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:


She paints the sky with words - green and blue and greenish blue polished stones piled in the space between us. A wall we never meant to build cast upon us by those we loved. We love. My hands mimic motions - emotions dismantle the stones so carelessly thrown. She is...


The fatigue grips me like a tentacled monster drags me under the pillows and covers and shade of darkness no matter how often I try to come up for air. My eyes close like old oak doors - too heavy to be popped open - the hinges worn from years of rust and tears. If I...

Melancholy End (Poem)

The end shifted in with the night breeze-shimmering on the tiny caps of the waves;they crashed with the sound of summerbut the air tasted like the death of fall. Even the crickets sang a mournful song;the stars wore their brightest jewels and danced one last time. You...

Threadbare Notes

This grief poem was written about my Grandmother’s passing and talks about the fleeting nature of dreams and life.

Refining Ruby

You have braided yourself together,like strands of wovengold and silver andmore precious than rubiesin a puff of blue smokethat produces allergiesand memories of surprise-filled ice cream cones.Like a stack of Skip-Bo cards,your pieces are so lovingly wornfrom games...

Love in so many words

Some love is like a resume – polished, purposeful, and quite mundane. Our love is like a recipe – polished, purposeful, and sometimes mundane – but beautiful and customized with an added dash of coriander. Some love is like a diary - hidden under a mattress. Our love...

Intellectual Salon Posts

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