Wednesday, June 20, 2007

On writing

When I studied theatre in Warsaw in the 70s, the teacher of theatre directing would chose the most awful plays in the city and ask us to see them and write about them. Later we would discuss the weak points of the play, then he would tell us: now you know how to put a bad play on the stage!

When I was writing Ithaca, my latest book based on the Queen Boat scandal of homosexuals in Egypt (see Human Rights Watch In a Time of Torture), I had to stop writing and undergo an operation for the prostate. After a week in hospital I needed about three months to return slowly to my writing and to my book. I tried to put into it all my experience on writing a complicated text that contains many levels. The motto of my Polish teacher was always before me. Now I'm answering a long interview by mail on my writings in general, and my ideas about why I wrote Ithaca - a book which provoked a lot of hostility on the Internet. The interview in Madny with al Ansari on what he called the culture of hate in Arab-Muslim countries gave me a deep insight which I have always had, but had never expressed as accurately and completely as he.

Al Ansari also emphasised the principal of denial, which is a major characteristic of Arab-Muslim behaviour; that we are great and good people but the West and Israel are after us and they are the ones who are plotting the mass killing in Iraq and the clashes between Egyptian Muslims and Copts!

What has this to do with writing? A lot because BAD WRITING is a reflection on the depth of a writer - the corruption and fantasy; and a writer is the mirror of his or her society, but also a harsh critic of this society.

The French Arabist Richard Jacquemond wrote his PhD on Egyptian writers and their writings in the sixties, and he also confirms my ideas on the writer which is a SUPERUSER.
[what the hell is a superuser Raouf? I didn't know, but I linked it to a subversive-looking paper anyway Elly]

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