What exactly is an intellectual salon anyway?

An intellectual salon is an intimate gathering of diverse people hosted by a salonnière who moderates conversation in the pursuit of intellectual growth and artistic expression and delight.

The History of Intellectual Salons

Salons were a type of gathering common in 17th and 18th century France. Wealthy women hosted meetings in their home, often literally laying in bed with their friends seated on stools, couches, and chairs around them. The whole gathering centered around a lively moderated conversation with the hostess, or salonnière, at the center. The topics were varied but included a healthy mix of intellectualism and art. The goal was civil conversation and personal enlightenment.

Do Modern Intellectual Salons Still Exist?

Modern salons still exist though they are hard to find, which is why I decided to create a digital intellectual salon here on Living in Retrospect. This is my way of sharing my personal intellectual journey with you. It also happens to be a very good excuse for me to document the things I’m learning and connect with interesting people along the way.

Why I Chose a Salon Over a School

I went to school to be a teacher, but school is far too structured to create real learning. What I love about the intellectual salon is its formal yet intimate nature. Although the conversation was kept formal and focused on elevated things, the setting was usually the hostess’ bedroom.

I have spent years of my life in a classroom, but my best learning has occurred by bed or laptop in the comfort of my own bed. So it only makes sense that I would invite you into this most intimate form of education to truly share what I am learning. The imagery of the salon reminds us that our best thoughts often occur in rest and comfort and our best conversations only occur when we allow ourselves to be intimate and vulnerable.

Relax and enter a state of flow. Let your mind wander and expand. The salon is a safe environment where thought is cultivated.

Experience the Power of Synergy

The main reason that I’ve been drawn to the idea of an intellectual salon is because so many key historical figures and artists bumped into each other in salons and other intellectual gatherings throughout time. I’ve always thought it interesting that you could have so many brilliant people in one room at one time — before any of them have fully exhibited their greatness. We know the power of synergy. I believe that when a group of people come together seeking enlightenment, self-improvement, knowledge, and artistic creation, they are inspired and pushed well beyond their individual capacities in their personal work.

So please, comment. Share your own stories and experiences. Debate (civilly). Make the posts in this Intellectual Salon a genuine conversation.

Do You Have Ideas Or Art to Add To the Conversation?

The salonnière is in many ways a mother, sharing her own knowledge and inviting her beloveds to share theirs in intimate communion — in hopes that all might be bettered by association. So yes, the Intellectual Salon includes all of my personal intellectual, philosophical, and artistic content, but it is also the home for all of my favorite mind-expanding content from others. Find a growing collection of curated links, guest interviews, and content from experts in various fields. I will be following the whims of my heart and mind as to what I pursue, but if you have ideas or art to share, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Come. Sit on the couch and share with the rest of those who are gathered.

My Poetry:

Let Go

Dark smoke pushes the light out of your body. I watch it go, wisp by wisp - every day, more clouds, more fog obscuring the sunshine. There are moments when I still see that reflective beauty of mirrored amplitude bouncing in your eyes and radiating outward, but I know...

Blue Eyes Crying for Lorraine

There's a hole where you once were and maybe that's okay so they say - but I don't feel okay. Nobody knows how I feel today and every day when I wake. Where is the one who used to greet me? who sat beside me when blinds closed at day's end? My comfort friend -...


Part I I AM -- a weed. Forcing yellow head from infertile field, hearty in health, I heave myself forward from barren ground. Overkilled and underappreciated. Your trampling only toughens me. Gloria Gaynor's flower child - I will survive. Part II I AM -- a flower. I...

The Princess and the Sky

The princess spun in her dress, giggling as the white cotton fabric swung droplets onto her face. She stopped twirling - teetered, looking out at the endless stretch of blue. She had never realized that the sky was made of water or that it loved the land so much....

I’m Not Weird; I’m Gifted

a tribute to Mr. Ronald Webb, the fifth grade teacher who opened my eyes to poetry and the power of knowledge and learning. This poem was written for a tribute party where hundreds of his former students came together to show their love for him when he was diagnosed...

Silverstein to Tennyson

I lost it in a moment became a strong proponent of a personal atonement, but all I found was the exponents of sin and then when I discovered the singed twin within me, there was no way to spin it - and my car collided with the hint of a guardrail, but that all pales...

Words of Berry Sweetness

I stand aloof - avoid your gaze but caught in the rays of your radiance. You shine in the distance, illuminating the distance, drawing MY distance like rouge on your cheeks. I beckon you nearer. Your face gathers in a warm embrace of kindred words. Emotions meld into...

Found Poems From “O Pioneers” by Willa Cather

Signs and Decisions flooded with light like the tide racing in. a young woman expected a whirr of wings. As she stood, a rumpled ball of feathers with the blood dripping slowly from its mouth burned in distress. Come she said I'm not going any more. You can tell them...

And God Saw That It Was Bad

He fell like Eve to create life, but no dove dipped down to redeem me from his forbidden taste. Caught, spun, shattered glass visions of Godhood, grandeur, and gold-filled vain vessels. Life sprang from his fingers - chlorophyll green ropes that tangled and imprisoned...

True Love

I loved you when I met you - heart pounding as you led me on the first adventure these feet had ever run. Breath catching as you traced the constellations of my body and turned the stars to sun. And time and care and sex and love and work - more work than we could...


Creation only to lose. For naught. Not the art. Me. Every moment - a new disjointed self wakes to a world of old experiences. Hazily remembered. Accidentally forgotten. Recall. And sleep. Forget again.


It turns out I never existed anyway. I was just a collection of dust particles blown from other people's wholeness. Put them together and they look like a person - but it's just a trick of the light. And eventually, the wind blows.


I have loved humanity. I have been betrayed by humanity. I have loved humanity more deeply from knowing her cruelty. There's darkness in the world I refused to accept as a child. I feel old in the evening when the sun sets when the rest of the world goes to bed. I...

Intellectual Salon Posts

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