Tracy and I condemn this project that we see as an outrageous exploitation of nature for human art. It seems to us vain, self-serving, and gratuitous. Yes, books are printed on paper that mostly comes from trees, and that’s already an issue all writers, including us, need to deal with, especially where and how the materials to make that paper are sourced.
But to actually plant trees, let them live a hundred years – by which stage their lives and deaths will have become an integral part of an ecosystem under great pressure – is to laugh in the face of extinction.
Yes, the sin is much the same as things most of us are perpetrating daily directly or indirectly, but to place ‘art’ over ‘nature’ in such an ‘art for art’s sake’ way is to overtly place an artist’s work as being worth more than biosphere, tree, nature, planet itself.
This is a ritual of capital and an extension of an ideology in which art is actually separated away from cultural necessity into one of personal ideation and declaration of self being bigger than the tree that will outlive one, to be rendered into the materials of ongoing presence.
The eternal youth machine has to be fed by something. Surely this is just another form of environmental exploitation purporting to be worth more than itself. Writing in the now, which these authors do with obvious pertinent and skilful contributions in general to literary and social discourse, is a relevant act. Yet although they are ‘using’ as many of us also ‘use’, at least we don’t have to suggest the tree exists as idea and entity for the art.
There’s a slippage here I would ask the artist and authors involved to reconsider: what this actually stands for. If we want works preserved, by all means, and I am sure if there is a human future to be had after we’ve ravaged the planet, what is said now will be relevant in some way then.
But let’s preserve and conserve, not raise a tree and then destroy it to be a specific form of glory, a monument to posterity, a validation of having been, having written.