The Longplayer Letters

Between 2013 and 2016, Artangel and the Longplayer Trust invited thinkers and writers from a wide variety of disciplines to engage in a chain of written correspondence on the subject of long-term thinking.  The Longplayer Letters are a chain of written correspondence unfolding slowly over time, and form a written conversation in which each correspondent answers the past author in addressing the next – it is a dialogical relay, very much in the spirit of the Long Conversations. The second volume of letters started in 2017, with Iain Sinclair writing to Alan Moore.

The letters may also be found on the websites of Artangel and The Long Now Foundation, but comments may only be left below.

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  • Dan Gunn to Jan Steyn
    Dan Gunn
    04 May 2021

    From: Dan Gunn, Hydra, Greece To: Jan Steyn Monday 12 April 2021 Dear Jan, As I slid into the thought-numbingly cold Aegean yesterday afternoon, I tried to imagine you on the plains, so far from any sea; when I returned, shivering, to my desk, I even confirmed my impression on Google maps since my grasp…

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  • Alison Leslie Gold to Dan Gunn
    Alison Leslie Gold
    07 September 2020

    From: Alison Leslie Gold, New York City To: Dan Gunn 26th March 2020 Dear Dan, Before contemplating this letter to you, I thumbed through the collected Longplayer letters and found each to be embedded with precious materials: a diamond, a scapolite crystal or slivers of opaque jasper. Each letter gave me an element from which…

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  • Helle Goldman to Alison Leslie Gold
    Helle Goldman
    03 March 2020

    From: Helle Goldman, Tromsø, Norway To: Alison Leslie Gold January 2020 Dear Alison, I’m re-reading your latest book, in which you modestly describe your talent (“If I have a talent”) as that of “a miner, a midwife, a salvager of other people’s stories that seem to be on the brink of extinction.” When you sent…

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  • Howe Gelb to Helle Goldman
    24 January 2019

    From: Howe Gelb, Tucson, Arizona To: Helle Goldman July 22nd 2018 Kære Dr Goldman, Dear Doc, I understand you have decided to spend the arc of this existence in the Arctic Circle happily partnered with a Norwegian jet pilot. The island you call home, Tromsø, has a notable labyrinth of tunnels under the city, housing…

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  • Stewart Lee to Howe Gelb
    26 October 2017

    From: Stewart Lee, Derby, Cambridge, Rochester, Canterbury, York, Newcastle, Salford, Wells, Coopers Hill, Gloucester, Malvern, Worcester, Rollright, Stoke Newington, Bungay, Kings Lynn, Bury St Edmunds, Colchester, Rochester, Tunbridge Wells, Basingstoke, Soho, Buxton. To: Howe Gelb May 12th – June 15th 2017 Dear Howe I tried to explain what this is about in an email, but…

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  • Alan Moore to Stewart Lee
    05 July 2017

    From: Alan Moore, Phippsville, Northampton To: Stewart Lee, London 2 February 2017 Dear Stewart, I’ll hopefully have spoken to you before you receive this and filled you in on what our bleeding game is. Iain Sinclair kicked off by writing a letter to me, and the idea is that I should kind-of-reply to Iain’s letter…

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  • Iain Sinclair to Alan Moore
    Iain Sinclair
    21 June 2017

    From: Iain Sinclair, Hackney To: Alan Moore, Phippsville, Northampton 30 January 2017 Dear Alan, We are being invited, by means of predatory technologies neither of us advocate or employ, to consider ‘long-term thinking’. But already I’m coughing up the fishbone of that hyphen and going into electroconvulsive spasms over this requirement to think about thinking…

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  • VOLUME 2
    18 June 2017

    The last letter, from Manuel Arriaga to Giles Fraser, remains unanswered. In June 2017 the Longplayer Trust initiated a new correspondence, beginning with Iain Sinclair writing to Alan Moore.

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  • To Giles Fraser
    Manuel Arriaga
    09 November 2015

    From: Manuel Arriaga, New York To: Giles Fraser, London 16 November 2015 Dear Giles, Reading the earlier letters in this exchange, it strikes me that the issue of long-term thinking is twofold. Its challenges make themselves felt at two very different levels: the individual and the collective. As individuals we are notoriously prone to myopic…

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  • Helmut Fricke

    To Manuel Arriaga
    John Burnside
    07 April 2015

    From: John Burnside, Berlin To: Manuel Arriaga, New York 7 April 2015 Dear Manuel, When Carne Ross posted his letter in this series to me, I was just re-reading your marvellous, thoughtful, inspiring book, Rebooting Democracy: A Citizen’s Guide to Reinventing Politics. For some time now, Carne and I have been discussing the question of…

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  • To John Burnside
    Carne Ross
    08 December 2014

    From: Carne Ross, New York City To: John Burnside, Berlin 8 December 2014 Dear John, We are bidden to consider the future. What a privilege to be asked! What a nightmare to contemplate! Esther Dyson wrote to me to propose an appealing scheme of how to inspire communities to be healthier. She spoke too of…

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  • To Carne Ross
    Esther Dyson
    20 April 2014

    From: Esther Dyson, New York City To: Carne Ross, New York City 02 April 2014 Dear Carne, Through a telescope, darkly. I’ve been reading Stewart’s letter about science and technology and the long-term, but the thing that concerns me more – and that you, Carne, understand – is how society can work collectively to make…

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  • To Esther Dyson
    Stewart Brand
    28 November 2013

    From: Stewart Brand, Sausalito To: Esther Dyson, New York City 28 November 2013 Dear Esther, Ghosts don’t exist, but ghost stories sure do. We love frightening ourselves with narratives built around a horrifying logic that emerges with the telling of the tale, ideally capped with a moral lesson. The Monkey’s Paw is a three-wishes fable…

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  • To Stewart Brand
    Nassim Nicholas Taleb
    02 July 2013

    From: Nassim Nicholas Taleb, New York To: Stewart Brand, Sausalito 3 July 2013 Dear Stewart, I would like to reply to Brian Eno’s important letter by proposing a methodology to deal with risks to our planet, and I chose you because of your Long Now mission. First let us put forward the Principle of Fragility…

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  • To Nassim Nicholas Taleb
    Brian Eno
    30 April 2013

    Dear Nassim, We’re all used to the idea that actions and thoughts take on different values when we expand the ‘picture’ within which we frame them. We realise that something which makes sense in a local frame may make less sense in a broader frame: dumping your waste in the river is fine as long…

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