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 9781119146940

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A Companion to Adorno

Blackwell Companions to Philosophy This outstanding student reference series offers a comprehensive and authoritative survey of philosophy as a whole. Written by today’s leading philosophers, each volume provides lucid and engaging coverage of the key figures, terms, topics, and problems of the field. Taken together, the volumes provide the ideal basis for course use, representing an unparalleled work of reference for students and specialists alike.

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A Companion to Adorno Edited by

Peter E. Gordon Espen Hammer Max Pensky

This edition first published 2020 © 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, except as permitted by law. Advice on how to obtain permission to reuse material from this title is available at http://www.wiley.com/go/permissions. The right of Peter E. Gordon, Espen Hammer, and Max Pensky to be identified as the authors of the editorial material in this work has been asserted in accordance with law. Registered Office John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030, USA Editorial Office 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030, USA For details of our global editorial offices, customer services, and more information about Wiley products visit us at www.wiley.com. Wiley also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats and by print‐on‐demand. Some content that appears in standard print versions of this book may not be available in other formats. Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty While the publisher and authors have used their best efforts in preparing this work, they make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this work and specifically disclaim all warranties, including without limitation any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales representatives, written sales materials or promotional statements for this work. The fact that an organization, website, or product is referred to in this work as a citation and/or potential source of further information does not mean that the publisher and authors endorse the information or services the organization, website, or product may provide or recommendations it may make. This work is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering professional services. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation. You should consult with a specialist where appropriate. Further, readers should be aware that websites listed in this work may have changed or disappeared between when this work was written and when it is read. Neither the publisher nor authors shall be liable for any loss of profit or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. Library of Congress Cataloging‐in‐Publication Data Names: Gordon, Peter Eli, editor. | Hammer, Espen, editor. | Pensky, Max, editor. Title: A companion to Adorno / edited by Peter E. Gordon, Espen Hammer, Max Pensky. Description: First edition. | Hoboken : Wiley, 2019. | Series: Blackwell companions to philosophy ; 71 Identifiers: LCCN 2019024545 (print) | LCCN 2019024546 (ebook) | ISBN 9781119146919 (hardback) | ISBN 9781119146926 (adobe pdf) | ISBN 9781119146933 (epub) Subjects: LCSH: Adorno, Theodor W., 1903–1969. Classification: LCC B3199.A34 C655 2020 (print) | LCC B3199.A34 (ebook) | DDC 193–dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2019024545 LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2019024546 Cover Design: Wiley Cover Image: Akademie der Künste, Photo: Ilse Mayer Gehrken, © T. W. Adorno Archiv, Frankfurt Set in 10/12pt Photina by SPi Global, Pondicherry, India

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Contents

Notes on Contributors Editors’ Introduction About the Editors

ix xv xix

Part I  Intellectual Foundations

1

  1 Adorno: A Biographical Sketch Peter E. Gordon

3

  2 Adorno’s Inaugural Lecture: The Actuality of Philosophy in the Age of Mass Production Roger Foster

21

  3 Reading Kierkegaard Marcia Morgan

35

  4 Guilt and Mourning: Adorno’s Debt to and Critique of Benjamin Alexander Stern

51

  5 Adorno and the Second Viennese School Sherry D. Lee

67

Part II  Cultural Analysis 

85

  6 The Culture Industry Fred Rush

87

  7 Adorno and Horkheimer on Anti-Semitism Fabian Freyenhagen

103

  8 Adorno and Jazz Andrew Bowie

123

  9 Adorno’s Democratic Modernism in America: Leaders and Educators as Political Artists Shannon Mariotti

139

10 Inhuman Methods for an Inhumane World: Adorno’s Empirical Social Research, 1938–1950 Charles Clavey

153

v

Contents

Part III  History and Domination

173

11 Adorno and Blumenberg: Nonconceptuality and the Bilderverbot 175 Martin Jay 12 Philosophy of History Iain Macdonald

193

13 The Anthropology in Dialectic of Enlightenment 207 Pierre-François Noppen 14 Adorno’s Reception of Weber and Lukács Michael J. Thompson

221

15 Adorno’s Aesthetic Model of Social Critique Andrew Huddleston

237

16 The Critique of the Enlightenment Martin Shuster

251

Part IV  Social Theory and Empirical Inquiry

271

17 “Nothing is True Except the Exaggerations:” The Legacy of The Authoritarian Personality 273 David Jenemann 18 Exposing Antagonisms: Adorno on the Possibilities of Sociology Matthias Benzer and Juljan Krause

287

19 Adorno and Marx Peter Osborne

303

20 Adorno’s Three Contributions to a Theory of Mass Psychology and Why They Matter Eli Zaretsky

321

21 Adorno and Postwar German Society Jakob Norberg

335

Part V  Aesthetics

349

22 Aesthetic Autonomy Owen Hulatt

351

23 Adorno and Literary Criticism Henry W. Pickford

365

24 Adorno as a Modernist Writer Richard Eldridge

383

25 Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory 397 Eva Geulen 26 Aesthetic Theory as Social Theory Peter Uwe Hohendahl vi

413

Contents

27 Adorno, Music, and the Ineffable Michael Gallope

427

28 Adorno and Opera Richard Leppert

443

Part VI  Negative Dialectics

457

29 What Is Negative Dialectics?: Adorno’s Reevaluation of Hegel Terry Pinkard

459

30 Adorno’s Critique of Heidegger Espen Hammer

473

31 Concept and Object: Adorno’s Critique of Kant J. M. Bernstein

487

32 Critique and Disappointment: Negative Dialectics as Late Philosophy Max Pensky

503

33 Negative Dialectics and Philosophical Truth Brian O’Connor

519

34 Adorno and Scholem: The Heretical Redemption of Metaphysics Asaf Angermann

531

35 Adorno’s Concept of Metaphysical Experience Peter E. Gordon

549

Part VII  Ethics and Politics

565

36 After Auschwitz Christian Skirke

567

37 Forever Resistant? Adorno and Radical Transformation of Society Maeve Cooke

583

38 Adorno’s Materialist Ethic of Love Kathy J. Kiloh

601

39 Adorno’s Metaphysics of Moral Solidarity in the Moment of its Fall James Gordon Finlayson

615

Index

631

vii

Notes on Contributors

Asaf Angermann is Lecturer and Associate Research Scholar in Humanities, Philosophy, and Judaic Studies at Yale University. He is the author of Beschädigte Ironie: Kierkegaard, Adorno und die negative Dialektik kritischer Subjektivität (de Gruyter, 2013), the editor of Theodor W. Adorno and Gershom Scholem, “Der liebe Gott wohnt im Detail”: Briefwechsel 1939–1969 (Suhrkamp, 2015), and the Hebrew translator and editor of Theodor W. Adorno: Education to Autonomous Thinking (HaKibbutz HaMeuchad, 2017). Matthias Benzer is Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Sheffield, England, where he teaches social and sociological theory. Among his publications on Adorno’s sociology is The Sociology of Theodor Adorno (Cambridge University Press, 2011). Matthias is currently finishing a monograph (with Kate Reed) on the socio‐theoretical analysis of “social life.” J. M. Bernstein is University Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research. His research has focused on Critical Theory, aesthetics, ethics, and the philosophy of law. Among his books are: Adorno: Disenchantment and Ethics (2002); Against Voluptuous Bodies: Late Modernism and the Meaning of Painting (2006); and, most recently, Torture and Dignity: An Essay on Moral Injury (2015). He is completing a study entitled Notes Toward a Minor Utopia of Everyday Life: Human Rights and the Construction of Human Dignity. Andrew Bowie is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and German at Royal Holloway, University of London. He has published very widely on modern philosophy, music, and ­literature, and is a jazz saxophonist. His books are: Aesthetics and Subjectivity: from Kant to Nietzsche; Schelling and Modern European Philosophy; F.W.J. von Schelling: “On the History of Modern Philosophy”; From Romanticism to Critical Theory. The Philosophy of German Literary Theory; Manfred Frank: “The Subject and the Text”; F.D.E. Schleiermacher, “Hermeneutics and Criticism” and Other Writings; Introduction to German Philosophy from Kant to Habermas; Music, Philosophy, and Modernity; and Philosophical Variations: Music as Philosophical Language; German Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction; and Adorno and the Ends of Philosophy. Charles Clavey is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Harvard University. Maeve Cooke is Professor of Philosophy at University College Dublin, Ireland and a member of the Royal Irish Academy. She is the author of many articles in the area of social and political philosophy. Her books include Language and Reason: A Study of Habermas’s Pragmatics (MIT Press, 1994) and Re‐Presenting the Good Society (MIT Press, 2006). She is on the editorial board of a number of scholarly journals and has held visiting appointments at universities in the United States and Europe. ix

Notes on Contributors

Richard Eldridge is Charles and Harriett Cox McDowell Professor of Philosophy at Swarthmore College. He is the author, most recently, of Images of History: Kant, Benjamin, Freedom, and the Human Subject (Oxford University Press, 2016) and Werner Herzog – Filmmaker and Philosopher (Bloomsbury, 2018). He is the Series Editor of Oxford Studies in Philosophy and Literature. He has held visiting positions in Bremen, Essex, Stanford, Freiburg, and Sydney. He has published widely in philosophy of literature, ­aesthetics, German philosophy, and Romanticism. James Gordon Finlayson works at the University of Sussex. He teaches philosophy, Critical Theory, and social and political thought and directs the Centre for Social and Political Thought. He writes articles and books on social and political thought. He is the author of The Habermas Rawls Debate (Columbia University Press, 2019), and is working on a book on transcendental homelessness in Adorno’s life and work. Roger Foster is the author of Adorno: The Recovery of Experience (SUNY, 2007) and Adorno and Philosophical Modernism: The Inside of Things (Lexington, 2016), as well as numerous papers and book reviews on the tradition of Critical Social Theory. He teaches philosophy at the Borough of Manhattan Community College of the City University of New York. Fabian Freyenhagen is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Essex, UK. His publications include Adorno’s Practical Philosophy: Living Less Wrongly (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and articles and book chapters on Critical Theory. Among his future projects is a historically informed ethics after Auschwitz that builds on Adorno’s work. Michael Gallope is Associate Professor in the Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota where he is a McKnight Presidential Fellow. He is the author of Deep Refrains: Music, Philosophy, and the Ineffable (University of Chicago Press, 2017), as well as over a dozen articles and essays on music and philosophy. As a musician, he works in a variety of genres from avant‐garde composition to rock and West African electronica. Eva Geulen is Director of the Centre for Literary and Cultural Research and teaches at Humboldt University in Berlin. She studied German Literature and Philosophy at the University of Freiburg and The Johns Hopkins University. She has held teaching positions at Stanford University, the University of Rochester, and New York University and was Professor of German Literature at the University of Bonn and at Goethe University Frankfurt. Her research focuses on literature and philosophy from the eighteenth century to the present, pedagogical discourses around 1800 and 1900 as well as Goethe’s morphology and its reception in the twentieth century. Her publications include: Aus dem Leben der Form. Goethes Morphologie und die Nager (August Verlag 2016); The End of Art. Readings of a Rumor after Hegel (Stanford University Press, 2006); Giorgio Agamben zur Einführung (Junius Verlag, 2005, 3rd edition 2016); Worthörig wider Willen. Darstellungsproblematik und Sprachreflexion in der Prosa Adalbert Stifters (1992); and essays on Nietzsche, Benjamin, Raabe, Thomas Mann, and others. Since 2004, she has been co‐editor of the Zeitschrift für deutsche Philologie. Andrew Huddleston is Reader in Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London. Prior to coming to Birkbeck, he was a Fellow at Exeter College, Oxford. He specializes in German philosophy, as well as in aesthetics, ethics, and social philosophy. He has published x

Notes on Contributors

a number of articles on these topics. His book Nietzsche on the Decadence and Flourishing of Culture (2019) was published with Oxford University Press. Owen Hulatt is a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of York. He is the author of Adorno’s Theory of Philosophical and Aesthetic Truth (Columbia University Press, 2016). His current research interests include Spinoza’s metaphysics, Louis Althusser’s late work, and aesthetics. He is currently writing a monograph on aleatory materialism. David Jenemann is Professor of English and Film and Television Studies at the University of Vermont where he serves as the co‐director of the UVM Humanities Center. He is the author of Adorno in America (2007) and The Baseball Glove: History, Material, Meaning, and Value as well as a number of essays on Critical Theory and cultural history. He is currently writing a biography of Adorno. Kathy J. Kiloh is Assistant Professor of philosophy at OCAD University in Toronto, Canada. Juljan Krause is a researcher in social philosophy, philosophy of technology, and science and technology studies at the University of Southampton, UK. He is the editor of the ­philosophy journal Evental Aesthetics. Juljan is currently working on a monograph that explores the social and political dimensions of building the quantum internet. Sherry D. Lee is Associate Professor of Musicology and Associate Dean of Research at the University of Toronto Faculty of Music. A specialist in music and modernist cultures, nineteenth‐ and twentieth‐century opera, and philosophical aesthetics, her work appears in JAMS, Cambridge Opera Journal, Music and Letters, 19th‐Century Music, the Germanic Review, and several collected volumes, the more recent including the Oxford Handbook of Music and Disability Studies (Oxford University Press, 2015), Music, Modern Culture, and the Critical Ear (Routledge, 2017), and Korngold and His World (forthcoming 2019). Her monograph Adorno at the Opera is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press, and with Daniel Grimley she is preparing The Cambridge Companion to Music and Modernism. Richard Leppert is Regents Professor and Morse Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. His research is concentrated on Western European and American cultural history from the seventeenth century to the present. His most recent book is Aesthetic Technologies of Modernity, Subjectivity, and Nature (Opera –  Orchestra – Phonograph – Film) (University of California Press, 2015). His current research focuses on the history of phonography and film music. Iain Macdonald is Professor of Philosophy at the Université de Montréal. His area of specialization is nineteenth‐ and twentieth‐century European philosophy, including Hegel, Marx, Critical Theory, phenomenology, and aesthetics. Among other things, he is the author of What Would Be Different: Figures of Possibility in Adorno (Stanford University Press, 2019). Shannon Mariotti is Professor of Political Science at Southwestern University. She is the author of Adorno and Democracy: The American Years (University Press of Kentucky, 2016) and Thoreau’s Democratic Withdrawal: Alienation, Participation, and Modernity (University of Wisconsin Press, 2010). She is also co‐editor of A Political Companion to Marilynne Robinson (University Press of Kentucky, 2016). Her work explores the practice of democracy in everyday life, with a focus on sensory perception, experience, and aesthetics. She takes a comparative political theory approach to nineteenth‐century American xi

Notes on Contributors

Transcendentalism, twentieth‐century Critical Social Theory, and the emerging area of Buddhist political theory. Her current book project is titled Zen Democracy: Buddhism, Modernism and the Experience of Democracy. Marcia Morgan is Associate Professor of Philosophy and affiliate faculty member in Jewish studies, sustainability studies, and women’s and gender studies at Muhlenberg College. She is the recipient of the Donald B. Hoffman Research Fellowship for 2018–2019. She has recently published articles in Revue Internationale de Philosophie, Journal of Speculative Philosophy, Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy, and Thesis Eleven, and book chapters in the anthologies, Critical Theories and the Budapest School (Routledge, 2017) and Benjamin, Adorno, and the Experience of Literature (Routledge, 2018). Pierre‐François Noppen (PhD, Sorbonne) is Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Saskatchewan. He specializes in modern and contemporary German philosophy, social and political philosophy and Critical Theory. His current research is on Adorno’s materialism. He served as president of the Association for Adorno Studies. Jakob Norberg is Associate Professor of German at Duke University. He is the author of Sociability and Its Enemies: German Political Thought After 1945 as well as essays on Theodor W. Adorno, Hannah Arendt, Georg Lukács, and Carl Schmitt. Peter Osborne is Professor of Modern European Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), Kingston University, London. He has held Visiting Chairs in the Philosophy Department at the University of Paris 8 (2014, 2019), the Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm (2015), and Yale University School of Art (2017). His books include: The Politics of Time: Modernity and Avant‐Garde (Verso, 1995, 2011); Philosophy in Cultural Theory (Routledge, 2000); Conceptual Art (Phaidon Press, 2002); Marx (Granta, 2005), Anywhere or Not at All: Philosophy of Contemporary Art (Verso, 2013); and The Postconceptual Condition (Verso, 2018). He is the editor of the three‐volume Walter Benjamin: Critical Evaluations in Cultural Theory (Routledge, 2005). From 1983 to 2016 he was an editor of the British journal Radical Philosophy. Brian O’Connor is Professor of Philosophy at University College Dublin. He is the author of Adorno’s Negative Dialectic (2004), Adorno (2013), Idleness: A Philosophical Essay (2018), and editor of The Adorno Reader (2000). Henry W. Pickford is Associate Professor of German and Philosophy at Duke University. He is the author of The Sense of Semblance: Philosophical Analyses of Holocaust Art, Thinking with Tolstoy and Wittgenstein: Expression, Emotion and Art; co‐author of In Defense of Intuitions: A New Rationalist Manifesto; co‐editor of Der aufrechte Gang im windschiefen Kapitalismus; editor and translator of Adorno, Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords and Lev Loseff, Selected Early Poems. Terry Pinkard teaches philosophy at Georgetown University. Among his publications are (with Cambridge University Press): Hegel’s Phenomenology: The Sociality of Reason (1994); Hegel: A Biography (2000); German Philosophy 1760–1860: The Legacy of Idealism (2002); with Oxford University Press, Hegel’s Naturalism: Mind, Nature, and the Final Ends of Life (2012); with Harvard University Press, Does History Make Sense? Hegel on the Historical Shapes of Justice, 2017. In 2018 his translation of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit was published by Cambridge University Press. xii

Notes on Contributors

Fred Rush is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of Irony and Idealism (Oxford University Press, 2016), On Architecture (Routledge, 2009), and the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Critical Theory (Cambridge University Press, 2004) and the Internationales Jahrbuch des Deutschen Idealismus (2004–2014). He is working on a book in the philosophy of film called Film’s Experience. Peter Uwe Hohendahl Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature and German Studies, Cornell University; Director of the Institute for German Cultural Studies, 1992–2007; American Academy of Arts and Sciences 2003—; selected publications include: Building a National Literature: The Case of Germany, 1830–1870 (Cornell University Press, 1989); Reappraisals: Shifting Alignments in Postwar Critical Theory (Cornell University Press, 1991); Prismatic Thought: Theodor W. Adorno (University of Nebraska Press, 1995); The Fleeting Promise of Art: Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory Revisited (Cornell University Press, 2013); and Perilous Futures: On Carl Schmitt’s Late Writings (Cornell University Press, 2018). Martin Shuster teaches at Goucher College in Baltimore, MD, where he is part of the Center for Geographies of Justice. In addition to many articles, he is the author of Autonomy after Auschwitz: Adorno, German Idealism, and Modernity and New Television: The Aesthetics and Politics of a Genre, both published by the University of Chicago Press, in 2014 and 2017, respectively. Most recently, with Daniela Ginsburg, he translated Jean‐François Kervégan’s L’effectif et le rationnel: Hegel et l’esprit objectif, published as The Actual and The Rational: Hegel and Objective Spirit, also by the University of Chicago Press in 2018. Christian Skirke is Assistant Professor at the University of Amsterdam. He publishes on Critical Theory, existentialism, and phenomenology. Alexander Stern received his doctorate from the University of Notre Dame and works on the philosophy of language, social and political philosophy, and aesthetics. His writing has appeared in the European Journal of Philosophy and Critical Horizons, as well as in the New York Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the  Los Angeles Review of Books. His recent book is The Fall of Language: Benjamin and Wittgenstein on Meaning (Harvard University Press, 2019). Michael J. Thompson is Professor of Political Theory in the Department of Political Science, William Paterson University. Some of his recent books include: The Politics of Inequality (Columbia University Press, 2012); The Domestication of Critical Theory (Rowman and Littlefield, 2016); as well as the edited The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Theory (Palgrave, 2017); Hegel’s Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Politics (Routledge, 2018); and, with Greg Smulewicz‐Zucker, Anti‐Science and the Assault on Democracy: Defending Reason in a Free Society (Prometheus, 2018). He is the author of the forthcoming, The Specter of Babel: Political Judgment and the Crisis of Modernity (SUNY) and Twilight of the Self: The Eclipse of Autonomy in Modern Society (Stanford University Press). Eli Zaretsky is Professor of History at the New School for Social Research. He is the author of Capitalism, the Family, and Personal Life (HarperCollins, 1985); Secrets of the Soul: A Social and Cultural History of Psychoanalysis (Three Rivers Press, 2005); Why America Needs a Left (Polity Press, 2012); and Political Freud: A History (Columbia University Press, 2017).

xiii

Editors’ Introduction

A full half‐century has passed since Adorno’s death in 1969. In the intervening years the landscape of his critical reception has transformed and diversified in manifold ways. In the early years Adorno was most often seen alongside his colleague Max Horkheimer as a partisan of Critical Theory in the philosophical tradition of the Institute for Social Research, also known as the “Frankfurt School.” Among his students, he was admired as a returned émigré and public intellectual who embodied the spirit of the Weimar era and used his moral authority to challenge the stifling atmosphere of conservativism and political repression in postwar Germany. In publications such as Minima Moralia and in radio addresses on political as well as cultural themes, he fastened his attention on the question of how to reimagine philosophy and art after Auschwitz. Jürgen Habermas, who commenced his studies in Frankfurt in 1956, later wrote of Adorno that he was “the only genius I have met in my life.” But this reputation was highly ambivalent. By the later 1960s, Adorno found himself at odds with more militant members of the New Left who came to see him as an ally of the political establishment. His rarefied philosophical style and his mandarin aesthetic sensibility left him vulnerable to charges of cultural elitism and political quietism. His confrontation with student activists in the final months before his death cast a shadow over his legacy that would take years to dispel. By the 1980s and 1990s, a new generation of scholars looked to his philosophical legacy with fresh concerns. The ascendant wave of interest in the cultural and literary criticism of his colleague and friend Walter Benjamin led to a deepened appreciation for Adorno’s own legacy as a cultural critic, while literary and theoretical fashions associated with French poststructuralism led to surprising if unlikely exercises in comparison. By the turn of the millennium, Adorno had reemerged in scholarship in a rather new guise, as a thinker whose works were best understood in their full independence as contributions to defining questions of the philosophical canon. Fifty years on, the time has arrived for a summation and critical reappraisal of this formidable legacy. No doubt, the very idea of a comprehensive summary would have aroused Adorno’s ire. From the beginning of his career Adorno looked with skepticism on philosophical efforts to embrace all of human reality, both social and intellectual, within the logic of a single, totalizing framework. In “The Actuality of Philosophy,” his 1931 inaugural lecture as professor at the University of Frankfurt, he argued that “Whoever chooses philosophy as a profession today must first reject the illusion that earlier philosophical enterprises began with: that the power of thought is sufficient to grasp the totality of the real” (Adorno 1931, 24). In his habilitation on Kierkegaard, Adorno presented himself as a materialist who would read philosophical texts against the grain and resist the allure of the grand

