While travelling and living in Europe, I often bemoaned the fact that the great conversational salons where the intelligencia of the social and artistic world would meet are no more, or perhaps have taken a different shape and scope.
One of my British cousins is a well educated and travelled woman who could have been the center of such a salon (gathering). The Salon first appeared in France in 1664, and became an important place for an exchange of ideas. There were rules of etiquette and subjects focused on “enlightened public opinion” with an exchange of news and ideas. And in New York City there was the “Round Table” at the Algonquin Hotel from 1919-1929 where great minds of the era such as Edna Ferber, Heywood Brown, Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley to name a few, would meet for lunch daily and established their own “Salon”.
For me, it is pure joy to have friends around me with whom I can converse and from whom I can learn, expand my horizons and give my brain a good workout! Recently, we discussed politics in depth and agreed that things are not what they seem, and strings are being pulled to make puppets dance to a rather off-beat tune.
At a party my cousin led a discussion centered around ancient beliefs and religious concepts which have both positively and negatively affected our present day perceptions. Obviously, through the evolution of time, this happens as it must due to outside actions and reactions. It was extraordinary food for thought and the individual observations, albeit not always revolutionary, could have been the basis of a book.
Have we, in our mad dash to “green” everything, race to Mars and create a “Brave, New World” lost the ability to talk with each other, and the ability to listen and hear a better solution or a wiser path?
On the web you’ll find hundreds of sites selling “the rewards of (a better) education” whether it’s virtual reality guiding you through a foreign country, a diploma mill, monetary rewards for learning about new hotels, or updates on vacation destinations plus severa
l pages of information with a test at the end where you “submit” with a press of a computer button.
The most precious knowledge I’ve gained comes from being priviledged, as a child, to sit quietly and listen to brilliant adults discussing meaningful events and situations. I emerged as a woman to see the world, far and wide, equipped with this knowledge and able to make my own decisions, always being drawn to the salon discussions and realizing how little I know, and how much I still have to learn.