Updated: Feb 19, 2022
Welcome to Social Musings by Austin. I hope you are having a great start to the year.
When I first interviewed Dr. Sigmund Freud on the Social Musings by Austin blog in March 2021, the feedback was tremendous.
Many readers asked “how did you come up with this idea?”
Interviewing a dead person? REALLY?
Truth be told, I was in the bathtub.
Let me back up first, though.
During the pandemic, searching for self-improvement activities to fill my time, I attended online art history lectures from the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. I also completed philosophy coursework on Coursera.
That week back in March 2021, a full year into a pandemic which happens to still be raging today, I participated in three amazing art history lectures.
Energized by this gift to myself of knowledge, I wanted to write a blog post about what I had learned and about the power of art to inspire.
As I sat in the bath, an idea struck me.
My excellent Coursera philosophy class, taught by the President of Wesleyan University, required written essays as homework every week for the semester-long course.
I remembered a paper I had written about Sigmund Freud, and that Dr. Freud had identified art as one of three palliative measures, something we probably all needed during the pandemic (I know I did).
In Freud's Civilization and its Discontents, he outlined the three ways that humanity can deal with the struggles of life:
There are perhaps three such measures: powerful deflections, which cause us to make light of our misery; substitute satisfactions, which diminish it; and intoxicating substances , which make us insensitive to it.
Freud's message can be pretty dense stuff.
At that moment, I wondered how I might make his comments interesting to an audience that may not share the same enthusiasm for philosophy.
Then it hit me: why don’t I interview him in a contemporary way while using his own words?
Perhaps on a Zoom webinar?
Even better, one that maybe even experiences technical difficulties and is kind of a disaster (something we have all witnessed over the past two years)?
Here is my interview with Dr. Freud: Link is here
As a result of the initial interview with Freud, I decided to launch a series of informative interviews using the deceased’s actual words and called it “Interviews with Dead People.”
I have interviewed Susan B. Anthony, Jackie Robinson and other social and intellectual luminaries.
Why did I do this?
Not only am I a history buff, but also I find that words from the past have an incredibly powerful resonance for us in modern times.
I hope you agree.
For my latest installment, and in honor of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, the choice of my guest was obvious.
I wonder what the incomparable Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would think of our world in 2022.
Similar to my interviews with other deceased dignitaries, (see Interviews with Dead People on the Social Musings by Austin blog here), I am using Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s actual words from his “I Have A Dream” speech in quotations.
AustinfromAustin: First off, it is a great honor to be able to speak with you today Dr. King. Thank you for joining Social Musings by Austin.
Dr. King: “I am happy to join with you today,” Austin.
AustinfromAustin: Next year will be the 60th anniversary of your “I Have A Dream” speech. How do you think we are doing today in terms of social justice?
Dr. King: I still would “remind America of the fierce urgency of Now”…While we may have made progress towards the day where “the bright day of justice emerges”, “it would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.”
AustinfromAustin: Can you expand on that please, Dr. King?
Dr. King: “Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy…Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.”
AustinfromAustin: When will you be satisfied?
Dr. King: “We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality…No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
AustinfromAustin: Do you think that meaningful social progress takes all of us, Dr. King?
Dr. King: “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”
AustinfromAustin: Any final thoughts for our readers?
Dr. King: “Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today…We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.”
AustinfromAustin: Words for us all to live by. Thank you very much, Dr. King.
Coming later this month, I will adapt my most popular Social Musings by Austin blog post, “The Story of the Denim Jacket,” for a new episode of my Apple Podcast.
I hope you will check it out, and in the meantime, you can hear me perform my four new original stories from 2021, which are available now on the Social Musings by Austin Apple Podcast.
You won’t want to miss The Story of the Denim Jacket.
If you haven’t read this powerful personal story about bullying, mental health and resilience yet, I strongly recommend you do so. Link is here.
See you next time, Social Musers.