Are Blogs the Salons of the 21st Century?

Written on November 13, 2007 by Arantza de Areilza in Arts & Cultures & Societies, Literature, Philosophy

Arantza de Areilza

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From the 16th century until the 20th century, salons and tertulias had been characterized by their exclusivity.  They were attended by strict invitation, and only by those who had previously demonstrated their erudition and mastery of the art of discourse, sharpness and the agility of commentary.  The salon was reserved "aux hommes et femmes d’esprit". 

During the 16th, 17th, and 18th century, it was the aristocratic women who gave soul to these forums of influence and intellectual creativity. The Duchess of Retz, in the court of Henry III of France, was the only woman admitted in l’Académie du Palais, and received, in her salon, the majority of the Pléiade poets. 

During the Préciosité (preciousness) movement of the 17th century, the Countess of Lafayette, author of the Princess of Cléves, quintessence of French letters, was hostess of one of the most famous salons in history, frequented by important figures from the heights of La Rochefoucald, Louis of Bourbon-Condé, or the Marquess of Sévigné. 

It was the Enlightenment which produced the major blossoming of these tertulias which converted into discreet forums such the salon of Mme D’Epinay, under whose roof Rousseau wrote his treatise on education “Emile,” and in which Chateau de Chevrette, the Encyclopedists, D’Almbert, Diderot, Saint Lambert or the Baron of Holbach gathered. 

All of these women are characterized by their profound knowledge of Classical languages and of history. They knew how to create spaces of dialogue and reflection which were, oftentimes, the origin of many great philosophical and political ideas of their time. The Enlightened women of those centuries found a subtle way to influence thought and politics from the top, from the world of ideas, behind closed doors, in the privacy of their homes.  From the private sphere they knew how to weave the fabric of the art of the word which gave them voices in the public sphere. 

Salons have persevered until our time but never before have they had the possibility of exhibiting their collective reflections before an unlimited public.  This is what the internet allows for today, specifically blogs, an exclusive salon open to reading and to commentary from interested strangers.  I suspect that Mme de Sévigné or the Duchess of Retz would not have been interested in spreading the art of their oratory and their ideas in an unknown sphere.  However, in our democratic and participative societies of the 21st century, a general desire for opinion exists.  Today, thanks to the web 2.0, there is no longer a need to ask or win the right to have a voice because all of us can express or publish our thoughts with a click.  What an incredibly important advance!

For this reason, and in light of received petitions, the Sapiens Tribune has decided to create an Open Tribune with the objective of inviting our readers to express their opinion in our modest salon, beyond the traditional commentaries to specific posts, by means of sending articles, which, following an editorial revision, will be published in this blog. 


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