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Editors’ Introduction

philosophical system. The concept that seeks to subsume the plenitude of reality became for Adorno a sign of the subject’s will to mastery and a philosophical correlate for social domination. In a conscious rejoinder to Hegel’s famous dictum from the Phenomenology of Spirit that “the true is the whole,” Adorno wrote in Minima Moralia that “the whole is the false”. This principled resistance to the totalizing ambitions of the mind helps to explain Adorno’s conviction that dialectics could no longer strive for seamless reconciliation; only a “negative dialectic” could remain attentive to the insufficiency of the concept and pay homage to what he called the “preponderance of the object.” This emphasis on the unreconciled condition of social reality, with its materialist appeal to the persistence of objective suffering, became the leitmotif throughout Adorno’s work not only in philosophy but in his cultural and aesthetic criticism as well. In the “late‐style” of Beethoven’s music and in the ruined and unredeemed landscapes portrayed by Samuel Beckett, Adorno discerned the “cracks and fissures” of the only aesthetic style suitable to the catastrophic world of late‐capitalist modernity. But Adorno was never only a philosopher in the conventional sense. His mind was always restless, untethered from all disciplinary orthodoxies and the bonds of established method. Trained in musical composition and gifted with an unusual sensitivity to both music and literature, Adorno authored important studies on figures of the European musical canon, including monographs on Berg, Mahler, Wagner, and the (unfinished) study of Beethoven, along with literary analyses of Kafka, Hölderlin, and Beckett. Especially during his years in exile in the United States, he came to appreciate the possibilities of empirical sociological research; during his initial years in New York he collaborated with Paul Lazarsfeld at Princeton University on a study of radio listening; and, during the later 1940s in California, he joined the research team at Berkeley in the landmark study in social psychology, The Authoritarian Personality, published in 1950. Upon his return to Germany he continued his sociological research in the 1950s with inquiries into the postwar persistence of Nazi sympathies in German public opinion, most notably in Group Experiment and Guilt and Defense. Adorno also applied his critical and sociological skills to the analysis of mass‐cultural or commodified art, the products of what he and Horkheimer called the “culture industry.” Most notoriously, Adorno wrote a handful of essays on jazz, which he condemned as an especially pernicious form of commodified art and pseudo‐ individuality. In all such inquiry Adorno sustained the uncompromising posture of an intellectual who feared that the emancipatory promise of the modern age was falling into eclipse and that it was the critic’s preeminent task to fasten one’s attention on the persistence of negativity in the midst of an increasingly “affirmative” culture that denied the possibility of genuine transformation. In his final and most formidable work of philosophy, Negative Dialectics (1966) he set forth the core principles that would inform this task. In the posthumously published and never‐finished Aesthetic Theory (1970), he entertained the question of what sort of critical potentials might be said to survive in modern art in the midst of an increasingly uncritical world. In this volume, we have convened an extraordinary group of scholars from a variety of disciplines to address what we believe to be the most promising and enduring facets of Adorno’s intellectual legacy. The chapters that follow concentrate primarily on the philosophical concerns that remained of central importance for Adorno himself. But the chapters also speak to the centrality of aesthetic, musical, moral, political, and sociological themes in Adorno’s oeuvre. As editors we have undertaken this volume with some ­ ossibly humility and in the recognition that no compendium of critical scholarship could p xvi

Editors’ Introduction

do justice to the richness of Adorno’s thought. But we hope that this collection will serve as a helpful resource for those who wish further to explore the still‐undiminished power of his legacy.

Reference Adorno, T.W. (1931). The Actuality of Philosophy. In: The Adorno Reader (trans. B. Snow; ed. B. O’Connor), 23–39. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

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About the Editors

Peter E. Gordon is Amabel B. James Professor of History and Faculty Affiliate in the Department of Philosophy at Harvard University. Among is his more recent books are Continental Divide: Heidegger, Cassirer, Davos (2010) and Adorno and Existence (2016). He is also the co‐editor, with Espen Hammer and Axel Honneth, of The Routledge Companion to the Frankfurt School (2018). Espen Hammer is Professor of Philosophy at Temple University, Philadelphia. He is the author of Stanley Cavell: Skepticism, Subjectivity, and the Ordinary (Polity Press, 2002), Adorno and the Political (Routledge, 2006), Philosophy and Temporality from Kant to Critical Theory (Cambridge University Press, 2011), and Adorno’s Modernism: Art, Experience, and Catastrophe (Cambridge University Press, 2015). Max Pensky is Professor of Philosophy at Binghamton University, the State University of New York. His publications on Critical Theory include Melancholy Dialectics: Walter Benjamin and the Play of Mourning (University of Massachusetts Press, 1993), The Ends of Solidarity: Discourse Theory in Ethics and Politics (SUNY, 2008), and (with Wendy O. Brown and Peter E. Gordon) Authoritarianism: Three Inquiries in Critical Theory (Chicago University Press, 2018).

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Part I

Intellectual Foundations

1 Adorno: A Biographical Sketch PETER E. GORDON

Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund‐Adorno was born in Frankfurt am Main on Friday September 11, 1903, the only son of Oscar Wiesengrund, a German‐Jewish wine merchant, and Maria Calvelli‐Adorno della Piana, a talented singer of Corsican‐Catholic descent. The young Theodor, known as “Teddie,” was baptized as a Catholic after the faith of his mother, but grew up without a strong sense of religious identity. His household was notably rich in music thanks to the influence of his mother and his maternal aunt Agatha, a singer and pianist whom Teddie called his “second mother.” When he was not occupied with his academic studies and his music lessons the young Teddie would play with friends in the “spookily pleasurable” corners of the cellar beneath the house where his father stored his wines (Müller‐Doohm 2005, 20). The young Adorno was a “pampered child,” a “slightly built” and “shy boy” who was taunted on the playground as a “unique person who outshone even the best boys in the class” (quoted in Müller‐Doohm 2005, 34; quoting reminiscence of Erich Pfeiffer‐Belli). Adorno received his education in Frankfurt, attending the Kaiser‐Wilhelm Gymnasium from 1913 to 1921. In the early 1920s, Adorno forged an intimate friendship with Siegfried Kracauer, and the two met together on regular occasions for an intensive study of Kant’s first Critique. Adorno pursued a further education in music at the Hoch conservatory in Frankfurt, where he studied piano and composition; he published music and opera reviews throughout the early 1920s. Around 1923, Adorno met Gretel Karplus, the highly educated and culturally sophisticated daughter of a leather manufacturer in Frankfurt. Gretel received a doctorate in chemistry at age 23 and was known to spend her time in the company of prominent intellectuals such as Brecht, Bloch, and Walter Benjamin, with whom she formed a strong friendship. Teddie and Gretel would be married only in 1937; they had no children, and it is perhaps revealing that in a letter to her friend Benjamin she refers to Adorno her husband as their “problem child” (Sorgenkind). At the age of 17, Adorno entered the new University of Frankfurt, where he studied various fields: sociology, art history, musicology, and psychology, but mostly philosophy. His chief instructor in philosophy, Hans Cornelius, was unusually broad‐minded; a specialist in neo‐Kantianism but also a pianist, sculptor, and painter. Under his guidance, Adorno completed his dissertation in 1924 on “The Transcendence of the Thingly and the

A Companion to Adorno, First Edition. Edited by Peter E. Gordon, Espen Hammer, and Max Pensky. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2020 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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Noematic in Husserl’s Phenomenology.” A critical study of Husserl’s phenomenology, the dissertation examined the tension in Husserl’s work between the immanent objects of ­consciousness and the consciousness‐transcendent objects in the world. Along with an unsuccessful 1927 habilitation on the psychoanalytic concept of the unconscious, the Husserl-dissertation is typically seen as an exercise in purely academic themes, but Adorno’s effort to identify contradictions clearly anticipates the philosopher’s later practice of immanent critique (Bloch 2017). Throughout the later 1920s, Adorno found himself poised between two possible careers. While he continued to pursue his philosophical interests, he also dedicated himself with greater energy to musical composition. It was in 1924 that Adorno first made the acquaintance of Alban Berg, the composer who had apprenticed with Arnold Schoenberg and was considered, together with Anton Webern, a member of the so‐called “Second Viennese School” of musical modernism. The Schoenbergian breakthrough to atonality, often characterized as “the emancipation of dissonance,” had an enormous impact on Adorno, whose early compositional efforts, such as the String Quartet (1921) bear obvious affinities to Schoenberg’s style; by 1925 Adorno had commenced studies in musical ­composition with Berg in Vienna. Adorno’s talents in musical analysis and composition were considerable (Paddison 1993). Throughout the later 1920s he continued under Berg’s tutelage, publishing music reviews while devoting himself in earnest to composition; in December 1926, his Pieces for String Quartet was performed by the Kolisch Quartet. Berg, however, recognized that Adorno found himself at a crossroads: “it is your calling,” he wrote, “to achieve the utmost [and] … you shall … fulfill this in the form of great philosophical works. Whether your musical work (I mean your composing), which I have such grand hopes for, will not lose out through it, is a worry that afflicts me whenever I think of you. For it is clear: one day you will, as you are someone who does nothing by halves […] have to choose either Kant or Beethoven” (Adorno and Berg 2005, 44). By the later 1920s, Adorno seemed to be moving toward a decision. Although he continued musical composition and would remain seriously committed to musicological criticism, he also selected a topic for a habilitation in philosophy, which he began writing in 1929. Accepted by the theologian Paul Tillich in 1931 and published two years later as Kierkegaard: The Construction of the Aesthetic, the book bears the strong imprint of the author’s deepening friendship with Walter Benjamin, whom he had first met in 1923 and whose cultural and literary criticism would remain, despite their considerable differences, a primary source of inspiration throughout Adorno’s life. In works such as The Origin of German Tragic Drama (1928) and in early drafts for a study of the Paris arcades, Benjamin had begun to develop an idiosyncratic style of critical reading that fastened upon particular elements of cultural life in a materialist mode, by plunging into their detail and drawing out allegorical lessons for broader problems of history. Adorno’s study of Kierkegaard bears a strong resemblance to his friend’s allegorical manner of materialist interpretation: rather than reading Kierkegaard as a theologian or proto‐existentialist, Adorno seeks to expose the social‐historical underpinnings of the Dane’s ideology as a child of the rising bourgeoisie. The typical living space or interiéur of the bourgeois apartment is shown to be the materialist correlate to Kierkegaard’s subjectivist philosophy. Submitted to the university in February 1931, the habilitation received enthusiastic comments from both Tillich and Horkheimer, and Adorno had every reason to hope that he could now embark on a successful career as a professor of philosophy. Meanwhile, Adorno’s affiliation with the Institute for Social Research had grown in importance and he had developed a lasting friendship with the philosopher Max Horkheimer, who, like Adorno, had been a student of Cornelius and in 1931 was appointed 4

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as the Institute’s new director (Jay 1996). That same year Adorno, equipped with a license to teach, gave his inaugural address at Frankfurt, “The Actuality of Philosophy” (Adorno 2000). In the lecture Adorno speaks to the widespread sense of a “crisis” in the various schools of philosophical idealism. He criticizes neo‐Kantianism, philosophical anthropology, and Heideggerian ontology, all of which, despite their differences, remain captive to the fantasy that they can grasp all of reality even while they are trapped in “the realm of subjectivity.” Against these subjective and idealist tendencies Adorno insists that philosophy must embrace what he calls “the thinking of materialism” (Adorno TP, 32). Whereas traditional philosophy searches for “meta‐historical, symbolically meaningful ideas,” the way forward will require a strategy of interpretation. The task of philosophy will be “to interpret unintentional reality,” and this can be done only if philosophy looks away from ideal forms to those that are “non-symbolic” and constituted “inner-historically” (Adorno TP, 32–33). The new emphasis on historical interpretation must look away from truths that are ideal and toward “unintentional truth” (Adorno TP, 33). The materialist approach to interpretation is possible only “dialectically,” and this means that much of the effort must involve immanent criticism or even the “liquidation” of reigning philosophical systems that make claims to knowledge of totality (Adorno TP, 34). Philosophy must not seek the security of idealistic systems and it should not protect itself from “the break‐in of what is irreducible.” Against the illusions of a systematic form, philosophy must embrace the form of the essay with its focus on appearance rather than essence, the particular rather than the general. This critical method could be accused of “unfruitful negativity,” but Adorno is ready to accept this charge. “For the mind (Geist) is indeed not capable of producing or grasping the totality of the real, but it may be possible to penetrate the detail, to explode in miniature the mass of merely existing reality” (Adorno TP, 38). The inaugural lecture is striking in its anticipation of themes that would preoccupy Adorno throughout his philosophical career. The appeal to that which is particular and irreducible to thought already points toward the emphasis on the “non‐identical” and the turn to the object as points of critical leverage for what Adorno would later call “negative dialectics.” Other lectures and seminars from this period also bear witness to Adorno’s enormous debts to Walter Benjamin. Despite the fact that his friend had failed to secure a habilitation with the study of German tragic drama, Adorno continued to feel that Benjamin’s work deserved serious philosophical attention: he devoted two seminars on aesthetics to the study of Benjamin’s Trauerspiel book, and in 1932 also presented a lecture, “The Idea of Natural History,” to the Kant Society in Frankfurt in which he lavished praise on Benjamin’s method of allegorical interpretation as a route beyond the false antithesis between history and nature. Benjamin responded with gratitude even as he took note of the way in which Adorno had made extensive use of his ideas both in the lecture and especially in the Kierkegaard book. “[I]t is true,” Benjamin wrote, “that there is something like a shared work after all” (quoted in Müller‐Doohm 2005, 129). With the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 Adorno’s chances for a career in Germany came to an end. By the terms of the April “Law for the Restoration of the German Civil Service,” Adorno was classified as a “half‐Jew” and was no longer permitted to hold a professorship in Germany. Adorno was by no means ashamed of his father’s Jewish identity, but the legal designation imposed on him by the state bore little connection to his own self‐conception. Baptized in his mother’s faith as a Catholic, Adorno had spent his formative years in a strongly Jewish milieu and often found himself characterized as a Jew in spite of his indifference to his father’s religious heritance and his general resistance to all categories of ethno‐national or religious belonging. His childhood friend Erich Pfeiffer‐Belli would later 5

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recall that “We all knew that he was Jewish” but also added that any persecution that the young Adorno had experienced on the playground was “not anti‐Semitic” but was simply due to the usual hostility that the “stupid” boys directed at the one who outshone all the others in the classroom (quoted in Müller‐Doohm 2005, 34). By the mid‐1930s, however, Adorno’s relative indifference to questions of personal identity was to matter far less than the official ruling by the new authoritarian state that defined citizenship in explicitly racist terms. In September 1933, he received a letter that informed him that his license to teach had been revoked, and after some months of hesitation he made the decision to leave Germany and set about seeking employment elsewhere. Uncertain plans for transferring his professorial license to either Istanbul or Vienna fell through, and Adorno then applied himself to the task of securing a position in England, where connections through his paternal uncle seemed to promise greater success. In 1934, he was admitted as an advanced student in philosophy at Oxford. Adorno’s period of study in England did not prove terribly fruitful, despite some contact with a few philosophers (most notably Gilbert Ryle) who shared his interests in phenomenology and other trends that were in vogue back in Germany but less appreciated in Oxford. A.J. Ayer would later recall Adorno as “a comic figure” whose “dandified manner” could not mask his “anxiety” to be taken seriously (Müller‐Doohm 2005, 190). Adorno spent much of his time at Oxford immersed in studies of Husserlian philosophy that would only appear in book‐length form after the war as Metacritique of Epistemology (1956). His aging parents remained for some time in Germany and he made frequent trips back to Frankfurt to see them and also to visit Gretel, who continued to manage the co‐owned factory in Berlin. Oscar Wiesengrund, like many German Jews of his generation, had served in the army during the First World War and had even received a Cross of Honor that he believed would protect him from state persecution. As the political situation deteriorated and the Nazis consolidated their rule over all spheres of government and society, Adorno gradually awakened to the fact that it was no longer safe for his family to remain in Germany. In these precarious circumstances Adorno could take some comfort in deepening his personal and professional bond with Horkheimer. In fact, he had already begun publishing in the Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung, the Institute’s journal, beginning with the inaugural issue in 1932. His early essays for the journal demonstrate his continued interest in working at the boundary‐line between musicology and socially inflected philosophy. In his first essay for the Zeitschrift, “On the Social Situation of Music,” (1932) Adorno argues that if music succeeds in resisting its reduction to the commodity form it will be able to portray the antinomies of society within its own formal language. “It is not for music to stare in helpless horror at society,” Adorno writes. Music “fulfills its social function more precisely when it presents social problems through its own material and according to its own formal laws.” Musical autonomy is not a retreat into social irrelevance but a precondition for music’s social meaning; music will “call for change through the coded language of suffering” (Adorno 2002, 393). The alternative was for music to abandon its claims to autonomy and sink to the level of the commodity form where all critical possibilities would be defeated. Adorno developed this point with especially polemical vigor in his essay “On Jazz,” that was written during his stay in Oxford and appeared in the Zeitschrift under the pseudonym of Hektor Rottweiler. Jazz, Adorno argued, was a thoroughly commercialized musical form that promised only the illusion of freedom. “The improvisatory immediacy which constitutes its partial success counts strictly among those attempts to break out of a fetishized commodity world which want to escape that world without ever changing it, thus moving ever deeper into its snare” (Adorno 2002, 478). It should be noted that 6

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Adorno’s knowledge of jazz was severely limited: he knew virtually nothing about the African‐American idiom and aimed his criticism primarily at “dance‐band commercial jazz” such as the standardized music played by Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra (Paddison 2004, 113.) He therefore had little patience for romantic claims that jazz could serve as a vehicle for authentic self‐expression. “With jazz, a disenfranchized subjectivity plunges from the commodity world into the commodity world; the system does not allow for a way out. Whatever primordial instinct is recovered in this is not a longed‐for freedom, but rather a regression through suppression” (Adorno 2002, 478). The controversy over jazz should be understood within the context of Adorno’s general critique of reification in capitalist culture. During the mid‐1930s, this critique grew especially pronounced in Adorno’s debate with Walter Benjamin, who took a rather more favorable view of the possibilities of mass‐produced art. In late February 1936, Benjamin sent to Adorno a draft of his essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility,” in which he argued that the dissolution of the aura thanks to modern technical conditions of reproduction and circulation could open up new possibilities for the mass‐reception of modern art as a medium for collective politicization. In a long letter sent from London on March 18, 1936, Adorno sharply dissented from his friend’s claims. He was especially troubled by what he considered the “anarchistic romanticism” that had distorted Benjamin’s views of the proletariat. Under the influence of his friendship with the more militant and communist‐inclined Bertholt Brecht, Benjamin was too sanguine concerning the prospect for the masses to awaken to political agency by absorbing mass‐ reproduced artworks in a state of distraction. Nor was Adorno convinced by Benjamin’s critique of the traditional ideal of aesthetic autonomy. “Dialectical though your essay is”, Adorno wrote, “it is less than this in the case of the autonomous work of art itself,” “for it neglects a fundamental experience which daily becomes increasingly evident to me in my musical work, that precisely the uttermost consistency in the pursuit of the technical laws of autonomous art actually transforms this art itself, and, instead of turning it into a fetish or taboo, brings it that much closer to a state of freedom” (Adorno and Benjamin 2001, 129). Adorno did not mince words; he clearly felt that his intellectual friendship with Benjamin was in jeopardy. “[M]y own task,” he wrote, “is to hold your art steady until the Brechtian sun has finally sunk beneath its exotic waters” (Adorno and Benjamin 2001, 132). The debate with Benjamin was to continue even after the latter’s death; traces of their dispute can be detected nearly everywhere in Adorno’s later work and even in the pages of Aesthetic Theory. Meanwhile, the situation in Europe was growing more ominous. By the autumn of 1937, Adorno had recognized that his chances for a new academic career in England were slim, and as the Nazis expanded their anti‐Jewish policies his father’s business in Frankfurt was under threat, which meant that he could no longer rely on financial support from his family. On September 8, he and Gretel were at last married, a fact that only enhanced his sense of bourgeois responsibility. Despite his growing attachment to the Institute and especially to Horkheimer, the Institute’s own financial difficulties meant that it had only been able to provide him with a half‐time position with a diminished salary. It was therefore a great relief when Horkheimer sent him a telegram with the good news of an invitation to move to the United States as a research associate on the Princeton Radio Project with the sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld. Adorno did not hesitate in accepting the offer and, in February 1938, Teddie and Gretel boarded a steamer for New York. Adorno’s parents, however, were now in serious danger: Maria was briefly arrested, and his father suffered injuries when his offices were broken into. Oscar caught pneumonia, which delayed their plans for escape. 7

