Writing the 'archive of now'

Hand print cave paintings

Tens of thousands of years ago people were making marks on cave walls. And we might wonder, tens of thousands of years into the future, what will survive of our present culture. The fascinating area of long-time nuclear waste messages, for example, is concerned with how to communicate messages about dangerous waste, in a future when our languages and symbols survive as fragments as mysterious as the dots and hand stencils found in caves.

Sources about the period we're living through now are unlikely to survive that long, but we can be sure that historians of the future will be interested in studying our time. And many people - including those who set up this project - have been deliberately creating a portion of that source material by encouraging people to write diaries, journals, essays, and poetry.

We are interested in how you feel about knowingly crafting historical sources. Or, to put it another way, creating an 'archive of now'. You could answer this question directly, or indirectly. For example you could:

  • Write a letter to a future historian that explains how they could interpret all these deliberately crafted materials and what they might bear in mind about the (seeming) mass impluse to respond creatively to the pandemic, especially in the early stages of lockdown.
  • Write a list of objects and sources that could go into a Lockdown Time Capsule. You could choose five things from your list and write about their significance, in a similar way to the first Immeasurable Events prompt
  • Turn your list of Time Capsule objects into a poem by including metaphorical items, like Linda Pastan's things to remember and to forget about the pandemic, or a description of lockdown inspired by Simon Armitage's description of a man.