By Geoff Boucher

Brushed off as a depressing elitist who condemned pop culture within the identify of ‘high art’, Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969) is among the such a lot provocative and critical but least understood of up to date thinkers. This e-book attracts on new translations into English to problem this well known photo and re-examines Adorno as a utopian thinker who believed actual artwork may possibly keep the world.

Adorno Reframed isn't just a accomplished creation to the reader coming to Adorno for the 1st time via targeted dialogue of artistic endeavors, novels, motion pictures and track, yet a major second look of this founding father of the Frankfurt college. encouraged through Kant, Hegel, Freud, Marx, Nietzche and Kierkegaard, Adorno used to be a searing critic of the formal, reductive rationality of the Enlightenment and of modernity. Unafraid to speak about human nature, undaunted via dogmas relating to cultural building, Adorno enjoyed paintings that hurts, that challenged the present tradition of the day and resisted the controlled, commodified pseudo-happiness of ‘administered society’. protecting the independence of the flora and fauna and the particularity of the human person, for Adorno genuine real paintings used to be a defiant refusal to subordinate the materiality of the realm and the lived fact of human task to the imperatives of social totality.

Making his concept available via a wealth of concrete illustrations, many drawn from Adorno himself, Geoffrey Boucher recasts Adorno as a progressive whose anthropological imaginative and prescient of the human situation, feel of subversive irony and profoundly old aesthetics defended the integrity of the person opposed to the commodified tradition industries that offer unsatisfying shopper ‘happiness’. Grounding Adorno’s social philosophy and aesthetic thought in contextualised research of artists starting from Stockhausen and Kafka to David Lynch and Brett Easton-Ellis, Adorno Reframed takes its topic from interwar modernity into the postmodern and feminist current to ascertain the legacy and effect of Adorno’s radical modernism and his trust that artwork was once within the base line the way to deal with, now not break out, truth.

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It is both accurate and helpful to say that Adorno ‘composed’ his philosophy. Indeed, Adorno felt permanently divided between becoming a philosophy professor and developing as a professional composer. He is sometimes pictured reading sheet music like others read newspapers, which reflects reality rather than pretence, and he was a gifted pianist, whose idea of understanding a difficult sonata was not to put a record on, but to sit down and play it through once or twice. He insisted that his philosophical works exhibited artistic ‘construction’, modelled on the procedures of atonal music, composing only a philosophy in fragments, while system of composition in which all 12 notes within the octave (7 white and 5 black notes of the piano scale) are treated as ‘equal,’ in an ordered relationship where no group of notes predominates as in major/minor key system …[I]t is associated with Schönberg, whose ‘method of composing with 12 notes which are related only to one another’ was developed gradually between 1920–5 …In the Schönberg method, all pitches are related to a fixed order of the 12 chromatic notes, this order providing the work’s basic shape.

Lukács, 2007: 36–37) But for this very reason, he maintains, modernism remains abstract, one-dimensional and superficial, for ‘when the surface of life is only experienced immediately, it remains opaque, fragmentary, chaotic and uncomprehended’ (Lukács, 2007: 39). For both Bloch and Lukács, the representation of this swirling confusion from the subjective perspective is expressed perfectly 39 Negative dialectics particular shattered outdated artistic traditions, displaying the industrialised world in all its ugliness, while liberating subjectivity from the constraints of realist conventions.

What commercialisation and bureaucracy have in common is the reduction of reason to a faculty for performing calculations. Rationality as the ability to reflect on the substantive goals of human action and the forms of life conducive to human flourishing 35 Negative dialectics is abandoned for formal operations. Lukács proposes that this signifies that the commodity has become the ‘central structural principle’ of the modern world (Lukács, 1971: 86), structuring both society and the psyche, through its mechanisms of abstract equivalence and quantitative calculation.

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