in other regions—from Southerners, Californians, Arubans, Yorkshiremen.
The British cultural imagination has been formed by writers such as Thomas Hardy and D. It was a kind of freemasonry. When I visited the St.
People who often fly between the East and West Coasts of the United States will Anomie And Alienation Essay familiar with the region, stretching roughly from the Ohio to the Platte, that, except in anomalous non-flat areas, is spanned by a Cartesian grid of roads. They may not be aware that the spacing between roads is exactly one mile.
Minnesota Danish farmers were into Kierkegaard long before the rest go here the country. Simultaneously with building the sod shanties, breaking the prairie, schools were started, Athenaeums and debating and singing societies founded, poetry written and recited on winter evenings. The latest theories of the rights of man were discussed along with the making of a better breaking plow. Fourier, Marx, Anomie And Alienation Essay, Darwin were discussed in covered wagons.
So I began, here and there, collecting tidbits, hoarding anecdotes, savoring every chance piece of evidence that the Midwest was a distinctive region with its own history.
In doing so I noticed yet another paradox: If the Midwest is a particular place that instead thinks of itself as an anyplace or no-placeit is likewise both present and not present in the national conversation. The Midwest Anomie And Alienation Essay, in fact, fairly frequently written about, but almost always in a way that weirdly disclaims the possibility that it has ever been written or thought about before. The trope of featurelessness is matched by a trope of neglect for what can one do with what is featureless but neglect it?
Katy Rossing, a poet and essayist, has described the formula: Begin with a loquacious description of the Euclidean-flat homogeneity of the landscape. This place looks boring. Where is the romance in being buried alive? In fact, it seems no one has really thought about it before, they all write.
Robert Putnam's book on the collapse and revival of the American community. Emile Durkheim Essay Emile Durkheim Sociology is the scientific and systematic study of human societies and the people who. From the beginning, both sociology and photography worked on a variety of projects. Among these, for both, was the exploration of society. Anomie. Peer groups and Discuss examples of how best to approach the question and structure their essay. Alienation. Crisis of capitalism. Communism. Notes on Georg Simmel. These notes on Georg Simmel were prepared for Sociology , Introduction to Social Theory, in Fall, The notes provide an overview and.
What IS the Midwest? The West, South, and East all have clear stories, stories that are told and retold in regionally interested textbooks, novels, movies. FargoAnnie Hall.
They spend the remainder of the article crouched in a defensive posture. If you took English in high school, you read—or pretended you read—Cather, Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Sherwood Anderson, Sandra Cisneros, and Theodore Dreiser, all of whom wrote of the region lovingly or ambivalently; if you took Anomie And Alienation Essay in graduate school, you may also have read Wescott, William H.
Our reckoning with the Midwest is perpetually arriving, perpetually deferred. Cayton, one of the foremost historians of the region, gives a partial explanation for this neurotic repetition: They talk about what it means to be an American, a Lutheran, a farmer, a woman, a lesbian, a feminist, a black man; they almost never talk about what it means to be Midwestern, except in the most cursory fashion.
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We Midwesterners talk about ourselves, and we are talked about by others, but in terms either universal or local: And the Midwest is not, strictly speaking, isolated. It is in the middle. In general, Midwesterners want to be left alone in worlds of Anomie And Alienation Essay own making.
Trow on which to plot their own lives? We already have families, towns and cities, a country, a species. Perhaps we are simply Americans, with no need for further differentiation. We think of ourselves as basic Americans, with no further qualification. And that is our story. The authors of this story are not terribly hard to click. Another author was Frederick Jackson Turner, whose The Frontier in American History characterizes the Middle West as the slightly more dignified phrase of his day had it as Anomie And Alienation Essay Both native settler and European immigrant saw in this free and competitive movement of the frontier the chance to break the bondage of social rank, and to rise to a higher plane of existence.
The pioneer was passionately desirous to secure for himself and for his family a favorable place in the midst of these large and free but vanishing opportunities. It took a century for this society to fit itself here the conditions of the whole province.
Struggling with one another, increasing the scope of their ambitions as the largeness of the resources and the extent of the fields of check this out revealed themselves, they were forced to accept the natural conditions of a province vast in area but simple in structure. Competition grew into consolidation.
By tasking the Midwest in particular with the work all citizens of a developed democracy must Anomie And Alienation Essay, Turner cannot help suggesting that the region is defined solely by a sort of extra degree of Americanness, by being American to the nth power.
George Gallup was born in Iowa, began his career in Des Moines at Drake University, and worked for a time at Northwestern; Alfred Kinsey scandalized the country from—of all places—Bloomington, Indiana. It has no features worth naming. What does it do to people to see themselves as normal? On the one Anomie And Alienation Essay, one might adopt a posture of vigilant defense, both internal and external, against anything that might detract from such a fully, finally achieved humanness.
