Fire the Canon

Gather round, audience, and we’ll tell you a tale of Voltaire, perhaps the greatest satirist in all of France. Learn why this man kept getting sent to England (a fate worse than death)! Find out which family member he hooked up with! Discover what his friends did with his body after he died! Rachel apologizes for having taken a philosophy course. Jackie comes for Young Thug. Theo declares his intention to cremate himself out of courteousness.
Topics include: the ethics of Havana Moon by Chuck Berry, birthday episodes, Bartleby, Harry Houdini, Lil Pimp, the luxuriousness of the Bastille, making it with the penguins, Timothee Chalamet, nerd bros, Frederick the Great, mere uncle status, X the Great, anti-slavery racists, Eleanor Rigby-ing someone, mummies, and full-body condoms.

Show Notes

Gather round, audience, and we’ll tell you a tale of Voltaire, perhaps the greatest satirist in all of France.  Learn why this man kept getting sent to England (a fate worse than death)!  Find out which family member he hooked up with!  Discover what his friends did with his body after he died!  Rachel apologizes for having taken a philosophy course. Jackie comes for Young Thug.  Theo declares his intention to cremate himself out of courteousness.
Topics include: the ethics of Havana Moon by Chuck Berry, birthday episodes, Bartleby, Harry Houdini, Lil Pimp, the luxuriousness of the Bastille, making it with the penguins, Timothee Chalamet, nerd bros, Frederick the Great, mere uncle status, X the Great, anti-slavery racists, Eleanor Rigby-ing someone, mummies, and full-body condoms.

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What is Fire the Canon?

Prefer your books in comedy form, but still want to sound smart at parties? We got you. Discover the hilarity hidden in the classics with new episodes every Thursday.

JACKIE: Hi everyone! Welcome to Fire the Canon. This is the podcast where we read the books in the Western canon and decide if they belong or not. This time, in preparation for reading just such one of those books, I'm going to be talking to you about the author, in… not great detail, but definitely more detail than we would get if we would put this with the book conversation. So we're trying something a little bit new. We're going to just talk about the author.

RACHEL: The details better be great. I have to say that.

J: Oh, they're great. They are great.

R: Okay.

J: It's not going to be in great detail, but it's… the details themselves will be great, if that makes sense.

R: Oh, sweet, sweet. Yeah.

J: Yeah.

THEO: Mm. A few really good details. Well, do you mind if we also introduce ourselves, Jackie? Me and Rachel?

J: I actually didn't introduce myself yet.

T: Oh.

J: But yes, I'm Jackie, I'm one of the hosts.

T: Okay.

R: Okayyy.

J: Who are you?

T: No, it’s Rachel's turn. Hosts have to go first.

R: I'm Rachel. I'm the other host of this delightful podcast.

T: And I'm Theo. Once again, I'm the executive producer and I'm coming to you live from the best of all possible worlds!

R: …Texas!

J: Ah, see, there's a Candide reference! Yeah, Texasssss. Yeah, so we decided we would like to try this because there are times when we're going to read multiple books by the same author, and it would be cool to you know - for anyone who's not familiar with the author, or, you know, vice versa, anybody who is familiar with the author and just wants to hear about the book, then they can just get into the plot and not have to listen to like 20 minutes of someone's biography.

T: Woah!

J: If you want to skip that, you can. And if you just want to come here and learn about Voltaire, here we are!

R: And you do. You do want to learn about Voltaire.

J: Trust me, you do.

R: This guy’s a nut. Let's crack this nut. Let's get going.

T: This is a genius idea.

R: Oh, we will say, this time, Jackie is our only expert and Theo and I are kind of audience surrogates.

J: Yeah, so I've got about a hundred different facts about Voltaire and three of them are bullshit. We're going to see if they can figure it out.

R: Is that true?

J: No, I didn't do that.

R: Okay.

J: But it is awesome for me because I feel so free and light, because I know that Rachel can't figure out when I get things wrong. So I'm just going to be able to go and go and go.

R: I'll figure it out. I'm sorry, but I did take some philosophy courses, so I know a little bit about Voltaire.

J: Thank you for apologizing.

R: I'm really sorry, but I unfortunately know a tiny bit about philosophy.

J: I do too, because I'm pretty sure UNC pretty much made everyone take some philosophy courses, right?

R: German philosophy.

J: You took German philosophy? I took Ethics.

R: Yeah, that was a mistaaaaake! Oh, I also took Ethics, but the German philosophy course, I really kind of regret taking that, honestly.

T: Wow.

R: I was so confused.

J: Now, where did Voltaire come in for either of those? Because he's not a German philosopher, and he wasn't in the Ethics course.

R: Uhh, I don't remember. But I took another class that talked about different Enlightenment stuff. So who knows? Somebody recently asked me… I was talking about an undergrad course that I took and I was talking to someone who's a professor at a different university, like in the same field. He was like, “Oh, who was your professor?” And I had to say, “I am so sorry, but I do not know, like I have a vague image of what she looked like, but it has been ten years and it was one class.”

T: You should have just said, “All professors, they're all the same, right?”

R: Yeah.

T: They all just run together.

R: “It could have been you for all I know, man!” Something like that.

T: “All those people like you, they're all the same.”

J: That's crazy, because I thought about it and I was like, “Oh, I know who my ethics professor was!” And then I was like, “Wait, no, I don't. I don't remember his name at all.” Like I can see his face, I can remember the things he taught us.

T: Wow.

R: Yeah.

J: He used to start every single class by… he would play the song “Havana Moon” by Chuck Berry on the speakers in this huge auditorium every day as we filed in for class. And I grew to really like that song, but now every time I hear it, it's just… sitting in a little desk…

R: You start thinking about ethics.

J: Waiting to hear about, yeah, JS Mill or something.

T: Ohh.

R: Huh.

J: Isn’t that a weird?… I feel like that's a weird, like, experiment that he did on us, but he never revealed the purpose.

T: Yeah, I don't know if THAT’S ethical.

R: Well, you should Google, like… go on JSTOR and look up “Havana Moon ethics”. See if he explains.

T: Yeah, right!

R: Maybe he wrote a paper.

J: I mean it is... It's an interesting song from an ethical perspective! Because it's about - do either of you know the song?

T: No.

R: Sing it. Maybe we do, maybe we don't.

T: I've heard of those two concepts separately.

J: (singing) Havana Moon… It's about a man who meets a woman in Cuba, in Havana, and she promises to come back for him the next day and she's going to sail him to America and they're going to start their new life together.

R: Where do the ethics come into play?

J: Yeah, he goes down to the beach and waits for her and waits for her, and the boat never comes. So he drinks some rum, and he lays down, and he drinks more rum, but the boat, she don't come. And then he says, “Okay, well, I guess she lied,”, and then he wakes up from his drunken stupor and he sees that the boat is sailing away and the girl has been crying and crying. But he slept right through it and he didn't trust her. He figured she lied and wouldn't come back.

R: But why didn't she try to wake him up? Wasn't he right there?

J: I think she couldn't find him. Like, the boat… the boat disembarked.

R: But he was right there!

J: But he woke up in time to see the boat sailing away.

R: Wow.

T: Wait, so what are the ethics involved?

J: Well…

T: No, you got this!

