Lord of Reason, by Roy Luna. A new novel from Solution Hole Press
Solution Hole Press introduces a new novel:
Lord of Reason
by Roy Luna
Historical Fiction & Fictional History:
Warp & Woof in the Weaving of Text
For the presentation of Lord of Reason, a new publication from Solution Hole Press, the historian who lent his services as fact-checker to the history contained in the novel is on hand to interview the author, professor Roy Luna. Dr. Theophilus Ralph is chairperson of the Department of History at the University of Münster in Westphalia, Germany. His own books, particularly War of the Gods, from Roncevalles to New York (2007) have created quite a stir in the world of historiography. Not having met until this interview, the German professor of European history and the Guatemalan professor of French literature met on common ground, in Paris, at the restaurant Le Voltaire, located on the ground floor of the Hotel de Villette, the building where the French philosopher lived for the last four months of his life, and in which he died on May 30th, 1778. This sanctus locus, by the way, provides the setting to the events of the novel, 237 years earlier.
The Ralph – Luna Interview. As recorded on Saturday, June 27, 2015.
Herr Ralph: It is such a pleasure finally to meet you, monsieur. In the flesh is so much better, nicht war? But I thought you were younger! You look to be about my age.
Monsieur Luna: The pleasure is all mine, mein Herr. The picture used in the book makes me look years younger. It was taken of me in a restaurant in Spain, while I was engaged in a favorite activity, eating.
Ralph: And here we are at it again, eating. This time underneath the room where Voltaire died.
Luna: Well, you know that there are historians who place Voltaire’s death in the servants’ quarters behind this building.
Ralph: You need not tell me this. With all the eyewitnesses available who were around clearly to see all the details surrounding Voltaire back in 1778, you would think that there would be more evidence as to where he specifically died, upstairs or behind the courtyard. But, we’re trifling with minor details. The important fact is that he breathed his last on the premises. As I look around, I can see details that persist since the Eighteenth century.
Luna: The façade, alas, shows nothing of the splendor and the richness of when the hôtel used to belong to the marquis de Villette. [Note from the editor: An hôtel in the Eighteenth century was an aristocratic town house. It wasn’t until the Nineteenth century that the word took on its modern meaning of a building with rooms to let.]
Ralph: But let us order our meal first, shall we? The bœuf bourguignon is wonderful here, served with the silkiest of mashed potatoes.
Luna: I’ve had my eye on the coq au vin. This restaurant needs to be given another star. It’s not their fault that so many tourists come here. And the owner, monsieur Antoine Picot, and Thierry, his right hand, are so sympathiques! Mignons comme tout! I’ve been coming here since the 80s.
Ralph, laughing: I, too! I would bring students from Germany, and I would of course take them to cheaper restaurants. But this one I reserved for myself.
Luna: What a coincidence! I also brought students from Florida in the 80s, up until a few years ago. I stopped when it became too difficult. Modern American students are so spoiled now; they complain about everything! The dorm room is too small, there’s no air conditioning, there’s no elevator, oh, and the perennial, they’ve no idea what the bidet is for! I’ve seen students use it as an ice chest for their beer.
Ralph: Oh, how amusing! German students know, at least, what a bidet is for. But they know how to complain as well. Vociferously. I’m glad we’re both through with that. What do you do, then, with your time when you’re not babysitting students in France?
Luna: I write, Herr Ralph. I’ve been writing for the past five years, in part to make up for lost time, but also because of an overwhelming sense of urgency that took hold of me, and which I cannot shake.
Ralph: Why, because of approaching death? Ah, here’s our wine. Pauillac, how lovely! I love the anticipation, don’t you? Here, you be the one to taste. Good? Then, let me wait till both our glasses are filled, and, here we are. Let’s toast to our writing, and to our sense of urgency. Allow me to paraphrase Voltaire: We write to act!
Luna: Santé! Let me explain why I feel a sense of urgency. While part of it stems from the fact that I have more life behind me than before me, the largest part of it comes from the way the world is developing. Your study of the causes and effects of Mutually Intolerant Religions, MIR, as you call it, in addition to your scathing accusation of Indoctrinated National Religions & Institutions, or INRI, were just two of the incitements that caught my attention and fed into this sense of urgency that I felt growing inside me. Another catalyst was the presidency of George W. Bush.
Ralph: Ach, mein Gott! You need not explain, I know! I know!
