In the past two decades, the Middle East has witnessed the loss of so much of our history.
In 2000, in response to US sanctions, the Taliban blew up one of the most significant Gandharan Buddhist monuments in the world: a colossal statue of Buddha carved into a mountain in the Afghan town of Bamiyan. Three years later, the US government’s invasion of Baghdad opened The Iraq Museum’s doors to looters, resulting in the loss and destruction of much of the museum’s collection of priceless artifacts. Meanwhile, the Syrian civil war ravaged the city of Aleppo, reducing the 1000-year-old minaret of the city’s mosque to rubble. Then, the rise of Daesh—known in the West as ISIS—in 2015 led to the destruction of pre-Islamic, Islamic, and Christian monuments throughout Iraq and Syria.
For much of the Muslim world, these tragedies have been occasions to mourn history that, without evidence of itself, would likely be lost to time. But artist Morehshin Allahyari, instead, envisioned a time capsule. In 2015, she began creating Material Speculation: ISIS, a series of twelve 3-D-printed replicas of statues from the cities of Hatra and Ninevah in modern day Iraq, all of which had recently been sledge-hammered into pieces by Daesh rebels. Within each sculpture, she embedded a flash drive and memory card containing maps of where the original artifact came from, historical information, images, and videos. This way, she ensured we would not forget, and would never lose access to our past.
Born in Iran, Allahyari moved to the US in 2007. Much of her prolific career has focused on accessing the seemingly inaccessible and challenging barriers to knowledge and information created by Western imperialism and colonization. As an artist, she also stands between worlds—and I certainly don’t mean the arbitrary boundaries that divide East from West. Her work is much richer; a descent into the world of the jinn and demons who live between the mountain of Qaf and the very womb of our earth. Some might say that her work tries to revive dead histories, but this would be inaccurate at best. As Allahyari proclaims, these histories and beings are still very much alive, breathing and growling beneath the surface of our everyday lives.
Allahyari and I met in 2018, when I was living in San Francisco. I invited her to show in and perform at an exhibition I was curating. She stayed with me in my witchy, old San Francisco co-op, where she entranced the whole house with her first-hand knowledge of the world of the unseen while I showed off my own collection of magic and astrology books from Pakistan. We’ve remained bonded ever since.
For this conversation, we exchanged audio notes via WhatsApp, I in Karachi, where I now live, and her in Brooklyn. We speak of many things: language, magic, Islam, home, and the power of poetics; however, I was most curious about Allahyari’s most recent project. She Who Sees The Unknown: The Archive is a collection of priceless manuscripts from the Muslim world, some more than 1000 years old presented through a poetic online portal. They open our eyes to a time when science, magic, faith and geography intertwined and the accumulation of knowledge was an artform practiced by a selected few. This archive is the product of four years of diligent research into the world of Islamic mythos—from numerology to astrology, to jinn, to goddesses, and all the strange creatures under the heavens. It is a digital decolonial exercise, making accessible what was barred to many of us.
As per Morehshin’s request, I initiated the interview with a poem. — Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
This conversation is intended for listening—perhaps on a long walk through your city, a quiet drive to the beach, or at dusk in your favorite armchair. Full transcript also available below.
Do you remember when we were isolated from our friends to the north, south, east and west?
We made a compass and centered ourselves, we held fire in our left hand, wind in our right,
We stood on earth and water and we suddenly noticed how vulnerable we were.
Do you remember when all we could do was stare out the window?
Whether we knew it or not we locked eyes with the 11 stars that led Joseph out of solitude,
Sirius the dog star looked down at us and suddenly we were part of something bigger.
Do you remember when we felt the seven planets from head to toe, from Saturday to Friday?
And in multiplying them by the four elements of our limbs we saw the 28 stations of the moon
In our fingertips, our toes, our earlobes, our pupils, our nostrils, our top and bottom lips.
Do you remember when we thought we were each small planets in danger of overheating,
Cursed to endure the suffering of the earth we drained,
But in isolation we found a universe in each of us.
Close your eyes.
Did you dream of the celestial body shrouded in scripture?
Did you make love to the divinely revealed alphabet?
