I have been thinking lately about thinking and philosophy and what we are all talking to one another about. I have the habit of delving into biography when my own life is out of balance. This goes one of two ways: I return to my own existence, grateful for the sacredness of the ordinary; or I return with a new found sense of purpose and commitment to reach higher. There is a serendipitous quality to the lives I choose to visit, usually the first book I happen to see on the library shelf. This time it was a book entitled "Margaret Mead, A Life" by Jane Howard. My mom sent it to me. Margaret Mead is famous for being one of the first renowned female anthropologists, although this offended her as she considered herself to be a hell of good anthropologist, period. She was married to Gregory Bateson who did groundbreaking work on schizophrenia and family therapy and she was a prolific author. She had one daughter, Mary Catherine Bateson who went on to become an anthropologist, author, and dean of Amherst College, to name a few of her accomplishments. Sometimes after I finish a biography, I quickly search out another one to get a more complete picture. Luckily, Mary Catherine wrote a memoir about both her parents that have quite a few juicy bits. I could talk about their liberated sexual views and the numerous marriages of both but the thing that I'm struck by and left with is how intellectually curious they all were. They were passionate about ideas.
Both Bateson and Mead loved conferences and the opportunity to come together and talk, not only about their ideas but the process of thinking about new theories. As anthropologists, they both knew intrinsically that they were part of the tableau. They lived in a time when one had to congregate to exchange energy. Now, we can type and goggle into the wee hours of the morning, always taking in but losing the process of layering my idea with yours until we create something bigger.
So, I think it is time to bring back the salon. A gathering of diverse folks who want to explore ideas. Jousting with one another until we hit upon the wisdom of our age. We can't rely on the massive amount of information we all have access to...it will still be one dimensional. Margaret Mead called this process "multi-logues" and she wove together narratives from all over the world and fed herself in the process. I don't know what this will look like or where it will happen but I trust the spark that flew out of her narrative and landed in mine.