Fear and Believe: My End of the World, by Simon Roy

Fearing and Believing: «My End of the World

The writer Simon Roy

How to continue to live, how not to succumb to fear when a “catastrophe [we ] literally falls from the sky”? This is one of the questions underlying Simon Roy's latest book, Ma fin du monde, published last week by Éditions du Boréal.

Le 22 February 2021, Simon Roy's world is turned upside down: the writer learns that he has “an incurable brain cancer which aggressively attacks the part of [his] head dedicated to language”.

Exactly one year later, to the day, the author begins writing Ma fin du monde, a hybrid work composed of fragments drawing on the personal experience of the writer and based on a panoply of outstanding works (in particular those of Orson Welles and Stephen King) to outline a reflection as erudite as it is sensitive on the power of fear, but also on the blurring between reality and fiction. This last theme was also at the heart of the novel Made by another., launched by Simon Roy last fall.

To fear and to believe: «My end of the world

The cover page of the book My end of the world, by Simon Roy
Courtesy Éditions du Boréal

Examining fear

While the theme of “false” was addressed, in Made by another, through the figure of Réal Lessard, a Quebec forger known for his association with the controversial art dealer Fernand Legros, in Ma fin du monde, it is rather the famous radio adaptation of War of the Worlds, by Orson Welles, broadcast in 1938, which provides a common thread to the fragments composing the hybrid text of My end of the world.

< p>From this formidable “historical event that did not take place”, this “hoax of the century”, orchestrated by Welles – as Roy recounts, the broadcasting of War of the Worlds was interrupted by a special (fake) news bulletin announcing an invasion of Martians – the writer wonders about the porous borders separating the real from the fictional as well as about the reaction of the human in front of the invader, whatever the form it takes (fictional, like extraterrestrials, or real, like cancer or a pandemic).

Thus, the writer examines fear, this powerful “corrosive” emotion, which sometimes short-circuits rationality and gives rise to certain behaviors which, from the outside and with hindsight, may appear eccentric, but which , seen from the inside, follow a certain logic.

It is at these moments when, following the shock produced by the irruption of the threat or the unusual in our lives, the “reasonable self” struggles with the “credulous self” that Simon Roy is interested in: the advent of a pandemic, which caused, as the writer recalls not without humor, a rush for toilet paper, unexplained supernatural phenomena, including angels and other occult powers, the creator delivers a highly captivating on the complexity of the mind – which is as fragile as it is powerful -, on our relationship to rationality as well as on the “leap” towards belief, in the broad sense, that the circumstances of life sometimes require of us . It is not a question here of turning away from reason to abandon oneself to “blind belief”, but rather of opening up to possibilities, of welcoming the inexplicable and of making it a driving force of life.< /p>

In other words, it is perhaps, as Simon Roy writes in a splendid fragment dedicated to his uncle Michel, recognized for his gifts as a healer, to believe “with eyes wide open “. We can only thank Simon Roy for this work of urgent humanity.

Ma fin du monde, by Simon Roy. Available now from Éditions du Boréal.

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