How many times did you moan?
Open your eye,
The third one, above the other two.
Binary symmetry of the body as male and female gaze at one another,
Left and right, invert to the right and left and in the middle lay multiple possibilities.
The four walls of your cell
1, 2, 3, 4 ۱، ۲، ۳، ۴
A, B, C, D ا، ب، ج، د
Translation is useless
Buddha’s toes contain the cosmos,
Krishna’s mouth holds the universe,
Heaven lies under the feet of your mother,
Hell is not meeting the lips of your lover.
Salaam Morehshin, keefik? Chitori? Kya haal hai? I feel it's better to start in any other language but English—though the majority of this conversation will be in English—especially given the subject matter and your incredible archive. I'm sitting here in my garden on a Friday morning, Jummah Mubarak, looking at a huge swarm of bees making love to a bunch of flowers in front of me; listening to the crows and the falcons in the sky here in Karachi. We have tons of crows and falcons, which is quite exciting and also very goth.
I was digging into your archive yesterday as well as, of course, now as I'm talking to you, and I think it's crept into my dreams. I'm reading Cyclonopedia by Reza Negarestani. I'm about halfway through, and that was one of the books you referenced for your reading list for an exhibition that you were in that Azin Seraj and I curated, Where Do You Want Ghosts to Reside? Of course, I'm reading it with great vigor, and I had a dream where you and I had met up in a cafe, no masks on. I'm not sure where the cafe was, I think it was somewhere in a basement. There were lots of people around us, but it was quite dark, and you had my copy of Cyclonopedia in your hand, and I knew it was my copy because it was bent in all the right places and it had little indents in it that I had made. And I think, let's start with dreaming. Let's start with this idea of dreaming. Dreaming plays a huge role in Islamic mythos and Islamic mysticism, and I'm curious to know: What was the dream that inspired this archive in the first place?
Salaam Zulfi aziz, subah khair It's my morning. I know it's not your morning right now, but I am in New York at my house and today is Wednesday. I'm actually planning to go see an exhibition at MoMA today and I have not been at MoMA for a year and something. Obviously, it's been the pandemic, but funny enough, the last event I had in New York was at MoMA. So, I'm kind of going back there after a while to see this show, and I'm pretty excited about that. I wish I could say that I'm sitting in a garden with birds and other beautiful species, but here I am in the city.
So, I've been actually daydreaming a lot in the past couple of weeks because I'm working on a next project, but your question about dreaming takes me back to the time basically four years ago when I had just started gathering more and more material for the archive, as part of my She Who Sees the Unknown project. And I kind of was thinking about that time that I was trying really hard to look through and find material, books, manuscripts, illustrations, texts that would relate to my research of basically focusing on female slash genderless, queer figures and stories in ancient West Asian stories. And I was having such a hard time bringing this material together. And this is something that has kept happening in a lot of research that I do, which is as soon as you enter a specific landscape—also language is involved here, so in this case, Farsi and Arabic—there's a lot of obstacles in terms of having access to material and archives. A lot of things, obviously, haven't been digitalized in a way that it might have been within English-based text and books. But also, what I started to find out was that things that are digitalized, or perhaps in some ways online, or books and manuscripts that are kind of close to me in terms of either being in New York or places that I can go scan things. There's a whole issue of access with that, which I'm sure we will talk about further down in our conversation. But the dream really became a little bit of this idea, or this challenge also, of wanting to build a space, wanting to build a platform that would allow for easy access to this material for other people that were doing this kind of work and this kind of research. And as the project developed more and more, I think the dream also became, perhaps, also more dreamy in a sense of, I really wanted this space to also become a place for reimagination. Through reimagining these possibilities of the past, these histories, how can we reimagine other ways of being at this moment in the world and alone and also together as especially people from the Middle East?
So, for me, it was also building a place where this kind of imagining and reimagining and dreaming could happened collectively. And since I've released the archive, I feel like I'm witnessing it. I'm seeing it happening between us and it's really beautiful. I don't think I've ever done a project that has felt this way in the sense of bringing together people and community, especially the queer community. Also, people that are both in diaspora, but also inside Iran or different countries in the Arab world. So that has been a really beautiful part of this project for me so far, personally.