Luna: Right? His need for religion was everywhere! He flouted the secular aspect of the American presidency. His most influential philosopher, according to him, was Jesus Christ, for chrissakes! And instituting the connection between the federal government and faith-based groups was a red flag. Having a president who believes in the Book of Revelation and in the End of Days, and who has a finger on the red button of Mutual and Total Annihilation (MATA) should in no way be trusted as a world leader!
Ralph: I hear—
Luna: And then came that Palin woman! She actually said, “I never read anything that might conflict with my beliefs.” I could not fathom the profound stupidity of that statement! That’s why I turned her into Louis XVI!
Ralph: What was that?
Luna: Think of it! Inculcating a dose of Palin into Louis XVI was so easy! Louis XVI was also a true believer in the primacy of religion in state affairs. He did as he was told, and it was the Archbishop of Paris, Beaumont, who was telling him what to do. It was against Louis XVI, and his predecessors and royal homologues in Great Britain, that the American Insurgents wrote their Declaration of Independence and state constitutions. Separation of Church and State was clearly, without a doubt, one of the tenets of their new nation. It’s people like Bush and Palin who want to erase all of that, to sweep it under the rug of religiosity.
Ralph: It seemed to me that in your novel you were also criticizing the Muslim faith of today.
Luna: Aïe, aïe, aïe, mein Herr! Please don’t Rushdie me! I’ll have enough problems with the Christians. Having said that, however, I am like Voltaire! He criticized all faiths that would murder one of their own rather than see him leave their religion. We in our Western countries have grown up with the liberty to choose our religion, including the liberty to refrain from choosing any! We can’t go back, because we are used to this freedom, and we like it! But there are plenty of people who would push us back to that time of intolerance by the religious. It is these same people who call Voltaire, and those of his ilk, infidels and libertines, apostates and atheists, as if those names were bad things. To these religious fanatics, an atheist is tantamount to an immoral and unscrupulous villain. They refuse to accept that an atheist can be an upstanding moral citizen of his or her society. Perhaps even more moral than the religious, for the religious accept heinous crimes against humanity just because they are instituted in their religious texts. The irony of it all is that Christianity was founded by a man who advocated peace and love, even for one’s enemies. The Christians in this country treat as enemies all who don’t agree with them, and they don’t find anything wrong with pushing them aside, or even eliminating them. Crusaders they are indeed! But even against their own fellow citizens.
Ralph: You seem to have much animosity against the religious.
Luna: Of course I do. Voltaire pushed against all of those who were intolerant and exclusive of other faiths, including those who felt they had the right to not have a faith. We need Voltaire now more than ever!
Ralph: Is that why you wrote this novel?
Luna: In part. I was interested in exploring what Voltaire was against. But I was also, probably even more, interested in what he was for. What was Voltaire for? Well, he was for many very positive things: for the cessation of torture, for ending the cruelty of castration just to have men maintain a juvenile voice when singing their Te Deums, for free speech, for the demise of superstition and fanaticism, for the use of Reason in all human endeavors, and so on and so forth. The religious think that atheists are all for destroying things; that atheists are anarchists at heart. That couldn’t be further from the truth! Firstly, like Voltaire’s fellow writers Diderot and Condorcet tell the priests who are hounding their 84-year-old friend to death, Voltaire was no atheist. He was a deist. They should know, for they were atheists. But the uncompromising priests kept harassing the old man, threatening to take possession of his mortal remains and throw them into the city dump if he refused to recant three quarters of a century worth of enmity against the Church. Voltaire would have none of it. He didn’t want to be thrown into the city dump, but how could he recant the truth? His whole life had been dedicated to exposing the brutal repression presided over by the fusion of state and religion. Any society that could condemn a young man to having his tongue cut out, his head cut off, then his body burned to ashes, and his ashes scattered to the wind, all for refusing to show respect for the Holy Sacrement, was a society that did not deserve to exist. That these “inconsequential wafers” would lead human beings to torture and murder one of their own was Voltaire’s worst nightmare. Worse, transubstantiation is absolute lunacy, and refusing to believe in it led to the deaths of thousands of people. I hope the religious realize this as they line up at the altar like sheep to bite into Christ’s flesh. What an inane idea! And what idiocy to believe in it!
Ralph: You were speaking just know, of course, of the famous case of the chevalier de la Barre.
Luna: He was only one, just one, of society’s victims. There were many; they were legion. Voltaire could not stand to let these crimes pass without condemning them. And to Voltaire, not condemning them was tantamount to condoning them.
