Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Hopeful Writing and the Future Library

A few weeks ago I had the great fortune to encounter this little gem on Twitter: Future Library. It's a fascinating artwork-in-progress by Katie Paterson which involves a forest in Norway, books and 100 years. Oh, and Margaret Atwood. Ah, yes, now we see why Sinéad is so excited.

I presume that she calls this an 'artwork' rather than 'work of art' or 'installation' because the Future Library is an ongoing, developing happening that seems to me to really touch the beauty of literature and our relationship with it and our world. A forest has been planted in Norway and every year a writer will be selected to write a piece to go into this future library. No one except the writer will know what this piece of writing is until the 100 years are up. At that point, the forest will be cut down and used to make the books on which all the writing will be printed.

The hippy in me is, of course, upset that they're going to cut down a forest, but that's a fact of book making and, I suppose, a tradeoff that I'm willing to make. The reader in me is gutted because it seems unlikely that I will ever get to read whatever Margaret Atwood will submit this year. And, at the same time, the reader in me is incredibly excited by this project.