Salaam Morehshin, it is now Thursday morning for me here in Karachi. You know, my brain is going at about a hundred kilometers an hour, hearing you say all of that; hearing how things are coming full circle, especially with your revisit to MoMA, and also thinking about how much things have been forming in your mind, and now you have created this archive. This archive, which is connecting with so many people and also the intention, first, behind the archive, right? I mean, you mentioned it was to find a gender or queer or queered figures from Islamic mythos and Islamic history and the Islamic imagination. When we say Islamic, I feel like when I say Islamic, I don't mean just Islam in terms of people who are Muslim. I feel like I mean the Muslim world, including those who are not Muslim, including the cultures that we have come into contact with and who have come into contact with us, right? Because Islam is not a static thing. Iranian cultures are not static things. Arab cultures are not static things. And I will extend that to the South Asian experience. You know, we are not static cultures. And the jinn within this mythos is actually, from some of my reading, a genderless creature. The unseen entities are genderless; they morph, they change, they have unlimited capacity in that sense. And it shows a built-in factor into our cultures of gender queerness, I think—maybe I'm being a little too generous.
But talking about generosity: To see your archive be a labor of love is something that I've been thinking about. A labor of love for folks who are, of course, based in the US and the diaspora, but also especially for people who are still in the "homeland." I think this is just something I want to get out of the way: How has your relationship to community changed since you published this archive? In particular, with the idea of diaspora, having since moved back to Pakistan, you hear a lot of critique of how the diaspora—I want to say diaspora, but I mean folks, mostly who are born and brought up abroad in Europe and the US—how they tend to take charge of a lot of conversations to do with the homeland without really having any sense of the nuance or the complexities that exist within these spaces. And now, with this archive, there's a direct desire to be in contact with folks within the Arab and Iranian world, because—and we'll talk about this later—because the deeper you want to go into the archive, the more intense the material you're looking for, the more it is needed for you to be able to read and write and speak in Farsi and Arabic in order to gain access. So, I wonder how your relationship to this idea of diaspora has maybe changed since you published this.
Hi Zulfi, thank you for your thoughtful questions and also the comments about diaspora and then the relationship between, kind of, language and these cultural codes that have been defining for the archive and basically the audience that come across this work. So, this was the first time that I really had to figure out what it means to share this research and this knowledge, but really reconsider how and what ways I want to give access to this work. These are concepts and thoughts that I have been dealing with a lot in my work previously with the concept of digital colonialism that have developed around issues of cultural heritage, et cetera. But this was the first time that I really wanted to do a project that, practically, in my own project, challenged these kinds of institutional spaces' access to knowledge in a way that is primarily have been taken for granted as something that, on the internet, a lot of times, is shared in English. And what would it mean to flip these power dynamics with language? What would it mean to release an archive that would have, in the case of my work, four layers: if you know English, you can have access to the first layer of the archive, but then to pass through to the second and third and the fourth layer, you have to know Arabic or Farsi to basically type in these codes. And then that's how you can pass through these layers and then have access to all these different parts of the archive, and more manuscripts, and PDFs, and texts and images.
So, this really, also changed the way that the archive has been perceived, which, for me, is also very new. I've lived in the US now for 14 years, and I have not been back to Iran, actually, for almost 11 years. That's a whole other story, because it's a little bit risky for me to go back, because of the work that I've done. So, I've been living with self-exile in some ways. And at the same time, I've been working toward getting more and more involved with different art scenes in Iran. But really thinking about, in the case of this research, that it mattered to me that I could give access to the people in Iran, or different countries in the Arab world, to have access to this work more than anyone else. This is something that I really primarily gathered for that demographic. So, when the archive was released some weeks ago, I was amazed of how many people in Iran and also, again, other parts of West Asia or the Arab world—people who speak the languages—were so excited about it, especially, as I mentioned before, also in more of the queer community. And that's very new to me, and that part very much makes me really happy. But this also shows that when you define different kinds of parameters or ways that you want something to be perceived, then how that changes the relationship between the work that you're putting out to the world and the kind of audience that will come around it.