Ralph: How so?
Luna: To Voltaire, living meant detecting injustice all over the world. And accepting injustice, without adding your voice to condemn it, without making an effort to stop it, even though it occured halfway around the world, was tantamount to giving your tacit agreement for such an injustice to one day fall on your own head, or on the head of someone you loved.
But let me continue with my original train of thought. I had mentioned that the religious think of atheists as being destructive, for they “destroy” god. (Nonsense, I say, for there is no god to be destroyed!) Well, there has been no more destructive a force than Christianity. Whole peoples, whole cities, whole civilizations, have been annihilated under the name of Christ! I suppose that once the early Christians stopped being persecuted, they began to beat up on everybody else.
But to get to my point, atheists are not so destructive. They have no booming voice inside their heads telling them to smite their neighbors. I think that atheists are content, troubled and perplexed, to be sure, by the craziness of the religious all over the world, but comfortable in their own skin. So long as they can keep their own skin. I’ve never heard of an atheist attacking anybody else in the name of a non-god! Furthermore, most of the atheists that I know, including me, don’t even care enough about religion to call themselves atheists. It would be like having to go out of my way to call myself a “non-eater of rocks.” Why, only rock-eaters would need to make that distinction. I am content, and amazingly happy, being a “non-eater of rocks.” If you want to eat rocks, stones, pebbles, boulders, knock yourself out. There are many quarries out there. Just, leave me alone. Leave me alone. You leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone. If you don’t leave me alone, if you attack me and my system of beliefs, of course I’ll retaliate, and attack your system of beliefs, which is such an easy thing to do, seeing that it’s based on such flimsy, unproven, and unprovable, foundations.
At Le Voltaire, Herr Ralph and monsieur Luna’s food arrived, and their conversation turned to academia, and how their respective universities were turning into bastions of oppression led by the very liberals who denounced oppression in the first place. But, momentarily flummoxed by the complexities of modern societies, in the guise of protecting the downtrodden, the students, mostly, who are young and inexperienced, were inadvertently called to defend, and protect, the very same groups who were oppressing their own members. Muslims, for one, enjoy the protection of university students who are advised by professors who wish to remain popular with the students, and thus these Muslims are encouraged to continue with the oppression of their faithful. Women are shamed into wearing those cumbersome robes that obliterate their identity, sharia law still runs rampant in many lands, a girl is killed for having been raped, girls are kidnapped and minority religious groups face attack in Muslim nations. Islam is not to blame, say the liberals. Of course not. And the Holy Inquisition was not the fault of Catholicism, just rogue priests gone rampant, I suppose. Eventually, their conversation returned to Lord of Reason.
Ralph: I must now to a touchy subject direct your attention. You and I didn’t always see eye to eye on the subject of historicity. Sometimes when I found your story, shall we say, divergent from the true facts, you were a bit sensitive and, at times, defensive about my suggestions.
Luna: This is a touchy subject, Herr Ralph, and I remember feeling both sensitive and defensive, but I disagree that you were giving me suggestions. Criticism is more like it. As I said when we were having these altercations, the art of fiction does diverge from the telling of authentic, verifiable history. For instance, I remember you chiding me because John Adams was not present during the session at the Villette salon the evening when Voltaire first meets Benjamin Franklin. Adams was still on his boat buffeted by strong winds and high seas within sight of American land, but I had him seated next to his boss, the minister plenipotentiary, who had just signed the Franco-American alliance. Well, like I explained then, this practice is known as consolidation. Adams came, eventually, and proceeded to do and say what I have him do and say, only at a later time. My manuscript was already over 600 pages. There was great pressure on me to curtail, to abridge, to subdue my tendency to embellish the story with rococo tangents and circumlocutory addenda.
Ralph: Well, you never seem to lose your claim to the right of being called an omniscient author.