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Eventually they were able to leave Germany: they arrived in Cuba in May 1939, and then made their way to the United States by early February 1940 (Müller‐Doohm 2005, 261; Adorno 2006, 36). As an émigré in the New World Adorno was eager to prove his worth as soon as possible. His earliest essay, written during a summer sojourn in Bar Harbor, Maine, was “On the Fetish‐Character in Music and Regression in Hearing,” published in the Zeitschrift in 1938. The essay can be read as a rejoinder to Benjamin’s reflections on the artwork and its mechanical reproducibility (Buck‐Morss 1977). Music, Adorno writes, has been converted in capitalist culture into a commodity to such a degree that the exchange value of a musical work now colonizes its very content. Mass music has become standardized to the extent that musical works become interchangeable and are structured only for easy consumption. This fetish‐character in turn afflicts the consciousness of the mass of listeners, who consume the stereotyped products of mass society in a state of “deconcentration” that bespeaks not freedom but instead regression and a “catastrophic phase” in modern culture (Adorno 2002, 313). The essay also served as an entry ticket for Adorno’s new position as a researcher with Lazarsfeld in New Jersey. The Princeton Radio Project was meant to be an empirically based study that would examine the role played in daily experience by this relatively new medium of communication. The Vienna‐born sociologist Lazarsfeld was the director of the project under the title “The Essential Value of Radio to All Types of Listeners,” for which he recruited Adorno, whose work he had known and admired since the early 1930s. Almost from the start, however, the collaboration was plagued by misunderstanding and dissent. Adorno’s negative attitude toward radio listening comes through with unmistakable force in texts such as “A Social Critique of Radio Music,” which he presented to his fellow researchers in October 1939. “Commodity listening” on the radio allowed the listener to “dispense as far as possible with any effort,” even if such effort were required for genuine understanding. The intellectual element in listening was displaced by merely gustatory experience: “It is the ideal of Aunt Jemima’s ready‐mix for pancakes extended to the field of music. The listener suspends all intellectual activity when dealing with music and is content with consuming and evaluating its gustatory qualities – just as if the music which tasted best were also the best music possible” (Adorno 2009, 137). Later in life when he reflected on his experiences as a European intellectual in America, Adorno would still recall with disdain what he considered the mindless emphasis on data collection that had characterized the Princeton Radio Project. The machine that allowed research subjects to signal their “like” or “dislike” during the radio performance of a given musical selection seemed to Adorno highly inadequate as a means of comprehending the place of music in mass society, not least because it appeared to isolate the individual stimulus from the total context of society. When he was confronted with the demand to “measure culture,” Adorno responded that “culture might be precisely that condition that excludes a mentality capable of measuring it” (Adorno 1969, 347). Needless to say, such opinions did not sit well with Lazarsfeld’s team. When it came time to renew funding for the project Adorno was not invited to continue. Fortunately, Horkheimer was able to secure for Adorno a dependable and permanent position as a member of the Institute, which had moved by then into its offices in New York’s Morningside Heights in the vicinity of Columbia University. For reasons of space, Adorno himself did not have an office in the building, but he nonetheless enjoyed a special role as Horkheimer’s closest intellectual companion. By the end of the 1930s, the two men were at the beginning stages of planning a work that they described as a “dialectical logic.” Adorno would never feel entirely at home in the United States, and the experience of 8

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­ islocation is a crucial theme in Minima Moralia, the book of “reflections from damaged d life” that he composed during his exile and dedicated to Horkheimer: “Every intellectual in emigration is, without exception, mutilated, and does well to acknowledge it to himself, if he wishes to avoid being cruelly apprised of it behind the tightly closed doors of his self‐ esteem.” He felt himself to be a fish out of water, displaced not only from his native language but also from the ambient horizon of cultural references that he cherished. “The isolation,” he added, “is made worse by the formation of closed and politically controlled groups, mistrustful of their members, hostile to those branded different” (Adorno MM, 13; English version, 33). He nonetheless accepted invitations to lecture and made efforts to strengthen his bonds, on the premise that it might prove necessary to remain in his adopted country for the remainder of his life. In February 1940, he gave a lecture on “Kierkegaard’s Doctrine of Love” at Columbia University; and he even spoke on the radio for the first time, offering an introduction to a performance by the Kolisch quartet of musical works by Schoenberg and Krenek (among others) (Müller‐Doohm 2005, 262). But if his friendship with Horkheimer left Adorno with a growing sense of intellectual satisfaction, his feelings of success in the United States were qualified by the daily reports of the darkening political conditions in Europe. He was especially concerned for his friend Walter Benjamin, whose situation in Paris in 1939–1940 had grown increasingly precarious. In September 1939, Benjamin had been interned outside Paris and, later, at Nevers. By February 1940 he had fled southward from Paris to Lourdes: “The complete uncertainty about what the next day, even the next hour, may bring has dominated my life for weeks now,” he wrote. “I am condemned to read every newspaper […] as if it were a summons served on me in particular” (Adorno and Benjamin Correspondence 2001, Letter 120, 339). Horkheimer was meanwhile struggling to secure a visa for Benjamin’s safe passage from Europe to the United States, but the crucial French exit‐visa was still lacking. On September 25, Benjamin wrote a final letter to Henny Gurland from Port Bou: “In a situation with no escape, I have no other choice but to finish it all. It is in a tiny village in the Pyrenees, where no one knows me, that my life must come to an end. I would ask you to pass on my thoughts to my friend Adorno and to explain to him the situation in which I have now found myself ” (Adorno and Benjamin Correspondence 2001, Letter 121). When Adorno heard the news that Benjamin had taken his life, he wrote a despairing letter to their mutual friend Gershom Scholem: “It is completely inconceivable,” he wrote. “What it means for us, I cannot say in words, it has transformed our intellectual and empirical existence to the innermost core” (Adorno and Scholem 2015, 33). In the spring of 1941, Horkheimer moved to Los Angeles and settled in Pacific Palisades, a neighborhood that had already become well‐known as a refuge for Central European émigrés such as the novelist Thomas Mann, who lived nearby. Los Angeles had become a kind of “Weimar on the Pacific,” thickly populated with intellectuals and artists such as Arnold Schoneberg, Heinrich Mann, Lion Feuchtwanger, and Bertholt Brecht. Adorno soon came to feel that his proximity to Horkheimer was of highest importance if the two were to embark upon writing their co‐authored “dialectical logic.” Once the decision was made, it took several months for Adorno and Gretel to manage all of the logistics for the move. By the end of November, Adorno wrote to his parents in New York about the journey by train that he and Gretel had taken from the East Coast to Los Angeles: “We travelled through the Rockies in the state of Wyoming on Monday night, and did not even notice the difference in altitude. Tuesday through snowy Utah with the big Salt Lake. The landscape seems strange, with those mountains that suddenly shoot up out of the plain like pyramids, and increasingly disappear as one approaches Nevada.” Max Horkheimer and his 9

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wife Maidon were at the station to greet the new arrivals, who marveled at the new surroundings. “The beauty of the region is so incomparable that even such a hard‐boiled European as myself can only surrender to it,” Adorno wrote. “The shape of the mountain […] is more reminiscent of Tuscany,” he added, noting with pleasure that “one actually has the feeling that this part of the world is inhabited by humanoid beings, not only by gasoline stations and hot dogs” (Adorno 2006, 70). Adorno and Gretel now lived in a house not far from Horkheimer; a dwelling where Adorno could arrange not only his library but also make room for a grand piano. Adorno and Horkheimer were poised to begin working in earnest on the book that they now planned to call Dialectic of Enlightenment. In conceiving of its argument, the memory of their recently deceased colleague Walter Benjamin weighed heavily on their minds. Adorno now had in his possession the manuscript of Benjamin’s essay, “On the Concept of History,” and he shared with Horkheimer his sense of intellectual sympathy for its themes: “It contains Benjamin’s final concepts,” he wrote, adding that “none of Benjamin’s works shows him closer to our intentions than this. This relates above all to the conception of history as permanent catastrophe, the critique of progress and mastery of nature, and the place of culture” (quoted in Wiggershaus 1995, 311; from Adorno to Horkheimer, June 12, 1941). Dialectic of Enlightenment was in most every respect a collaborative effort, though traces remain of primary authorship: Adorno, it seems, was responsible for at least the initial drafts of the “excursus” on Odysseus, and the chapter on the “culture‐industry.” But every portion of the book underwent extensive revision to such a degree that each chapter ultimately reflects the imprint of both authors, who met daily for conversations that were recorded by Gretel and then subjected to scrupulous revision. It took nearly two and a half years for Adorno and Horkheimer to finish the manuscript, and it was published in mimeograph format in May 1944 with a dedication to their Institute colleague Friedrich Pollock. Dialectic of Enlightenment is a highly speculative exercise that surveys the entire history of human self‐assertion from mythic and Homeric times to the twentieth century. “What we had set out to do,” the authors write in the 1944 preface, “was nothing less than to explain why humanity, instead of entering a truly human state, is sinking into a renewed barbarism” (Adorno and Horkheimer DE, xiv). Its core thesis is that reason has betrayed its emancipatory promise: rather than leading to genuine freedom it has been distorted into a mere instrument for the domination of nature. If primitive myths were already attempts to explain and thereby disenchant the nature that terrified and threatened the human being, then myth was already a species of enlightenment. But because enlightenment has lost its capacity for self‐reflection and has become nothing but a compulsive and thoughtless exercise in domination it has come to resemble the myths it wished to dispel. The enlightenment thus describes a transhistorical pattern of self‐sabotage whereby reason has become irrational. This general framework permits the authors to examine specific facets of human conduct in distinct chapters that focus on Homer’s Odyssey, the writings of de Sade, Kant, and Nietzsche, the effects of commodified culture, and the function of anti‐ Semitism. It is a book that reflects the darkness of the political era in which it was written. In the preface, Adorno and Horkheimer suggest that its critique of enlightenment is meant “to prepare a positive concept of enlightenment which liberates it from its entanglement in blind domination” (Adorno and Horkheimer DE, xviii). But many readers have felt that this positive concept is lacking and inconsistent with the book’s overall argument. It circles without resolution around the question as to whether a truly self‐reflective species of enlightenment is historically possible. 10

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During his years in Los Angeles, Adorno also devoted a considerable amount of time to writings about music. By 1941, upon his move to the West Coast, he had already completed the final draft of The Philosophy of New Music, though the book would not be published in its original German edition until 1949. In many respects it is a musicological statement of its author’s own painful yet necessary sense of dissociation from his current surroundings. Music, he writes, must sustain a stance of determinate negation: it “protects its social truth by virtue of its antithesis to society, by virtue of its isolation, yet by the same measure this isolation lets music wither” (Adorno 2006, 20). Adorno portrays the contemporary situation in modern music as a dialectical contest between Schoenberg and Stravinsky, where Schoenberg’s early phase of “free” atonality with its strains of subjective lyricism and expressionism signifies “progress,” while Stravinsky’s compositions with their fusion of modernism and archaism represent the “annihilation of the subject” and a will to “regression.” But Adorno complicates this dualism by indicting the mature twelve‐tone compositional technique as a mindless mechanism that expels subjectivity. He faults Webern in particular for a “fetishism” of the twelve‐tone row (Adorno 2006, 86). Schoenberg’s compositions were split between expressionist intensity and “administrative impassivity.” This very tension, however, was the culminating phase in the musical tradition. Although old conventions of musical meaning have reached a point of collapse, in Schoenberg’s music one can hear how the “fissures” between “twelve‐tone mechanics and expression” became the last ciphers of musical meaning. The history of modern music thus describes a dialectic into unfreedom: “The possibility of music itself has become uncertain” (Adorno 2006, 87). This verdict on modern music repeats themes that were already apparent, for example, in the 1937 essay on Beethoven’s “late style,” in which Adorno had sought to characterize the fragmentation or dialectical tension that was typical of the German composer’s music in his final years (Adorno 2002, 564–568). The essay and the manuscript of The Philosophy of New Music drew the attention of Thomas Mann, who by the early 1940s was working in Los Angeles on his novel Doctor Faustus and turned to Adorno for assistance in writing the sections of the book that demanded musicological description. Mann borrowed extensively from Adorno’s characterization of late style, especially in chapter eight of the novel, in which the character Wendell Kretschmar gives a lecture on Beethoven’s final piano sonata, Number 32 in C Minor (Opus 111): “Beethoven’s late work,” declares Kretschmar, is “untransformed by the subjective”; what is most “conventional” emerges with an “ego‐ abandonment,” as if art itself has abandoned “the appearance of art.” In Kretzschar’s lecture on the sonata’s second movement Mann included a small homage to his musical advisor: written in the form of a theme and variations, the movement begins by stating an aria that opens with three simple notes (C, descending to G, and then a repeated G), a “tranquil figure” which Kretschmar likens to verbal phrases such as “sky of blue,” or “meadow‐land” (Wiesen‐grund), a sly reference to Adorno’s paternal last name (Mann 1997, 57–58). Mann’s debts to Adorno for the musical passages in the book were indeed considerable: Adorno even wrote out extensive passages that describe fictitious works by Adrian Leverkühn, the novel’s protagonist, passages that Mann inserted into the novel, in some cases with only minor alteration (for evidence, see Müller‐Doohm 2005, 317–318). In a letter to his parents, Adorno reported frequently on the collaboration with Mann, evidently taking great pride in his advisory role even though he called it “a very peculiar relationship” (Adorno 2006, 274). The end of the war in Europe brought great relief but little optimism for the future. Adorno wrote to his parents that “I at least cannot shake off the feeling of ‘too late’ – in 11

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truth, the Germans have pulled the whole of civilization down with them” and “there is every reason to believe that the principle upheld by the Nazis will outlast them.” He could therefore hope for little more than “breathing spaces and loopholes” (Adorno 2006, May 1, 1945; quote from 217). In this rather grim mood Adorno did not believe that the United States was in any sense immune from the fascist tendencies that had overwhelmed Europe. The urgent question remained: What were the causes of the political catastrophe and what potential was there for a similar barbarism to overtake the United States? As early as 1942, Horkheimer had entered into discussions with the American Jewish Committee to secure support for a major research study on anti‐Semitism as part of the Institute’s multivolume Studies in Prejudice. By 1943, Adorno had agreed to join the study, which demanded that he make frequent trips up the coast from Los Angeles to Berkeley, where he convened with a research group of European émigré and American psychologists. The plan was to use surveys and intensive interviews to develop a social‐psychological diagnostic tool that could identify the latent characterological traits of the fascist personality. In helping to develop the questions for the study Adorno had drawn upon the “Elements of Anti‐Semitism” chapter in Dialectic of Enlightenment (Müller‐Doohm 2005, 296). His intellectual collaboration with the Berkeley group ranks among his most successful experiences in empirical sociology. The completed book was published in 1950 as The Authoritarian Personality. But the experience was not without its challenges: Adorno found it especially troubling that the study seemed to place undue stress on psychological rather than social factors in explaining the emergence of authoritarianism. The study also tended to see individuals as identifiable “types,” a problem that Adorno tried to resolve by suggesting that mass society itself was becoming increasingly standardized (Gordon, Authoritarianism, 2018). Nor should we neglect the simple fact that by temperament and with a few notable exceptions (Horkheimer, Mann) Adorno did not often find collaboration a congenial experience. His discontent with universities and group research programs is recorded in the very first entry from Minima Moralia (1951): “The son of well‐do‐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” (Adorno MM, 21). In mid‐summer of 1946, Adorno received the sad word that his father had died. On October 17, 1946 Adorno and Horkheimer received an invitation from Walter Hallstein, the president of Frankfurt University, to return to Germany to assume new posts on the faculty there. Adorno’s decision to return to Germany was not an easy one, not least because his mother was now a widow and living alone in New York. As late as October 1947, he was writing to reassure his anxious mother that he did not plan to return to Germany in the long term (Adorno 2006, 301). By October 1949, however, the decision had been made though not without misgivings. In Minima Moralia Adorno had produced an intellectual diary of his experiences in exile: “Nothing less is asked of the thinker today,” he wrote, “than that he should be at every moment both within things and outside them” (Adorno MM, 74). He could not feel that the return to Germany was a return to home since the very idea of a homeland had assumed during his absence a monstrous meaning. “It is part of morality,” he wrote, “not to be at home in one’s home” (Adorno MM, 39). The Institute for Social Research reopened on November, 1951 in a new building, with Horkheimer as its official director. Adorno found himself confronted with multiple responsibilities that included both university teaching and overseeing numerous research projects for the Institute. His return was also punctuated by personal loss: he had been in 12

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Germany for little more than two years when he received word in late February 1952 that his beloved mother had died. For an intellectual who had always retained certain child‐like qualities, emotional delicacy combined with irrepressible imagination, the event marked a symbolic transition: a definitive end to his own childhood. But he would continue to cherish memories of his childhood well into his last years. As a returned émigré in the postwar Federal Republic, Adorno did not waste time in establishing himself as one of the foremost intellectuals in the public sphere. The atmosphere of repression that pervaded West Germany after the war troubled him; “for the heirs of the Nazis,” he wrote to Horkheimer, “forgetting and cold deceit is the intellectual climate that works best” (quoted in Müller‐Doohm 2005, 330). Confronted with this tendency to repression, he asserted himself with even greater energy in public debates, in journals and on the radio, on topics such as “The Meaning of Working Through the Past” (1959) and “Education after Auschwitz” (1968). He also published at an astonishing pace, introducing German readers to texts many of which he had already completed while living abroad: The Philosophy of New Music (1949); Minima Moralia (1951); In Search of Wagner (1952); Prisms (1955); the Metacritique of Husserlian phenomenology (1956); Mahler: A Musical Physiognomy (1960); and Introduction to the Sociology of Music (1962). Among his many writings on literature were critical essays on Kafka, Hölderlin, and Beckett, all of which bore witness to the author’s stylistic skills as a writer in the German language. In his penchant for irony and in the very difficulty of his prose Adorno drew consciously on antecedent writers such as Heinrich Heine and Karl Kraus. In the 1956 radio address, “Heine the Wound,” Adorno extolled the German‐Jewish ironist of nineteenth‐century romanticism as a critical resource against present‐day apologetics: “Heine’s stereotypical theme, unrequited love, is an image for hopelessness, and the poetry devoted to it is an attempt to draw estrangement itself into the sphere of intimate experience.” In a world that has been injured, all language becomes as injured as was Heine himself. “The wound that is Heine,” he concluded, “will heal only in a society that has achieved reconciliation.” (Adorno 1994, 80–85: 85.) Of all the literary figures in the modernist canon with whom Adorno felt the deepest affinity, the most significant, it seems, was Samuel Beckett. Adorno had seen a production of Endgame in Vienna in April, 1958 and he wrote to Horkheimer that the playwright’s insights “coincide with our own” (Quoted in Müller‐Doohm 2005, 357). To Friedrich Pollock he explained that “Beckett is concerned with the same phenomenon as critical theory: to depict the meaninglessness of our society and to protest about it, while preserving the idea of better things in that protest” (Müller‐Doohm 2005, 357). In late November, 1958, during a lecture trip to Paris Adorno met Beckett for the first time and the two engaged in an extended conversation. In 1961 he completed the essay, “Trying to Understand Endgame.” For Adorno, Beckett’s singular importance lies in the fact that he portrays characters in a landscape of catastrophe. Endgame resists any and all interpretation that seeks to discover a universal or humanistic “meaning,” and for this reason the play is opposed to all existentialisms. It “mocks the spectator with the suggestion of something symbolic, something which, like Kafka, it then withholds” (Adorno 1994, 241–275; 251). The absurdity that is staged in Beckett’s work does not represent something ahistorical as the existentialists suppose. On the contrary: it portrays the absurdity of history itself, “the nonsense in which reason terminates” (Adorno 1994, 241–275; 273). In addition to his literary and musical writings, Adorno continued to devote an equal if not greater share of his attention to lectures on philosophical themes. During his tenure at 13

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Frankfurt throughout the 1950s and 1960s, he offered lecture courses on such topics as metaphysics, moral philosophy, dialectics, and aesthetics. These lectures drew a great many students and helped to establish Adorno as one of the foremost voices in postwar German philosophy. With Horkheimer’s retirement from the Institute in 1959, Adorno was confronted with the added burdens of administration. In addition to directing the Institute he also served as Chairman of the German Sociological Society and in 1961 participated in the famous “positivism dispute” with Karl Popper. (See Müller‐Doohm 2005, 424–428; also see Adorno et al. The Positivist Dispute in German Sociology.) Especially during the early 1960s, his regular lectures at Frankfurt, and occasional visiting lectures in Paris and elsewhere, also gave him an ongoing forum in which to refine his own philosophical commitments in preparation for writing Negative Dialectics, the 1966 book he lovingly described as his “fat child” (dickes Kind). Negative Dialectics is widely seen as the culminating statement of Adorno’s philosophical career. But it is a book with diverse themes that are not easily aligned with any systematic intent. Extended sections of the book consist in a vigorous and critical dismantling of major thinkers in the modern philosophical canon, chiefly Kant, Hegel, and Heidegger. All three philosophers were of central importance for Adorno, not only because they represented crucial phases in the history of philosophy; the confrontation with the philosophical tradition also served as the dialectical preparation for his own philosophical arguments. This was especially true in the case of Hegel, whose philosophy had been a constant source of inspiration but also a foil for Adorno as he sought to formulate the principles of a negative dialectic against Hegel’s dialectic of rational reconciliation. Already in 1963, Adorno published Three Studies on Hegel, a small book that collected his occasional lectures from the late 1950s and early 1960s, which Adorno described in the preface as “preparation for a revised conception of the dialectic” (Adorno 1963, xxxvi). The significance of Heidegger’s philosophy for Adorno was less obvious but hardly less dramatic (Macdonald and Ziarek 2008; Lafont 2018). In postwar Germany, Heidegger’s existential ontology had grown in importance notwithstanding the well‐known secret of Heidegger’s scandalous record of public support for the Third Reich. Adorno was a fierce and unsparing critic of Heidegger but not only because of the German philosopher’s political conduct; he also saw how the mannered qualities of Heidegger’s language had contributed to the flourishing of a pseudo‐spiritual cultural style in postwar Germany (Gordon 2016). Because this complaint was directed as much against the cultural discourse of “Heideggerism” (Heideggerei) as against Heidegger’s actual philosophy, Adorno eventually decided to publish the cultural polemic in a separate and shorter volume as The Jargon of Authenticity (1964). The book was a devasting exercise in cultural criticism that punctured the inflated pretentions of existentialism and compared its language to the false promises of modern advertising. The jargon of authenticity, Adorno declared, was “the Wurlitzer organ of the spirit.” To mark its appearance Adorno agreed with his publisher Suhrkamp to give a public reading that provoked “laughter and applause” (Müller‐Doohm 2005, 433). Negative Dialectics was a far more challenging book written with far‐reaching philosophical ambitions. Adorno had labored over the text for seven years and referred to it with pride as “my chief philosophical work” (Müller‐Doohm 2005, 434; letter to Helene Berg). A bold passage in the preface declared his intent “to break through the delusion of constitutive subjectivity by means of the power of the subject” (Adorno ND, 8). If traditional philosophy had assigned itself the task of reconciling thought with reality, Adorno pronounced this task an impossibility. The manifest irrationality and suffering of the world 14

