Conrad Festival 2021

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  • Monday, October 18, 2021 - Sunday, October 24, 2021

The headline of this year’s edition of the Conrad Festival – The Nature of the Future – has an ambiguous aspect to it, one that defines and limits the horizon of our reflections on the world perceived through literature that will take place in October this year. The very term nature, which is rooted in Latin, has several meanings. In a literal sense, it means birth (from Latin word natus, meaning born and nascito be born). In our everyday discourse, we tend to use it to refer to the natural environment. Sometimes, we also resort to using it to denote the essence, the core of a thing, person or phenomenon. One can even employ it to point out the dominant feature of a thing, or even a layout or structure of some object – real or abstract. No meaning will be left behind.

Together with our guests – the invited writers and authors – we are going to try and imagine the shape of our near and distant future, all while thinking about the changes that we are going to witness in the natural environment. We are also going to tackle the metamorphoses of various social phenomena, focusing on those that are going to play a key role in shaping the future of our planet and all life on it.

Coming up with an image of the future is not the only goal that we have for this Festival, as we do not only want to work our imagination, but also – perhaps most importantly – we want to design interventions that will stop and curb these destructive processes both locally and globally. We seem to be somewhat aware of the seriousness and gravity of our situation, we believe that we know that rapid climate change, progressive degradation of the environment, inefficient social systems and economic inequalities are all facts, and yet we still fail to take sufficient preventive action, we keep delaying the moment of making radical decisions in a misguided belief that we still have time to stop the disaster. The truth that we all have to face right now is that we have no time to lose – and we need to be aware of what it entails.

Some of you might ask – why do you ask us to read literature? We have more important things to deal with right now! The answer is simple – we ask you to read and think about the world through the prism of literature because it enables us to work better together to solve problems that we have brought upon our planet. Some experts compare the scale of the devastation brought upon nature by humankind to the asteroid impact that brought an end to the era of dinosaurs 66 million years ago. The sheer scope of the challenge is daunting, and the only way to save our future is to work together. That is why we need literature, as the best literary works do not only give us the opportunity to know and understand – they also foster mutual understanding. We need new stories that will free our minds from the old thought patterns, which led us to the crisis we are in right now. We need literature to make sense of the changes, accept their necessity, as well as foster engagement in order to carry them out as swiftly as possible.

Grzegorz Jankowicz
Programming Director of the Conrad Festival

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