Luna, laughing: Right you are! Right you are! Of course, I’m an omniscient author! I’m in charge here! Diderot would be the first to tell you this. Do you remember how in his Jacques le fataliste he toys with his reader? He taunts the reader, teases him, telling him how the reader can only slavishly follow the story, and how he, the author, has all the power, all the control, over his characters. He could fling them off a cliff as well as have them fall in love. (Maybe that’s one and the same thing!) In my case, how could I call myself an omniscient author when at many crucial moments of the story, especially at the interstices of concurrent events, my main character is nowhere to be seen! He’s hiding, I surmised. But I knew better! With the aid of the historical knowledge at my disposal, I was able to interpolate the events that must have taken place. This is so very important. I was able to see the events that were clearly inevitable. For example, knowing madame de Polignac as well as I do, knowing just how spoiled she had become as Marie Antoinette’s favorite lady-in-waiting, I knew that she would want to get her hands on my hero, Zénobe. The fact that he was just one more catamite brought into the house of the marquis de Villette would be of no consequence to her. Perhaps it served to pique her curiosity even further, I don’t know. It’s been my experience with some women that they fling themselves at you even more when they find out you’re gay. “You’ve never been with a real woman,” they say. “Try me!” At times I did! A straight man should try this ruse in order to get more women to bed.
I knew that madame de Polignac would be unable to see Zénobe and then ignore him. Besides, she realized right away that he wasn’t really a valet. He was too fidgety to be a valet. Valets don’t stand one one foot, then the other, throwing out their buttocks this way and that. They don’t bite their lips either, or show their teeth. Valets are told never to smile, and here Zénobe was laughing—laughing!—at everything Voltaire said. Then later, after madame de Polignac has had her way with him, it is she who begins the rumor that Zénobe is the illegitimate son of king Victor-Amadeus III of Sardinia and Savoy. If ever their tryst would have been found out, she could not admit to having spent time with a servant. No, no, he was a secret prince. Coming from Savoy, for all we know, he could have been one of Rousseau’s abandoned children!
Ralph: Ach, nein, nein! That would be too much, and not believable!
Luna: Some of the most unbelievable things that happen in the novel truly happened. They’re from history! Like I say in the introduction: Fiction demands verisimilitude; reality forces no such exigencies. “Text” and “textile” are, etymologically speaking, one and the same. They are both woven! And I am the weaver! The warp is history and the woof is imagination, and the bolt of fabric is made out of whole cloth. But then, what is reality, Herr Ralph? Would you ever have believed the chevalière d’Éon, if she hadn’t come forth from the historical record?
Ralph: Madame d’Éon was unbelievable even to her contemporaries. Right in front of her, they couldn’t believe her.
Luna: And yet, and yet, she was there. And she did those things. That’s how she dressed! She was a friend of madame Bertin, the Queen’s dressmaker. The King gave her jewels, her luxurious carriage. I can’t even figure out what she was, in today’s parlance. Was she merely a male transvestite? A transexual? She certainly was a Captain of the Dragoons, courageous enough to have won France’s highest military award, the Croix de Saint Louis, which she always kept pinned over her heart. And before that, she had been a successful economist, a diplomat, a spy, and a world-class fencer. She was a force of nature, all by herself. Voltaire makes puns with one of her names, de Tonnerre. Thunder. By the way, she was so garrulous, her memoirs are so cornucopian, that 95% of her utterances in my novel actually come directly from her. I didn’t have to invent anything about her. She seemed to leave a trail of stunned eyewitnesses wherever she went.
Ralph: This is true. And what say you of the chevalier de Saint-George? Did you have to invent much about him?
Luna: Not at all. He’s another of those amazingly rich historical characters that seem to have been left by the wayside. In his case, his father was a French aristocrat but his mother was his father’s slave. But the day his father brought his slave from Guadeloupe into Paris, she came in like a queen. Radiant, beautiful, exotic, a Cleopatra from the New World dripping with jewels and gold, and with a headdress up to there. Of course, they couldn’t marry. But the father’s revenge was in bringing up his son like a true aristocrat. The chevalier de Saint-George learned to fence better than any other scion of the aristocracy, and he learned to play the violin better than anybody else. One doesn’t get to be the Queen’s musical tutor without true talent.
Ralph: True, but his tutelage was wasted on Marie Antoinette. She was such a mediocre student. Why didn’t you include the King and Queen in more of your scenes?
Luna: Because they weren’t there! They kept themselves ensconced behind the walls of Versailles. Here comes Voltaire, the best known, the most celebrated writer ever, right into their midst, and what do they do? They ignore him. The royal couple were completely inconsequential, to my novel, but also to history, for they were about to learn what happens when one ignores history. When one ignores history, it comes right around to bite you in the ass. Of course, the French royals had to let Benjamin Franklin into Versailles, for he was the American diplomat. Marie Antoinette thought herself witty by always calling Franklin “that son of a candlestick-maker.” But even if he had been a son of a bitch, there he was, with no hat at all to doff in front of royalty, with drab clothes which did not dazzle, which did not impress. He hoped to impress people with his sharp mind and his brilliant conversation. What a shame that the King and Queen of France were too stupid to understand him. They invited Franklin to dinner, but you do know what that entailed, don’t you? It meant that Benjamin Franklin, the inventor, scientist, polymath extraordinaire, enjoyed the pleasure of standing behind the Austrian bitch’s chair while she ate. Ah! They deserved to lose their heads!
