White Helmets in Aleppo look for survivors
"I am not part of the majority and I do not claim to be part of it. I will not write about people if I have not lived among them, if I have not felt the same fear or heard the same sounds of bombing or weeping or screaming at the emptiness around them. I will not write about a country I have not visited for more than two years," asserts Wannous

There was also a desire to say to them, ″There are Syrians who are living with you and among you under duress who aren′t necessarily like you. They live with you without identifying with your system of morality, behaviour and politics. If they were forced to meet you, they would find out about you and write about your lives and your corruption. They would challenge your way of life, which depends on them not existing. Yet they exist, because most Syrians are marginalised and excluded from public life, repressed, deprived of free will and freedom of expression.″’

Writing became an assertion of the self in an attempt to restore it to its natural place as a separate entity with a different way of expressing itself – with different desires, a different temperament and different dreams.

Literature failed

Personally, I lost my ability to write literature after the revolution. This inability has been frustrating, yet at the same time healthy. A generation of young Syrians came out onto the streets, not armed with literature or novels but with courage and rebellion and a refusal to obey. They came out bare-chested, indifferent to the possibility of dying. They came out on our behalf and on the behalf of every oppressed Syrian who dreams of freedom, democracy, political pluralism and dignity.

By coming out of their houses into the street, by giving voice to their suffering, they exposed the fact that literature had failed to fulfil its supposed function as an agent for change. They exploded all those delusions shared by Syrian writers and creative artists about the importance of literature as a real leader of the masses, as a theorist and vehicle for their concerns.

In fact, in my opinion, literature was not that important, because the people who thronged the streets generally had not read those books, anyway. Indeed, they had never even heard the names of the cultural elite, or those who had been detained, tortured, or who had sought refuge in exile during the Assad era.

Besides, the demonstrations that called for freedom and dignity and ultimately for the downfall of the regime were not led by Syrian intellectuals, writers, creative artists, nor by activists or opponents of the regime. The elite were in the vanguard, catching up with the people and trying to join their gatherings.

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