So, I would say I'm very much still experimenting with these things and really trying to also learn from it. And then, as my work grows, hopefully that's something that I can tap into more and more to have that audience involved that I feel like, because of primarily working in English language, they have not, perhaps, known or perceived my work in the way that they are building different kinds of relationships with the archive.
Hi Morehshin. So glad you brought up digital colonialism. I think it was your project, Material Speculation I believe it was called, when I first had heard about you and your work, and I remember I was totally enthralled by this. And I remember digital colonialism was quite a big part of that, too. And maybe you could, well one, take us through what exactly for you, within your conceptualization of your work, what is digital colonialism? I think the name, in some ways, speaks for itself, but just so we have a bit more of an idea.
And another thing with that series: What I thought was interesting was the use of the 3D scanner. When you remade these relics of ancient Sasanian, Persian, Iraqi, Iranian culture, and then embedded within them a USB with their digital likeness, as well as a sort of full category, and which I thought was interesting because, at the time, it was both a critique of how so many of these relics have been stolen and locked away in museums like the Met, for example, and everything but British Museum. But also at the time, it was a critique of ISIS, which was really on the rise at the time and going after these historical pieces. Interestingly, perhaps ironically, or paradoxically, a lot of people believe that the videos of them destroying these pieces were fake and, in fact, that they had been selling them to Western antique sellers and buyers and museums in the West, which is also an interesting, sort of, cycle of neocolonialism as well.
And in this series, it's the internet. It's this, in She Who Sees the Unknown and in the archive of She Who Sees the Unknown, we're looking at the internet specifically. And I'm wondering: what space does the internet hold, not only as a space of digital decolonialism, but also in a way of, almost, continuing the traditions embedded in the archives you have in these magic treaties, right? And I ask that because a theme that comes up again and again and again is that so many of these works, they combine the various sciences, knowledges— “ilam” in Arabic and Urdu and Farsi—ilam, right? And the ilams are related to ya’ani science, biology, geography, magic, numerology, necromancy, geomancy, and they're all sciences. They're all considered sciences. They're all considered knowledges. But some are hidden and they're codified. Like you've done, you've created codes. And they're not meant to be known by everybody. In fact, the most, only those who have studied, can know them because only those who have studied can utilize them properly, whereas others are public. So, I wonder, how does this digital format almost continue on from the legacy of these ancient manuscripts that were penned down a thousand years ago, from paper to pixel. What does that journey mean for you?
Yeah, these are really amazing points and questions and thoughts to reflect on. One of the things that, I guess, I would first start with is the definition of digital colonialism, which is that... I define it as a framework for critically examining the tendency for information technologies to be deployed in ways that reproduce colonial power relations. So, this can now be expanded to many ways that we use from our daily life, these technologies around us and the experiences of these colonial powers from language barriers on the web to what was my initial focus, which was cultural heritage and the way 3D models and 3D scans of different historical sites and artifacts—in my case, West Asia, Middle East—was being used by different Western institutions and archeologists online, or the way they were making profit for it, or the copyright issues around that. And then, so, I used the same kind of lens of digital colonialism to then build the archive.
The archive is built in four layers. The first layer, accessible only to English speakers, and then to have access to second, third, and fourth layer, you have to decode certain parts of these layers. That means that you have to put in these quotes that you can only do so if you know Farsi or Arabic, because you have to then also follow a certain kind of instructions in a way that you put in the codes. These things that you also talk about, which is this hidden notion of these sciences is what I try to come up with, in the way that I'm designing the website or the platform for the archive. So, not only thinking about, what does it mean to share knowledge? What does it mean to share information? Who is it that I want this archive to be for? And who do I want it to have access to it and in what ways and to what level? Those are all the questions that I think became really important for me to ask, because there is just that assumption that open source is inherently good and positive, and I really wanted to question that. When is open source good and positive? What kind of knowledge it is that we want to protect? What does it mean to protect the knowledge that is the ancient knowledge, the cultural knowledge of our countries and cultures in a way that, for centuries, has been colonized by Western cultures and countries.