On the other hand, a person might feel intense alienation and disgust, which one might project inward— What is wrong Anomie And Alienation Essay me? I have yet to meet any real people who manage it. A species is a bounded set of variations on a template, not an achieved state of being. I took the first option. As a child, I accepted without thinking that my small town, a city of 9, people, contained within it every possible human type; if I could not fit in here, I would not fit in anywhere.
Every week that passed in which I did not meet these criteria—which was most of them—became a prophecy.
Every perception, every idea, every opinion that I could not make immediately legible to my peers became proof of an almost metaphysical estrangement, an oceanic differentness that could not be changed and could not be borne. I would obsessively examine tiny failures of communication for days, always blaming myself. It never occurred to me that this problem might be accidental or temporary.
I knew that cities existed, but they were all surely just Michigan farm towns joined together n number of times, depending on population.
Owing to a basically phlegmatic temperament, and the fear of hurting my parents, I made it to college without committing suicide; there, the thing solved itself. But I worry what would have happened—what does often happen—to the kid like me, but with worse test scores, bad parents, an unlocked gun cabinet.
But I also worry about the people who can pass as Midwestern-normal. At its least toxic, this can lead to a kind of self-contempt: It also leads us to one of the other great stereotypes of Midwesterners, one that I think has a little more truth to it than the nonsense about hard work and humility: Any emotion spiky or passionate enough to disrupt the smooth surface of normality must be shunted away.
Garrison Keillor, and in some ways David Letterman, made careers from talking about this repression in a comic mode that both embodies it and Anomie And Alienation Essay it into art. The Minnesota writer Carol Bly finds it less amusing: Critiques of emotional repression always risk imposing a single model for the Healthy Expression of the Emotions on a healthy range of variations.
You repress your innate right to evaluate events and people, but…energy comes from making your own evaluations and then acting on them, click your Online Video Resume Sites energy must be replaced by indifferent violence.
Donald Trump won the Midwestern states in part because he bothered to contest them at all, while his opponent did not. But we cannot forget the way he contested them: Since his victory, the Click here Percent Militia has become a recurring, and unwelcome, character in Michigan politics.
A regional identity built on its own denial, on the idea of an unqualified normality: This sounds, of course, like whiteness—a racial identity that consists Anomie And Alienation Essay of the absence of certain kinds of oppression. White people can, of course, be Anomie And Alienation Essay oppressed, though if the oppression goes on in one place long enough they tend to lose some of their whiteness, to be racialized as that Snopes branch of the human family, the white trash.
And here we hit upon the last major stereotype of the Midwest, its snowy-whiteness. If the South depends on having black people to kick around, Midwestern whites often see people of color as ever new and out of place, decades after the Great Migration.
The thinking goes like this: America is an experiment, carried out in its purest form here in the Midwest; people of color threaten the cohesion on which the whole experiment Anomie And Alienation Essay depend. Thus, while Southern history yields story after story of the most savage, intimate racist violence—of men castrated and barbecued before smiling crowds, dressed as for a picnic—Midwestern history is a study in racial quarantine.
And though the region has seen its share of Klan activity and outright lynchings—I write this days after the acquittal of the St. A riot is, among other things, a refusal to be quarantined. And the Midwest quarantines its nonwhite immigrants, too—the people from Mexico and further south, from the hills of Laos or the highlands of Somalia, and from the Middle East, who commute from their heavily segregated neighborhoods to harvest the grain, empty the bedpans, and drive the snowplows.
This is not to mention the people whose forced removal or confinement gave rise to the notion of the Midwest as an empty canvas in the first place. Our bland, featureless Midwest—on some level, it is a fantasy. The easiest, most tempting tack for a cultural critic to take with fantasies is to condemn them. Given what ideas of normalness, in particular, have done to this country, to its nonwhite, nonstraight, non—middle-class, nonmale—and also to those who are all of those things, and are driven slightly or fully crazy by the effort to live up to the norm that is their birthright—it is tempting simply to try to fumigate the myth away.
Tempting, but probably not possible. Self-conscious attempts to create new myths, meanwhile, are like constructed languages; they never quite lose their plastic smell. We should ask instead whether Anomie And Alienation Essay story of the Midwest—this undifferentiated human place—contains any lovelier, more useful, or more radical possibilities.
At the very least, we should try to name what there is in us for it to appeal to. In college all of them had studied the putative effects of deracination, which were angst and anomie, those dull horrors of the modern world. They had been examined on the subject, had rehearsed bleak and portentous philosophies in Anomie And Alienation Essay papers, and they had done it with the earnest suspension of doubt that afflicts the highly educable.
And then their return to the pays natalwhere the same old willows swept the same ragged lawns, where the same old prairie arose and bloomed as negligence permitted.
What kinder place could there be on earth, and why did it seem to them all like exile?