J: He thought she told a lie, but she didn't lie.

T: Uh huh.

J: He should have trusted and held out his faith, but instead he just drank a bunch of rum and he was like, “Whatever.”

T: Oh.

J: And the Havana moon is looking down on him the whole time.

T: That's what you get for not trusting people.

J: Yeah. Rachel, can you tell us what the Enlightenment is?

R: Is this like a quiz, or you're just serious about it?

J: No, just tell us. I didn't get to that part.

R: Yeah, I'll talk about it. Let me pull up the -

J: Voltaire was a great Enlightenment philosopher - I know what it is. Just tell us the basics of the-

T: Well, why don’t you give Voltaire's birthdate for us.

J: Well, he was baptized on November 22, 1694.

R: What's with Jackie always saying when people get baptized?!

J: Because it doesn't really say their birthdates a lot of the time! Like it says he was born November -

R: Well couldn't he tell us?

J: It says his birthday is November 21 and he was baptized the 22nd. But there's some confusion about his birthdate, because he for some reason later claims that he was actually born in February of that year, because he was the illegitimate son of some other guy.

T: Ohh!

R: Hmm!

J: Nobody knows which is true. I don't know why he would make that up about himself?.

T: He claims it like he wants to be the illegitimate child?

J: I don't know. I don't know if he wanted that. I mean, he was either one day old or he was nine months old, like there's a big difference there. So I don't know why nobody can remember. Like did this kid have his eyes open at any point? Okay, he was probably not a day old.

T: Okay. So what was the year though? What was the year though?

J: 1694.

R: Oooh.

J: Yeah, two years after the Salem witch trials. And he's popping up in France like, “We're going to have reason now that I'm here.”

R: Voilà!

T: All those people in Salem were like, “Ugh! I wish we knew about reason!”

R: “Wish you would have popped up two years earlier!”

J: “I wish this French baby would have come to save us before!” All right, so I'll start talking more about him whenever you want. Should I go now, or do you want to say what the Enlightenment is?

R: I'll talk about the Enlightenment now.

J: Okay.

T: Well, now that we've contextualized him, let's hear about the Enlightenment.

J: Now that we've contextualized the Enlightenment… It occurred around the time Voltaire was existing.

R: Yeah. Okay, I'll just do like a really brief thing, because maybe we'll do an episode with someone who knows what they're talking about later, like a professor or something.

J: That'd be cool. Yeah.

R: But basically it happened in Europe roughly in the 17th and 18th centuries. But nobody… there's no set start time. A lot of people argue depending on which book or which person brought it about, but the whole point of the Enlightenment is it's a humanist philosophy and it's all about… it involves like the scientific revolution and sort of questioning dogma. So they were very much about using rationality -

J: Using their brain cells!

R: And sort of anti-monarchist, in favor of religious freedom and human flourishing and like liberty and that sort of thing.

J: Anti superstition, separation of church and state, things like that.

R: Yeah, so, the French Revolution came out of the Enlightenment, that sort of thing. I am curious because Jackie's boyfriend said he hates the Enlightenment. And…

J: Yeah.

R: I’m kind of wondering if he said why.

J: His exact words were, “Fuck the Enlightenment.” I don't know.

R: Okay!

J: I don't think he likes science.

R: He doesn't like science?!

T: He doesn’t like science?

J: Yeah, he says science is bad and no one should do it.

T: Woah.

R: Science is bad?

J: Yeah.

R: And no one should do it?

T: Well, he sure does like his cell phone games!

R: Yeah!

T: For someone who doesn't like science. I don't know if he does.

J: Yeah, it's a little… it's a sticky point for us because I'm in medical genetics, so I have a problem with that. But you know…

T: Wait, what does he want instead of science?

R: Yeah, magic?

T: I mean, if that was the alternative, I would take that. Immediately.

R: I mean, yeah, sure, okay, if we have the choice.

J: I think he wants everybody to just… live and observe. I don't know what.

R: What, that’s science!

J: I don't know! It doesn't make any sense to me. You ask him, get him on and ask him why he hates science.

R: Look, I'm not putting that guy on the pod until he starts listening to the freaking pod. I'm still pissed about it. Like, honestly, my relationship with Joshua's deteriorating with every episode we release.

T: Woah! We should include a deterioration meter for each episode.

R: Of me and - the relationship between me and Joshua?

T: Yes.

R: Depending on how good the episode is.

J: Yeah, each of us should have a meter. Yeah, Theo’s just basically stays the same. Rachel's goes continuously down. Mine probably fluctuates.

R: For me, yeah, it depends on how much I think he would actually like the episode. So if it's an episode where I'm like, “Joshua would like this,” then my opinion of him really plunges when he doesn't listen to it.

J: Joshua won't like anything anyone does.

R: He won't like anything?!

T: We should do a birthday episode for him! We should do an episode that’'s a birthday episode that he would definitely like if he heard it.

J: I don't know what that could be.

T: We have to win him over!

R: I don't know if we HAVE to.

J: Like, I really don't know what my own boyfriend of eight years... I don't know what I could do to make him like it.

R: To make him support you.

T: I've come up with an amazing marketing strategy: for everyone who doesn't listen to our podcast, we make a birthday episode for them. Each one.

J: Uh huh…

T: And we'll get them to listen - oh, you don't like it.

R: But they'll only listen to one episode.

T: They’ll get hooked.

J: And no one else will listen to any of them. Yeah.

T: No!

R: All right. Well, that's the Enlightenment.

J: But Voltaire is actually his pen name. He was born Francois Marie Arouet. And he was from a low-ranking French nobility family. His dad wanted him to be a lawyer; he wanted to be a writer. Classic conundrum, you know?

R: Mhmm.

J: His dad kept like, sending him away to try to get him to be an assistant to a notary or like a clerk for some prominent law guy, but -

R: If you want someone to be a lawyer, do not get them a job in the law. That is not the way to convince someone to become a lawyer.

J: And don't tell them you want them to be a lawyer either. Like, tell them you DON’T want them to be a lawyer.

R: Right.

J: Maybe that would work. He didn't adopt the name Voltaire until later in life. So at this time he's still in his late teens, early 20s, and he's in Paris, where he's born. He pretends to work as this assistant to the notary when actually he was spending his time writing, and I'm like, I don't know what that -

R: He Bartleby-s that dude.

J: Yeah, but how did he convince his dad that he was - like he just left the house every day and came home and was like, “Oh, yeah, long day in the Notary Office.”

T: “Oh, I lost my paycheck again!”

J: “Ooh, whoops!” I don't think they - I don't think he needed to do it for the money. But in actuality he was spending his time writing. And one of the things most people know about Voltaire, if you know anything, is that he was super, super prolific as a writer and he wrote virtually like every kind of writing you can do. Like poetry, plays, novels, philosophical tracts, historical essays, all these things.

R: A sexual piquresque?

J: (pause) Is that a question?

R: Yeah, I'm asking. Did he write -

T: Fan fiction?

J: I didn't see any exact particular examples of that, but probably at some point, I don't know. He had mistresses, he had lovers. In fact, most scholars agree that he was probably bisexual, and we'll get into that a little bit.

T: Not bad.

