I listened to a Diane Rehm show about alcoholism, and one of the show’s participants made this comment: “stay in the middle; people on the edges fall off.”
Perhaps this is the appeal of edges. Standing on the precipice, looking over the cliff, imagining the fall–maybe even seeking to fall? As I’m trying to create a syllabus for my MENG class on the frontier, I keep coming back to these thoughts. There’s something about the frontier concept that draws us. It is a boundary, an edge, a cross-cultural place; it is the place where wilderness and civilization intersect; it is a dropping off place, where vigilante justice and lawlessness reign; it’s exciting, scary, and male-dominated. So what are the implications of idealizing this place/space in our culture? How does an American culture that relies on this frontier myth shape us? Aren’t we always at risk of falling off?