As I have several times observed, the development of modern social science can be viewed as the progressive taking seriously of spheres of human experience that were previously ignored as infra dignitate. Economics treats of the buying and selling of goods in the marketplace, a banausic activity that no gentleman would contemplate. Anthropology began when the practices of South Sea Islanders were accorded the respect previously reserved for the amusements of lords and ladies, and graced with the epithet “culture.” Durkheim launched Sociology with a detailed analysis of the phenomenon of suicide. Freud created an entire medical specialty out of such detritus of human experience as dreams, jokes, and slips of the tongue. And modern literary critics, weary of their endless contemplation of Greek tragedy and Romantic poetry, turned their attention first to that middle class amusement, the novel, then to movies, which were rechristened “films,” and finally even to such ephemera as television and comic books.
I have always admired this ability to – as my old friend Esther Terry would say – make chicken salad from chicken shit, but alas, I lack the gift. Thus it is that the endless contemplation of the Trump presidency, rather than inspiring me to flights of creative imagination, has had the effect of making me stupid.
In an effort to recapture the life of the mind, I have decided to offer a short series of lectures on The Thought of Sigmund Freud, to be delivered – if they agree – at UNC and preserved for eternity on YouTube. The arrangements are still being explored, but my hope is to record the lectures in March and April. Later in this sesquicentennial year, I plan to mount a more extended series on The Thought of Karl Marx.