All of these, kind of, come together in a way that the three layers are hidden, right? They're hidden from English speakers, basically, that's the idea. And the way we designed the website, it's... I work with, actually, two amazing designers and web developers, and they played a really important role in a way that we, kind of like, also thought about how to design the codes that you put in so that it's harder to hack into it. Obviously, I think it's not impossible. If you have a friend who speaks Farsi or Arabic, you can ask them to help you, et cetera. But it's all about, kind of, thinking about the ethical ways of using this and not wanting to hack into the other parts, even if you can. But we also came up with ways that, patterns on top of the codes that you have to put in, in a way that it's really hard for different apps or AI or machines to kind of, again, be able to read the codes.
This all, kind of, hidden notion of science and knowledge is actually something that really relates to what you were saying, and that's something that I've tried to play with on the website, in the way that this information is presented. So, the first layer already has 13 manuscripts...These are all also, I should mention, that they are rare material and manuscripts. A lot of them were 3D scanned by us, or have been gathered from libraries in Iran or different parts of the world—digital libraries, and physical libraries. So, the goal was to, really, bring together this archive that is a series of manuscripts that are rare and also important in terms of historical effect they've had and also illustrations in the archive. I will stop here and let you take it to the next question, perhaps, but I really love that we have found this notion of hidden concept within this conversation.
Well, I think in Islam—and, for me, Islam becomes a big unifying factor in this, and in my work, especially, I like to see Islam as this interesting type of globalization, because so many people in the word world practice it. But Islamic esotericism—which you can see all the way from East Asia to West Asia, and Africa, and even beyond—the hidden is so much more important than what you see, and it reflects on so many other cultures, too. Even in Hinduism, there's this term maya, and I think the hidden comes up in a lot of Islamic mathematics and geometry, in particular numerology, right? In numerology, words translated to numbers, and every word has its corresponding number, which means that every thing that you name has a corresponding mathematical sum. I see this sort of mathematics, geometry aesthetic and concept reflected in the archive as well.
As you journey through this world, you interact with these shapes, these talismanic drawings. If we think of even the word talisman, this English word that we use, it comes from talism or talismah or talismat the Arabic, the Farsi, and even in Urdu we say tilsum. The very origin of the word is actually from us. And in your archive, the talisman takes up a very important space. It is actually the way you navigate the elements of the archive. And some of the talismans are square shapes, some of them are in the shape of jinn and animals. Could you tell us more about the role of talismans in your work and what they mean for you and your practice?
Hi. So, thank you for those questions and thoughts. I am actually walking. Today is a very beautiful day in New York. It's 64 degrees, which is probably the warmest day we've had since last year, so I'm enjoying this walk and I was going to talk to you about the talismans. So, when I was researching a lot of these ancient stories and different mythologies and mythical figures, obviously a lot of them are also embedded in the occult science and also talisman writing and prayer writing traditions. Even when you look at the books, some of these manuscripts that I've used in my research, and then with the visualization of different figures, you see that around them, there are different talismanic writing and Abjad words, which are a combination of Arabic alphabet and numbers. Which, then, the combination of them will come to a final number, that then, when put through different graphs, et cetera, will mean different things.
So, as I said, it was already very embedded in the whole research. And then, with the figure of Huma, when I started working on her figure, which was the first one in the She Who Sees the Unknown series, a jinn that brings fever into human body. I decided to also create these talismanic sculptures for her that would sit around her, hung from the ceiling, with her sculpture in the middle as an installation. And then from there, I kept growing different research around talismans and their importance in occult science within different Islamic texts and traditions.