Ralph: You seem to share your hero’s antipathy for royalty.
Luna: Well, Zénobe’s father was murdered by the king of Savoy’s men when the poor man was caught poaching on royal lands. Imagine that! Your family is starving, but you catch a rabbit on royal property and your life is ended. You’re not even worth a rabbit. So when I see royalty who are idiots, who only came into their position because they were born to it, well, of course, it burns me up. (I just borrowed that from Beaumarchais, but in my novel I had him borrowing it from Zénobe.) I become a revolutionary all over again. Do you remember the scene where Zénobe gives his boyfriend, André, a lesson on the royalty of France, including all the dullards, drunks, lunatics, imbeciles, liars, cheats, idiots and deviants who had spent their time on the throne of the Franks?
Ralph: Indeed I do! Very funny, and quite amusing! And on the subject of boyfriend, what made you devise homosexual characters in a story that takes place in the Eighteenth century?
Luna: I didn’t devise, I didn’t have to. And what are you implying? That homosexuals didn’t exist in the Eighteenth century? It was the Nineteenth century that did its utmost to extinguish what they thought of as unsavory characters. Why do you think nobody remembers the chevalière d’Éon or the chevalier de Saint-George? They were famous in their day. But the Romantics and the Victorians and the Eduardians all scurried back to religion and ejected these independentlly-minded individuals right out of the annals. Remember Hypatia! It happened to her! She would have dropped off from the pages of history had it not been for the likes of Voltaire and others who kept her alive in their pages, until we could get to her and realize that it was the Church who wanted her vilified, and then liquidated. Her books were burned! The bibliophile in me howls in rage and in woe! How dare they! They were too stupid to understand what was in those books. Hypatia was so much smarter than the ecclesiastics that to those ignorant thugs she was a witch! And witches must burn. The archbishop of Alexandria sicced his monks on her, and they skinned her alive with pottery shards! It was not lost on Voltaire that the archbishop was made into a saint. Saint Cyril, who with such noble hagiography joins the murderess Saint Joan of Arc, and a panoply of other assassins. Did you know that French Royalists still meet at St. Joan’s statue at the Place des Pyramides every year on May Day? Are they demented? Royalists? Today? Praising a murderess who killed other Christians? Sometimes reality does read like a tale told by an idiot, a narrative without a shred of logic, a nightmare of the insane who cannot be brought to rational wakefulness.
But you asked me about gay characters. The gay characters who appear in my novel were already there, in full view. It is in the historical record that the marquis de Villette was known as an inveterate, unapologetic homosexual. He was caught, at least twice, loitering in the bushes of Tuileries Park. With men, might I add. The second time, the lieutenant of police, Lenoir, convinced Villette’s valet to spy on his master for him. Lenoir kept tabs on Villette for two years! It is also an established fact that the marquis de Thibouville was also gay. He lived in Villette’s home. Both Villette and Thibouville were close friends of Voltaire. Voltaire know about their sexuality, ergo Voltaire was comfortable with the idea. Was Voltaire himself gay? I don’t think so. His pursuit of actresses when he was young, his love for Emilie du Châtelet, and his affection for his niece, Marie Louise Denis, are ample proof of that. Still, you could say of Voltaire, as people have said of me, that perhaps he wasn’t a duck, but he knew where the pond was. There is also enough innuendo in the historical record to whisper that Villette might have been Voltaire’s son. Voltaire had been sweet on Villette’s mother, at the time she became pregnant. In any case, from what I could gather, Villette liked to bring beautiful boys into his household to serve as valets, scullions and lackeys, and I knew he must have had a majordomo to run the place. So Maurel was born. He was Villette’s enabler, going to the provinces to bring back possible candidates to serve as catamites. At least until Villette married, and then the master had to worry about bringing about an heir.
