Holiday Message: The Future Library of Norway

Author Margaret Atwood has collaborated on a project called ‘The Future Library of Norway’, the brainchild of artist Katie Paterson. Atwood says, “When you get an invitation like this, you either say, ‘You’re crazy!’, or ‘I’m in’.”

To sum up, this library involves a forest that will grow for 100 years. Every year a writer submits a manuscript, which is sealed in a box. In the 100th year all the boxes will be opened, enough of the forest will be cut, and all the poems, novels, memoirs and screenplays will be printed on paper from those trees, to become The Future Library of Norway.

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In a slipstream moment, I wondered what a bonsai project like that would be. Or if we’re already doing it.

Those of you who’ve read my first book, Post-Dated: The Schooling of an Irreverent Bonsai Monk may know why this is grippy for me. The book ends with an attempt to sum up bonsai, having spent years in Japan as an apprentice. The last line suggests bonsai is ‘a post-dated love letter.’

Of course, a writer for this future library won’t be limited to love letters. The library might contain admonishments. Lectures. Diatribes. A bonsai library wouldn’t have such range. Hard to imagine a bonsai being a diatribe to future viewers, and you can’t very well stuff it in a box for 100 years. But I still see bonsai as living hope for the future. And within hope is a yearning feeling, of being a bit smitten.

Atwood says, “Every act of writing assumes a future reader.”  I think the same goes for bonsai. They assume a future viewer. And that is a hopeful thought.

Blessings to everyone around the world. Be in touch.

8 Comments

  1. Ray says:

    Insightful and I hope it stays true as expression through books and bonsai rely on readers and practitioners. Both are artists by creating visuals and ideas with the mind.
    A worthy task indeed
    Thanks Michael

    All the best in 2022

  2. Frank says:

    I don’t think this has anything to do with bonsai.

    • kathleen blanchard says:

      A very cool project and very much connected to bonsai. Thank you for sharing it. Have a great New Year, Michael.

  3. Michael Geiger says:

    What a lovely notion ! Thank you !

  4. maryann27 says:

    Sadly, with climate change, I don’t know that this forest will survive.

    It also seems sad to cut down trees which have stood for 100 years, simply to turn them into paper to print on. If humans are still around, I’m sure there will be an advanced technical method to distribute the literary work that doesn’t involve destroying trees.

  5. Jeffrey Robson says:

    Michael says, “I think the same goes for bonsai. They assume a future viewer. And that is a hopeful thought.” Not only a future viewer but a future caretaker as well. Our life with them is finite – outliving us they will be passed on to others to continue journey.

  6. Antonio Vargas says:

    A Bonsai is a post dated work of art. It transcends the creator’s life both physically and spiritually and it is reborn in the future owner and it caretaker. It not static and it’s almost eternal.
    The most amazing experience is that the creator’s soul remains in it forever.

  7. Martin Klein says:

    A friend of mine is a guitar maker. He gave me a seedling of a Spanish Cedar. These grow perfectly straight and upright. He said that he hopes in 100 years to use the trees for guitars.

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