J: That doesn't necessarily mean he was [writing sexual picaresques]. His dad found out about his pretending to have a job, or, he did have a job but he just never went to it, I guess. Pretending to work. And he sent him to Normandy, and he totally changed his tune! And - no. He just, he did the exact same thing again. Pretended to work and just spent all his time writing. But he had at this point kind of begun making a name for himself. So he's like, let's see, this was in… I think he was again, like 19 or 20. But he was said to have had a great wit. Like, he was so funny, he could make everyone in a room laugh. People described him as having these “dancing black eyes” and he was said to be one of, basically, the greatest entertainers of his age.

T: Woah.

R: Woah. Kind of like the Pete Davidson of the 1700s. No, that’s kind of a joke, because I one time did get to see Pete Davidson before he was on SNL. He came to Duke and a friend was like, “I got tickets to see this guy, but I can't go. Do you want them?” So I took Stephen and I was kind of excited because I'm like, “I've never heard of this comedian before!” …It was the worst show I've ever seen.

J: Oh no.

R: Like, worse than just, you know, a friend's improv show or something. You know what I mean? He was so high, and he was obviously using it as a chance to test out new material. So he was literally just reading from flash cards and he would like, start a joke and be like, “Eh, never mind,” and flip to the other one. It was… it was the worst show I've ever seen. So I was very against him for a long time until he just like -

J: Blew up.

R: - keeps hooking up with women. Now I'm like, “Okay, that's funny. Keep going.”

J: That's funny?! Yeah, this is the greatest bit you've done.

T: That is.

R: Seriously.

T: It is kind of, yeah.

R: But yeah, I basically didn't like him until he got with Kim Kardashian and I'm like, “Okay, you've done it. You've hooked up with enough women who are way too attractive for you that now it's a great bit.”

J: Now it's great. Yeah, I think that's pretty cool. Because imagine if someone had said, “Yeah, I saw Harry Houdini in his early stages and it was such a stupid show. You could easily see how he was gonna escape everything-”

R: “You could see all the strings.”

J: “He was drunk out of his mind…” Yeah, and then you find out later, you know, who he becomes, and he's legendary.

R: Yeah.

J: You'd be like, “I got to see him trying out new material!”

R: I don't know if I’d say Pete Davidson is like, Harry Houdini level, but sure.

J: Well, if you punch him and he doesn't expect it…

R: He might die, yeah.

T: I feel like the people who I really admire, they're probably trying really hard to start, too.

J: Yeah…

R: I'm wondering if Pete Davidson was like, “This is just a college show, most of these kids don't care about me. They're just here because they can get tickets really cheap.” But like, I just found it very disrespectful of my time, honestly.

J: He had a hard time! You know, his dad died in 9/11. He was a firefighter.

R: This was a long time after that, Jackie!

T: Rachel's a monster! I had no idea.

J:This was like, the day after 9/11 and Rachel's like “He's such a bummer.”

R: “He wasn’t very funny.”

J: Yeah!

T: “He seemed distracted…”

R: It wasn't a bummer! He was just high. Stephen and I literally - we almost left in the middle of the show, and I don’t leave in the middle of things. Seriously, look at this podcast.

J: See, and the highness is not a problem, because I saw Hannibal Buress in Cincinnati - he was blazed out of his mind, and it was the funniest thing. He just did a great show. It was an amazing show. So Pete can't handle his smoking, I guess. Like some people can handle it, he can’t.

R: It's like how when you're studying on Adderall, you have to take the test on Adderall, you know?

J: Yeah.

R: And I'm thinking that maybe Pete wasn't high when he came up with the material -

J: Which, Hannibal’s just always high.

R: Yes, exactly. He’s the Hulk of marijuana.

T: You think that goes for everything? Like if you're coming up with jokes when you're hungry, then you have to be hungry every show to do those jokes?

J: Maybe.

R: Yeah, I do. Yeah, yeah.

T: Or like you have to pee? Oh my gosh, that'd be terrible.

J: Like, “Hold on, I gotta drink all this water or I won’t be funny!”

T: Just like dying to get off stage.

J: I just remember this Hannibal show, I think he had to be high to just cope with what was happening, because it was November 9th, 2016. So it was the day after the election, and if you listen to one of our - what was our previous episode? One of our previous episodes, I told a story about someone calling me Hillary Clinton, and I'm very upset by it. Anyway, the next day I went to this show, and he just kept stopping every once in a while and he'd say to himself, “Donald Trump…. is President!” And then he goes, “AHHH ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha!” Like it was just the funniest thing to him, he was just like… you know, there was no moralizing, there was no like, “I understand this is a sad time.”

R: I mean, it is funny.

J: I know, because it was just like, what are you gonna do now, at this point?

R: One of the greatest posters of all time was the President.

J: Yeah.

R: Like his Twitter… Honestly, now that he's not the President, his old tweets are so funny.

J: All right, so getting back to Voltaire… His tweets would have been great, because he was apparently one of the most interesting people of the time.

R: Oh, yeah.

J: And so his writings that he wasn't supposed to be doing got the attention of some prominent people. So finally, I think - his dad, this is his last attempt. In 1713, Voltaire's 19 [sic: 21]. He tries again. His father tries again, sends him to Normandy… or sorry, no, this time he sends him to the Netherlands to work for a family friend. This time he fucked it up because he fell in love with a Protestant. (gasp)

R: (gasp)

J: Her name was Catherine.

R: Uh huh?

J: This was apparently a really scandalous affair. I'm not sure why, because he is not like… he wasn’t super Catholic. Like, Voltaire wasn't an atheist, but he certainly criticized the church a lot and was not religious. He didn't follow the dogma.

R: It was a social class thing. It wasn't about, like, your personal beliefs.

J: Yeah, but so, and she was a refugee as well. So, his pet name for her was “Pimpette”!

T: Pimpette?

J: Little pimp.

R: What do you think about tha, Theo?

T: Lil’ pimp?

J: Yeah, I don’t even know how she got that name, because her name was Catherine. Her middle name was like, Olympe or something. And he called her Pimpette.

T: But that's not…. Pimp is not the…

J: What is it? Probably like a little pepper or something?

T: Yeah, something like that.

R: Little pimp!

J: Little pimp, that's her name.

R: What DOES that mean? I'm gonna look it up real quick.

T: That would be, just, the most humiliatingly generic rapper name you could come up with. “I'm Lil Pimp!”

J: I know, something just like, “Oh, yeah, like I'm Young Thug or something.”

R: Isn't that a real person?

T: Yeah.

J: Is it?! I don't know.

T: It is! Oh, you didn't - I thought you were making fun of Young Thug for some reason.

J: No, I actually just thought, “That would be a stupid name.”

T: Shots fired. Come at us, Young Thug.

J: I don't know. When I Google “pimpette”, all that comes up is Voltaire's girlfriend.

R: Yeah, I'm looking it up. Everything's just like, “Her nickname was Pimpette.” I'm like no, why? Why was her nickname Pimpette? How come nobody's talking about why?

T: Can you just Google translate it?

R: Yeah, I'll look it up.

T: I feel like Lil Pimp would rhyme, like, ‘glad’ with ‘sad’. That's how bad Lil Pimp would be.

J: Or he would rhyme ‘sad’ with ‘sad’.