Voltaire’s last words were directed at a servant in the hôtel de Villette. He said, “Adieu, my dear Morand, I am dying.” I changed the name to Maurel, to make him more mine, and to make it sound more like ‘moral’, which he was. Maurel was very moral, and when he realizes that the two most recent catamites in the household are worthy innocents, pure and untouched, he vows that neither his master Villette, nor the other resident predator, Thibouville, will manage to get their dirty hands on his angels, as he calls them. Whether or not he succeeds in this endeavor is for the reader to find out.
Ralph: There is a touch of Rousseau’s noble savage about both André and Zénobe.
Luna: That is correct. Zénobe’s last name is Bosquet, Little Forest. They are from the countryside, not the city. They are virgins. Simple, naïve, but not stupid. And even though they’re brought in as servants, there is a grace about them, an inner confidence that makes them aristocratic in their bearing. And André, of course, comes from the Corday family, who were aristocrats, but they had lost their money.
Ralph: And, of course, Charlotte Corday is André’s sister, who will have a major part in the next novel.
Luna: In the third novel. When Charlotte Corday travels to Paris to kill the revolutionary, the bloodthirsty, Marat, we’re already in the midst of the Revolution.
Ralph: The Revolution, I noticed, is everywhere anticipated in Lord of Reason.
Luna: Surely. Just as calamity is everywhere anticipated in our own era. Just like we won’t be able to sustain our rapacious appetites that are destroying our planet, the French aristocracy could not sustain their way of life forever. It’s in the rational, dispassionate appraisal of man’s assault of the planet. Similarly, the ancien régime carried the seeds of its own destruction in the arbitrary control that the rich nobles had on the rest of society, in their utter possession of the lower classes. To have 1% of the population have all the money, all the power, all the control in their society, was so unjust and intolerable that it could not persevere. So long as you saw some of the population succeed in becoming part of the ruling class, the imbalance continued, because everyone hoped to improve their lot. But when Voltaire irrupts into Paris on February 10, 1778, with his history of saying what he thought and of pushing the agenda that people should think for themselves, those people learned that they could also do the same, and they seized for themselves the liberties of thought and of conscience. It must have been heady to learn this lesson from a frail old man. “Don’t let others do the thinking for you.” “Have the courage to say what you think.” Neither the State nor the Church could do anything against this revolutionary way of thinking. Once the tide started to turn, none could stop it, not the King, not the Archbishop, not the aristocrats. The people took the power, made it their own, and swept away the tyranny and the subjugation.
Ralph: Which the Americans had done, and where still doing, in 1778.
Luna: That’s correct. Silly Louis XVI, upon signing Benjamin Franklin’s Treaty of Amity and Alliance, gave aid in the form of money and materièl to the insurgents so that they could break off from their own king, George III. He didn’t know that it would come back across the Atlantic and bite him on the ass. You know that Louis forbade his subjects from reading the state constitutions as they were being translated into French from 1778 to 1780. How foolish. The best way to get people curious about something is to tell them they can’t see it. Of course, in 1783, Ben Franklin himself had all thirteen state constitutions translated and bound up in book form, and presented to the King and all the foreign ministers. A few of these books must have fallen into the wrong hands, because the same demands that the American insurgents had made on George, the French people began to make on Louis. And voilà, a new revolution was born.
Ralph: And on that note, let’s away to Marche des Fiertés!
Luna: Why, Herr Ralph! You surprise me. I thought you were a married man, to a Frau!
Ralph: Nein, nein, mein Freund! I am married to a Mann, and a Mensch! He’s to join us at the north-east corner of the Luxembourg Gardens. Afterwards, we can go to the Bonnefoi Livres Anciens. They have a set of Voltaire’s Kehl edition, supposedly in excellent condition. Ever since I found out you had a set, I’ve been very jealous! Every dix-huitiémiste should have the set at home, nicht wahr, mon bon ami?
Luna: Absolument! We need to spread Voltaire’s ideas far and wide, especially to those areas in the world where tyranny, oppression by the religious, and injustice rear their ugly heads. Go us! Vive la liberté! Écrasez l’Infâme!
Herr Ralph and monsieur Luna had already finished their dessert of fruit compote slathered with rich crème fraîche, chased down by the smoothest of Sauternes. Right before they left they had a hit of Calvados, and soon thereafter were seen walking the half-league, teetering a bit, arm in arm, to the Marche des Fiertés. Both had much to be proud of, and a hell of a lot to be thankful for, with a large part of their gratitude extended to a little old man from the Eighteenth century with a great mind, a big heart, and a hell of a lot of courage.