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resisted philosophical comprehension, and the merely conceptual medium by which philosophy had sought to understand the world must now admit its radical insufficiency when confronted with the “non‐identical.” After Auschwitz the metaphysical ideal of ­reconciling the real and the ideal was exposed as an outrage. “The capacity for metaphysics is crippled,” Adorno wrote, “because what occurred smashed the basis of the compatibility of speculative metaphysical thought with experience” (Adorno ND, 354–358). Metaphysics could survive only a state of decay and in fragments that signified the negativity of an unredeemed world. Upon the book’s publication Adorno immediately sent a copy to his friend Gershom Scholem in Jerusalem. In the years since the death of their mutual friend Benjamin, the two scholars had grown to admire one another and had forged a genuine friendship, despite strong differences in philosophical orientation. Scholem wrote that he had never read such a “chaste and restrained defense of metaphysics” but still detected a strain of Marxist dogmatism that played the role of a deus ex machina in Adorno’s arguments. (Adorno–Scholem, March 1, 1967; Letter 182, 407). Adorno hastened to respond that the book’s materialism was altogether non‐dogmatic; it retained a deep affinity not only with metaphysics but even with theology (Adorno and Scholem 2015, 414). Negative Dialectics was the last major work to appear during Adorno’s lifetime. But its completion by no means marked an end to the author’s productivity. Already in the fall of 1966, Adorno had begun to work in earnest on his book on aesthetics; he also offered at least three lecture courses on the same topic (Müller‐Doohm 2005, 470). In November of that year, however, he also received word of the death of his childhood friend and colleague Siegfried Kracauer; in a letter to Horkheimer he recalled Kracauer’s importance as the person who had first initiated him into philosophy (Müller‐Doohm 2005, 436). Adorno himself had now passed his sixty‐third birthday and was slowly beginning to grasp the difficult truth that, for many of his students, he had become, despite himself, the embodiment of tradition. In the late 1960s, as opposition to the Vietnam War flowed into a broader spirit of social rebellion, Adorno’s relations with student activists in Frankfurt were growing increasingly difficult. The tension between Adorno and student activists in Frankfurt was due in part to political controversies that swept through the Federal Republic in the later 1960s. In 1965, the government amended the Basic Law to introduce the emergency powers laws or Notstandgesetze, which students referred to as “NS‐Gesetze,” in reference to the Nazi‐era. In 1966 the Erhard government collapsed, leading to a grand coalition between the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social‐Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) with Kurt‐ Georg Kiesinger appointed as chancellor. Between 1933 and 1945, Kiesinger had been not only a member of the Nazi party but also a senior official in Goebbels’s ministry of propaganda. For a great sector of the student movement it now appeared as if the German state was an extension of Nazi‐era authoritarianism. Activists who saw the democratic system as rotten to its core identified themselves as the “extra‐parliamentary opposition” (Außerparlamentarische Opposition, or APO). In early June 1967, during a student protest against the visit by the Shah of Iran, Benno Ohnesorg was shot and killed by police. At a student conference in West Berlin to protest the killing, Rudi Dutschke called for Kampfaktionen, provoking Adorno’s student Habermas to issue a warning about “actionism” and the risk of “left‐wing fascism.” By the spring of 1968, student groups were beginning to occupy university buildings. Students at Frankfurt declared their school the “Karl Marx University,” and an estimated 2000 students, led by the student activist Hans‐ Jürgen Krahl, moved to blockade the main building (Kundnani 2018). 15

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Many students expressed great disappointment that Adorno did not speak more forcefully in support of their cause. In September 1968, Krahl recalled that: six months ago, when we were besieging the council of Frankfurt University, the only professor who came to the students’ sit‐in was Professor Adorno. He was overwhelmed with ovations. He made straight for the microphone, and just as he reached it, he ducked past and shot into the philosophy seminar. In short, once again, on the threshold of practice, he retreated into theory. (Müller‐Doohm 2005, 461)

But Adorno did not feel that participation in political activism was appropriate for someone of his age or character. To student complaints that he had not joined the march on Bonn to protest the emergency laws, Adorno replied: “I do not know if elderly gentlemen with a paunch are the right people to take part in a demonstration” (Müller‐Doohm 2005, 461). When the novelist Günther Grass accused Adorno of conformism, Adorno responded with anger. In a letter from late 1968 he wrote to Grass that he would not “let myself be ­browbeaten into what for years now I have called the principle of unilateral solidarity … everything I have written makes clear that I have nothing in common with the students’ narrow‐minded direct action strategies which are already degenerating into an abominable irrationalism” (Müller‐Doohm 2005, 461). In early 1969 Adorno’s relations with Krahl and other student activists degenerated. On January 31, students arrived at the Institute with a political program, and then occupied the building. Adorno declared the occupation an illegal trespass and called for police protection. In a written memorandum, he explained that: The institute’s directors … had no choice, if only for legal reasons, but to accept the confrontation that had been forced on them. They decided to ask for police assistance in clearing the institute of intruders and to request them to bring charges for trespass against Herr Krahl and others who had forced an entry into the building. (Adorno 1969b)

From Adorno’s perspective, the student militants appeared as a menacing mob with indeterminate aims. He wrote: It is vital precisely for those who identify wholeheartedly with this aim of the extra‐ parliamentary opposition, that they should feel obligated to resist their own criminalization: they should resist all authoritarian tendencies and equally all pseudo‐anarchistic acts of violence on the part of ostensibly left‐wing activists as well as crypto‐fascist actions from groups on the extreme right. (Adorno 1969b)

In an April 1 letter to the film director and philosopher Alexander Kluge, Adorno expressed his fears in rather more drastic and Kafkaesque terms: “[I do not see] why I should make a martyr of myself to Herr Krahl, whom I picture putting a knife to my throat and getting ready to use it and when I utter a mild protest, he responds by saying, ‘But Herr Professor, it’s wrong to take these things personally’” (Müller‐Doohm 2005, 608–608). The experience left Adorno feeling embittered and defensive. In a February 9 radio address given on the Sender Freies Berlin, Adorno offered remarks on the theme of “Resignation.” The remarks read like an explicit rejoinder to Krahl: We older representatives of what the name ‘Frankfurt School’ has come to designate have recently and eagerly been accused of resignation. We had indeed developed elements of a

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c­ ritical theory of society, the accusation runs, but we were not ready to draw the practical consequences from it. And so, we neither provided actionist programs nor did we even support actions by those who felt inspired by critical theory.

In response to such accusations, Adorno insisted that student militants had misconstrued the relation between theory and practice. They preferred “pseudo‐activity” to practice informed by thought. What Adorno called “pseudo‐activity” was the premature rush to realization that only instrumentalizes thought. If any idea were to be evaluated only in a practical light, for its practical consequences, this would merely strengthen the spirit of instrumental reason that had come to dominate late‐modern industrial societ. Students who demanded immediate action were therefore the ones who had sabotaged the utopia they claimed to uphold and had thereby betrayed the task of genuine emancipation. “The uncompromisingly critical thinker, who neither signs over his consciousness nor lets himself be terrorized into action, is in truth the one who does not give in” (Adorno 1998, 292). Thinking became for Adorno the best means of protecting utopia against its betrayal and its premature instrumentalization. Thinking in the critical sense was “a form of praxis,” and had more in common with “transformative praxis” than activity that conformed to reality for the sake of praxis. “Prior to all particular content, thinking is actually a force of resistance” (Adorno 1998, 293). Such claims were unlikely to satisfy student militants who thirsted for the actual transformation of both the university and society at large. On April 22, 1969, Adorno began the first of his lectures for the summer semester in a course on “An Introduction to Dialectical Thinking.” Two students, affiliated with the “leather‐jacket party” (a faction of Students for a Democratic Society who were committed to direct action), mounted the podium and insisted that Adorno engage in self‐criticism for having called the police and for bringing legal charges against Krahl. Although many students protested against the interruption of the lecture, Adorno quickly found that he could not proceed. Three female students surrounded him on the platform, showered him with flower petals, and then bared their breasts. Adorno fled the hall (Müller‐Doohm 2005, 475–476). The symbolism of this event was overdetermined. To many students it was clear that Adorno had become a symbol of the establishment. After he had rushed from the room, students distributed a leaflet that declared: “Adorno as an Institution is Dead.” To Adorno it felt as if the critical spirit he had worked so tirelessly to awaken among his students had taken its ironic vengeance. He was left personally shaken and humiliated. “To have picked on me of all people,” he despaired, “I who have always spoken out against every type of erotic repression and sexual taboo!” (quoted in Müller‐Doohm 2005, 476). Although he tried to resume his lectures in June, protests continued and he determined that it was necessary to cancel his teaching at least for the coming semester. In a letter to Herbert Marcuse he described himself as “a badly battered Teddie” (Müller‐Doohm 2005, 478). In a letter to Gershom Scholem he resorted to more drastic imagery: he described the contemporary scene in Frankfurt as “Tohuwabohu,” the Hebrew term for primordial chaos (Adorno and Scholem 2015, 521). In search of solace from the political disruption in Frankfurt, Adorno and Gretel went to Switzerland, and on July 22 they drove to a hotel in Zermatt. Against his physician’s counsel they journeyed by cable‐car to a mountain peak, where Adorno began to feel chest pains. Later that day he was taken to the St. Maria hospital. On the morning of August 6, 1969 Gretel was informed that Adorno had died. The funeral was held without religious ceremony in the Frankfurt Central Cemetery, where he was buried in the family tomb. An estimated 2000 mourners were in attendance. 17

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Adorno’s intellectual legacy would long outlive his death. In her sadness, Gretel committed herself to preparing the manuscript on aesthetics that Adorno had left in a partially unfinished state. The book, which bore the ambiguous title Aesthetic Theory, and that the author had intended to dedicate to Samuel Beckett, was published posthumously in 1970. A searching reflection on the possibility of modern art, it does not seek to resolve the paradox of aesthetic transcendence: “Art is autonomous and it is not,” Adorno observed. Only by seeking to rise above worldly conditions can art comment on those conditions. But its commentary succeeds only if it registers through form what it refuses to thematize as content. “The unresolved antagonisms of reality return in artworks as immanent problems of form” (Adorno AT, 6). Adorno’s emphasis on formalism aligned him theoretically with traditions of classicism and high modernism (Hammer 2015). But his commitment to the ideal of aesthetic autonomy should not be condemned as a document of political quietism or as a sign of the author’s retreat into “mere” aesthetics. On the contrary, Adorno was acutely aware of the social and historical guilt that accompanies art like a shadow, especially after the catastrophes of the mid‐twentieth century. He nonetheless insisted that art sustains, through its very claims to autonomy, a dialectical bond with the social conditions it outwardly resists. “[I]t would be preferable,” he wrote, “that some fine day art vanish altogether than that it forget the suffering that is its expression” (Adorno 1997, 260). In the years following Adorno’s death, some critics were inclined to dismiss him as a bourgeois aesthete whose contribution to philosophy was either too rarefied in its content or too recondite in its style to merit any lasting importance. More discerning readers, however, continue to discover in his work the resources for a critical style of thinking that resists all complacency and refuses to sever philosophy from the social conditions that first make it possible. The emphasis on the “negative” in Adorno’s thought is not mere negativism: it is all the more utopian the more it refuses to accept any image of utopia, since only this refusal unbinds thought from any dogma and from the oppressive power of what passes itself off as fact. “Thinking,” Adorno wrote, “is not the intellectual reproduction of what already exists anyway.” As long as it doesn’t break off, thinking has a secure hold on possibility. Its insatiable aspect, its aversion to being quickly and easily satisfied, refuses the foolish wisdom of resignation. The utopian moment in thinking is stronger the less it – this too a form of relapse – objectifies itself into a utopia and hence sabotages its realization. Open thinking points beyond itself. (Adorno 1998, 292–293)

References Adorno, T.W. (1969a). Scientific experiences of a European scholar in America. In: The European Migration: Europe and America, 1930–1960 (eds. D. Fleming and B. Bailyn), 338–370. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Adorno, T.W. (1969b; 2000). Frankfurter Adorno Blätter, vol. 1 (ed. R. Tiedemann), 93–100. Munich: Theodor‐Adorno Archiv. Adorno, T.W. (1978). Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life (trans. E.F.N. Jephcott). London: Verso. Adorno, T.W. (1982). Against Epistemology: A Metacritique. Studies in Husserl and the Phenomenological Antinomies (trans. W. Domingo). Basil Blackwell. Adorno, T.W. (1991). Heine the Wound. In: Notes to Literature, vol. 1 (trans. Shierry Weber Nicholsen), 80–85. New York: Columbia University Press.

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Adorno, T.W. (1993). Trying to Understand Endgame. In: Notes to Literature, Vol. 1 (trans. Shierry Weber Nicholsen), 241–275. New York: Columbia University Press. Adorno, T.W. (1993). Heine the Wound. In: Notes to Literature, vol. 1, (trans. Shierry Weber Nicholsen), 80–85. New York: Columbia University Press. Adorno, T.W. (1994). Hegel: Three Studies. (trans. Shierry Weber Nicholsen). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Adorno, T.W. (1997). Aesthetic Theory (trans. R. Hullot‐Kentor). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Adorno, T.W. (1998). Resignation. In: Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords (trans. H.W. Pickford), 289–293. New York: Columbia University Press. Adorno, T.W. (2000). The actuality of philosophy. In: The Adorno Reader (ed. B. O’Connor), 23–39. Oxford: Blackwell. Adorno, T.W. (2002). Essays on Music (ed. R. Leppert). Berkeley, CA: The University of California Press. Adorno, T.W. (2006). Philosophy of New Music (trans. R. Hullot‐Kentor). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Adorno, T.W. (2006). Letters to His Parents, 1939–1951. (ed. C. Gödde and H. Lonitz; trans. W. Hoban). Malden, MA: Polity Press. Adorno, T.W. (2009). A social critique of radio music. In: Current of Music. Elements of a Radio Theory (ed. R. Hullot‐Kentor), 133–143. Malden, MA: Polity Press. Adorno, T.W. and Benjamin, W. (2001). The Complete Correspondence, 1928–1940 (ed. H. Lonitz; trans. N. Walker). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Adorno, T.W. and Berg, A. (2005). Correspondence, 1925–1935 (eds. H. Lonitz and W. Hoban). Malden, MA: Polity Press. Adorno, T.W. and Scholem, G. (2015). Briefwechsel. “Der liebe Gott wohnt im Detail,” 1939–1969 (ed. A. Angermann). Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Adorno, T.W. et al. (1976). The Positivist Dispute in German Sociology (trans. G. Adey and D. Frisby). In:. London: Heinemann Educational Books. Bloch, Brandon. 2017. “The Origins of Adorno’s Psycho‐Social Dialectic: Psychoanalysis and Neo‐ Kantianism in the Young Adorno,” (originally publihsed onine, forthcoming in Modern Intellectual History). Buck‐Morss, S. (1977). The Origin of Negative Dialectics; Theodor W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin and the Frankfurt Institute. New York: Free Press. Gordon, P.E. (2016). Adorno and Existence. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Gordon, P. (2018). The Authoritarian Personality Revisited: Reading Adorno in the Age of Trump. In: Authoritarianism: Three Essays in Critical Theory (eds. W. Brown et  al.), 45–84. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Hammer, E. (2015). Adorno’s Modernism: Art, Experience, and Catastrophe. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Jay, M. (1996). The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute for Social Research, 1923–1950, 2e. Berkeley: University of California Press. Kundnani, H. (2018). The Frankfurt School and the West German Student Movement. In: The Routledge Companion to the Frankfurt School (eds. P.E. Gordon, E. Hammer and A. Honneth), 221– 234. New York: Routledge. Lafont, C. (2018). Heidegger and the Frankfurt School. In: The Routledge Companion to the Frankfurt School (eds. P.E. Gordon, E. Hammer and A. Honneth), 282–294. New York: Routledge. Macdonald, I. and Ziarek, K. (eds.) (2008). Adorno and Heidegger: Philosophical Questions. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Mann, T. (1997). Doctor Faustus. The Life of the German Composer Adrian Leverkühn as Told by a Friend (trans. J.E. Woods). New York: Knopf. Müller‐Doohm, S. (2005). Adorno: A Biography (trans. R. Livingstone). Malden, Ma: Polity Press. Paddison, M. (1993). Adorno’s Aesthetics of Music. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

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Paddison, M. (2004). Adorno, Modernism and Mass Culture: Essays on Critical Theory and Music. London: Kahn & Averill. Wiggershaus, R. (1995). The Frankfurt School: Its History, Theories, and Political Significance (trans. M. Robertson). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Further Reading Jay, M. (1984). Adorno. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Hammer, E. (2005). Adorno and the Political. New York: Routledge. Bernstein, J.M. (2001). Adorno: Disenchantment and Ethics. New York: Cambridge University Press. O’Connor, Brian (2004). Adorno’s Negative Dialectic: Philosophy and the Possibility of Critical Rationality. Cambridge: MIT Press. Pensky, Max, editor. (1997). The Actuality of Adorno: Critical Essays on Adorno and the Postmodern. Albany: SUNY Press.

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2 Adorno’s Inaugural Lecture: The Actuality of Philosophy in the Age of Mass Production ROGER FOSTER

1. Introduction In the 1920s, the neo‐Kantian philosophy that had dominated German philosophy since the middle of the nineteenth century came under sustained attack by the new philosophical perspectives that had emerged amid the cultural, social, and economic chaos of the postwar period. Neo‐Kantianism had come to prominence some two generations before as Hegelian speculative philosophy was in irreversible decline and the social and cultural legitimacy of the natural sciences was on an inexorable rise. Although it had provided a stable resolution of academic philosophy’s identity crisis since the mid‐ nineteenth century, it proved no match for the urgency of the new impulses and aspirations that began to filter into professional philosophy in the post‐war period. Life philosophy, neo‐ontology, positivist philosophy and Marxism were all positions that were taken up by critics to attack Kantian philosophy in the 1920s. When Adorno gave his inaugural lecture at the University of Frankfurt in May 1931, the idealist philosophy that had carried the bourgeois spirit through the transition to an industrial, mass society appeared to be in severe crisis. In its inaugural period, idealism expressed the self‐ confidence of the bourgeoisie in its capacity to form the world in its own image. Through the power to shape reality according to their own requirements, idealism reflected back to the ascendant classes their economic and social importance in the early phase of capitalist development. In the early twentieth century, however, idealism’s productive powers had undergone a serious crisis of confidence that appeared to cast doubt on its capacity to drive the creative appropriation of reality. Adorno talks of this crisis in terms of the incapacity of thought to think about being as a totality; thinking is simply incapable of encompassing being as a meaningful, articulated whole. That failure, however, is not the result of a mistake or problem in the way academic philosophy has chosen to go about this task. In this case, the failure of philosophy is simply a reflection of the fact that reality is not totally accessible and available to thought. Thinking can therefore only grasp this reality in fragmented form, as the traces and ruins that cannot be assembled into a coherent whole. The underlying historical reality that is expressed in this philosophical failure is a substantial transformation in

A Companion to Adorno, First Edition. Edited by Peter E. Gordon, Espen Hammer, and Max Pensky. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2020 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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the structure of capitalist society. In the nineteenth century, capitalist development was driven by the entrepreneurial activity of the bourgeoisie. This was the form of capitalism whose spirit was said by Max Weber (1985) to stem from the capacity for methodical self‐control, permitting steady and predictable accumulation of wealth. Weber (1985, 24) described it as “sober bourgeois capitalism with its rational organization of free labor.” But in the early twentieth century, this economic order had clearly begun to give way to a new socio‐economic formation, in which the productive power of capitalism had now become located in an impersonal process, involving the large‐scale application of modern science, and divorced from the intentional planning and direction of individual entrepreneurs. The proliferation of middle managers and bureaucrats to run the large‐scale organizations dominating the economic landscape demonstrated the new priority of specific and precise scientific and technical knowledge. The capacity of the independent entrepreneur to survey the economic scene as a whole, and make production and investment decisions based on his or her power to predict the shape of future reality, was no longer such a vital force in the dynamism of capitalism. Weber (1985, 181) expressed this point in stating that the lives of all individuals in the modern economic order are now “bound to the technical and economic conditions of machine production.” The dominance of mass production meant that only impersonal, rationalized management was capable of assimilating the technical and specialized knowledge that allowed for the planning of production. Weber’s charge that this development had produced “specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart,” (Weber 1985, 182) was a romantic and nostalgic way of marking the difference of the new and impersonal economic arrangements with the cultural power and authority of dominant entrepreneurs in capitalism’s expansive phase. If the history of idealism can be interpreted as the history of the bourgeois spirit, from its rise to ascendancy in the world of entrepreneurial capitalism through to its loss of optimism and confidence in the world of mass production organized by impersonal scientific knowledge, then academic philosophy’s identity crisis will turn out to be a reflection of capitalism’s shift toward a new system of accumulation that is far less reliant on individual foresight, initiative, and creativity. The neo‐Kantian attempt to re‐establish the idealist ascendancy after the collapse of Hegelianism had been opposed from the beginning by forms of materialism, scientism, and religious and speculative philosophy. By the late 1920s, powerful currents of life philosophy and existentialism were attacking the constricted focus on narrow questions of epistemology in academic philosophy in the name of broader dimensions of lived experience. These movements represented powerful cultural reactions against the increasing dominance of a scientific culture allied with the needs of the machine age. While Adorno saw these movements, particularly life philosophy, as embodying important insights concerning the failure of that dominant culture, they were also taken in by the seductive power of an irrationalism that identified reason as such with its constricted form in current academic philosophy. Adorno’s attempt in his early writings to avoid these two errors of a scientistic narrowing of reason and a reactive rejection of rational thought in the name of what is excluded by this constriction of reason, would lay out a path that he followed for most of his career. Adorno found the answer to this problem in a view of philosophy as a form of interpretation. While undoubtedly influenced by Walter Benjamin, I suggest that Adorno’s model of philosophical interpretation was actually rooted in early modernist aesthetic responses to the rigidified and flattened experience of life in the age of mass production and consumption. 22

