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Friday Cannon Fodder: The Salon

Maximilien Francois Marie Isidore de Robespierre Photo by: Bildagentur-online/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

This was a pre-coffee train of thought, so my apologies if it isn’t fully...roasted. Also, I’m sure I’m not the first person in the world to make this connection / comparison. But.

Comments sections, Twitter, Reddit, and the internet generally have become The Salons of our day. As a refresher, from Wikipedia:

A salon is a gathering of people held by an inspiring host. During the gathering they amuse one another and increase their knowledge through conversation. These gatherings often consciously followed Horace’s definition of the aims of poetry, “either to please or to educate” (Latin: aut delectare aut prodesse). Salons in the tradition of the French literary and philosophical movements of the 17th and 18th centuries were carried on until as recently as the 1920s in urban settings.

The salon was an Italian invention of the 16th century, which flourished in France throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. The salon continued to flourish in Italy throughout the 19th century. In 16th-century Italy, some brilliant circles formed in the smaller courts which resembled salons, often galvanized by the presence of a beautiful and educated patroness such as Isabella d’Este or Elisabetta Gonzaga.

Salons were an important place for the exchange of ideas.

Is that not what we do online? We congregate in places and exchange ideas!

“But comment sections, Twitter, Reddit and all that are cesspools for dumb and bad people to discuss their dumb and bad ideas!”

Yeah, they are. But I’m sure there were Salons of dumb people talking about unimportant stuff back then, too. We just don’t hear about them.

Y’all didn’t learn about Pierre, the pseudo-intellectual who advocated for subjugation, social stratification, and hatred. You learned about Robespierre who championed Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (and then became the leader of the Reign of Terror and was guillotined — gonna skate past that part).

Similarly, we don’t really care about what @munchmeat69 (Parks & Rec. reference) spews online. But we definitely should be reading and discussing what Ta-Nehisi Coates thinks and writes. Every generation has their duds and their studs.

Now, what were the memes of the 16th century...

That’s all I got for today. Have at it with whatever in the comments. It’s Friday. Hooray! We made it through another week. Celebrate by being wildly and beautifully off-topic down there.