tree. paper. book.

A forest, paper, a book–the marriage of these three may not exist for long.

Perhaps not quite as soon as we thought, for it seems the embracing of digital books has slowed somewhat. Indeed, while I took to ebooks with a passion, I find myself seeking out (whether instead or or in addition to) the physical book, with its heft, with its visual cues of how much I’ve read, and where I’ve stopped, with the beauty of serifs on creamy paper, a cover beckoning, embedding itself in my memory.

How lovely is the concept of Katie Paterson’s Future Library. I’d read about it some time ago, but today was reminded of this magical project. I can only imagine the silent Norwegian forest of 1,000 trees which will offer up, one hundred years hence, their trunks for the printing (yes, printing!) of this unique anthology of works, secretive and unpublished, entrusted to the vaults where they will remain until most of us are long gone. One manuscript each year, held until 2114 when they will, finally, be gathered by curators who have yet to be born, in this book that none of us will ever see.

Like all readers, writers, those who appreciate voice and story (which is all of us, though we may not realize it), I’m certain, or certainly hopeful, that in 100 years time this work, while perhaps an anomaly in form and provenance, will be embraced. I only wish I could live to see it, to witness the events surrounding its release, to hold it in my hands. What an honor, yet how grave a task for the writer asked to create a work for this collection, not a work for today or tomorrow, not a work birthed in this world of immediacy, a work of this time, but a work for the future.

Not only looking ahead, but acting to contribute to a future none of us will see… an act of such altruism and beauty.

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3 thoughts on “tree. paper. book.

  1. This post is truly wonderful. I lived in Oslo and spent many an afternoon in Nordmarka as a young girl. Never did I think that a project of such depth and magnitude would come to this pristine idyllic setting…one that would affect me so deeply. What a person will find of interest 100 years from now, I cannot even begin to imagine, but I do know that if they chance upon Margaret Atwood’s “Scribbler’s Moon,” or any of the other great writers who will bless those sealed boxes with their manuscripts, there may just be a few converts to the printed page. One can only hope! I can now dream of that day in 2114 when someone might hold one of these manuscripts and take the journey of our time. P.S. I wish we lived closer. You always bring me such amazing things to think about!

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