Akin to that is the Territory of abstraction, a regionalism of the mind. This Territory originally belonged to philosophers, mathematicians, economists, tank thinkers, and the like, but now some claims are being staked out in it for literature. At a meeting in honor of The Southern Review, held in the fall of 1985 at Baton Rouge, one of the needs identified, according to an article in the New York Times Book Review, was "to redefine Southernness without resort to geography." If the participants all agreed on any one thing, the article concluded,
it is perhaps that accepted definitions of regionalism have been unnecessarily self-limiting up to now. The gradual disappearance of the traditional, material South does not mean that Southernness is disappearing, any more than blackness is threatened by integration, or sacredness by secularization. If anything, these metaregions ... , based as they are upon values, achieve distinction in direct proportion to the homogenization of the physical world. By coming to terms with a concept of regionalism that is no longer based on geographical or material considerations, The Southern Review is sidestepping those forces that would organize the world around an unnatural consensus.
This "metaregion," this region "without resort to geography," is a map without a territory, which is to say a map impossible to correct, a map subject to become fantastical and silly like that Southern chivalry-of-the-mind that Mark Twain so properly condemned.
writer-region Berry, Wendell. “Writer and Region”. The Hudson Review. ↩︎ 1