It was JOY that one day I met Professor Arzoo Osanloo at Café Allegro, off of a Seattle University District's alley. I clearly remember our conversation, our connection, the cold outside, the bustling and warm café. We talked for almost 2 hours, and this collaboration has been lasting over 6 years now.


My first job for UW was poster and flier for the Symposium of Islam and Forgiveness. Fascinating, that was the subject of a study? Forgiveness. What a theme, what a word! Could I deliver something as deep?

Arzoo provided me with a powerful symbol: the Bismillah — an Arabic phrase meaning "In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful", which is the first incipit in the Qur'an.


INCIPIT? I had to learn: "the opening words of a text, manuscript, early printed book, or chanted liturgical text". To me, a lover of typography, words, language — what a gift Arzoo was giving me.

I used the Bismillah as a "moon" emanating merciful rays in form of arabesques signifying the whole of humanity connected, as a latticed-grid. Our 8 billion earthly community.

Arzoo fell in love.

the history of the book

Another discipline I had no idea existed:
Textual Studies
encompasses a broad set of disciplines in the arts and humanities concerned with the production, circulation, and reception of texts in material form.


Philology, print culture, comparative media, text technologies, bibliography, editorial theory, codicology, material texts, the history of reading, manuscript culture, paleography, the sociology of texts, the digital humanities…

I = more and more delighted. I thought manuscripteans were studying manuscripts and digitaleans were busy with the digital. But... they were talking? I love books! I AM a bookmaker myself: a Cartonera. This was mind-blowing.


From memory to written record, manuscript to book, cuneiform tablet to tablet PC, Textual Studies comprehends the products of literary and documentary culture in diachronic terms, and meaning as inseparable from the medium of inscription.

Meandering through UW

In its wise forests — making print and digital posters, fliers, programs and website artifacts for events' series at the Textual Studies Program, the Law, Society and Justice department, The Middle East Center, the School of International Studies, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and a few other institutions connected to UW research on the laws and anthropology of forgiveness and immigration — as well as connecting with Arzoo, an expert in all this — I learned so much about forgiveness. And I needed: yes, it is a colossal word.


(I had to learn how to write that too.)

To repeat the well-succeeded feat of the Forgiveness Symposium, we almost killed ourselves trying to find the right image to say
help but not help me.
The "hands" image was a very hard one to get to, but we hoped dignifiedly said: "we are not the saviors of the world, but we can lean on each other when necessary".


Arzoo Osanloo became a valorous partner to me and along with her came a few other meaningful adventures such as her own teaching website, which I had the joy to design in a pair with my friend programmer, an architect as myself, Tim Zhu.