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2.  Idealism and Bourgeois Society It would not be an exaggeration to say that in the late eighteenth century, idealist philosophy captured the deep aspirations for a way of life released from the old order of hidebound tradition that was beginning to collapse in the 1770s. The revolutionary claims of Kantian idealism, Terry Pinkard (2002) argues, would allow it to play a key role in articulating the demands for collective and individual autonomy that would inaugurate the new era. Kant’s assertion of the intrinsic connection between autonomy and morality, Pinkard (2002, 214) suggests, captured the imperative to “assume responsibility for one’s own life, not to be pushed around by forces external to oneself (either natural or social).” By the 1770s, the erosion of the normative force of the traditional order had created a “revolutionary situation.” Philosophy stepped in to the brink to help guide and shape the aspirations of the new order (Pinkard 2002, 11). With the emergence of new forms of economic activity freed from the constraints of traditional social and communal relations, especially in the towns, the emerging bourgeois order became particularly concerned with investigating and justifying the idea of what it meant to live autonomously. The “fundamental motor” of German idealism, in fact, was the need to “give adequate form to and validate the modern conception of individual autonomy” (Gardner 2007, 20). Of course, the Kantian notion of autonomy, if it were really to underpin the burgeoning bourgeois culture, would have to be careful about what kind of “forces external to oneself ” were the target of its critique. When launched against the remnants of feudalism and its social and intellectual restraints, autonomy proved to be a valuable battering ram. But those aspirations would also have to be restricted, so that the “forces external to oneself ” did not include the social constraints placed on gender, sexuality, ethnicity or regional identity, and class. Autonomy, in other words, would be harnessed to support the system of the accumulation and legal transfer of bourgeois property, rather than constitute any kind of threat to that system. German academic philosophy entered a crisis of identity in the nineteenth century once it became clear that the sciences could flourish by themselves seemingly without the need for philosophical foundations (Schnädelbach 1984, 67). This coincided with the arrival of the industrial revolution in Germanic Europe, leading to a rapid professionalization of science as it became a major force in the system of production. As Germanic culture became an increasingly scientific culture in the course of the nineteenth century, oppositional ­currents took on an increasingly privatized, apolitical, and aestheticized cast. These exiled currents of thought continued to hum along underneath the formal scientific culture, and re‐emerged with a vengeance in the aftermath of the Great War. The failure to integrate these currents left the dominant culture in a precarious position when faced with a major threat to its existence in 1933. A very significant factor in this failure to integrate broader cultural currents in official academic philosophy was the self‐limiting response of philosophy to the post‐March political repression in Germany. This set official academic p ­ hilosophy on the path to a learned science that would reach its culmination in the rise of n ­ eo‐ Kantianism (Köhnke 1991, 79). Broader philosophical worldviews, which gave personal meaning to the self battered by the depersonalizing forces of the modern world, were shut out of academic debate. Guided by the idea of a neutral, scientific resolution to the conflicts among different philosophical worldviews, including materialism, egoism, and pessimism, neo‐Kantians came to see themselves as preventing any transgression of the boundaries between science and philosophical worldviews. In the process, of course, neo‐Kantians were 23

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in fact defending a particular ideal of the autonomy of philosophy as a discipline, and of the moral, autonomous individual as achieving mastery and self‐control through the sober, scientific analysis of worldview claims that were seen as the cause rather than the consequence of social conflict. The large corporations that emerged in European and North American economies at the end of the nineteenth century brought with them the managerial revolution that replaced entrepreneurs with a vast general staff organized according to bureaucratic notions of hierarchy. During this period, as Chandler (1990, 425) noted, German universities became leading research centers in science and technology, outperforming their British and American counterparts in this regard. Germany was especially advanced in the development of physics and chemistry and their application to modern and industrial technology. These were the industries at the heart of the second industrial revolution. Fohlin (2007, 21) asserts that between 1871 and 1908, 15 times more joint stock firms, with about three times the capital, were founded than in the previous 45 years. Once enterprises were established and initial investment and production decisions made, they were turned over to the cadres of professional managers whose organizational and technical skills were needed for continued growth and successful performance (Chandler 1990, 598; Blackbourn 2003, 245). The result of the scientific‐technical revolution in production was a fundamental reconstruction of the capitalist labor process. With the aid of the new possibilities of control provided by the concentration of scientific knowledge, the early twentieth century saw concerted efforts to dissolve the labor process as one controlled and managed by the worker, and to reconstitute it as a process controlled and conducted by management (Braverman 1974, 170). The subjective aspects of labor were increasingly dissolved into objective procedures to be monitored and regulated by management. Rather than a bearer of traditional craft knowledge, the worker was re‐conceived as an interchangeable element that was called upon to perform standardized and regulated movements that, just like the material inputs, could be precisely controlled and deployed by the new structures of professional management. Looking back on this century‐long transformation in 1915, Thorstein Veblen gave voice to the remarkably comprehensive displacement of philosophy, in its role as the expression of the spirit of the community, by the new scientific attitude: [German philosophy] is a philosophical expression of the Romantic spirit, it is viable only within the spiritual frontiers of Romanticism; that is to say, since and in so far as the German people have made the transition from Romanticism to the matter‐of‐fact logic and insight characteristic of modern technology and applied science, the characteristic philosophy of Germany’s past is also a phenomenon of the past age. It can live and continue to guide and inspire the life and thought of the community only on condition that the community return to the conditions of life that gave rise and force to this philosophy, that is to say, only on condition that the German nation retreat from its advance into the industrial arts and discard such elements of the modern scheme of institutions as it has hitherto accepted. (Veblen 1915, 219–220)

Veblen’s association of German philosophy with the proto‐capitalist and pre‐imperial past gave voice to the magnitude of the transformation that had seen the German nation become a leading, modern scientific culture. In his inaugural lecture, Adorno would speak of the “liquidation” of philosophy through the dominance of a scientific attitude. Philosophy’s claim to articulate the guiding spirit of a nation, its people, and its institutions had clearly collapsed. The main options for philosophy included continuing the effort of neo‐Kantianism to align philosophy with the new scientific culture, carving out a role 24

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for philosophy within that culture as establishing the unity and universality of scientific truth. Alternatively, there was the option of simply dissolving philosophy into the realm of natural science, as advocated by positivism. Another option was to oppose the dominant culture tout court under the banner of a version of life philosophy or a vitalism that attacked the intellectualistic, congealed, and exhausted culture of the modern machine age. From his initial philosophical writings onwards, Adorno would continue to reject all three of these options. The task, as he saw it, was to search for an interpretive, dialectical philosophy that sought to expand the scope of what might be encompassed by philosophy’s rationalized and hollowed‐out concepts.

3.  Weimar: Social Experience and Industrial Society The mix of archaic and contemporary social formations in Weimar often created social friction between perspectives representing tradition and duty, and strivings that looked to the future as a sort of liberation. Although ostensibly possessing a democratic constitution, the Weimar Republic, as David Durst (2004, xxiv) points out, remained under the semi‐ hegemonic control of its military and agrarian aristocracy. At the same time, German capitalism was becoming increasingly centralized in large organizations and financialized through ever tighter relations with banks. The sense of discontinuity and the fragmentation of experience were evident effects of this juxtaposition of the archaic and the possibilities of the future. As a young man of 15 when the Great War ended, Adorno needed a teacher to help him navigate the labyrinthine twists of social experience in the 1920s. At just the right moment, Adorno was introduced by family friends to the 29‐year‐old Siegfried Kracauer, with whom Adorno would spend Saturday afternoons poring over Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. From the beginning, Adorno (1974a, 388) wrote, he learned to see the work not only as an epistemological argument, but also as “a type of coded writing in which the historical status of the spirit could be read.” Kracauer, Adorno acknowledged, taught him to see philosophical texts as “force‐fields,” where the task was to find a way of getting beneath the surface to observe the play of forces that presented the engagement of philosophy with social experience. In his early Weimar writings, Kracauer sees himself as at the end of a historical process of “decay” characterized by “the disappearance of a meaning embracing reality as a whole” (Mülder‐Bach 1998, 7). The same theme is taken up at the beginning of Adorno’s inaugural essay, where he writes that total reality is inaccessible to reason, which instead must seek to make sense of reality only through its “traces and ruins” (Adorno 1977, 120). This inaccessibility of reality to thought, Adorno claims, vitiates an enterprise like Heidegger’s that views being as a whole as accessible and transparent to thought. Kracauer’s 1927 essay “The Mass Ornament” provides a brilliant demonstration of his interpretive technique, and its capacity to disclose the shape of cultural experience from the analysis of objects and events that are understood as surface‐level expressions of deeper historical tendencies. Kracauer’s focus in this essay is the choreographed performances of dancers and athletes whose scripted movements give rise to different patterns visible to spectators from a distance. What interests Kracauer about this phenomenon is the way that it seems to give expression to a fundamental transformation of the nature of human relationships in the age of mass production. The mass ornament gives expression to the rationalization of human activity that has utterly transformed the social interaction of human beings. Kracauer emphasizes that the mass ornament gathers and deploys the 25

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individuals who constitute it as a “mass.” Kracauer means by this that the elements are deprived of any characteristics that might emphasize their particularity or unique history, and are deployed in the arrangement as parts that are interchangeable with one another. This rationalization and coordination of human activity, furthermore, gives expression to the transformation of work and human experience through a scientifically driven mass production process. This can be seen, on the one hand, in the way human activity in the mass ornament is completely liberated from the contingencies of nature and tradition, in the same way that labor under rationalized mass production is divorced from its unique craft and local traditions and treated as standard human labor power. It can be discerned, on the other hand, in the way that the “meaning” of this coordination of human activity is invisible to the participants themselves, and can only be comprehended at a distance, from whence the movements can be choreographed and controlled. So the dancers, just like workers for whom the meaning of their work has now been captured by a scientific‐ intellectual process of management divorced from them, are subjected to a kind of totalizing perspective that they can neither understand nor control. For those involved in the process itself, totality is inaccessible. Kracauer presents the “mass” as the collective arrangement made possible by the liberation of people from older communities and traditions, but enslaved under a new set of abstract relationships, which manipulate them according to the dictates of a logic that is absent from the consciousness of the members themselves (Jonsson 2010, 290). Kracauer draws out the meaning of the mass ornament as a surface‐level expression of a rationalized social order riven by fundamental class conflict: The structure of the mass ornament reflects that of the entire contemporary situation. Since the principle of the capitalist production process does not arise purely out of nature, it must destroy the natural organisms that it regards either as means or resistance. Community and personality perish when what is demanded is calculability; it is only as a tiny piece of the mass that the individual can clamber up charts and can service machines without any friction. (Kracauer 1995, 78)

The mass ornament makes clear that capitalism only liberates the human subject in order to resituate that subject as an exchangeable element under the control of an inscrutable logic of calculation and efficiency. In the early twentieth century, the mechanization of work and the focus on breaking the work process down into standard and simple tasks allowed capitalism to destroy the traditional craft knowledge of workers and reconstitute that knowledge in an abstract and centralized form. Kracauer’s perceptive descriptions of the social and cultural consequences of rationalized mass production echoed the influential theory of reification developed by the Hungarian Marxist Georg Lukács in the early 1920s. In the essay “Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat,” Lukács (1971) develops the concept of “reification” to account for the distorting effects of rationalized capitalism on culture and subjectivity. A consequence of a thoroughly mechanized work process, Lukács (1971, 90) argues, is the destruction of the bonds that “had bound individuals to a community in the days when production was still ‘organic.’” Like Kracauer, Lukács charges that mechanization turns individuals into “isolated abstract atoms” who are no longer connected “directly and organically” through their work. Lukács’ essay was influential because it provided a scheme for thinking about the consequences of the rationalization and mechanization of work for society and culture as a whole, beyond the production process. Lukács (1991, 99) 26

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notes the proletarianization of the work of white‐collar workers, which resembles “operating a machine.” This is a theme that would be taken up by Kracauer several years later in The Salaried Masses, his ethnographic study of white‐collar workers in Berlin. The rational‐bureaucratic reorganization of work, Lukács argues, leads to the increasingly formal and standardized treatment of the objects of bureaucratic activity, leading to all social domains becoming affected by the process of reification The distinction between a worker faced with a particular machine, the entrepreneur faced with a given type of mechanical development, the technologist faced with the state of science and the profitability of its application to technology, is purely quantitative; it does not entail any qualitative difference in the structure of consciousness. (Lukács 1991, 98)

In the second part of the essay, Lukács argued that the structure of reification could also be discerned at the core of Kantian idealism. As in the case of the atomization and standardization of elements in the capitalist production process, knowledge becomes conceived in idealism as the appropriation of isolated elements of reality through the operation of formal and systematic laws. The unique history of the knower and the individual historical trajectory of the object therefore become irrelevant, as knowledge is concerned with the properties exhibited by objects conceived as standardized, repeatable elements that can be processed by the laws of thought, as objects are processed by the formal procedures of rationalized production. In his inaugural lecture, Adorno extends Lukács’ critique of idealist philosophy to its contemporary descendants, in particular Husserl’s phenomenology. Lukács argued that the problems of idealism came fully into view within the consciousness of the working class, the collective subject that would overturn the purely contemplative stance prevalent throughout bourgeois society. Adorno, however, focuses instead on the question of what the transformation of idealism since Kant discloses about the structure of bourgeois society. The transformation is captured in the claim that Husserlian phenomenology renounces the “productive power of mind, the Kantian and Fichtean spontaneity,” and “resigns” itself to the passive registering of the given (Adorno 1977, 122). Where it had earlier portrayed the subject as having a constitutive role in forming and constructing reality, later idealism begins to reflect the formalization and standardization of the role of the knower, and the atomization and abstraction of the object that had come to characterize the interaction of subject and object across all domains of social experience. Husserl’s philosophy, without actually intending to do so, takes up this experience of the interaction of subject and object in later bourgeois society and shapes it into an epistemology. Adorno expands on this critique in his dissertation on Husserl, which was written in the 1930s. In this book Adorno attempts to show that Husserl’s phenomenology severs logical laws from the practice of thinking and reifies them as sheer mental “facts,” “divested of any movement of spontaneity and subordinated to the positivistic ideal of the sheer acceptance of irreducible facts, that is, ‘givens.’” This takes place through Husserl’s notion of “evidence,” which embodies the positivistic ideal of immediate givenness to consciousness (Adorno 2013, 57). Reification and idealization become equivalent in Husserl because logical laws are presented as though they were “simply there” like objects are immediately given to the senses. Husserl’s conception of the flow of consciousness, as Biceaga (2010, 126) notes, is not a sequence of acts carried out by the ego, it is “an inherently passive dimension of subjectivity as such which makes possible all inner perception.” If Husserl were to conceive “the subject of logical validity as social and in motion rather than as isolated and 27

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‘individual,’” then “he would not need to drive an ontological cleft between thought and its  own laws” (Adorno 2013, 57). But in establishing this separation between thought and its own laws, Husserl is simply recapitulating the essential structure of reification that drives a wedge between the subjectivity of the knower, his or her organic connections to the community and to history, and the extracted and formalized cognitive structure that assimilates the given in the manner of pure receptivity. It is the cleavage between subject and object in the scientific, capitalist culture of the early twentieth century that finds its way into Husserl’s work in the desperate and ultimately doomed effort to separate logic from its social and historical context. Husserl’s attempt to save idealism by demonstrating its capacity to reach trans‐subjective being ends up simply expressing the evisceration of subjectivity that has made knowledge into a domineering system of classification, having use for neither the history nor the particularity of the knower or indeed of the thing known. The objectivity that Husserl believes he achieves is in fact simply the reification of the work of thinking that confronts the thinker as though it were an alien world of things to be passively registered by it. “The real life process of society,” Adorno (2013, 26) writes, “is not something sociologically smuggled into philosophy through associates. It is rather the core of the contents of logic itself.” Husserl’s conception of the givenness of logical laws to consciousness allows him to reject the reduction of logic to psychological processes. However, Husserl’s presentation of this argument embodies more truth than simply the critique of psychologism. His account of the relation of logic to thought is saturated with the experience of living in a society characterized by the estrangement of subject and object. That experience is ultimately rooted in an epochal shift in the nature of capitalist society, in which the systematic application of science to the production process renders obsolete the economic and cultural authority of wealthy entrepreneurs. That historical process was at the root of the crisis of idealism in the early twentieth century, when earlier idealist notions of the world‐shaping power of human subjectivity lost credibility, since the power shaping human and social reality now seemed to be a purely impersonal process divorced from guiding human intentions.

4.  The Actuality of Philosophy and Aesthetic Modernism Adorno emphasizes in his inaugural lecture that the question of philosophy’s “actuality” is not a question about philosophy’s place in the hierarchy of knowledge, but a fundamental question about whether it is possible to answer philosophical questions at all. Every philosophy concerned with truth is therefore faced with “the problem of the liquidation of philosophy” (Adorno 1977, 124). The agent of that liquidation in the early twentieth century is the positivist attempt to dissolve philosophical problems into questions that can be dealt with in the natural sciences. In his 1937 essay “Traditional and Critical Theory,” Horkheimer distinguishes science and philosophy as two different points of view on the social process. Science has become integrated into the process of production, and therefore represents the specific interests of the production process with regard to growth, efficiency, and profitability. The “scholar and his science,” Horkheimer (1995, 196, 197) states, “are incorporated into the apparatus of society.” They are “moments in the social process of production.” Positivism simply carries into philosophy the imperative that thought subordinate itself to the needs of the production process. The standpoint of Critical Theory emerges when human beings become aware that the process of production is a human 28

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social activity, subject to the control and direction of collective human ends. The shift from traditional to Critical Theory, according to Horkheimer, is one from a perspective where philosophical thought is subordinated to the imperatives of capitalist society to one where it is able to grasp the social process as a whole, including the way that capital introduces a fundamental distortion into the relations of knower and known, subject and object. Adorno does not take this route, but instead notes that problems such as the “given” and the problem of other minds cannot be answered with the theoretical tools of positivism. Since the nature of what is given to consciousness is socio‐historical, it cannot be grasped by a theory that lacks an understanding of the interaction of subject and object in history. The notion of the historical nature of truth is certainly a partial step toward Horkheimer’s idea of Critical Theory, but Adorno’s reading allows that insight to emerge in the philosophical critique of positivism, without suggesting that it serves as the placeholder for a collective subject able to seize the mechanism of social production and redirect it toward more humane purposes It soon becomes clear in the lecture that what Adorno has in mind is a conception of philosophy as a special kind of dialectical critique; philosophy illuminates the contemporary social order as marked by the alienation of subject and object, but does not claim to join up with a collective subject that is conceived as the agent of history. This is why, for Adorno, science and philosophy are not distinguished from one another through their respective roles in the social process of production; what differentiates them is the nature of their relation to their given materials. As a form of “research,” science accepts its materials as static givens whose significance is readily apparent. Philosophy, as a form of interpretation, must treat the material with which it works as enigmatic ciphers that are to be understood through the painstaking work of interpretation. Adorno is careful to distinguish this idea of critique from a philosophical misunderstanding that misconceives it as the discovery of essential truth beneath the world of appearance. Precursors of such a perspective would include Plato’s discovery of an ideal being independent of the world of material things, and Kant’s understanding of the in itself independent of how things appear. Adorno makes clear that the alignment of interpretation with the philosophical discovery of meaning misconceives the nature and purpose of philosophical critique. The discovery of meaning has a justificatory function with regard to the world of appearance that is vitiated by the inaccessibility and fragmentation of being in the twentieth century. Any attempt to assert the meaning of being today would simply force philosophy to regress to the formulation of a series of arbitrary worldview perspectives (weltanschaulicher Standpunkte [Adorno 1977, 128]). This sums up nicely the situation Adorno saw philosophy facing in 1931. The movements that had emerged in the twentieth century in opposition to the increasing narrowing of the interests of academic philosophy toward epistemology portended a regressive aversion to the discipline of rational thought. This was true especially of life philosophy and its offshoots (including Heideggerian ontology), which, as Schnädelbach (1984, 139) noted, “led the attack on all that was dead and congealed, on a civilization which had become intellectualistic and anti‐life,” and represented a new sense of life in the idea of “authentic experience.” Adorno admired many aspects of Bergson’s philosophy, but he remained convinced throughout his life that rational thought must be taken up and expanded or loosened from within; attacking it from a position ostensibly independent of it would ultimately weaken the prospects for a rational solution to the authoritarian structure of western rationality. But at the same time positivism, with its exceptionally narrow and scientistic understanding of the function of rational thought, was threatening to eliminate the space in which that critique of western rationality could 29

