Writing about Syria has become impossible without seeing things in the light of the revolution and the conflicts developing since March 2011. It’s difficult to remember how things were just two years ago, right before the start of the uprising. For people who spent a long time there, and even for Syrians themselves, that reality has been absorbed by one more poignant. That time seems to matter little now that every Syrian has lost friends or family.

Nevertheless, I would like to step back for a moment in order to observe the Damascene cultural scene in February and March 2011, in the weeks ahead of the imprisonment of a dozen children in the southern city of Dara‘a and the start of the uprising. That period now feels like a vague dream, a bubble which has suddenly burst.

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