Transit, Chicago, and Collective Consciousness

I think I feel most connected to the city on transit.  Last night I talked to a friend and the idea of things that weren’t a presence in my life before I moved to Chicago came up.  I think that one of those things is just a pervasive and surprising sense of collective experience.  Today, on the bus, a woman at the stop asked if the bus went to the sears tower and as the bus driver struggled to give her a precise answer, the bus hummed with the murmurs of people offering their own responses.  Another rider asked how long it took to get downtown on the particular bus.  Again, the bus collectively came to the conclusion 20 minutes.  Of course, the tragedy is that the composite experience of space and time in the city breaks down.  As horrible as the recent beating death of a Chicago youth and the morbid curiosity that still surrounds it, those events are miles and miles away from many of the people who live here, both in terms of geography and experience.

Why Chicago?

“I think everyone is familiar with Chicago’s well-known mythology – Al Capone, hog butcher to the world, Saul Bellow, But Chicago now is something less well-known, and the gap between those two things – the reality of the city today and the mythology of its yesteryears – creates a winning sense of ownership among people who live there, of guardedness, of toughness and skepticism, which is uniquely Chicagoan.  It’s a big reason why I think we should pick Chicago as a city over, say New York, which mulches its outward image annually in the arena of pop culture.  I felt for this reason the issue would have something truly new to say about the city, and by extension, about America.” – John Freeman, editor of the Granta literary magazine, on why the magazine chose to feature Chicago as the theme for its upcoming issue.

This was via a review in New City.