Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Seed of an Idea

My husband mentioned a project being undertaken in Scandinavia. Apparently, trees and authors are coming together in an unusual way. Authors are being enlisted to dedicate an unpublished work to the planting of a tree. The manuscript will be held in an archive for the next 100 years, with its publication being dedicated to the particular tree being planted in its name. On the tree’s 100th anniversary, it will be felled, and used to produce the paper for the publication of the book. I find this intriguing and disturbing at the same time. There is something nearly “Distopian” about the ceremonial archiving of a book while the tree grows toward its own death to promote the author’s publication. And yet the idea of drawing attention to the written word, and to the destruction of trees (versus recycled materials) is equally mesmerizing. I keep thinking of Well’s Time machine and Bradbury’s Farenheit 451. I don’t know why this story brings those two tales to mind other than each exemplifies a society lost to reading, while this new project seems to be promoting the preservation of the printed word. Perhaps the true intent here, is just that--to heighten awareness that the cyber-words we read on our electronic devices are real. Once upon a time, writers touched quill to vellum to create books. Printers set rollers to metal type on parchment. Typewriters pounded ink onto paper. And now, we click keys and send the words into the ether. Plucked from the air, our ideas soar through the internet in a virtual world. The very success of virtual books begs the question, in one hundred years, will we really want to cut down a tree for the decadence of printing a paper book? More importantly, in one hundred years, will we still read? Or will reading be merely a legend?