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.
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.