I have always wanted to be a member of a literary salon. I am not just talking about an ordinary book club where lonely gals get together to drink wine and commiserate about their lives. I am talking about a salon like the ones hosted by the literati and their hangers on during the high periods of European culture. Often, the mistress of some powerful official or the wife of a professor would host the event. She would invite an interesting mix of educated men and women and they would sit around her salon, sipping on wine and puffing on cigarettes, and discuss the important topics of the day from the latest philosophy to the most scandalous politics. How delicious it must have been to be so completely intellectually stimulated and challenged.
Modern technology and our extremely busy schedules are increasing the isolationism in our country. People no longer gather to discuss and debate much of anything. I can’t even gather my girlfriends once a month for brunch! People no longer have time for a conversation. The newspapers are faltering, giving way to online sources, television spoof news, and info-blogs. Students were once at the forefront of the discussion, and yet, most that I meet know nothing of the headlines today. The average twenty-three minute network evening news consists of six minutes of sports, six minutes of weather, seven minutes of entertainment or local happenings, which leaves just two minutes for world news. I never bother watching anything but the weather. I read the New York Times and BBC World News online edition. I also check the Montreal Gazette and Le Monde at least once a week. But, I have no one to discuss it with. What good is news that cannot be shared or debated?
Putting my modern technology to good use, I found two interesting Meet Up groups in my area. The first one is a French club. It has 296 members and small groups meet several times a month. I’d like to give it a try. I need to practice my speaking and listening skills. I often have difficulty deciphering spoken French…it is so dang fast! The French meet up doesn’t have any scheduled meetings for May. The other group I have heard of before. The group was founded in 2004 and has nearly 200 members. It is poetically labeled the Socrates Café due to the philosophical nature of the discussions. That could be very interesting and very intellectually stimulating. The next meeting is on May 7th. I will plan on going to check it out. Hopefully, it will be just the thing to cure my craving.