R: Pimpett - So according to Google translate, Pimpette in French means ‘pimple’. But I don't know if that's what it meant in the 1700s. You know what I mean?

J: “You're a blemish on my family's social structure. I shall call you Pimpette.” So anyway, things didn't get serious with her, because it was just doomed from the start with a name like that. And so he returned to Paris, and -

T: Lil Pimple.

J: He spent a few years writing. During this time he wrote different stuff. I'm not going to talk about that stuff, but he, like I said, was very famously not a big fan of authority, not a fan of the government, especially not if the government is run poorly. Like, he had ideas about what a good government would be, but he did not think that the French government was that.

R: He was a sovereign citizen.

J: So in 1717, he's 23 now, so still very young, and he wrote… this is the first of many, many many... Like, I started getting tired of it when I was reading about him, because he kept doing the same exact thing over and over again.

R: Oh my gosh.

J: Writes a satire about someone important, gets banished, comes back, does the exact same thing again, repeats.

R: It’s a good bit, though, to do it a lot of times.

J: Yeah, but well, it helped him see the world too, because he kept getting kicked out of France.

T: That's why he's the Pete Davidson of the Enlightenment.

J: Yeah! Yeah, he was high as hell. So he wrote a satire in which he accused the Duke of Orleans of incest with his own daughter.

R: Eww!

T: But is it true?

J: People loved doing that, they loved accusing other people of incest. I don't think it was true. He was imprisoned in the Bastille, which is this, you know, the famous Parisian prison, in a windowless cell with 10-foot thick walls, for 11 months, and I'm just thinking of these 10-foot thick walls like… that sounds like you're trying to keep his ideas from getting out. Like, did they think he was just going to get in there and be like, “He fucked his daugher.”

T: Just yelling it through the wall?

J: “Philippe the second is a freak!”

T: And people are just loving it, so they're standing on the other side with their ear against the wall.

R: Yeah, got a little cup.

T: Yeah.

R: “Oh my gosh, he said this guy’s a freak!”

J: Apparently the Bastille at this time, like, especially if you were kind of like a leader, a more elite member of society, like Voltaire was, or from a good family, it was a pretty cushy place to be. Like you could bring your own furniture, your own staff, you just had to stay in one place.

R: That sounds fine to me.

T: Hmm. Free rent.

J: Sounds like literally all the rest of us.

R: Well, not free, you have to pay for it.

T: Nooo. You don’t have to pay.

R: If you don't pay extra, it's just like a stone room and they give you gruel. But if you have money you can have a private chef and silk wall hangings and stuff.

J: Yeah, I mean, it's no Sing Sing or anything, like… I think you're going to be okay. Yeah, so he got out and now it's 1718, and right after he gets out of prison, that's when he adopts the name Voltaire and he uses that for the rest of his life. So they're not really sure where Voltaire name from. They think it could be like an anagram of his old name, which was Arouet. I don't know if I'm saying it right, but anyway. So he did that, but I read a couple different reasons for why he changed his name. He wasn't really ever clear about it. But his name, as it was - again, Arouet - sounds very similar to the French words “À rouer,” which is “to be beaten up”, and “roué”, which is an old, debaucherous man.

R: Okay.

J: So I think he was like, “I'm not into always being made fun of for having my name sound like this.”

R: It's crazy that he wrote so much and yet he didn't think to just be like, here's why I picked my pen name.

J: I don't think he wanted people to know. And he was rumored to have had up to like 187 different pen names that he used in his lifetime. So that wasn't his only one! Probably because he was always getting in trouble! Every time he wrote something, he got kicked out of the country.

R: That's true.

J: He should have just stopped making his pen names anagrams of his real names because it was too easy to figure out. But yeah, so his original name sounded a lot like those. And so he does some more writing. Eight years later, in 1726, some, like, aristocrat guy made fun of him for changing his name, or was taunting him about it or something. Which I'm like, it's been eight years!

R: Yeah.

J: Is the joke really that funny anymore?

R: Yeah, get over it.

J: But he - so remember, his name sounds like “old, debaucherous man” and “to be beaten up.” And so he says like, “Oh, I'm making fun of you for changing your name.” Voltaire says, “My name will be remembered for generations. Your name is going to be tarnished by your behavior.”

R: And yet…

J: And yet…! It's… V- yeah, he was right. Voltaire is still remembered.

R: But we remember that guy too, only because he made fun of Voltaire!

J: Yeah.

R: So HE got the last laugh!

J: And actually his name was Rohan. His family name was Rohan.

T: Woah!

R: Nice!

T: Well, I think a better comeback would have been, “Oh, you’re making fun of my name? You should see Little Pimple over there.”

J: “Pimpette, come here. I got a job for you.”

T: Yeah! “Get made fun of.”

J: Lil’ Pimp. Yeah, so, in response to him saying that the aristocrat sent a bunch of thugs to beat him up, which I thought was funny because it's like, you tried to change your name to get away from this, and now you're getting beaten up for changing your name.

R: Yeah, nice try.

J: In retaliation, Voltaire challenged the guy to a duel, and the guy who he challenged to the duel had a very powerful family. So instead of agreeing to fight the duel, they just imprisoned him in the Bastille AGAIN with no trial, and he was worried that he would be stuck there forever. So he asked if he could just, instead of going to prison, he said, “Can I just be exiled to England instead?”

R: A fate worse than death.

J: And the French, who were huge snobs - yeah! Were like, “Yeah, sure, go to England.” Not to an English prison! Just… move to England.

R: That's bad enough.

J: Yeah, that's worse than living in a small windowless cell. So he does. He goes to England for two and a half years and he has a pretty good time.

R: What?!

J: Yeah, he does!

R: It was supposed to be a fate worse than death!

T: I mean, imagine that that's one of your options now as a negotiating thing. If you're being sentenced to prison, just like -

J: And imagine if it was still England. Like, “Hey, instead of going to the Hamilton County jail, can you just send me to London for a while?”

T: Just like how England used to ship all their criminals to Australia.

J: Yeah.

T: You guys just start doing that to England, but they don't mention that they're doing it.

J: It's just like a cool program we're trying out.

T: “Why are there so many undocumented Americans in England now? What’s going on?

J: Yeah. We could try it with Antarctica, honestly, like there aren't any natives there.

T: Oof.

R: Do you know how much it would cost to keep people in Antarctica compared to just regular prison, which is already very expensive?

T: You just release them.

J: Well, yeah, they have to live on their own.

R: So they would just die. I don't know if that would work as well.

T: Rachel…

J: No! Not the - not the smart, not the good ones. Not the ones who made it with the penguins and -

R: Mated with the penguins?!

J: MADE IT, like made their living with the penguins.

T: That still sounds… like they’re having sex with them.

R: Yeah!

T: “Not mated… mated.”

R: That means the same thing!

T: Yeah, if somebody tells me they made it with a penguin -

R: I'm, yeah, I'm still going to ride as satire about them!

J: What if they said it about a whole bunch of penguins?

R: No, that's -

T: “I didn't say MATED with the penguins. I said HAD SEX WITH the penguins.”

J: Anyway, whatever. So he goes to England -

R: Unless they're talking about that hockey team, we're gonna have a problem.

T: Wait, wait, how - so what do you by made it?