With the archive, I also wanted that to become part of the way that the archive visually was presented, but it was also a matter of practicality. As you will pass through different layers, there are different shapes and figures that I've chosen. So, there's basically four different figures that I've chosen as figures that then become a platform for the user to be able to click on different parts of them and then, by different hybrids—so different sections—will go to different parts of the talisman. But also, conceptually, as the code—which, if you're listening to this and you're an English speaker and you've gone through the archive, you probably have not gone through the codes that are written in Farsi and Arabic—but the codes and the instructions around them, also both practically and poetically connect to the visuals that I've chosen. For example, the last visual, the last layer that you will have to pass through to get to, is a deer. And then inside of the deer body, are these talismanic writings and each divided into different hybrid parts that get selected, then you can go again to different parts of the archive. But before that, to arrive to this section, for example, the instruction gives you a series of numbers to put in, and then at the end, there's a poetic line that says, "Type these things," or "do these things," and then at the end, "write them on the skin of a deer and burn them." Or again, different kinds of poetic structures like that are also embedded, which I was inspired by from a couple of books that are known as some of the most important resources in talisman writing and prayer writings, and a way that you can possess different jinn and different figures and possess different situations as a way to accomplish something, some kind of final wish or destination, or some kind of change into an affair, or circumstances that you want to influence.
I mean, poetry is such an incredible part of this archive, too. And I think poetry, as far as the Islamic tradition goes, is so powerful. I mean, the Quran, for example, is prose poetry. It's perhaps one of the finest examples of Arabic prose poetry in existence. And I'm not just saying this because I'm a Muslim, it's just true. And there you have so many riddles too, as well, and so many hidden meanings as well. The Quran also has a lot of pragmatic stuff, but then you have these verses that, sort of, come up suddenly like, "call the angels by their names, both male," or "do not call the angels by their names," excuse me, "both male and female”... ya’ani who are the female angels, right? And in the same breath, the jinns, the various different jinn and demon are spoken to in the Quran like they are disciples, as well.
And then you have the summoning even of the goddesses in the Quran. We have Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, Al-Manat, and the third idol beside, who are sort of believed to be the three daughters of the original pagan god, Allah, who you actually have a whole section of. You have a dark goddess, female jinn, queer figure, sort of occult section within your archive as well. So, the English reader can, of course, update themselves on these names as well. So, there's just so much profoundness within the poetic and riddle tradition. And I'll add also, even in the Quran, it was poets who were the disseminators of news and information and propaganda. There's even, in the Quran, a quote that says, "Beware of the poets and their deceiving tongues," or something like this. Because it was the poets who tried to spread evil rumors against the prophet Muhammad, sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam. And also, it was the poets who were responsible for praising him, as well. So, the poets had such an incredible role in Islamic society and poetry, as I can see in your practice. And I think, with many other artists who work with Islamic folklore, poetry becomes political strategy, as well.
And I'm curious, in terms of the four layers, and in terms... you spoke about Abjad numerology. The number four is, correct me if I'm wrong, the number four is very important, right? Abjad, Alif, Bá, Jim, Dál, the four letters. And it goes, Alif is one, Bá is two, Jim, three, Dál, four. And so the four layers, does that connect to the idea of Abjad? Is there something within that as well that goes deeper within that? Does four have a symbolic meaning?
Hi Zulfi and thank you so much for this beautiful note on poets, the role of the poets. The way, I guess, poetic thinking can become part of a process, including something like number four, which you asked me a question about, and is something that I honestly have not had thought about it before you bringing it up. Obviously, like you say, four is a very special number. It's in the alphabet of abjad as well as four alphabet, but when I was designing the platform for the archive, I was mostly thinking about the experience that I wanted, which was that the first layer would just been considered the surface. And then to dig deeper, I wanted this, I guess, experience of digging deeper for the Farsi and Arab speakers to be something that's felt a little bit maybe of an actual act of digging, if you will. So, I was like, if I put one more layer, still it feels on surface. Another layer still feels kind of in the middle of that surface. Obviously, this could go way deeper and have so many more layers, but the choice of four, I think was kind of a combination of simplicity, something I wanted to keep simple and practical, but at the same time, I wanted it to feel like this act of looking for something and digging and accessing it.
And I wanted to add something else about this poetic thinking and poetry, which, as you mentioned, is so big and important within Islamic cultures and also within Persian culture. Growing up in Iran, we literally walk around reciting different parts of poetry to each other based on different situations. So, people just have all of these lines of different poems and stuff memorized in their head, and then they bring it up during different times, different situations as a way to make a comment that would be much harder to stay within some sentences. But rather, if you just use the poem to say it, it makes so much sense. And we're all on a common knowledge ground with this, because it's a shared knowledge that we all learn in school. So, we kind of connect with it in that sense.