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be mounted within philosophical discourse. The pincer movement of a burgeoning and confident irrationalism joined with a corrosive positivism left a vanishingly small space in which philosophy could stake its claim to relevance. The idea of interpretation provided Adorno with a means to defend the critical potential of philosophy against the positivist threat, but at the same time avoided the danger of a regression to dueling, irrational worldview standpoints by outlining how it would involve the rational reconstruction of empirical elements. Adorno (1977, 127) emphasizes this in the lecture by adopting some of the language of a scientifically oriented philosophy, speaking of the task of bringing its elements into “changing constellations, or, to say it with less astrological and scientifically more current expression, into changings trial combinations.” The goal of interpretation is to arrange the elements of reality so that the critical imperative to transform reality is visible in the arrangement itself. The critical force of the imperative to transform reality is not here rooted in the deeper philosophical and ethical presuppositions of an encompassing worldview; it is expressed by reality itself once the truth about its fragmentation is visible on the surface of the arrangement. Adorno uses an example taken from Lukács’ (1971) essay “Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat,” on the dependence of the problem of the thing‐in‐itself on the history of social practice. For Lukács, the limitations of the bourgeois standpoint become apparent once the thing‐in‐itself problem is revealed, from the standpoint of the proletariat, as a contemplative attitude to knowledge that is divorced from collective practice. But in Adorno’s account, the problem is not solved through the discovery of a collective subject; it is dissolved in the arrangement: Like a source of light, the historical figure of commodity and of exchange value may free the form of a reality, the hidden meaning of which remained closed to investigation of the thing‐ in‐itself problem, because there is no hidden meaning which could be redeemable from its one‐time and first‐time historical appearance. (Adorno 1977, 128)

The “source of light” that Adorno ascribes here to the power of interpretation anticipates one of the most well‐known passages in Adorno’s writings, the call at the end of Minima Moralia for perspectives that “displace and estrange the world, reveal it to be, with its rifts and crevices, as indigent and distorted as it will appear one day in the messianic light” (Adorno 1974b, 247). Through interpretation, the demand for social transformation is not ascribed to a specific social location or entity, but rather becomes visible as the very meaning of the fragmented and distorted nature of the elements of reality captured in their arrangement. Both Horkheimer and Lukács identify the critical perspective with a social location from which the historical process as a whole can be understood in its trajectory toward a classless society. In Adorno’s theory, the critical perspective is released by a philosophical reconstruction in which it appears as the demand for wholeness and reconciliation of a broken and antagonistic reality. The antagonism of subject and object in early twentieth‐century capitalist society, caused by the separation of formal or technical knowledge from material processes in capitalist production, led to a crucial impoverishment of social experience. As knowledge in its social application became increasingly formal and abstract, the corrosive effects of a scientific‐rational culture in the service of capitalist accumulation began to become apparent. Early twentieth‐century modernist literature responded to this situation by exploring the boundaries of social experience, seeking thereby to open up a perspective on  what had been excluded or marginalized by the prevailing structure of experience 30

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(see  Foster 2016). In Robert Musil’s (1990) distinction between the “ratioid” and the “non‐ratioid,” for example, the secure and communicable knowledge accessible to science and deployed in production, is contrasted with a knowledge that exists in a personal ­relationship to the knower, and in which the separation of subject and object has been abolished. Musil often calls the non‐ratioid the “other condition.” Writers like Musil used literature to investigate the presence of patterns of experience that are constitutively excluded from social forms structured by the antagonism of subject and object. Virginia Woolf (1985, 72) spoke of this capacity to discern meaning beneath the conventional and formal structures as a “shock‐receiving capacity,” which is a “revelation of some order” beneath the appearances that normally pass for life. Woolf refers to these moments of revelation as “moments of being.” They interrupt the course of dull and conventional experience with a sudden burst of meaning in which, in an instant, everything seems to fit together. Literature, for Woolf, does not experience these moments directly. Rather, it represents them in a reconstruction that involves “figuring out what belongs to what” (Woolf 1985, 78). In Marcel Proust, it is involuntary memory that breaks through the forms of social convention that Proust calls “habit,” calling up a plenitude of meaning lying beyond the fixed schemes of ordinary experience. The underlying pattern that is reconstructed in the artwork is understood as genuine experience recovered from behind the dead forms of convention, it is notre vrai vie, as Proust (1999, 2284) puts it, life as it really is, discovered and revealed in its truth. What impressed Adorno in writers like Proust was that, unlike the irrationalist currents that challenged abstract and formal rationality in the name of a different principle or stem of knowledge, they sought to open up rationality from within, expanding its sense of what could be encompassed in its categories. Proust, Adorno (2003, 109) claimed, had used the tools of conventional rationality in order to reach the concrete and the indissoluble, which Bergson’s life philosophy had held to be impossible. Adorno believed that finding a way back to the naivety and immediacy of experience was crucial for the possibility of critical thought. The very possibility of articulating the meaning of experiences of suffering and injustice depends upon the sensitivities and responses of the thinker. Those capacities of the subject are able to find small cracks in the forced unity of subject and object, which can then form the basis of a critique of the forms of identity prevalent in society. Rather than the domination of the material by formal and abstract concepts, this required the possibility that critical judgment would come as close as possible to the self‐disclosure of the object. The identifying acts of rationality would here emerge out of the self‐presentation of the object of experience itself, allowing it to unfold the terms of its own judgment rather than being stamped with a classifying mark. The crisis of experience cannot be discerned within ordinary experience because that experience is itself structured by the antagonism of subject and object. It can only become accessible in a presentation that shows what happens to things when they become available solely through a domineering rationality. The disclosure of the failure of current rationality points the way toward a more complete reconciliation of subject and object that is unavailable in current experience. In the lecture, Adorno (1977, 129) argues that the interpretation of current reality is related to the potential for social change, in the sense that “out of the construction of a configuration of reality the demand for its real change always follows promptly.” Adorno follows this up with a reference to Marx’s famous eleventh thesis on Feuerbach, asserting that “only in the annihilation of the question is the authenticity of philosophic interpretation first successfully proven,” and furthermore, “the annihilation of the question ­compels praxis.” But how, exactly, does the “annihilation of the question” compel social 31

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t­ransformation? Adorno appears to be saying that in the work of interpretation, since forms of experience essentially are able to show their own brokenness and express their own failures, the demand for change emerges from within a form of life itself rather than being imposed upon it by an external authority. The question is annihilated when the riddle is solved, but the “answer” is not an underlying meaning; it is another way of seeing reality, disclosed by the light of critical thought, in which the suffering and brokenness of reality calls for its own (self‐)transformation. Adorno would later adopt a far more circumspect view of the connection of interpretation with transformative practice. In the o ­ pening lines of his major work of philosophy, Negative Dialectics, published in 1966, Adorno (1973, 3) writes that philosophy, which “once seemed to have been surpassed, keeps itself alive because the moment of its realization was missed.” We are situated here at the point where philosophy’s interpretive work has failed to compel transformative change; all that remains is to use its current breathing room to reflect on that failure. Perhaps, Adorno writes, “it was an inadequate interpretation which promised that it would be put into practice.” Since philosophy cannot simply conjure up a practice more suitable to its liking, this leaves philosophy to occupy itself with the task of thorough self‐criticism.

5. Conclusion The development of science and technology and their application to the capitalist system of production from the nineteenth century onwards had generated a number of serious pathological economic, social, and cultural consequences by the early twentieth century. Veblen (1915, 73–74) noted that the scientific restructuring of capitalism in Germany led to a new system based on “theoretical knowledge, rules, or certain broad propositions that are simple in themselves and have very wide application in detail processes.” As a result, the system “lends itself to oversight and control by a relatively few experts.” The new system split expert knowledge from material work practices, locating the former in instances of control, which could then be deployed to manage and direct the work process. The result, as Braverman (1974, 125) noted, is that “the process of production is replicated in paper form before, as, and after it takes place in physical form.” Labor becomes conceived as regular, repeatable motion patterns that replicate the original mental plan. The split between the physical/material and the intellectual/scientific components of labor not only led to an intensification of exploitation, it also generated profound distortions of experience. In particular, it created a hollowed‐out notion of rationality that severely restricted the ways in which things could count as cognitively significant. Items of experience, according to the new dispensation, would count as rational providing they were conceived as the bearers of properties that could also be embodied in countless numbers of other identical items. In the 1920s, critical thinkers like Kracauer and Lukács began to explore the way that this structure of rationality was beginning to distort human experience, reducing human beings to isolated, uprooted atoms whose movements were micro‐ managed by a distant technical rationality. It made perfect sense in this context, for individuals acclimated to this form of experience, that the focus of critical attention would be directed at what escapes or resists the possibility of standardization. In this situation, as Adorno writes in his book on Husserl: the unconnected or “non‐integrable” becomes mortal sin. Thoughts are drastically and fully  brought under control by societal organization…. And all spiritual activity should be

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repeatable afterwards by any other arbitrary individual. Understanding must practically ­present its staff ID, if it wishes to be tolerated. It is evidence sought not for its intrinsic merit or content, but rather as a print out of directions for future data. (Adorno 2013, 44)

In passages like these, Adorno gives voice to the comprehensive instrumentalization of knowledge that was set in motion by this transformation. Rational thought becomes valued increasingly for the distant, predictable, and standardized control it can exert on things. What became problematic from the standpoint of this sort of instrumental ­rationality was the contingent, the different and deformed, the non‐standard and non‐ standardizable dimensions of material life from the perspective of which the claims of rational thought looked increasingly like authoritarian violence. While the entirety of Adorno’s philosophy is concerned with this problem, it receives its canonical treatment in the account of identity thinking in his mature work. In Dialectic of Enlightenment of 1944, Adorno and Horkheimer (1979) develop a new conception of critical social theory as the critique of instrumental reason, concerned with a fundamental pathology of the western conception of reason, which the authors see as reaching its culmination in the outbreak of European fascism. But Adorno’s tendency to project problems of social experience back into the origins of western reason can already be seen in his work in the early 1930s on Husserl, where Adorno (2013, 9) traces the mathematization of thinking back to the pre‐Socratic philosophers. The mutations of capitalism since Adorno’s death give credence to the idea that scientific‐industrial capitalism was not the end point of western reason, but a historically specific capitalist regime whose main experiential pathologies followed from its system of standardized mass production (Boltanski and Esquerre 2017, 201–224). While the problems capitalism poses for humanity today are not the same ones as Adorno faced, Adorno’s work remains vital today for the resources it offers for understanding capitalist society as an encompassing form of social experience.

References Adorno, T. (1973). Negative Dialectics (trans. E.B. Ashton). New York: Continuum. Adorno, T. (1974a). Der wunderliche realist. In: Noten zur Literatur (ed. R. Tiedemann). 388–408. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. Adorno, T. (1974b). Minima Moralia (trans. E. Jephcott). New York: Verso. Adorno, T. (1977). The actuality of philosophy (trans. B. Snow). Telos 31: 121–133. Adorno, T. (2003). Vorlesung über negative Dialektik 1965/66. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. Adorno, T. (2013). Against Epistemology: A Metacritique (trans. W. Domingo). London: Polity Press. Adorno, T. and Horkheimer, M. (1979). Dialectic of Enlightenment (trans. John Cumming). London: Verso. Biceaga, V. (2010). The Concept of Passivity in Husserl’s Phenomenology. New York: Springer. Blackbourn, D. (2003). History of Germany. London: Blackwell. Boltanski, L. and Esquerre, A. (2017). Enrichissement: une critique de la merchandise. Paris: Gallimard. Braverman, H. (1974). Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century. New York: Monthly Review Press. Chandler, A. (1990). Scale and Scope: The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press. Durst, D. (2004). Weimar Modernism. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. Fohlin, C. (2007). Finance, Capitalism, and Germany’s Rise to Industrial Power. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Foster, R. (2016). Adorno and Philosophical Modernism: The Inside of Things. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. Gardner, S. (2007). The limits of naturalism and the metaphysics of German idealism. In: German Idealism: Contemporary Perspectives (ed. E. Hammer)), 19–49. New York: Routledge. Horkheimer, M. (1995). Traditional and critical theory. In: Critical Theory: Selected Essays(trans. M.J.O’ Connell), 188–243. New York: Continuum. Jonsson, S. (2010). Neither masses nor individuals. In: Weimar Publics/Weimar Subjects (ed. K. Canning), 279–301. New York: Berghahn. Köhnke, K. (1991). The Rise of Neo‐Kantianism (trans. R.J. Hollingdale). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kracauer, S. (1995). The mass ornament. In: The Mass Ornament: Weimar Essays (trans. and ed. T. Y. Levin), 75–88. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Lukács, G. (1971). Reification and the consciousness of the proletariat. In: History and Class Consciousness (trans. R. Livingstone), 83–222. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Mülder‐Bach, I. (1998). ‘Introduction’ to Kracauer. In: The Salaried Masses (trans. Q. Hoare). London: Verso. Musil, R. (1990). Precision and Soul, (ed. and trans. by B. Pike and D.S. Luft). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Pinkard, T. (2002). Germany Philosophy 1760–1860. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Proust, M. (1999). À la recherche du temps perdu. Paris: Gallimard. Schnädelbach, H. (1984). Philosophy in Germany 1831–1933 (trans. E. Matthews). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Veblen, T. (1915). Imperial Germany and the Industrial Revolution. London: Macmillan and Co. Weber, M. (1985). The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (trans. T. Parsons). London: Unwin. Woolf, V. (1985). A sketch of the past. In: Moments of Being (ed. V. Woolf). London: Harcourt.

Further Reading Adorno, T. (2001). Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (1959 lectures; trans. R. Livingstone). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Hammer, E. (2015). Adorno’s Modernism: Art, Experience, and Catastrophe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Honneth, A. (2008). Reification and Recognition. In: Reification: A New Look at an Old Idea (ed. A. Honneth), 17–96 (ed. and introduced M. Jay). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Kracauer, S. (1998). The Salaried Masses: Duty and Distraction in the Weimar Republic (trans. Q. Hoare). New York: Verso. Musil, R. (1995). The Man Without Qualities(vols. 1 and 2; trans. S. Wilkins). New York: Alfred Knopf. Schnädelbach, H. (1984). Philosophy in Germany 1831–1933 (trans. E. Matthews). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Thompson, M.J. (2016). The Domestication of Critical Theory. New York: Rowman and Littlefield. Weinstein, P. (2005). Unknowing: The Work of Modernist Fiction. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

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3 Reading Kierkegaard MARCIA MORGAN

“not to forget in dreams the present world, but to change it by the strength of an image” (Adorno 1989 [1933], 131).

1. Introduction Adorno’s 1933 Habilitationsshrift, Kierkegaard: Construction of the Aesthetic, has proven to be one of the most provocative and yet relatively understudied compositions of the first‐ generation genius of critical theory. At the immediate time of its publication, the text elicited only a few reactions, mostly by figures associated with the early Frankfurt School, notably the reviews of Benjamin, Löwith, and Tillich (see Hullot‐Kentor in Adorno 1989, xi–xiii; Morgan 2012, 34–35; Šajda 2012, 18–24 for a review of the reviews). However, during much of the twentieth century, Adorno’s monograph served powerfully as a negative impetus for Kierkegaard reception in critical‐theoretical philosophy. Specifically, such formative figures as Max Horkheimer (in the late 1930s), Herbert Marcuse (in the 1940s), and György Lukács (in the 1960s) argued in consonance with Adorno’s claims that Kierkegaard’s philosophy lacked concrete social and political action and, furthermore, promoted isolated individualism or religious dandyism, which dangerously fed the irrationality inherent to totalitarian thinking (Horkheimer 1937; Marcuse 1941; Lukács 1962). These developments seemed to cement a turn‐around from Marcuse’s previously positive interpretation of Kierkegaard for his work in the 1920s on a “concrete philosophy” of action (Marcuse 2005 [1929]). From out of this history, Adorno’s reading thus led Susan Buck‐Morss to declare in 1977 that Adorno had put Kierkegaard away once and for all for the purposes of critical theory (Buck‐Morss 1977). However, the latter judgment has been since overturned. In the last 50 years Kierkegaard has been overwhelmingly established by some of the most renowned Kierkegaard scholars as among the most actively engaged social‐political thinkers in the Golden Age of Denmark and an agitator against Christian Nationalism (see, e.g. Nordentoft 1978; Bukdahl 1981; Westphal 1987; Kirmmse 1990; Backhouse 2011). Furthermore, Kierkegaard’s philosophical writings on their own merit have been comprehensively interpreted as manifesting strong socio‐economic and politically efficacious critique (e.g. in Connell and Stephens 1992; Pattison and Shakespeare

A Companion to Adorno, First Edition. Edited by Peter E. Gordon, Espen Hammer, and Max Pensky. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2020 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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1998). These arguments, in their manifold and sometimes diverging variations, harken back to Marcuse’s 1929 essay “On Concrete Philosophy,” which emphasized Kierkegaard’s transition from isolation to taking action “in the street.” In the essay Marcuse aptly described the role that Kierkegaard played for his early philosophy of praxis as follows: [Kierkegaard] went, in the Socratic sense of this activity, into the street: wrote article after article in a daily newspaper, gave out pamphlets, pressed his entire struggle in the public domain […] directed in all acuteness towards a concrete movement of contemporary man, aimed at a “true” change of existence, and his attacks and demands directed themselves steadily towards concrete ways and tasks of this existence, holding the possibilities of achievement of the moment in full view. Only when one conceives how much Kierkegaard, in the fulfillment of his concrete philosophizing came upon the urgent newness of a real decision, upon a true movement and transformation of contemporary existence, only then can one understand the sharpness of his attack, the agitational violence of his public performance, the sought clash with the representative personalities of the public, the revolutionary concretion of his demands. (Marcuse 2005 [1929], 124; cited in Kellner 1984, 66–67)

As it turns out, then, Marcuse’s intuition in the 1920s was far closer to capturing the importance of Kierkegaard for critical theory than was evident in the middle period of the twentieth century. Hence Marcuse’s early positive assessment of Kierkegaard has been substantiated in the final decades of the twentieth century in numerous ways by philosophical and theological scholars working on the connection between Kierkegaard and Frankfurt School theory, the most important works of which include Deuser (1974, 1980), Marsh (1984), Westphal (1987), Habermas (1989), Kodalle (1988), Beck (1991), Matuštík (1993), and Matuštík and Westphal (1995). But there is more to the story. Adorno’s Habilitationsschrift has also been reassessed as having much more to say than a mere rejection of the Danish religious philosopher. As Klaus‐M. Kodalle wrote in 1988: Søren Kierkegaard is actually everpresent in Adorno’s thinking. Indeed the Marxian and Freudian thought impulses strongly influence this connection […] Adorno vacillates between fascination and repulsion, between inheritance and distanciation (frequently announcing distance where the influence is greatest […]). This vacillation never rests in any coherent Kierkegaard critique. (Kodalle 1988, 195–96, my translation)

Hermann Deuser (1980) went so far as to say that Adorno is simply not thinkable without Kierkegaard. In this context, in the present century some scholars have newly interpreted Adorno’s 1933 book as revealing substantive and generative clues to a great deal more influence by Kierkegaard on Adorno, evident throughout different portions of Adorno’s oeuvre and in varying manifestations of his methodologies, if not in in name, then in the negative aesthetic‐theological intimations in Adorno’s philosophy inherited not only from Walter Benjamin but also from Kierkegaard (Sherman 2001; Morgan 2003b, 2012, 58–61; Gordon 2016, 158–93). In light of this “everpresence” in Adorno’s writings, as evidenced by Kodalle’s and Deuser’s earlier texts and recently developed along a different path in an extremely compelling manner by Peter E. Gordon (2016), in what follows I will present an analysis that re‐ examines and reconstructs how Adorno reads Kierkegaard and why he reads him in the manner he does, and inquire what Adorno’s Kierkegaard may teach us about Adorno’s later philosophic development. In the process of my analysis and in light of my answer to 36

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the latter question, we will come to understand Adorno’s reading of Kierkegaard through the following argument: (i) both a negative and positive theology are present in Kierkegaard; (ii) Adorno embraces only the negative, apophatic and rejects the positive, cataphatic ­theology because Adorno reads the latter as an escape from worldly needs and action; and (iii) the negative theology that Adorno accepts is instructive of and bears an important relation to Adorno’s 1970 Aesthetic Theory. The present chapter thus provides a summary  of the most insightful and relevant scholarship on Adorno’s intersection with Kierkegaard as well as a new argument about Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory from rethinking this intersection.