J: I don't - I don’t know! I was just being stupid, like if they somehow become part of the penguin colony and like huddle together for warmth and that's how they survive.

T: Ohh, I see.

R: You mean, like, they had it made or something.

T: Oh, yeah!

J: I mean compared to being dead, yeah, that is having it made!

R: No, but that - we're just laughing, not because we're like, “Oh, man, living with a penguin is terrible,” but because that… if someone's talking about having sex with someone, they're like, “Oh, yeah, they made it with bla bla bla.”

J: Yeah, that means “I huddled in with their whole family, and we all just huddled for warmth!”

R: No!

T: For warmth!

R: “I was accepted as part of the clan.”

T: “And that is how I survived the winter.” That’s what made it means.

J: Yeah, ask Mr Popper. He had a great time with his penguins.

R: Well, they lived with him! And Jackie, you're still making it sound sexual.

T: Yeah, get your mind out of the gutter, Jackie.

J: This is the same thing that always happens. I say something totally innocuous -

R: That was not innocuous!

J: - and then they make it gross, because they're gross.

R: No, you're gross!

T: Okay, Rachel's the nasty one in this episode, so…

R: No, I'm not!

J: Look, I have a two page outline to talk about with Voltaire. I didn't put penguins in here. I'm not supposed to be smart about penguins, okay? If I don't make sense, it's because I wasn't ready.

T: She didn't plan for penguins, Rachel. Come on.

J: You never expect penguins.

R: All right, keep going.

J: So he moves to England, and he did have a good time there and he was fascinated by -

R: He made it with the English.

J: Yeah, whatever. I mean he probably did. He probably had sex with most people in London at the time. He’s like the Timothee Chalamet of the Enlightenment.

R: He’s like the Pete Davidson of England.

J: He's like the Timothee Chalamet of Pete Davidson.

R: Yeah, perfect.

J: He was pretty interested in their government, which was a constitutional - IS a constitutional monarchy, as opposed to France's government, which was an absolutist, like an absolute monarchy, which I had to educate myself about. Which basically is what it sounds like. The king has all the power. There's no constitution or parliament to hold him in check.

R: Yeah.

J: And so he was like, “Oh, this is cool how England does this. Like, the king doesn't have 100% of the power.” And he also was interested in Shakespeare, and I thought this was funny because so, Shakespeare -

R: Did they hook up?

J: No! No no no. He was - I think he was dead.

T: He'd be dead.

R: Oh, okay.

J: In 1713 or whatever this was. No, no, this is longer. This is like 1730-something. Cut that out. No, this was longer. This was 1720-something. But still, Shakespeare was not well known on the continent yet. He wasn't really famous anywhere except for England, which I was like, oh, that's crazy! But it probably was like right after he died. He liked Shakespeare's plays and he was like, “Wow, French plays really could have something to learn from Shakespeare, like they're, you know, sophisticated, but there's not enough action.” But then as soon as Shakespeare's plays started becoming popular in France, he changed his mind and he was like “No, they're too barbarious (sic), like they're barbarous.” He's like the original hipster right? Like, “Oh, it's cool? I don't like it anymore then.”

R: Yeah, seriously.

T: Yeah, that was my impression of him. In that he would just change his opinion and be equally insulting towards whatever he thought -

J: That was your impression of Voltaire?

T: Mmhmm.

J: …From before I talked about him? Because I haven't really said anything about that yet.

T: From, sorry, from reading Candide and the footnotes. It just seemed like -

R: You read Candide?!

T: Yeah. But I'm not going to talk about it.

J: You shouldn't have said that, Theo. That’s a mistake.

* Interstitial ad -

J: But anyway, he thought that. So after two and a half years he was allowed to go back to France. This was super weird. So he apparently went to dinner with a mathematician friend of his, and they got to discussing the lottery. I didn't know they had lotteries in the 1700s, but I guess they did, and it was the same kind of thing where they were, the government was doing it to raise money for something.

T: What?

J: Yeah, and he talked with this mathematician and the mathematician was like, “There's a loophole that you can use to game the system and win the lottery.” Do you want to know what it is?

R: Yeahhh!

T: You just buy a lot of tickets?

R: Buy, yeah, buy all the tickets.

J: That was it. That was it. It was buy all the lottery tickets. And I was like, did you need a mathematician to tell you that? That's not a loophole.

R: I figured something out using complex math.

T: Yeah, but surely the full amount of the lottery is less than all of the tickets, right?

J: I don’t know, I guess that was the most complex math he had to do was just count up the price. So he won over a million lire or whatever, and he at that point was indisputably rich. So it worked.

T: Wait, how do you even buy all the tickets?

J: You just, I don't know -

T: Like, there's a line forming behind you and you just say, “One more, one more, one more,” and just keep buying them?

R: “Give me all the tickets.”

J: You send everyone you know to every gas station in Paris. And yeah.

T: Well because, if somebody is trying to sell you these lottery tickets, they're going to realize what you're doing, right, if you're buying all of them? I mean, I guess if you got a friend to buy half and then, yeah.

J: Well, maybe that's the loophole part is like, “Hey, here's how you buy all the tickets at one time” or something. I don't know, but that didn't take a mathematician to figure out to me. It's like saying, “Look, here's how you win this war. You just have to kill all the soldiers! All of them.” Like, uh-huh.

T: But like our lotteries now, someone doesn't win every time, right? But I guess back then somebody did win every time, like the way they had it set up?

R: Well, also, we don't know how the lottery was run back then.

J: Yeah, it's probably a little different.

T: It sounds worse.

R: Maybe we can look into it at a later date and we'll do a Patreon bonus episode about the French lottery!

T: Let's do it all about the lottery.

J: There's all kinds of funny examples throughout history, even pretty recent history, like in the past couple decades, where companies are just too naive and they offer something crazy not realizing it's going to bankrupt them. And like I think companies and governments like this running lotteries now understand, people will take advantage of these things. Like at this time, they probably didn't.

T: Honestly, I'm shocked that they had a lottery to raise money. Like, it was run by the government.

J: Yeah.

T: I was under the impression that the king could just walk around and take people's money if he wanted to back then.

R: Yeah.

T: So, like, why do you need a lottery…

J: I didn't… I didn't expect you guys would have the most questions about that, so hold on. So -

R: We want to try to apply this to our own lives, obviously.

J: Sure.

T: We can also put an asterisk and say, “See bonus episode forthcoming.”

J: So this mathematician friend proposed buying up the lottery that was organized by the French government to pay off its debts.

T: To pay off its debts…

J: I don't understand how it could have made money.

R: Well you just give out less money than you take in.

J: But then how did Voltaire make money?

R: I don’t know.

J: How does anyone make money in this situation? I don't know.

T: That must be a genius mathematician.

R: Well, maybe, okay, maybe it's not a loophole to prospering from the lottery. It's literally just a loophole to winning.

J: Just to win? Yeah, no, because he was not quite rich but before it, but then he was indisputably rich after it. So I don't know, the numbers don't add up. Somebody who understands tell me. But so…

R: That's crazy that Theo and I were right, though, with our guess of the loophole.

J: I know. Well, you can probably tell I was being sarcastic. This is why people, like… the IQ of people just goes up every generation because… you guys were instantly - you're basically as smart as the most brilliant mathematician of the Enlightenment.