And I really love that about that practicality of poetry in our daily lives and ways of thinking through situations and trying to analyze situations or make comments about situations. And as I mentioned earlier, that's something that I also tried to embed into the experience of this digging of the archive, where the instructions and the way the instructions are given come with certain kind of poetics. The way that I even designed the visual, I wanted it to, not just be something that is practical and also aesthetically beautiful, but again, conceptually related. The aesthetic, to me, the experience of the website, that very experienced itself has poetics to it. And that's something that I think about in general with art creation. That power of bringing together practicality and poetic thinking, bringing together theory and poetic thinking. And making work that really stays in these places at once, that can connect to an audience emotionally while also having practical aspects to it—like an archive, like a reading room that you can sit through and really have, again, practical access to certain thing, but at the same time, you get to then experience something just beyond the practicality through different modes of the representation of the art or the way that the artworks in the same space are created. So, I think it's something that I've always kept with me, and as part of the way that I think about the world around me, the people around me, my life, and as well as my practice.
Salaam Morehshin, thank you for your beautiful poetic note about poetics. And I hope when people hear this Inshallah, they'll also feel our poetic desire, I guess. I think we've spoken so much about things that you really have to look at the archive and take a journey through it to figure out, even if you're not a Farsi or Arabic speaker and you're only able to scratch the surface. The surface is still pretty rich. And I think especially for Arabic and Farsi researchers... You're hearing a horn because we're driving back from my hometown Larkana back to Karachi. But I hope people from Iran and from the Arab world are able to access these archives, and go through them, and dive into them, and luxuriate in them. Because really, I think that's what it is. And you have a note in there which is also: "Do not colonize this." This has been made publicly accessible, and let's all be generous with it as well.
I also want to add that, being here in Pakistan and having this conversation has been so interesting, being in the countryside as well. These ilams, these knowledges, that are in your archive are still very much alive here almost to a slightly uncomfortable point, right? Because you have both the Light Arts and the Dark Arts and the distinction between the two is not always clear. And it's also been really special just to hear from you what the process of this archive has been, just in terms of an emotional journey, as well as the practical journey, you know, collaborating with people in Iran. It's such a special thing, collaborating with people all around the world is an incredibly special thing. And so I also feel deeply honored to have been able to have had this conversation with you. Inshallah, I hope you can come to Pakistan and dive into our little world here of Islamic esoteric thought. Till then, I hope I see you soon. And if there's anything you want to add for anyone who might be going into your archive, let us know. Is there anything you want to add? Is there any message you'd like to put out there?
Thank you for this final, beautiful note, Zulfi. Today's a very cloudy day in New York. I really can't wait for the sun back in a way that it lasts for a whole week and it doesn't keep going back and forth with cloudy days and sunny days. So, I'm feeling a little bit of the blues today, but I would like to also thank you for your time, for your brilliant questions, for the way that you have thought through and connected with the archive, which has been very special. So, thank you for that.
Just wanted to say that for anyone who is going through this archives, especially if you're an Arabic or Farsi speaker and you notice any kind of error, whether it's in the listings of the archive or in the "About" statements, any of the sections, if you'd notice any kind of error, whether again about the archive or grammar related or et cetera, please let me know. I'm still finding little bit of things here and there that I'm fixing. And also, if you might have access to, known about, seen, or maybe you have, I don't know, a family archive, know a collector that might have any kind of resources, manuscripts, et cetera, that are not in the archive that you think would relate to the archive, I still would really love to keep gathering things and adding to the archive maybe every six, seven months. So, I would really appreciate that. And that's my only request.
Other than that, yeah, I really hope everyone will have their own very special connection and experience with this body of work and that together we can all keep building and growing and imagining the possibilities of sharing our histories and learning from these kinds of ways of protecting, but yet giving access to the knowledge. I feel like this is something we're all collectively figuring out in terms of people from different cultures versus the Western institutions and powers. So, I look forward to see what the future holds for all that. Thank you.