Adorno on Critique

“Essentially an anti-critical schema from philosophy has sunk into blather: the appeal to the positive. One continually finds the word critique, if it is tolerated at all, accompanied by the word constructive. The insinuation is that only someone can practice critique who can propose something better than what is being criticized. By making the positive … Continue reading Adorno on Critique

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Final Serenity

“After so long a life one quite loses the capacity to distinguish who has done what harm to whom. In the abstract conception of universal wrong, all concrete responsibility vanishes. The blackguard presents himself as victim of injustice; if only you knew, young man, what life is like. But those conspicuous midway through life by … Continue reading Final Serenity

Countryside

“The shortcoming of the American landscape is not so much, as romantic illusion would have it, the absence of historical memories, as that it bears no traces of the human hand. This applies not only to the lack of arable land, the uncultivated woods often no higher than scrub, but above all to the roads. … Continue reading Countryside

For Marcel Proust

“The son of well-to-do parents who, whether from talent or weakness, engages in a so-called intellectual profession, as an artist or a scholar, will have a particularly difficult time with those bearing the distasteful title of colleagues. It is not merely that his independence is envied, the seriousness of his intentions mistrusted, and that he … Continue reading For Marcel Proust

“Lone wolf” device

“There is first of all the “lone wolf” trick. It is taken from the arsenal of Hitler, who always used to boast … about the fact that others controlled the press, the radio - everything; and that he had nothing. [He] slightly modifies this by specifically insisting he has no politician’s money behind him. .... This … Continue reading “Lone wolf” device

Art, Immanence, and Critique

[Dr. Halley was kind enough to let me take a look at this manuscript and do some editing. I'm always a fan of Adorno, so the pleasure was surely mine.] "The relationship of art to bourgeois society, was, at first, emancipatory for art. In the decline of religious domination, and prior to the industrial revolution … Continue reading Art, Immanence, and Critique

“Emotional release” device

“The speaker … is consciously and emphatically emotional as part of his technique. He reiterates on many occasions that he “almost cried” when he got a contribution of fifty cents from that poor old widow. Whereas his whole personal build-up is that of the leader, the conspicuously refrains from any attitude of “dignity.” Just this … Continue reading “Emotional release” device

Johnny-Head-in-Air

“The relation of knowledge to power is one not only of servility but of truth. Much knowledge, if out of proportion to the disposition of forces, is invalid, however formally correct it may be. If an emigre doctor says: ‘For me, Adolf Hitler is a pathological case’, his pronouncement may ultimately be confirmed by clinical … Continue reading Johnny-Head-in-Air

Invitation to dance

“Schiller’s dictum that ‘Life’s good, in spite of all’, papier-mache from the start, has become idiocy now that it is blown into the same trumpet as omnipotent advertising, with psycho-analysis, despite its better possibilities, adding its fuel to the flames. … The admonitions to be happy, voiced in concert by the scientifically epicurean sanatorium-director and … Continue reading Invitation to dance

All the Good Stuff that Cannot be Measured

Yanis Varoufakis talks about the neoclassical economic tradition and its (futile and detrimental) attempt to quantify non-quantifiable phenomena. Such a debate has been raging on in the social sciences for quite some time, and continues today. Theodor Adorno and critical theory offers a important theoretical contribution to this debate (though such a rejection of the imperative … Continue reading All the Good Stuff that Cannot be Measured