April 24, 2008

Literago and I both declare: "You will never see 'Chicago Lit 100' lists at our sites"

So have you heard? Everyone's up in arms about this new article out from the New York Observer, "The Brooklyn Literary 100," the very definition of the kind of sycophantic, elitist circle-jerk in the arts that makes so many people so turned off by the arts in the first place. In fact, Eugenia Williamson over at the excellent Literago made a whole point of bringing it up at their blog yesterday, ending with the promise that you will never see a similar "Chicago Lit 100" list at their own site.

I thought this was a good promise to make, so thought I'd declare the same thing here at CCLaP; that you will never see one of these inherently elitist, inherently political lists at this site, nor anything else designed specifically to raise the level of competition and ill-will within the Chicago literary community. Both this website and the entire CCLaP organization are dedicated instead to showcasing as large and varied a cross-section of the arts here as possible, and to encouraging you to think of the arts not as a hierarchical contest but rather as a giant cloud, with some parts dedicated to some things and other parts to others and with an audience freely traveling throughout. Lists like this recent "Brooklyn Lit 100" do nothing but divide and cause damage to an artistic community, and remind me once again how glad I am that I don't live in Brooklyn; much better, I think, to be either an artist or arts fan in a place like Chicago, a city that thrives on collaboration instead of competition.

Anyway, that's my two cents, and I want to thank Eugenia again for inspiring me to make a note of it in the first place. I am very happy and proud to be an arts administrator here in Chicago in particular, and frankly would've never thought of even opening CCLaP in most other cities besides this one; it's always something worth occasionally mentioning, I think.

Filed by Jason Pettus at 8:57 AM, April 24, 2008. Filed under: Arts news | CCLaP news | Chicago news | Literature |