Since the talahardin is an archive, writing using it is archival work. Archival work involves an attempt to create coherence by looking for interconnections among fragments (i.e., seeds, seedlings, and evergreens).

At the earliest stages of writing using the talahardin, the work is fragmentary, partial, and incomplete. We can say that the liminal nature of the talahardin and its contents is transferred to the work it produces, which is to say, a work created through the talahardin is both a draft and an archive at the same time. Eventually, the connections between notes become clearer and a sense of linearity and continuity takes shape. Nevertheless, this coherence achieved while working through the talahardin is illusory as it does not signify finality: art is never finished.


Scandura, Jani. “The Matter of Drafts.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature, edited by Paula Rabinowitz, Oxford University Press, 2020. (Crossref),

Through archived documents, we are presented with pieces of time to be assembled, fragments of life to be placed in order, one after the other, in an attempt to formulate a story that acquires its coherence through the ability to craft links between the beginning and the end. A montage of fragments thus creates an illusion of totality and continuity. (Achille Mbembe, “The Power of the Archive and Its Limits”)

Mbembe suggests, in other words, that archival work is cinematic, performed through editing—a sifting, cutting, and juxtaposing of discrete scenes. Mbembe’s use of “montage” to describe the archive is particularly apt, for it references the historical correspondence of the archive as a modern institution with interpretations of the archive that often resonate with and draw upon the formal rules and aesthetic compulsions of the anti-institutional collage and inter-media experiments of the historical avant-garde. Moreover, he alludes to the scattered and fragmentary nature of the archival and of the apparent incoherence of archival materials, even when catalogued, and in which meaning must be made through composition and the conscious arrangement of diverse materials that may seem unrelated.