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By Meg Watson
September 06, 2014
By Meg Watson
September 06, 2014

Do you remember making time capsules when you were younger? You'd fill a little shoebox with your most prized possessions like an Eiffel 65 CD, a daisy chain your friend made you, and a battered magazine cut-out of Titanic-era Leonardo DiCaprio, and then write a letter to your future self. Twenty years later when it came time to open it you'd either forgotten where it was entirely or found it and wished you hadn't. Well, legendary author Margaret Atwood is essentially doing that with her latest book. It may be housed in a more sophisticated version of your shoebox, but her current work-in-progress will be stowed away unread for the next 100 years.

This will all take place because of a larger initiative started by Scottish artist Katie Paterson. The Future Library Project will see one author per year contribute to a collection of works to be published in 2114. This year organisers planted 1,000 trees in Norway that will be used to print the books in 100 years time. Atwood is the first author to take part, but she seems unfazed by the project and its absolutely crippling reminder of our collective mortality.

"When you write any book you do not know who's going to read it, and you do not know when they're going to read it," she told The Guardian. "You don't know who they will be, you don't know their age, or gender, or nationality, or anything else about them. So books, anyway, really are like the message in the bottle."

In fact, the project raises many questions about the nature of writing and reception. Will people still have books then? Will we speak exclusively in emojis and gifs? How will they convert the text into the direct brain waves they use to input information from their flying cars and jetpacks?

In speaking about the project, Paterson stated the 100-year time span was very deliberate. "[It's] not vast in cosmic terms ... it is beyond many of our current lifespans, but close enough to come face to face with it, to comprehend and relativise," she said.

It's a scary prospect, and an extremely daring project to take on as a writer. Where an author's job is usually to articulate and discuss life in historical and social context, this throws everything out of whack. The people who will read and review this upcoming work haven't even been born yet!

Personally, we've got out fingers crossed we're going to make it. Modern science and all, right? Either that, or we'll just give our great, great grandkids the heads up.

Via The Guardian.

Published on September 06, 2014 by Meg Watson


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