Meeting with the writer Simon Johannin for the release of his third novel: Here begins a love

Meeting with the writer Simon Johannin for the release of his third novel: Here begins a love
Meeting with the writer Simon Johannin for the release of his third novel: Here begins a love

I read that you were starting a new cycle with Here begins a lover. Can you tell us which cycle closes and which opens?
When I wrote Nino in the night And The summer of carrion, then the two collections of poetry, I touched on adolescence: the twenties, the quest for an identity, the illusions that you lose. The dreams you have and the means you give yourself to get there with all the violence that represents. Today, I reached a milestone. I’m more wondering: what do you do once you survive this period? No matter where you come from, rich or poor, the intensity is the same. Once you get through that, and if it went well, you arrive at something more spiritual, more aware of yourself and others. And at that moment what do you do? We have the desire to be an artist and to do what it takes to get there. Once this is done, we realize that it is a world of images and illusions and that the truth sought through creation is not really found there. How to embrace adulthood after having ascended to youth? This is precisely Theo’s challenge.

The story of your book is also the story of a book that is not made, an unfinished book in the book. There are very beautiful pages where Théo understands that he is going astray in his business. To what extent did this duality between this book that the hero did not write and the one that you were writing govern your writing?
It’s smart that it exists… More seriously, I wanted to convey the ambivalent position of the writer regarding what he wants to say, and in the case where he expressed himself poorly, what he does of what he has already written. On the one hand I am very annoyed by this reactionary speech which claims that we can no longer say anything. Because it seems logical to me that over time, certain things can no longer be expressed in the same way. It’s a lazy idea. It is precisely the job of artists and thinkers to find new forms of expression, adapted to the times in which they are led to think and produce. And on the other hand, there is something knee-jerk, an almost violent reaction to the desire of certain people to moralize art. We can absolutely make a speech that plays with limits. You just have to find the form to do it. We can always be amoral, but there is a responsibility of writing, in the fact of putting down the words of an imagination through which we will live in the years to come, through the books that we write. And at the same time, for me a work that cares about being morally acceptable is well on its way to being shit. There was also this desire to create a strong narrative break. To bring the reader into the making of books, into this world of notebooks and poems. The book that we buy in a bookstore is a finished product, but there is a raw material for writing which sometimes even goes beyond its own author. This book within the book is therefore the expression of this ambivalence.

Like this book within the book, your story is based on different visions of the world. I’m thinking in particular of this chapter where Théo, a nihilistic hero, spends a moment full of irony and bittersweet affection having cards drawn from a slightly hostile LGBT activist. Can you tell us how you came to write this chapter?
I am very interested in this area for its symbolic charge. archetypal things. Astrology does not interest me in itself as a truth. But I have accumulated a certain amount of knowledge about tarot. I have a spirituality that I live outside of any religious dogmatism because dogma deeply disgusts me. I do with what speaks to me. This scene comes from the fact that I hear a lot of people talking nonsense about astrology, whether it’s about horoscopes, signs etc… It has become a way ofessentialize the other and to enclose it in a finished discourse. Something almost a little fascist. While the Tarot de Marseille is the alchemist survival of the Middle Ages. It’s a huge symbolic heritage all around the Mediterranean. So I wanted to create a teaching scene around the relationship we should have with these things. It is no longer a question of knowing the future, but of drawing symbols and creating discourse in a collective way. I also wanted to talk about what’s happening with queer friends who sometimes go through the cards to create new narratives about identity. We are dispossessed of ourselves by commercial society, and the tarot is a tool like any other available to individuals to recreate the sacred around their person. That’s what’s powerful, I think. As for Louny’s hostility, for me it is simply a person in Théo’s trajectory who comes to confront his hetero prism. To get him out of this colonial attitude where the world belongs to him because he looks at it, and which tells him that his point of view is not obvious. If Louny is someone who is a little angry, there is above all a lot of love circulating in this scene.

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