The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

April 2, 1840


Emile Zola, a man of inestimable courage who should have taught more people how writing novels was done, was born today in 1840.

Here are a few images from his storied life:


Portrait of Emile Zola, by Edouard Manet (1867)


Paul Alexis Reading to Emile Zola, by Paul Cezanne (1869)


Zola at his writing desk, laboring under, as well as over, another masterpiece
(sometime in the 1880s)


Zola's masterwork. The birth of Naturalism and one king hell of a reporting job. (1885)


Captain Alfred Dreyfus


L'Aurore (13 January, 1898)

In 1898, Zola embroiled himself in the then-forgotten case of Alfred Dreyfus (top), a French Army officer accused of spying for Germany in a trumped-up prosecution that demonstrated where no demonstration was needed that Anti-Semitism is truly the National Pastime of France. Zola's hair-raising indictment of the French Government, Military and Judicial system in L'Aurore (bottom), got him drummed out of the Legion of Honor and, on a less positive note, resulted in his own prosecution for Libel; a conviction that saw him fleeing France until such time as Dreyfus was exonerated and the coast was clear. Which made little difference, considering the fact that Zola died in 1902.

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