T: Wow, we're both that's smart.

J: So in 1734, after having come back from England and thought about their government, he published his “Letters Concerning the English Nation” and this was a huge problem for him. The French were not happy about it. It compares -

R: Was it like, pro-England. Y

J: eah, it compared them unfavorably to the English government and their customs. And so it was publicly burned and banned, and he had to flee Paris AGAIN right after he just gotten there. However, this - this is where it gets interesting. It was lucky for him because he got exiled right as he was starting up this relationship with the woman who would become the great muse and love of his life.

R: So, wait, that's lucky?

J: Well, because he could go and stay with her.

R: Okay.

J: Is what I was gonna say. So she had a chateau outside of Paris Well, so he gets exiled, but he goes to hang out with her. Her name is Emilie du Chatelet, and she's a married mother of three, twelve years younger than him.

R: Oh!

J: Yeah. Well, at this time, for some reason, everybody just kind of took different lovers and it - I think her husband even knew, because you never -

R: Because you don't marry for love. So who cares? Like, “I don't give a fuck what this person does. I don't like them at all.”

J: Right, and in fact it said that he would stay with her in her chateau, like her cottage, and the husband would come and just hang out with them, like I'm going to come hang out with my wife and her lover, and like it wasn't a big deal.

R: Yeah, I mean, if here's the thing, if everybody's allowed to have lovers, including the wives, I'm fine with it. But if only the husbands get to, I'm pissed.

J: Yeah, so he went to go stay with her and they were just very, very well intellectually matched. Like together they gathered over 21,000 books, which the source I read said, “Which was an astonishing number of books for the time.” And I'm like “FOR THE TIME?”

R: I’m working on it.

J: Like if I casually said, “Hey, I have 21,000 books, but I mean it is 2022, so it's not that impressive.”

R: Yeah, everybody's got that many books these days.

J: Everybody has a thousand books for every year of the Roman calendar. But yeah, so they would stay up late and throw parties and put on plays and just have a great time. Pretty shortly after this, Frederick the Great, the King of Prussia, comes in. So the King of Prussia, Frederick the Great, was almost certainly gay. And he had been a fan of Voltaire's for a long time, and he struck up a correspondence with him and they would write back and forth to each other for years before every meeting.

T: Whoa.

J: Their letters were like, flirtatious, kind of, but then it turned into more of like a serious intellectual friendship or whatever. And that's honestly kind of the same thing that happened with Emilie, like they were lovers for a long time, but eventually they kind of turn more into like platonic friends who like to do intellectual things together.

R: Nerd bros.

J: Nerd bros. Emilie wanted more, though, I think, and Voltaire was getting kind of tired of her. Anyway. So Frederick the Great, after years of correspondence, invites Voltaire to stay with him, but did not invite Emilie.

R: What?!

J: Which, she was like, “I don't love that.” Yeah, he just invited him and [Voltaire] was like, “Don't worry, Emilie, I'm never going to leave you.”

R: “But here I go to stay at the king's house!”

J: Yeah, “The the gay king who doesn't want you to come.” So, we're going to come back to the king of Prussia, but remember him. So now it's 1744. He's still living with Emilie and at this point, he's fifty years old and he is starting to get kind of bored. Like he cares about her a lot, but they're not having the fiery, passionate romance. And he falls in love - Rachel's going to hate this - with his niece.

R: Jackie, on the other hand, loves that.

J: I don't love it, but I am saying it was fairly normal at the time.

R: To hook up with your much younger niece?

J: Yeah. She was 32-year old Marie Louise Mignot and they were -

R: Look, cousins are better than - I would much rather someone hook up with their cousin than their niece.

J: Well, this is a whole degree closer of relationship. This is a second degree relative.

R: I know.

J: Yeah, that's - THAT’S incest.

R: Cousins? Jackie's like, “That's not incest. Nice. Okay, fine.”

J: It's considered a consanguineous relationship. Incest, if you look at it, the common definition is one or two degrees of relationship.

R: Yick!

J: Cousins don't fall into that, but aunts and uncles do.

R: Yeah!

J: Yeah, so, not, not great.

R: I would be so pissed if that was my brother, I would kill him, honestly.

J: Yeah, I don't know. I don't know how his sister felt about it. It was his sister's daughter. His letters to her were very sexual. They weren't discovered until 1957 actually, so for a long period of history, people didn't know about this.

T: Woah.

R: What!

J: So they had a lot of sex. And later, much later, he would move in with her and he would actually stay with her until he died. But just like with Emilie and just like with Frederick the Great, eventually, after not too long, they stopped having a sexual relationship and they just became friends. And it's like - just friends.

R: Uh - you mean, they just became uncle and niece.

T: They just became family.

J: Just a mere uncle.

R: A mere uncle, yeah.

J: Yeah.

R: For a while he was more than a mere uncle, but now he's just back to mere uncle status.

J: But in the meantime Emilie took a new lover, because Voltaire had lost interest in her. And that lover got her pregnant and she died in childbirth at the age of 44.

T: Oof.

R: (gasp) Damn it.

J: Yeah, that's old to have a baby, but it happens. And the baby unfortunately died too. So Voltaire, after Emilie died, moved in with Frederick the Great. Like moved to Brussels and lived with him.

R: Might as well.

J: It's not Brussels, sorry. He lived in… I guess he would lived with him in Prussia? But he got in trouble with Frederick because he wrote a satirical document about one of his friends, and Frederick was so mad about this that he had the document burned and kicked him out. Or no, sorry, he wanted - he wanted to - Voltaire wanted to leave at this point. Because it said Frederick found living with him much harder than he anticipated, like he just wasn't a good roommate or something.

R: Roommate? It was a palace! You never need to see each other.

T: Yeah, right.

J: I guess he just had this infatuation with him from afar, but in practice he was like, “This guy's driving me insane!”

T: But he never even saw him when he was falling in love with him, right?

J: There were probably paintings of him.

T: Hmm.

J: He was a good-looking guy, I have to say, in his youth.

R: He probably heard that he had dancing black eyes.

J: Yeah!

R: I’m seeing a lot of pictures of him. He looks like a literal clown to me.

T: Hey.

J: Oh, yeah, when he's older and he's wearing like, the powdered wig and stuff.

R: Yeah.

J: I think I tried to see him as a young man without the wig and I was like, okay! Okay, I can see it. I see those dancing black eyes just doin’ the Macarena or whatever they're doing in there.
T: I think anyone who gets the title “the Great”, if they're showering you with attention, you know, it’s going to be hard to resist that, don’t you think?

J: Yeah.

R: Yeah. All of Theo’s girlfriends were known as X the Great. So he’s speaking from experience.

T: X the Great. Yeah. That's how I refer to them.

R: Well, I don't want to name all your ex-girlfriends!

T: Did you mean X like the variable, or E-X?

R: Like the variable.

T: X the Lesser.

R: Yeah.

J: So Voltaire wanted to leave at this point, but Frederick wouldn't let him leave, but then eventually did. And the problem was that Voltaire took with him a book, which was a book of satirical poetry that Frederick had written about other rulers at the time!

R: Whoa.

