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:

Hill Dreams

I keep dreaming of hills Big hills. They rise out of flat land, a tower of road I have to climb. The call beyond the crest changes. At times, it isn't even known - just some phantom draw pulling me on and upward. I always fear the car will fall off of the hill or...

Still Water

The water is still today. It's one of those days when the sun and breeze cancel each other out, and you forget that you need sunblock. Soft spring water can make you forget a lot of things -- decaying remnants of trees and homes, broken families and enemies' bones....


You never long to want or want to long. You only want to be wanted for so long that your bones crack into dust like gray grindings of the peppercorn.


I hear the lonesome wind come in against the moored boats' bones as I load the warm laundry into the van. A dog tethers a woman across the street. Her eyes dart to her door when she sees me - hands plucking at the fabric mask she clutches. I smile, but the cloth on my...


Nature doesn't die when the snow falls like hushed ash. It sleeps. All that remains, the stems and stalks and seed clusters that hint of sprouts and spring and green expanses. They shiver in the cold. They blow in the wind. They quiver in the snow. They bend in the...


I dreamed there were mushrooms growing from your head once. I woke and wondered, and it scared me. But then I tasted mushrooms. Truly. Felt them expand my mind - remembered they'd grown from yours. You always said the years moved in circles - dancing without...

Night Church

The Devil comes in the nighttime, but the angels come beside. Free under cover of darkness, the fallen and risen abide. Together, they dance in the moonlight. In her beams, none jeer or deride. The cherub and demon entangle. In truth, there is no great divide.

We Will Await Her

The year scurries on like black squirrels in red leaves. Stillness comes in her end, but we will await her. Even as we scamper - as we scatter - as we scavenge. We will await her. For the pregnant belly of winter will swell with snow like the full moon's glow and the...

Cycle Dance

There is blood on the Samhain and Aurora brings her in painted in the colors of the fallen and the children. Ring around the rosy, a pocket full of posies ashes, ashes, we all fall down. And then we dance a new dance -- a hallowed transferred soul -- from birth to...

A Muddy Prayer

We've been battered for millenia, maladaptive traits to live while the things that made us human from the world have been hid. In the gardens, on the beaches and from bluffs, we build a shrine to the truths that have been buried in the darkest parts of time. Break...

I Lay My Body Down…

I lay my body down each night - the only peace I know. No matter where or what I fight, I never stand alone. Bruised and battered, weary, worn we weather all to rest and then with daylight’s shackles shorn we settle in to nest. Tomorrow, we will rise again and face an...


un homage à l'homme qui prends vie qui chantequi danse il n'a pas de peurvivre pour il sais qu'il etait créépour vivre c'est la vievivre bois, manges, savoure ce moment est ici et puis il passe comment ca goûte?

Believe In It

Once upon a time, you - only half yourself - waited wished that some 1 in 150 million white knights would fight through the acid swim the equivalent of 4-5 miles in 12-48 hours - choose the right and lose his comrades only to crack open your shell and become you...

Intellectual Salon Posts

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