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“What is the Midwest like?” she asked. “Midwestern history, Midwestern customs, Midwestern cuisine?” I struggled to answer with anything more than clichés: bad weather, hard work, humble people. I knew these were inadequate. Connecticut winters and Arizona summers are also “bad”; the vast majority of humans have worked hard, or been worked hard, for all of recorded history; and humility is one of those words, like authenticity or (lately) resistance, that serves mainly to advertise the absence of the thing named.
More important, however, is the intensity of local attachment: “But it is less regional rootlessness than local rootedness that makes the construction of a regional identity so difficult in the Midwest.… Localism, this pride in family, town, and state, leaves little room for interest in a coherent regional identity. In general, Midwesterners want to be left alone in worlds of their own making.”
What does it do to people to see themselves as normal? On the one hand, 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 with me?—or outward, in a kind of bomb-the-suburbs reflex. A third possibility—a simple, contented being normal—arises often in our culture’s fictions about the Midwest, both the stupid versions (the contented families of old sitcoms) and the more sophisticated ones (Fargo’s Marge Gunderson, that living argument for the value of banal goodness).
When I think of the midwest, i think of fairly stress-free, good, hard working people. That article mentions that many of them want to be left alone in the worlds of their own making, and I fully agree. Something that feels lost where im from.