2.  Part I How and Why Adorno Reads Kierkegaard: Letting the Thought‐Image Appear How one ought to read Kierkegaard has been hotly contested since the beginning of his authorship and remains so today. His infamous use of pseudonymity, or polynymity, presents only the first layer of difficulty. Within the polynymous works, he additionally employs irony, parody, allegory, metaphor, and other literary devices of structural self‐interruption and broken narratives internal to his philosophic musings, all of which are vast in number and kind. In addition to his multiply pseudonymous authorship, he has composed a lengthy parallel collection of direct discourses and numerous volumes of journals. As I have previously described the process of reading his works, Kierkegaard’s aim “is not to manipulate or deceive the reader […], but to bring the individual experiencing the text to her own decision of what is being claimed and what one could or should do in response to these claims. One of the main goals of Kierkegaard’s authorship is to elicit the reader to develop her own position regarding individual existence” (Morgan 2012, 29–30). Simon Podmore  has recently presented a convincingly productive approach to the difficulty of interpreting Kierkegaard’s highly literary inventions. First, Podmore respects what Kierkegaard expressed as his “wish,” his “prayer,” namely, to cite “the respective pseudonymous author’s name,” not Kierkegaard’s own (Kierkegaard 1992, 627; cited in Podmore 2011, xiii). Second, Podmore reads the “hiddenness” of Kierkegaard in his works productively as a theologian: “the ‘hiddenness’ of Kierkegaard forces the reader to confront their own hiddenness. Hence Kierkegaard frequently encourages his reader to read his works aloud to themselves, so as to efface the authority of the author and discover a personal address to one’s own hidden self that is contained within the act of reading.” At first glance, Podmore’s description might be regarded as a defense of substantive subjectivity in modern philosophy. But in Podmore’s writing, as in Kierkegaard’s, the reader receives anything but such a limited viewpoint. As Podmore writes further: But [my] work does not seek to evade the charge that the search for the self is often a dubious, vain, or narcissistic enterprise, destined to suffer from its own futility and hubris. On the contrary, it is my contention that Kierkegaard’s writings contain some of the most valuable and insightful expressions of abortive attempts at self‐knowledge in modern Western theology, philosophy, and literature. (Podmore 2011, xiv)

For this reason, readings of Kierkegaard have initiated at least 12 different theological interpretations and appropriations, as Lee Barrett has elaborated, including everything from the neo‐orthodoxy of dialectical theology to postmodern apophaticism to a defense of 37

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apostolic authority to “a valorization of fideism” or an “exposé of the fatal instability of any comprehensive theological system,” arguably climaxing with the belief that one “cannot support any theological reading at all because his texts are nothing but ironic gestures lacking univocal meaning that doctrinal assertions require” (Barrett 2013, 528). Because Kierkegaard infuses his texts with the terminology of Christian faith and traditional doctrinal topoi and thereby generates a “cacophony” of possible readings, Podmore provides a powerful rendering in which the failure of modern subjectivity is not only “transcribed” in Kierkegaard’s writings but doubly fails as a transmutation of “primal anxiety into faithful religious selfhood as despair in its various guises.” Distinctive in Podmore’s scholarship are its breathtaking moves to shatter sedimented notions of the subject in a generative manner that is in turns literary, philosophical, and theological. Such an approach is both similar to and different from Adorno’s Kierkegaard reading. Almost a century ago, as the heterodox Marxian interlocutor of Walter Benjamin’s messianic aestheticism, Adorno vigorously collapsed the house of cards of Kierkegaardian subjectivity. As it is for Podmore in the present age, likewise for Adorno and Benjamin in the 1920s and 1930s, the result was most redeeming. But unlike Podmore’s approach, Adorno carried out his destructive maneuvers by disregarding many of the literary devices in Kierkegaard’s oeuvre, most importantly ignoring the roles of pseudonymity and irony. In this way, Adorno aimed to read Kierkegaard literally against what he construed as Kierkegaard’s own literary‐philosophic and religious results. For Adorno a methodology of literality or Wörtlichkeit revealed new vistas for interpreting texts imbued with the power of seduction. Whereas, in my judgment, Kierkegaard’s literary method “speaks for the non‐ linearity of personality inherent to modern subjectivity” and as “a paradigm in which the individual cannot be reduced to any one form, content, or combination thereof ” in a very helpful manner (Morgan 2012, 30), for Adorno, Kierkegaard’s writings had accomplished precisely the opposite: a flattened out, positively dialectical model of representation bound  to the Hegelian Geist it supposedly aimed to overcome. In other words, Adorno claimed that Kierkegaard’s subject fails despite what he regards as Kierkegaard’s best attempts to save it. Adorno argues that, against Kierkegaard’s efforts to overcome Hegel’s substantive subjectivity, Kierkegaard instead reifies it through an unintended, newly positive dialectic. In many ways, we can understand Adorno to be destroying Kierkegaard’s works by eliminating their ironic formulations in order, ironically, to save them for later posterity. Adorno was fighting against any “dangerous power” or “fascination” that could be elicited by any of the pseudonymous writings. He was crafting his monograph at a time when, as he later noted, he aimed to get his message past the censors and reach opposition intellectuals in Germany (Adorno 1997, 261). The book was published on February 27, 1933, the day Hitler suspended freedom of the press and made the transition to dictator (Adorno 1989, xi). In Kierkegaard Adorno writes: “Fascination is the most dangerous power in his work. Whoever succumbs to it by taking up one of the imposing and inflexible categories he inexhaustibly displays; whoever bows to its grandeur without comparing it with concretion, without ever investigating if it is adequate to concretion, has fallen under its domination and become the servant of a mythical realm” (Adorno 1989, 11). Adorno regards the domain of Kierkegaard’s writings as permeated by Zauberspruch, or “magical incantation,” and a “logical immanence in which everything must find its place.” He later presents similar arguments against jazz and composers such as Stravinsky; he reads into the ascribed free­ eterminism (Adorno dom a severe deficiency that paradoxically creates a realm of aesthetic d 1973, 2002). Therefore, for Adorno, Kierkegaard’s paradoxical f­ormulations invert into 38

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their own worst nightmares of the strictest preordained order. In his joint publication with Max Horkheimer on the Dialectic of Enlightenment, the structural logic of Adorno’s claims from the Kierkegaard book becomes repeated and developed – where reason becomes myth precisely when it envisions itself as emancipated. As Hullot‐Kentor has noted, “Kierkegaard is the study of the unconscious reversal of history into nature, Adorno’s first analysis of the dialectic of enlightenment,” (Adorno 1989, xi) because Adorno regarded Kierkegaard’s theological literary inventions as a regression into myth. From Adorno’s perspective, in relevant cases the best means to undercut such ideological “incantation” is by stripping the author or composer of their chosen aesthetic devices. Some previous publications have argued that Adorno’s Kierkegaard is not a reading of the religious Dane’s writings, but rather a reading of Adorno’s own early methodology and a foreshadowing of Adorno’s later philosophic development (Morgan 2012, 15–61; Šajda 2012, 18–24). Heiko Shultz has fittingly described Adorno’s monograph as hybrid of both a “receptive production” and “productive reception” (Schulz 1999, 220–44). Schulz claims that Adorno’s book not only received the thought of Kierkegaard, but also created a new “Kierkegaard.” I contend that Adorno’s newly constructed “Kierkegaard” is illuminating not for a reading of Kierkegaard, but as an early insight into what will later become some of the most distinctive features of Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory (Morgan 2003b). In order to understand this more substantively, it is important to return to what Adorno means by the literality, or Wörtlichkeit, of Kierkegaard’s texts and to grasp how this relates to Adorno’s later writings. In Kierkegaard Adorno speaks critically of those interpretations that read him as a poet, a method of reading Kierkegaard that became popularized in Europe in the early reception and that emigrated to the Anglo‐American tradition later in the twentieth century. In regard to the interpreter Theodor Haecker, Adorno writes: “It is as such that he regards the pseudonyms, like forces of ‘geniality,’ as powers of fascination on the Kierkegaardian landscape” (Adorno 1989, 11). He continues: By rejecting [Kierkegaard’s] claim to be a poet, however, his pseudonyms are excluded as the constitutive element of his philosophy. The possibility of a method fundamentally oriented to them is therefore precluded. Kierkegaard’s fruitless attempt to compose self‐animating poets confuses creator with artist and corresponds better to his idealist origins than to his theological goal.

It therefore became immediately clear at the beginning of Adorno’s monograph that he set out to read Kierkegaard philosophically and not poetically. Implicit in the abovementioned passage is Adorno’s additional unstated goal to reveal the theological content of Kierkegaard’s thought‐images against their anti‐idealistic intentions by uncovering their idealistic outcomes. Hence Adorno’s emphasis on conceptuality as the most assured means to counter abstraction, which he construes as the de facto result of any idealist or existentialist system – and according to Adorno Kierkegaard’s philosophy actualized itself into both. By stripping away the false names, as Samuel Weber has pointed out, Adorno attempted to locate an “Archimedean point” in his critique of Kierkegaard “where conceptual‐thematic content overflows in and into literal language itself ” (Weber 2001, 392). Weber, however, is skeptical that a literality of words is possible through such an approach. Peter Fenves goes even further, describing Adorno’s method as bombastic (Fenves 1992, 114). Allegedly, in Adorno’s method, the “fox’s den” of Kierkegaard’s writing “has to be forced to enclose itself.” However, on multiple fronts both in his own name and through fictional depictions 39

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of ever‐evolving characters, Kierkegaard has facilitated a philosophical happening for which both the words “speaking” and “writing” are inadequate. In the context of this event, in a Kierkegaardian framework, a speaking which is at the same time a writing (as a signing of itself) is mere “chatter.” Fenves proceeds by claiming that whatever is missed by this confluence of speaking and writing – a surplus of speech – “does not belong to the register of appearances at all” (Fenves 1992, 109). But for Adorno it does, if only in a negative and affective response to the predicament of truth as irreconcilable. The negative, affectively registered appearance of truth as untruth is precisely what lies at the heart of Adorno’s later works such as Minima Moralia and, above all, the Aesthetic Theory. This point underscores Adorno’s complex relation to the Hegelian dictum that the essence of existence must disclose itself as appearance, a motto Kierkegaard vociferously rejected. But the Shakespearean adage that one “protests too much” rings true. Kierkegaard ever preserved immanently in sensuous existence – both in the content and form of his writings – what he was simultaneously intimating as ineffable and transcendent. This is the case, however, in a manner not adequate to a positively dialectical relationship because of the particularly dynamic negativity in Kierkegaard’s irony, which enacts resistance through the parody of the Danish Hegelians. In this context, it is extremely illuminating to consider Richard J. Bernstein’s argument on Kierkegaardian irony from his recent monograph, Ironic Life (2016). Bernstein implicitly agrees that we must reject Adorno’s disavowal of the religious Dane’s irony and concludes that Kierkegaard resolutely stands against any specious “either/or” whereby we would be presented with a stark choice of either an empty or a seductive Hegelian irony, both of which Adorno claims Kierkegaard manifests. Bernstein writes at the end of his chapter on “Kierkegaard: Irony and Ethical Passion”: Yet Kierkegaard radically swerves away from the Hegelian Either/Or. This is anticipated in The Concept of Irony, but becomes clear in Concluding Unscientific Postscript. Kierkegaard (and Climacus [the pseudonymous author of the text]) reject the way in which Hegel frames the alternatives of this Either/Or. There is another way besides sheer emptiness or the seduction of determinate negation. This is Kierkegaard’s swerve to ethical passion: freely choosing what we are to become. This is no longer sheer negativity; but neither is it mediation and determinate negation. Rather, it is learning how to exist, learning what is involved in becoming a human being, learning – that is, choosing – how to live one’s life. And with this we have a new and different Either/Or. One can stay frozen at the stage of sheer negativity. There is no necessity or compelling reason to move beyond this – even if it results in despair and melancholy. But it is possible for each of us as “single individuals” to freely actualize ourselves as ethical human beings, and thereby move beyond the unstable negativity of pure irony. (Bernstein 2016, 101)

Reflecting on Bernstein’s insights, the question arises whether Kierkegaard provides an ironic prototype of Adorno’s own non‐ironic, negatively dialectical model in which the latter strives to capture “the nonidentical” aesthetically, namely as that which cannot be fitted to any adequate identity relation of subject and object? The latter would exist temporarily, without acting upon the subject in any directive form, and permit the subject to construct a unique experience freely? Following Bernstein’s explication of Kierkegaardian irony, it is clear that Kierkegaard does provide such a model. In the 1933 monograph, Adorno constructs the aesthetic out of the breakdown of ­subjectivity in Kierkegaard and thereby captures a surplus of speech, which can only be represented affectively by the subject’s own failure of selfhood over and against the societal object. Adorno wants to show through images revealed by the bare conceptuality of the text, 40

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when stripped of its decorative fictions, where and in what sense language, when regarded as a confluence of speaking and writing, fails to represent experience. As Walter Benjamin pointed out in his review of the Kierkegaard book, only allegory was spared in Adorno’s dissection of Kierkegaard’s writings (Benjamin 1999 [1933]). The allegorical or figurative, for the early critical theorists, is the thought‐image (das Denkbild) of human existence that shines through the text in spite of the words used to represent it. In this way Adorno, the seeming nemesis of Existenzphilosophie, advocates a more visceral encounter with the raw experientiality of human existence in an attempt to debunk the existentialist pretenses of the times, most of all Heidegger’s. This has led Peter Gordon, for example, to argue that Adorno stands closer to the existentialist tradition than previously thought (Gordon 2016). This may well be the case implicitly. Nonetheless, Adorno aims to save Kierkegaardian philosophy from its explicit existential reception by transfiguring it into an aesthetic model that can be taken up, critically, as a form of protest against any fundamental ontology or positively dialectical theology, both of which relied on early existential developments. Adorno’s reading of Kierkegaard according to the strictures of Wörtlichkeit served as a paradigm for Adorno’s later writings on the aesthetic representation of human existence. Out of this he developed a methodology of striving for what he calls the “strictest linguistic objectivity.” In Minima Moralia, first published in Germany in 1951, Adorno wrote: “If the written language codifies the estrangement of classes, redress cannot lie in regression to the spoken, but only in the consistent exercise of strictest linguistic objectivity. Only a speaking that transcends writing by absorbing it, can deliver human speech from the lie that it is already human” (Adorno 1974 [1951], 102). What Adorno seeks to capture in his conceptually‐laden, atonal philosophic constellations – taking aphoristic thinking to new heights, as seen in his Aesthetic Theory  –  is “a speaking that transcends writing by absorbing it.” Such is a surplus of speech that can only be grasped affectively in contradistinction to the abstract thought that evades the concrete experiences of the human being. Because the surplus of speech is relegated to the affective domain of human experience, Adorno describes it as “mute.” Thus, what Kierkegaard’s writings didn’t say poetically or religiously became articulated for Adorno through a mute conceptuality of appearances when read through a literality of the text. Andrew Bowie has recently argued in a highly nuanced and convincing manner how Adorno’s main developments are more philosophical than aesthetic in Adorno’s aesthetic rehabilitation of philosophic thinking (Bowie 2013, 135). Adorno thought constellations inextricably intertwine philosophy and art in a way that redefines philosophical truth. Bowie explains that Adorno’s aesthetic constructions are more philosophical precisely because of their inherent contradictoriness. We can think seriously about Adorno’s means to counteract the reification of the subject in late modernity with the tools of contradiction in philosophy as an aesthetic form. In explaining this method in Adorno, in a chapter titled “Contradiction as Truth‐Content,” Bowie writes: “What determines us can, therefore, function as a form of reification, but this can itself lead to the possibility of overcoming reification, if we can become aware of the objective factors which had become part of ourselves as subjects” (Bowie 2013, 50). Bowie proceeds by pointing out the error of modern philosophy as it relates to Adorno’s alternative approach: taking the stance required for scientific objectivity as the founding philosophical assumption is a mistake, because our primary relation to the world is not cognitive at all, but rather […] practical, mimetic, or affective. Modern philosophy oriented toward the scheme of subject and object produces contradictions precisely because it seeks to ground our relation to the world in

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a derivative mode of access to the world, in which the subject takes a neutral stance toward the object. This stance can, in the hermeneutic view, only develop from a prior non‐objectifying stance […]. (Bowie 2013, 51)

For this reason, Adorno contorts philosophic forms into aesthetic experiences of contradiction as a way of grasping such a “prior non‐objectifying stance,” which can only be experienced mimetically, practically, and affectively. Is this a non‐ironic and therefore non‐ seductive form of Kierkegaard’s methodology that Adorno learned early in his own philosophic development after reading Kierkegaard? The evidence speaks to an affirmative answer to this question. Consider Kierkegaard’s repeated admonishing to the weary philosophic traveler that “The contradiction continually expresses the task” (Kierkegaard 1980, 31). For Kierkegaard, the experience of contradiction  –  and not its abstract, systematic resolution extricated from experience – invokes one to action through its concrete application to “actually existing.” What, then, remains of the debunked Kierkegaardian corpus for Adorno after his reading method has been carried out? The answer lies in the concept of the thought‐image, or Denkbild, referenced earlier. Influenced by Benjamin’s method of thwarting any intention of the author and following a trajectory of “truth as detour” (Benjamin 1998 [1963]), Adorno deletes the irony of Kierkegaard’s writings and constructs a new aesthetic creation of the literary. However, this is ironic “because literary writing, in its refusal to remain buchstäblich or literal, demonstrates what is always the case in aesthetic experience: there can be no direct or realist reading of an aesthetic creation capable of doing justice to art’s irreducibly figurative nature,” as Gerhard Richter has clarified (Richter 2007, 32). Therefore, for Adorno: literary works […] are figurative or allegorical, possessing a wordless syntax even in linguistic works. What these works say is not what their words say, so that meaning cannot be synonymous with authorial intention. What Adorno calls the allegorical Wahrheitsgehalt, or truth‐ content, of a text becomes perceptible when it divorces itself from its author’s intended meaning: what speaks in a work of art is not the author’s voice but the artwork’s own formal echoes. (Richter 2007, 32)

Richter synthesizes etymologically, “If the Greek root of allegory, allegorein, signifies the process of speaking differently or of saying something else, then literature works to retain and, indeed, to intensify this otherness.” If Adorno is theorizing the aesthetic from the perspective of “damaged life” after Auschwitz, as he expressed in Minima Moralia (Adorno 1974 [1951]), he is attempting to save art from its historical forms of either propaganda or sheer entertainment, both of which, according to him, lead to fascistic ends. Such a problematic dichotomy of appropriation was precisely the fate of Kierkegaard’s collected writings in Adorno’s early years: Kierkegaard was being read either poetically as a kind of decorative literary pleasure, or he was being taken up by fundamental ontology and existential phenomenology in ways not distanced from the “German Christians” affiliated with the Third Reich (Schulz 1999; Morgan 2012, 19–24; Šajda 2012). Schulz incisively outlines the problem of Kierkegaard reception by ­figures such as Emmanuel Hirsch, a theologian who wrote his influential Kierkegaard‐Studien in 1930–1933, precisely at a time he was energetically engaged with National Socialism, and this significantly impacted the content of Hirsch’s claims about Kierkegaard (Schulz  1999, 229). Within this context of the history of German fascism, Richter calls what  is expressed affectively and mimetically in Adorno’s aesthetic thought‐images a 42

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“­communication of non‐communicability,” that is, “the scar of the Denkbild – in both the genitive and ablative case” (Richter 2007, 30). Thus, for Adorno, “the political function of the aesthetic is located in the very space in which it is inaccessible to instrumentalist reasoning and unmediated political intervention.” From the abovementioned considerations, we can see how and why Adorno recast Kierkegaard’s writings into a new aesthetic form of the thought‐image that negated Kierkegaard’s literary intentions and reread the  ­allegorical truth‐content of his writings against any seduction of fiction in the early twentieth century, even if Kierkegaard’s writings on their own merit did not warrant this.

3.  Part II What we Learn from Adorno’s Kierkegaard: The Sustenance of Negative Meaning Specific sociological reasons, as well as philosophical insights related to the socio‐economic and political developments of the times, were in abundance for Adorno to reconstruct Kierkegaard against the grain of his intentions and receptions. The question of what more we learn through Adorno’s recasting of Kierkegaard lingers. Is the book only a mechanical restructuring for political ends? A mere tactical approach to the aesthetic would go against everything Adorno stands for and convolute the substantive meaning of his brilliant analytic rigor in constructing aesthetic experiences of contradiction to achieve greater philosophical truth. In fact, internal to Adorno’s contradictory formulations, one can accept neither a sociologism nor an idealism of the text; the meaning lies in neither and both, true to his negative dialectical method. We ought to heed Richter’s reminder that for Adorno “the political function of the aesthetic is located in the very space in which it is inaccessible to instrumentalist reasoning and unmediated political intervention.” Instead, the answer to this question must return us again to the truth‐content of Adorno’s Denkbild, and this undoubtedly brings us back to the theological. Hullot‐Kentor captures pointedly that while “theological motives are […] dropped at many points” in Adorno’s Kierkegaard, this is rather “more of a sublimation than excision, for theology is always moving right under the surface of all of Adorno’s writings” (Adorno 1989, xxi). He continues: “Opaque ideas in Adorno (as in Benjamin) often become immediately comprehensible when grasped in this context of theological interests. The idea of ‘truth‐content’ for example, which has remained so obscure, is a work’s content of hope.” But Hullot‐Kentor (Adorno 1989) cautions the reader not to expect a hope from Adorno that is salvageable in the end. He writes, “Still, as the research of hope, Kierkegaard wants to take hope under its wing; when it does it becomes ministerial and damages itself.” Hope is the theological in Adorno’s early work, and Hullot‐ Kentor connects this furthermore to a loss of the theological in Adorno’s later revisions of the text in 1962, drawing the Kierkegaard revised publication closer, in his judgment, to Adorno’s 1970 Aesthetic Theory. In contrast, Peter Gordon (2016) has argued that the  theological traces in the early Kierkegaard book remain visible throughout later works.  I  agree with Gordon and will develop this argument further in what follows. Previously, I argued that Adorno’s Kierkegaard shows important features of Adorno’s own early methodology that were later to reappear in aesthetic form in Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory (Morgan 2003b). I will conclude the present chapter by returning to this theme, as it forms a nexus with Gordon’s argument, and will elaborate in more detail how this is the case. It is beyond the scope of the present chapter to adjudicate which is the correct reading of Kierkegaard theologically, not to mention whether such a task is even possible, following Barrett’s summary of interpretations. Instead, I return to Podmore’s research, discussed at 43

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the beginning of Part I, as a guide to the theological in Kierkegaard because, as stated previously, I find it extremely insightful and generative as an understanding not only theologically, but also in a philosophic and literary sense fair and adequate to the nuances of Kierkegaard’s oeuvre. Moreover, Podmore emphasizes both the negative apophatic and positive cataphatic interpretations, thus manifesting several important features of the two predominant ways Kierkegaard is read theologically, and yet emphasizing the death of the subject as an important intrinsic maneuver in Kierkegaard’s literary and philosophic transition by moving from the negative to the positive. While Adorno is asserting the destruction of the subject as an outcome against Kierkegaard’s intentions, Podmore makes clear that such a self‐abortive attempt at any substantive subjectivity was already inherent within Kierkegaard’s writings even if one reads him theologically and not merely poetically. This difference lies in the fact that Podmore countenances the literary devices of Kierkegaard while Adorno dismisses them. In regard to the negative and positive theological outcomes in Kierkegaard, Podmore writes: In one sense, Kierkegaard’s works could be read as developing an apophatic or negative theological anthropology in which the failure of self‐knowledge is evoked in order to unveil a cataphatic, or positive, truth of selfhood that cannot be attained by merely natural means. It is only through the mystery of the self ’s relation “before God” that the self can come to know itself […] And yet, in the endeavor to stand before God, the self is explicitly confronted by the fear and trembling of the infinite qualitative difference between humanity and divinity. (Podmore 2011, xiv)

Kierkegaard situates the human in an “infinite qualitative difference” before God, as Podmore elucidates, whereas in Aesthetic Theory Adorno places the subject in the position of an infinite qualitative difference – to borrow Kierkegaard’s phrase – before the societal object, mimetically and affectively captured in the truth‐content of the artwork. Yet it is important to point out that Kierkegaard is also already instigating the latter move as the first step of his subsequent self‐relinquishment before God. Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory recalls the surplus of speech that for Adorno does register in appearances, but not in any positively linguistic manner, only through an objectivity that facilitates an affective experience of the human beyond writing (Adorno 1974 [1951], 102). Such an affective, mimetic experience bespeaks the “rationalistic fiction” at the heart of Adorno’s aesthetic theory captured by Albrecht Wellmer’s analysis of Adorno’s critique of modern reason (Wellmer 1991, 71). Wellmer contends that art therefore makes manifest non‐communicative forms of expression. He argues that works of art for Adorno “point towards an expansion of the boundaries of communication by virtue of their effect and not their being […]” (Wellmer 1991, 22). The experience of artworks, furthermore, does not constitute a cognitive function at the level of philosophical knowledge, but on that of the subjects’ relationship to themselves and to the world where works of art intervene in a complex network of attitudes, feelings, interpretations and evaluations. […] The fact that the cognition that is achieved through art cannot be expressed in words is not attributable to the inadequacy of the concept, but to the fact that the enlightenment of consciousness signified by the term “cognition” here encompasses cognitive, affective, and moral and practical aspects in equal measure.

