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A Vehicle of Escape

Discerning personal cultural subjectivity might well turn out to be therapy for literary-minded individuals.

I started keeping diaries from a very young age. In therapy, they helped me to locate certain events or moments that caused new patterns of thinking and behaviour to emerge. My therapist was particularly interested in my genetics and my upbringing. For example, she asked me whether or not there was a history of depression in the family and inquired about the manner in which I was raised. When I evoked The Count of Monte Cristo in order to describe the feelings caused by betrayals that brought me to therapy, or when I spoke about Les Miserables to elucidate the feelings of helplessness and paranoia derived from constant persecution despite my intention to live peacefully and productively, my therapist cried, “Are you trying to impress me?” (To which I answered, “If I was trying to impress you, I wouldn’t have told you I’ve been listening to N*Sync for the past six months”).

My therapist then wondered whether or not I had used literature as a vehicle of escape. I explained – with some passion – that as soon as I was able to view and understand black-and-white Egyptian movies, attend Kuwaiti plays, or read middle-grade or young adult fiction in English, I have been using literature (and with that I am encompassing all forms of art) to help me integrate into the world. When contemplating happiness or love or death, I thought within literary brackets.

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