J: So this was a very damning thing [Voltaire] took with him that he could use to blackmail [Frederick].

T: People have got to stop doing satire.

J: I KNOW! I know!

T: It just causes everyone problems. Like, what is the appeal, really?

J: Stop writing satires! And this was Frederick that did this! You're a king!

T: I know!

R: The other thing is, if you're a guy who your whole thing is writing satires about kings and royalty, why would you hook up with a king? Like, what do you think is gonna happen? Also to the king?

J: Also, why would the king invite him?

T: Yeah.

R: I guess he was like, as long as he's just making fun of my rival kings, I love it. But like, come on, dude. You're not special. That's his whole thing, is making fun of people! Like come on!

J: He also, I mean, this isn't as interesting, but he was more than just a friend or whatever he was to Frederick. He also had a role in his court, but that wasn't very interesting. So anyway, the first thing that I saw just said, like, it was just “a book” that [Voltaire] borrowed and Frederick made a huge deal about it. And I was like, that's weird. And then I looked more into it. It wasn't just a book. It was a book of damning things that he had written about other people. It was like the burn book from Mean Girls or something.

T: Yeah, it’s like the burn book from Mean Girls almost.

J: Yeah. So he was trying to get back to Paris from Frederick's palace, but Frederick sent a convoy of soldiers to stop him and get that book back, which apparently was very embarrassing for Voltaire. So he had a struggle, gave it up. 1759, he publishes Candide, which we're going to talk about in the next episode. And then from 1762 until his death, which occurred in 1778, he had such a reputation for being a famous intellectual that he could pretty much just say whatever he wanted. And so he advocated for separation of church and state and he was very into, like, helping the causes of people who he thought were unjustly prosecuted. He had some views… like he was anti-slavery, but he didn't actually have very good views on race. He rejected Adam and Eve, which was like, you know, saying we all came from like a single source.

R: Okay…

J: And he had this idea that all races had separate origins, and somehow black people were a little bit less human than white people.

R: Eugh.

J: He still felt like it was bad to enslave them, but he also had that kind of weird -

R: There were a lot of, actually, antislavery racists who were literally like, “It's bad for white people to have black people around us, so we shouldn't have slavery.” Like that was an opinion. There were plenty of people who were against slavery because of how racist they were.

J: That's bad. I do - it's like, I almost want to give them a weird credit. It's like, you - that's a terrible thing that you think, and it's stupid and false. But also like -

R: If everyone's going to be racist anyway, yeah, they might as well.

J: Well, so many people use inhumanity as an excuse to say, like, “Oh, it doesn’t - they don't mind. Like God doesn't mind. It's fine, we can, we can enslave other people.” But he's like, “No, they are inhuman, and we still shouldn't enslave them.”

R: Yeah.

J: Weird. You were so close, so close. Just like, you fucked up that one part.

R: Yeah. Practically speaking, if someone is going to be racist anyway, which they almost basically all were, it's much better to be racist and antislavery.

J: But so he was a famous hypochondriac, and his entire life he'd been telling people like, “I'm about to die, like it's happening anytime now. I can tell it. I'm on the verge of death!” But he outlived almost everyone he knew, and he died at 83.

R: Oh, gosh!

J: I read that he had pretty bad dental disease. So he was kind of in bad shape. Like from his 50s he had no teeth, and it said his face collapsed because he didn't wear a dental prosthetic. But anyway, people don't really know for sure if he made a confession on his deathbed. Most people think he didn't. He did not accept Catholic rites, and because he had criticized the Church so heavily, he actually was not allowed to be buried in Paris. So he is DEAD and he's still exiled! Again!

R: In Paris?! Woah.

J: So he they wouldn't allow him a Christian burial.

R: So they were like, “For old times’ sake, let's kick you out of Paris once more.”

J: Yeah!

T: Yeah. As a single teardrop rolls down their cheek: “Good times, old friend. Good times.”

R: He died the way he lived, being kicked out of Paris.

J: Yeah. So his friends managed to secretly bury him in a chapel in Champagne, or Cham-PAHN-ye, however you would say it. But then, after more than a decade, they realized Voltaire was a great figure and he was allowed - his remains were brought back, and he was entombed in the Pantheon. And I've seen his tomb!

T: Wow.

R: Congrats.

J: Which at the time I didn't really think anything of it. I was just like, “Oh, I've heard that name.”

R: But now you're like, Wow, that guy worked so hard to get buried here. Or like he did everything he could to not get buried there -

J: No, that guy worked so hard to NOT get buried here, and here he is!

T: Yeah, right!

R: It’s pretty funny.

J; And his brain and his heart were embalmed separately, so -

R: What about his peen? Did they split that up?

T: Hey. Rachel..!

R: It was important to him!

J: Uh, that they entombed with his niece.

R: Nice.

T: That’s interesting. You said his friends snuck him into a -

J: Yeah, like they knew somebody who was the parishioner of this other chapel in a different city?

R: Surely not parishioner.

J: He was the guy who ran the church. I don't know. He wasn't the priest.

R: Like the guy in charge of the church.

J: Yeah.

T: Groundskeeper.

J: Yeah, the groundskeeper.

R: Like, the janitor.

J: Yeah! They Eleanor Rigby-d him right in there, and he was allowed to stay there for some time.

R: Is that what Eleanor Rigby is about?

J: Yes!

R: Being friends with like, a monk and sneaking your friend's body in to be buried?

T: Yeah.

R: It is?!

T: Yeah.

J: Well, she's like the caretaker of the church, right?

R: We've got to get Jacob on the pod.

J: I don't need Jacob for this, come on.

T: Okay, that makes a little more sense. I was picturing, at night one time they just carried his body into a place and buried it somewhere. Which I thought, wow, those are real friends right there.

J: I mean, it doesn't say they didn't do that. It did say they had to do it in secret because, yeah, he wouldn't have been allowed. He wasn't a Christian.

T: You guys are good friends, but I don't think you would really want to be handling my body or anything. Like even if it's in a coffin, right?

R: I would do it.

T: Really?

R: If it's what you wanted. I'm not that freaked out by dead people, to be honest with you.

T: Well, the thing is, I'm courteous. So if that were the case, like, if I wanted you to carry me somewhere, I would turn into ashes. You know how they do.

R: Oh, okay.

J: Oh, yeah yeah yeah.

T: Cremate.

J: Well, you know, if I needed to transport your dead body somewhere and inter it secretly, I mean… I wouldn't LIKE doing that?

R: If you started to smell bad, I wouldn't like it, but I would still do it.

J: Yeah, I just probably put you in a Tupperware or something. You know something you can -

T: Oh!

R: What? His whole body in aTupperware?

J: Like a big one.

T: Yeah, you gotta get a big one.

J: Those are expensive, Theo. You know, like, those big plastic things from the storage store… The Container Store? That's like $70, so you’re gonna have to front me a little bit.

R: Yeah.

J: I'm not wasting a perfectly good container on your…

R: Corpse.

J: Body.

T: No, just do some, like, toilet paper and papier-mâché and make me a mummy. And then you can carry me a lot easier.

R: Oh right. Gotta get that brain out your nose.

J: Yeah, do you think that's why they put his brain and his heart somewhere else? They're like, “God, we just got to take something out of this! We can't fit the lid on.”