Wellmer concludes that “cognition” in Adorno’s aesthetic theory means something “closer to a capability rather than abstract knowledge, something more like an ability to speak, to 44

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judge, to feel or perceive than the result of cognitive effort.” How does the experience of such an aesthetic appearance, then, relate to negative theological content in Adorno’s reading of Kierkegaard? In Adorno and Existence Peter Gordon provides a great deal of insight in further detailing the theological connection between Kierkegaard and Adorno. Gordon enters into evidence a few crucial developments in Adorno’s later thinking. First, Gordon demonstrates as a thread throughout his monograph that “Adorno returned throughout his life to Kierkegaard” and “eventually, he came to modify the rather stringent verdict of his earliest study, in which he had scrutinized the Dane’s philosophy with the instruments of a so‐ called materialist criticism” (Gordon 2016, 160). Second, Gordon recalls Adorno’s letter to Gershom Sholem in 1967 in which Adorno tellingly outlines his meaning of materialism against any “cohesive,” “fixed,” or dogmatic methodology or worldview that “seems to guarantee an affinity with metaphysics” or even – Adorno states hesitatingly – “I might almost have said theology” (Gordon 2016, 158). A third point Gordon considers is Adorno’s statement in the 1966 Negative Dialectics, that “At its most materialist, materialism comes to agree with theology” (Adorno 2007 [1966], 207). Gordon synthesizes these three historical developments in Adorno’s late thinking and connects them to the logic of the dialectic of enlightenment Adorno theorized with Horkheimer. Gordon argues that the alleged “unidirectional arc” of the loss of religiosity in the twentieth century, ­diagnosed, for example in the move from Kierkegaard to Heidegger, instead for Adorno “bends back upon itself in a covert regression to its religious point of departure.” Where Kierkegaard moves to a positive theological position of a self liberated by the self‐ abnegation of its solipsism in the face of the unknowable God, Adorno requires the return to the negative and unceasingly calls us to uphold it in contrast to what he regards as any positive dialectical resolution. It is crucial to point out, however, that Kierkegaard’s positive or cataphatic theology, if we consent to Podmore’s reading, which I argue we should do, does not permit any resolution, but delimits itself by an unbridgeable gap between the human and the Other of divinity, sustained in an infinitely negative manner in this world. Gordon explains why a model of transcendence cannot work for Adorno in late capitalism: “In the modern phase of capitalism, however, the very ideal of a strong subject can no longer appeal to a transcendent support, and the language of bourgeois heroism becomes no less mythical than the instrumental rationality that has already dissolved all other myths” (Gordon 2016, 161). For this reason, following Gordon’s argument, Adorno’s alignment of theology with materialism brings us to the primacy of the object over and against the subject. Thus, Gordon advises, “It is therefore crucial to note that Adorno’s affiliation with Kierkegaard did not imply anything like a genuine affirmation of theology. While resisting Kierkegaard’s leap of faith, Adorno nonetheless saw in this faith a species of negativity, although this theological negativity could never be transformed into a positive religion” (Gordon 2016, 195). And further, “the direct affirmation of a transcendent other beyond nature would contravene the imperative of this‐worldly redemption.” This conclusion doesn’t negate Adorno’s relationship to Kierkegaard, but rather suspends it without resolution – appropriate to Adorno’s negative dialectics. Gordon writes: For Adorno, then, Kierkegaard held a double meaning: Even as Kierkegaard stood as the very paradigm of bourgeois subjectivity, he also came to signify the possibility of resistance against the degeneration of that subjectivity. Kierkegaard’s own ascesis in the face of public religion thus stood for Adorno as the last remaining form of bourgeois heroism in a society that had made true subjectivity a virtual impossibility. (Gordon 2016, 197)

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In the context of Gordon’s argument, I do want to emphasize nonetheless the immanent emphasis of religion in Kierkegaard’s collected writings, both direct and pseudonymous. Numerous Kierkegaard scholars, including the recent publications of Lee Barrett, David Lappano, and Jamie Aroosi, in addition to those works referenced in the Introduction, have each elaborated from their respective positions in theology, philosophy, and political theory how Kierkegaard’s religious existence is intricately and intimately of this world and cannot reside in any transcendent beyond. Moreover, there is no affirmation of religion for Kierkegaard in the sense of any coherent doctrine. At the conclusion of his article on Kierkegaard as theologian, Barrett writes: “For Kierkegaard, theology is not done through the development of a doctrinal system on paper, but through the assumption of interpretive responsibility (and consequently the assumption of moral and religious responsibility) in the living of one’s life” (Barrett 2013, 546). Aroosi has succinctly ­captured that Kierkegaard rarely affirms the content of Christian orthodoxy. In fact, he so rarely validates Christian dogma, and so clearly interprets much of it in a deeply metaphorical light, that it is legitimate to ask about the nature – and even the existence – of his Christianity […] And so, in Philosophical Fragments, Kierkegaard seems to dispense with the entirety of Christian dogma, arguing that its essential truth is nothing more than that “the god appeared in the humble form of a servant, lived and taught among us, and then died.” (Kierkegaard 1987, 104; cited in Aroosi 2018, 21–22)

Aroosi concludes most appropriately to the present discussion that “the challenge [for Kierkegaard] is not to permanently leave the world behind in favor of some otherworldly transcendence; the challenge is to return to it, so that we might learn to reconcile our transcendent love with the fact that we are also limited, and embodied creatures” (Aroosi 2018, 21–22). Such a position has been elaborated in sophisticated and convincing detail by David Lappano (2017). In his description of Kierkegaard’s theology as one of secular encounter, Lappano writes: “We have seen that Kierkegaard challenges any notion of Church that positively claims to carry within its authority and its practices the eschatological promise of Christ on high […]” (Lappano 2017, 241), and “Kierkegaard’s edifying and communicative praxis, ironically, seems more easily applicable to secular social developments than religious ones” (Lappano 2017, 243). Thus, Kierkegaard sustains a negatively dialectical relation between the immanent and the transcendent in which neither resolves to the other. We can further develop Gordon’s provocative argument about Adorno’s philosophic trajectory and extend it to the Aesthetic Theory for additional insight. In doing so, I argue that the primacy of the object is best seen in its negatively theological context in the Aesthetic Theory as what Adorno calls a “hope beyond hope” that resides in the artwork, that is, a hope in this world without any positive content or reaching to the transcendent. Hope, for Adorno, is the infinite and repeated upholding of the experience of hopelessness for any beyond. For this reason, for Adorno, artworks ever and repeatedly empty themselves of any content. But they do this by “detach[ing] themselves from the empirical world and bring[ing] forth another world, one opposed to the empirical world as if this other world too were an autonomous entity” (Adorno 1997 [1970], 1). Note the Kantian subjunctive “as if,” the crucial constituent of the aesthetic. For Adorno continues the passage by ascertaining that “As a result of its inevitable withdrawal from theology, from the unqualified claim to the truth of salvation, a secularization without which art would never 46

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have developed, art is condemned to provide the world as it exists with a consolation that – shorn of any hope of a world beyond – strengthens the spell of that from which the autonomy of art wants to free itself ” (Adorno 1997 [1970], 2). A bit later he adds: “In their relation to empirical reality, artworks recall the theologumenon that in the redeemed world everything would be as it is and yet wholly other” (Adorno 1997 [1970], 6). Artworks therefore sustain a negative relationship to the societal object for the individual subject experiencing them through the “as if ” of the artwork’s newness posited against the fait accompli of empirical reality as the best means to counter any false representation of individual human existence. The “as if ” of the artwork cannot appear in any content‐ laden form. Hence the prevalence of the Old Testament Bilderverbot in Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory: “The Old Testament prohibition on images has an aesthetic as well as a theological dimension” (Adorno 1997 [1970], 67). This point recalls Adorno’s search for the “strictest linguistic objectivity” in Minima Moralia that resides only in a surplus of speech beyond any adequate relation of speaking and writing, and that can only be experienced affectively through aesthetic mimesis internal to the artwork’s construction. What kind of meaning do we understand from this content‐less form? In a culminating passage from Aesthetic Theory, Adorno sees meaning per se through the lens of aesthetic meaning. He writes: Everything depends on this: whether meaning inheres in the negation of meaning in the artwork or if the negation conforms to the status quo; whether the crisis of meaning is reflected in the works or whether it remains immediate and therefore alien to the subject. (Adorno 1997 [1970], 154)

Meaning is constituted as a contrast of the given with its other. This comprises the content [Gehalt] of artworks, which is expressed through a mute language that mimetically and affectively grasps “the new”: “the artwork is the language of this wanting [of the other]. The elements of this other are present in reality and they require only the most minute displacement into a new constellation to find their right position. Rather than imitating reality, artworks demonstrate this displacement to reality” (Adorno 1997 [1970], 133). In this way Adorno’s theory of mimêsis connects to a memory of something that has never existed, what Adorno calls “the new.” “The new” is captured through the experience created by the artwork that upholds the contradictoriness of the subject–object relation in late modernity. Adorno’s forced aesthetic construction of the writings of Kierkegaard into a new “Kierkegaard”  –  one that never existed  –  negatively elucidates Adorno’s understanding of theological meaning against its rationalization in late modern times, viscerally experienced by Adorno at the time he was writing his Habilitationsschrift between the years 1929 and 1933. The meaning of Adorno’s “Kierkegaard” is best understood as a mimetic displacement of what Kierkegaard had become against his intentions. Adorno’s “Kierkegaard,” newly constructed from the philosophical crumbs of Kierkegaard’s actual oeuvre, can be grasped as an early example of Adorno’s theory of the muteness of language when language is regarded as a mere correspondence between speaking and writing and when the literality of what has not yet spoken – the concrete expression of human existence against its reification – is finally permitted to appear mimetically, allegorically, in the truth‐content of the artwork. Adorno’s artwork, “Kierkegaard,” manifests a muteness that discloses an “ability to speak, to judge, to feel or perceive rather than the result of  cognitive effort” (Wellmer 1991, 22) in communicating the theological content of Kierkegaard’s message. 47

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References Adorno, T.W. (1973). Philosophy of Modern Music (trans. A.G. Mitchell and W.V. Blomster). New York: Continuum/The Seabury Press. In German: Philosophie der neuen Musik. 1958. Cologne: Europäische Verlagsanstalt. Adorno, T.W. (1974). Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life (trans. E.F.N. Jephcott). London and New York: Verso Books. In German: Minima Moralia. 1951. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag. Adorno, T.W. (1989). Kierkegaard: Construction of the Aesthetic (ed. and trans. with a Foreword by R.  Hullot‐Kentor). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. In German: Kierkegaard: Konstruktion des Ästhetischen. 1962. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Originally published in Heidelberg: Mohr Siebeck, 1933. Adorno, T.W. (2007). Negative Dialectics (trans. E.B. Ashton). New York: Continuum. In German, Negative Dialektik. 1966. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. Adorno, T.W. (1997 [1970]). Aesthetic Theory (trans. R. Hullot‐Kentor). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. In German: Ästhetische Theorie. 1970. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag. Adorno, T.W. (2002). Essays on Music. (ed. R. Leppert; trans. S.H. Gillespie). Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Adorno, T.W. and Horkheimer, M. (1998). Dialectic of Enlightenment (trans. J. Cumming). New York: Continuum. In German: Dialektik der Aufklärung. 1944. New York: Social Studies Association Inc. Aroosi, Jamie. 2018. “The Future of Human Nature: Artificial Intelligence, Biotechnology, and the Challenge to Human Identity.” American Philosophical Association Pacific Division, Panel Presentation, Political Theology Group, San Diego, March 2018. Unpublished manuscript cited by permission of the author. Backhouse, S. (2011). Kierkegaard’s Critique of Christian Nationalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Barrett, L. (2013). Kierkegaard as theologian: a history of countervailing interpretations. In: The Oxford Handbook of Kierkegaard (eds. J. Lippitt and G. Pattison), 528–549. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Beck, E. (1991). Identität der Person: Socialphilosophische Studien zu Kierkegaard, Adorno, und Habermas. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann. Benjamin, W. (1998). The Origin of German Tragic Drama (trans. J. Osborne). London and New York: Verso. In German: Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels. 1963. Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp. Benjamin, W. (1999). Kierkegaard: the end of philosophical idealism. In: Benjamin, Selected Writings, Volume 2, 1927–1934 edited by M.W. Jennings, H. Eiland, and G. Smith (trans. R. Livingstone et al.), 703–705. Cambridge MA and London: The Belknap Press. In German: Anonymous. April 2, 1933. Vossische Zeitung, Berlin. Bowie, A. (2013). Adorno and the Ends of Philosophy. Cambridge, UK and Malden MA: Polity Press. Bernstein, R.J. (2016). Ironic Life. Cambridge, UK and Malden, MA: Polity Press. Buck‐Morss, S. (1977). The Origins of Negative Dialectics. New York: The Free Press. Bukdahl, J. (1981). Om Søren Kierkegaard. Copenhagen: C.A. Reitzels Boghandel. In English: Søren Kierkegaard and the Common Man. 2001. Translated and edited by Bruce Kirmmse. Grand Rapids MI and Cambridge UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Connell, G.B. and Stephen Evans, C. (eds.) (1992). Foundations of Kierkegaard’s Vision of Community. Atlantic Highlands, NJ and London: Humanities Press. Deuser, H. (1974). Søren Kierkegaard, die paradoxe Dialektik des politischen Christen. Munich and Mainz: Kaiser Mathias Grünewald Verlag. Deuser, H. (1980). Dialektische Theologie: Studien zu Adornos Metaphysik und zu Spätwerk Kierkegaards. Munich: Christian Kaiser Verlag. Fenves, P. (1992). Image and chatter: Adorno’s construction of Kierkegaard. Diacritics 22: 100–114. https://doi.org/10.2307/465240. Gordon, P.E. (2016). Adorno and Existence. Cambridge MA and London: Harvard University Press. Habermas, J. (1989). The New Conservatism: Cultural Critcism and the Historians’ Debate (ed. and trans. S. Weber Nicholsen), 249–269. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

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Horkheimer, M. (1937). Authority and the family. The Sociological Review 29: 1–19. Kellner, D. (1984). Herbert Marcuse and the Crisis of Marxism. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Kierkegaard, S. (1980). The Concept of Anxiety (ed. and trans. R. Thomte in collaboration with A.B. Anderson). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Kierkegaard, S. (1992). Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments (ed. and trans. H.V. Hong and E.H. Hong). Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Kierkegaard, S. (1987). Søren Kierkegaards Skrifter, 1997–2007. Copenhagen: G.E.C. Gads Forlag. Kirmmse, B. (1990). Kierkegaard in Golden Age Denmark. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Kodalle, K.‐M. (1988). Die Eroberung des Nutzlosen. Kritik des Wunschdenkens und der Zweckrationalität im Anschluss an Kierkegaard. Paderborn: Ferdinand Schönigh Verlag. Lappano, D. (2017). Kierkegaard’s Theology of Encounter: An Edifying and Polemical Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lukács, György. 1962. Die Zersörung der Vernunft. Luchterhand Verlag. In English: The Destruction of Reason. 1980. (trans. P. R. Palmer). London: Merlin Press. Marcuse, H. (1941). Reason and Revolution. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Marcuse, H. (2005). Heideggerian Marxism (ed. R. Wolin and J. Abromeit). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. In German, Marcuse. 1929. “Über konkrete Philosophie,” Archiv für Sozialwissenschaften und Sozialpolitik, Volume 62. Republished in Marcuse. 1978. Schriften, Volume 1: 385–406. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. Marsh, J.L. (1984). Marx and Kierkegaard on alienation. In: International Kierkegaard Commentary: Two Ages (ed. R.L. Perkins), 155–174. Macon GA: Mercer University Press. Matuštík, M. (1993). Postnational Identity: Critical Theory and Existential Philosophy in Habermas, Kierkegaard, and Havel. New York: The Guilford Press. Matuštík, M. and Westphal, M. (eds.) (1995). Kierkegaard in Post/Modernity. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Morgan, M. (2003a). Adorno’s Reception of Kierkegaard: 1929–1933. Søren Kierkegaard Newsletter: A Publication of the Edna and Howard Hong Library Number 46: 8–12. Morgan, M. (2003b). The Aesthetic‐Religious Nexus in Theodor W. Adorno’s Interpretation of the Works of Soren Kierkegaard. Ann Arbor, MI: ProQuest. Morgan, M. (2012). Kierkegaard and Critical Theory. Lanham MD: Lexington Books. Nordentoft, K. (1978). Kierkegaard’s Psychology (trans. B. Kirmmse). Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press. In Danish: Kierkegaard’s Psykologi. 1972. Copenhagen: G.E.C. GAD. Pattison, G. (2012). Kierkegaard and the Theology of the Nineteenth Century: The Paradox and the “Point of Contact”. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. Pattison, G. and Shakespeare, S. (eds.) (1998). Kierkegaard: The Self in Society. New York: St. Martin’s Press. Podmore, S. (2011). Kierkegaard and the Self Before God: Anatomy of the Abyss. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. Poole, R. (1993). Kierkegaard: The Indirect Communication. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press. Richter, G. (2007). Thought‐Images: Frankfurt School Writers’ Reflections from Damaged Life. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Šajda, P. (2012). Theodor W. Adorno: tracing the trajectory of Kierkegaard’s unintended triumphs and defeats. In: Kierkegaard’s Influence on Philosophy: German and Scandinavian Philosophy (ed. J. Stewart), 4–48. Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate. Schulz, H. (1999). Die Theologische Rezeption Kierkegaaards in Deutschland und Dänemark. In: Kierkegaard Studies: Yearbook 1999 (eds. N.J. Cappelørn and H. Deuser), 220–244. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter. Sherman, D. (2001). Adorno’s Kierkegaard Debt. Philosophy and Social Criticism 27: 77–106. Weber, S. (2001). As though the end of the world had come and gone. In: Adorno: A Critical Reader (ed. N. Gibson), 384–399. Cambridge MA and London: Blackwell.

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Wellmer, A. (1991). The Persistence of Modernity: Essays on Aesthetics, Ethics, and Postmodernism (trans. D. Midgley). Malden MA: Polity Press. Westphal, M. (1987). Kierkegaard’s Critique of Reason and Society. University Park: Penn State University Press.

Further Reading Bensussan, G. (1995). Une Lecture dans Kierkegaard. Quinaine Litteraire 679: 21–22. Jay, M. (1973). Dialectical Imagination. Boston, Toronto, and London: Little, Brown and Company. Kirmmse, B.H. (ed.) (1996). Encounters with Kierkegaard. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Kodalle, K.M. (1982). Hegels Geschichtsphilosophie – erörert aus der Perspektive Kierkegaards. Neue Zeitschrift für Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie 24: 277–294. Löwith, Karl. 1985. “Rezensionen: Theodor Wiesengrund‐Adorno, Kierkegaard: Konstruktion des Ästhetischen. Tübingen (JBC Mohr), 1933.” In Sämtliche Schriften, vol. 3, ed. Peter Ukena, 391– 411. Stuttgart: J.B. Mezlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung. Martinson, M. (2000). Perseverance Without Doctrine: Adorno, Self‐Critique, and the Ends of Academic Theology. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. Morgan, M. (2018). Adorno and Beckett: aesthetic mimesis and the language of “the new”. In: Benjamin, Adorno, and the Experience of Literature (eds. C. McCall and N. Ross). New York and London: Routledge. Nicholson, S.W. (1997). Exact Imagination, Late Work: On Adorno’s Aesthetics. Cambridge MA and London: MIT Press. Pensky, M. (1993). Melancholy Dialectics. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. Rose, G. (1978). The Melancholy Science: An Introduction to the Thought of Theodor W. Adorno. New York: Columbia University Press. Shuler, J.A. (1989–1990). