Leo lives on

So it's over. I packed...madly... for days, stuffing carpets, tea-pots, lanterns paintings and books into my allotted baggage space- the tyrannical 2 suitcases per passenger rule. Despite my efforts at minimizing the bulk, I still had to haggle with the airline representatives. A few months in Morocco had turned me into an unbeatable haggler though, so I smuggled the luggage right through!

As I packed the books, I packed Leo... His works, those of his biographers, pages of notes and translation work. The occasional historical novel about 15th century Spain, or 16th century Morocco. A year worth of research, findings, small discoveries, bigger surprises.

As I packed my computer, I packed Leo... hundreds of digital files: stories, pictures, links to other Leo spaces on the web. As I sorted through materials, I dwelled on the pictures of places I had visited, under Leo's guiding eye. Each landscape triggering memories of things past: an odd mix of what I had actually seen, and what I had imagined through his colorful words. As I looked back to my days in Fes, smells, sights and colors wove themselves into Leo's words.

Leo's manuscript signature: El Hassan Ibn Muhammad el Wazzan El Fassi

Words I had so often read, and repeated:

"Houses are built of brick and carefully carved stones, most of which are quite ornate and covered in mosaic. Inner courtyards and porches are also tiled, with ancient colorful tiles, just like a Majorcan vase. It is customary to paint ceilings, in refined colors like gold or blue. These ceilings are built of wood, and perfectly flat, so that roofs can be used to dry laundry or sleep in warm summer nights." (Leo, 183)

To think that these 16th century words could still carry so much relevance- to a young woman, in no ways Moroccan. And yet, I too have marveled at the refinery if Fassi arts, dwelt on summer roofs, peaking at other household's laundry, longing to drag my mattress up the narrow stairs, to dive into starlight nights and dreams.

So my Leo adventures are over...
I sadly pass the torch to another's curiosity- hoping that he or she will use my resources to start the work where I left it: at the doorstep of digital history.

In a rather entertaining work of fiction Time Line, Michael Crichton gives a scathing account of the 'downfall of history' and the field's need of a new medium of investigation. The solution imagined in his novel is one of time travel, a bona fide 're-living' of past epochs, for the sake of veracity, accuracy and high thrills!

I don't purport to bring my readers back in time, into the bustling lives of 16th century Morocco, but I did try to innovate with a new medium, for a 'new take' on ancient materials. The hope was to provide readers with a nonlinear approach to Leo's life and his country. Without having to follow Leo' s adventures in any particular order, this website's readers have the freedom to pick and chose their own content, tailoring a 'Leo to their needs'. In many ways this 'destructured' version of Leo Africanus is perhaps the only capable of embracing the many angles, facets and ambiguities of his personality. For which Leo are we to trust: the Andalusi? The Fassi Muslim? The Converted World traveler?

I hope this website does justice to Leo's complexity and depth. And I encourage, whomever you may be, to help Leo live on....