T: “It’s too heavy!”

J: Like, “I’ve got to have that Safe-Loc technology!”

R: Or like, they only know a couple things about mummies? And they're like, “I know they take some stuff out, so let's just quickly… (sucking sound) Okay, he's a mummy now.”

J: Or like, “We think the mind is either in the heart or the brain. We're not sure. Let's just take them both.”

T: Yeah! That’s how mummies do it.

J: So that's Voltaire! And then we're gonna talk about his most famous work, Candide, on a later episode. But knowing this stuff about him, I think was just really fun. He's just an interesting guy. I would have liked to have met him.

T: Hmm.

J: Partied with him.

R: Hmm.

T: Yeah.

J: He would have to wear protection -

R: (exaggerated Italian accent) ProTECtion!

J: Seems like he's riddled with disease, probably.

R: A full body condom, if he's gonna party with Jackie.

J: I'm not even going to shake his hand.

R: But okay, so Voltaire… Voltaire was a theist, correct? He was not an atheist. He wasn't really… was he agnostic? I know he believed in God.

J: Yeah, towards the end of his life he has a famous quote that he said: “I die loving God and not hating my enemies and loving my friends,” and bla bla bla. So he believed in God. He loved God, but he didn't have, like, a system or anything.

R: Was he definitely not a Christian, or was he basically kind of like a Thomas Jefferson Christian, where they were like… they would just take a little bit of stuff.

J: He was definitely not a Christian. Yeah, like the priest came, and he turned away and supposedly said, “Let me die in peace.”

R: I mean that's a Catholic thing.

J: But I don't - I don't know if he was - I don't think he was a Christian. I mean he wasn't allowed to be [buried in Paris]

R: Well that - because it was all Catholic. What I'm saying is at the time, the boundaries of Christianity were very weird. Like the beliefs that people had? And they would still consider themselves to be Christian? Like the Deists, for example.

J: I think you have to focus on Jesus at some point, right? He never really said anything…

R: I mean, that's the thing is, like, I think Jefferson, who was a Deist, considered himself a Christian, but he never really cared about Jesus. He was all like, “Oh, God just made the universe and then set it ticking.” I'm just saying, the beliefs at the time were so expansive that, I don't know, I'm just curious.

J: I looked it up and it does say he was a lifelong deist. So…

R: Yeah. Yeah, I mean it's… people… I'm just curious about what he would have called himself, as opposed to, would he fit within the doctrine that people today would accept.

J: I'm not sure.

R: But yeah, I mean, it's looking like he's not a fan of the Church at least.

J: I mean it's just, he's not really religious, he's just, like, more spiritual.

R: He’s spiritual.

J: Yeah.

T: Nice!

R: All right. Well, I feel like we've learned enough about Voltaire. What about you guys?

J: I think I've learned enough about Voltaire. What about you, Theo? Do you remember reading Candide? Like, did you know anything about him before?

R: When did you read it?

T: I read it last year.

J: Huh. Did we talk about that?

T: I think so. It's weird. There's some weird stuff in it.

R: Yeah.

J: Thanks for listening to this, guys. We hope you liked it. And even if you're popping in here so that you just learn about Voltaire and you haven't really listened to us or any of our plot summaries of other things before, we're glad you're here and we hope you come back.

T: Should I just list off some Voltaire quotes to round off the episode?

R: Please.

J: Sure, but slip in a quote from Pete Davidson at some point and let us see if we can figure it out.

T: Oh, really?

J: Yeah.

T: So, yeah, here's just a string of Voltaire quotes. “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”

R: Woah.

J: That's Pete Davidson.

T: “Whatever you do, crush the infamy.” What does that mean?

J: Yeah! I like that one. That has good energy.

T: “Common sense is not so common.”

R: Ugh. I don't like that one.

J: Did he really say that? I don't know if that one's true.

T: It says it's from Voltaire Philosophical Dictionary. He wrote a philosophical dictionary, apparently.

R: Hmm.

T: How about this one? “The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.”

R: Oh gosh, that's what our podcast does!

T: “Love truth, but pardon error.”

J: Okay.

R: Okay.

J: I could do that.

T: “I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.”

J: Isn't that - like, people bastardize that and say like -

R: “I would - I don’t agree with what you say -”

J: (southern accent) “I may not agree with what you say, but I'll fight to the death for your right to say it!”

R: Yeah, okay! Do it!

J: Yeah!

R: Coward!

J: What are you gonna fight?

R: Yeah, who’s trying to stop me?

T: “I was the class clown in high school, but I always took it too far. Nobody liked me. I was annoying. Like, I would get a laugh and then keep going and keep going.”

R: It's got to be Voltaire.

J: “Nobody liked me, the most entertaining man in history!”

T; This is so funny. “20 Famous Pete Davidson Quotes”, and it sort of sounds like they just watched an interview and transcribed it.

J: Yeah, so famous! “I was a class clown in high school.”

T: Oh, Rachel, this one kind of applies to your experience with Pete Davidson.

R: Is it a Voltaire quote?

J: We'll see, we’ll see which one. We don't know. Let's find out.

R: Yeah, let’s find out.

T: “I always wanted my standup to feel like not just a show, but like you're hanging out with someone for an hour. I like to just talk.”

J: Yeah, just hanging out with somebody for an hour!

R: But he had cue cards!

T: Oh, you don't use those in conversation?

R: No, I don't think I ever have.

J: Well he wasn't using them, Rachel. He had them, but he was just throwing them away.

R: Honestly, I don't think anyone liked it. There was like hardly any laughing.

T: That would feel so terrible.

R: I know. That's why I was like, “Oh, I can't leave, because I felt really bad for him.”

J: Well imagine how it felt for him! Like, every minute felt like ten years to him.

R: Oh gosh.

J: Yeah.

T: So those were some Voltaire quotes. Internalize them.

J: Thanks, Theo.

R: Make your life all about them.

T: All right. Well, if you learned a lot from this, why don’t you check out us on social media, where… Yeah. What, what did - oh. Why don't you MAKE IT with us on social media? We're @firethecanonpod on Tik Tok, Twitter, and a third one.

J & R: instagram.

T: Instagram! If you go on, you can give us all the money you want to give us, and we really do appreciate the support.

J: Yeah, all the money you want! Zero dollars, all the way up to infinity dollars, whatever your choice.

R: Most of you are giving us zero, but that could change.

J: I mean, you appreciate us and you're supporting us just by listening. So we do appreciate that. And if you want to show your appreciation in a monetary form to conform with the unfettered capitalist society we live in, then that's fine too. We're not a fan of it, but we are, um… we like it.

R: What?

T: And a good way to finance your giving is to buy every lottery ticket.

R: And then give us the proceeds.

J: Yeah, we heard there's a loophole you can try.

T: Yeah, and check out our email. Send us an email.

R: Yeah, so this is a new thing we tried doing, a separate episode about the writer. So you know, if you've got an opinion on it, share it with us.

J: Yeah, tell us what you think. Did you like this? Did you not like it?

T: Tweet at us, find us on Facebook and Facebook us.

J: Okay, well, thanks everybody for listening. Have a great week!

R: Au revoir!

J: Bye.

T: Bye.

J: Au revoir.