Appearance on CULTURALLY DETERMINED

Many thanks to Aryeh Cohen-Wade for hosting me on Culturally Determined, his podcast/YouTube show, to talk about my last two essays. Aryeh is a cool guy who asks good questions and affably tolerates my rambling answers.

Some notes: Mom, there are swears. Also, I’m kidding when I say “burn the heretics” re: the use of “impact” as a verb in a certain denomination’s mission statement. I oppose killing except in self-defense.

Here is the ContraPoints episode of Culturally Determined that Aryeh mentions.

2 responses to “Appearance on CULTURALLY DETERMINED

  1. Hey Phil. I’ve got a random question. I don’t suppose you would know the answer, but… maybe this came up in all your research on the Midwest.

    Since I’ve been living abroad, I’ve had countless discussions with people explaining why Michigan is in the Midwest despite the fact that it’s East of the Mississippi. For years now, I’ve been telling people that it’s a historical legacy of the expanding frontier, and the fact that the Western Frontier kept changing.
    But… in all these years, I’ve never bothered to actually look this up and confirm this. So I thought I’d run it by you. Do you know why we call large parts of the Northeast by the term “Midwest”?

    • Hey Joel! Sorry I only *just* saw this months later. I actually had to learn about this for my book. The word “Midwest” has an incredibly weird history. You’d *think* it was called “Midwest” because the frontier kept changing, but apparently the first in-print usage of the term referred to Tennessee, of all the fucking places in the world. People seem to have envisioned the country north-to-south, like a layer cake, and “Midwest” was the part of the west that was in the middle “layer” as you go north to south. In the early twentieth century the term resurfaced, with more of its current meaning, but the reference seems to be more about culture than geography: it’s “middle” in the sense of middling, middle-aged, medium. The idea is that the “west” is sort of a crazy weird violent cauldron where civilization is being generated anew and the “midwest” is the tempered, seasoned, grown version of the west (with the east being fully citified and kinda, y’know, girly). James Shortridge’s 1989 THE MIDDLE WEST talks about all this in detail; it’s great.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s