Reflections on an Interintellect Salon

Reflections on an Interintellect Salon

Rika Sukenik on Matt Clifford’s “Lessons from the Middle Ages Part 2: Power and Territory”

A few weeks ago, I attended an Interintellect Salon on Lessons from the Middle Ages. It was Part 2 of a 3 Part Series, and my fourth ever Interintellect Salon.

Since I attended four ii Salons, I guess this makes me a Salon connoisseur, an expert in Salons, and a person you should trust to give you insights into the Salon experience. Haha — just kidding! I’m as new to Salons as I am to the Middle Ages, and in this post I’d like to share what my experience was like attending a Salon on a topic that I knew virtually nothing about.

I made a rookie mistake: I didn’t prepare for the Salon. Usually, before Salons, I take time to read the pre-read material; but, this time, I didn’t. I was busy and didn’t make time, thinking that I could just slide by without preparation; so, I walked into the Salon with the intention to actively listen, and also to take notes on interesting content to research later. Turns out, this was a… bad.. anxiety provoking idea!

Preparing a little would have gone a long way. Naturally, I felt vulnerable stepping into a Salon on a foreign topic, and not preparing made me feel worse. As an aspiring writer, I’m no stranger to vulnerability; but, man, being on a Zoom call with 20+ people who know a hell of a lot about the Middle Ages, was… intimidating!

My monkey mind was doing its thing. I caught myself having thoughts like “Uhh…this is way over my head; abort, abort, abort!” and “shoot, I really should have prepared, at least with some basic questions; I feel like a fish out of water; abort, abort, abort!”

Although one part of me was having these really anxious thoughts, another part of me: the curious, open-minded, and friendly part, was feverishly swimming, trying to get her head above the water, to make an ask of my anxious part: “hey, scoot over, please, let’s work together!”

About 30 minutes into the Salon, both of my parts were sitting on the bench together, working in tandem, to figure out a game plan for how to get back in the game. My curious, open-minded part, reminded Mrs. Anxiety lady that my intention was also to take notes, so that’s exactly what I started to do.

I allowed myself to jot down interesting things when people spoke; whatever resonated with me and caught my ear, so that I could turn my attention from my inner world to my outer world, to the conversation taking place, right here, right now, in the shared Zoom space I was in.

Here are some of the notes that I jotted down:

  • In the Middle Ages, medieval music was used to keep people docile
  • In the Middle Ages, the Church told people stories and delivered the news, not the media
  • Nietzsche said art should be used instead of religion to interact with our subconscious and move forward with our humanity
  • If the Press is the 4th Estate, and social media is the 5th estate, Joe Rogan is the n+1th estate
  • Voltaire pissed people off
  • Orson Welles hated Woody Allen

These notes are fun; way more fun and interesting than the notes I would take had I just read, on my own, on the internet, about the Middle Ages. I would have not uncovered these tidbits of insight because gems like these are only to be discovered through conversation; they’re interesting because they’re human and personal, just like the Salons. Aren’t you curious about why Voltaire pissed people off, or why Orson Wells hated Woody Allen?

The Salon helped me to become innately interested about the Middle Ages; ten centuries of violence, power hunger, and religious dogma.

It was a very vulnerable experience to participate in a Salon topic that I knew virtually nothing about, but leaning in to the vulnerability was a personal growth experience that left me feeling like a better, more insightful, more interesting human; and, I can immediately apply this knowledge in my own life, at my next dinner party, because, of course, a discussion about all the ways Voltaire pissed people off, makes for great dinner party conversation!