June 2016 | Nate Pedersen

David Mitchell Contributes to Future Library Project

David_Mitchell_by_Kubik.JPGDavid Mitchell, author of "Cloud Atlas," has joined Margaret Atwood in burying an unpublished work by a Norwegian forest for publication in 2114. (Not a typo.) Both authors are participants in Scottish artist Katie Paterson's "Future Library" project. Each year from 2014 to 2114, a writer has been (or will be) selected by a panel to contribute a completed piece of writing to the project. The text, which can not be read by anyone beside the author until 2114, will be held for safekeeping by the Oslo public library. Meanwhile, 1,000 trees were planted in the nearby Normarka Forest. The project's goal is to collect 100 original pieces of writing for publication in 2114 (after many of the early participants have passed away), which will be published on paper harvested from the 1,000 trees.

In 2015, Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood became the first author to participate in the project, contributing a manuscript entitled "The Scribbler Moon." This year's author, David Mitchell, submitted a piece entitled "From Me Flows What You Call Time." 

Mitchell said of the project, "Civilisation, according to one of those handy Chinese proverbs, is the basking in the shade of trees planted a hundred years ago, trees which the gardener knew would outlive him or her, but which he or she planted anyway for the pleasure of people not yet born. I accepted the Future Library's invitation to participate because I would like to plant such a tree. The project is a vote of confidence that, despite the catastrophist shadows under which we live, the future will still be a brightish place willing and able to complete an artistic endeavour begun by long-dead people a century ago. Imagine if the Future Library had been conceived in 1914, and a hundred authors from all over the world had written a hundred volumes between 1915 and today, unseen until now - what a human highway through time to be a part of. Contributing and belonging to a narrative arc longer than your own lifespan is good for your soul."

Modern fiction collectors, however, will now have to wait 98 years for their Atwood or Mitchell collections to truly be complete, a joy only to be realized by their descendants.

Katie Paterson's other artistic projects include a map of 27,000 dead stars and a slideshow illustrating the history of darkness through the ages. She has asked contributors to the Future Library project to write about "the theme of imagination and time, which they can take in so many directions."

[Image of David Mitchell from Wikipedia]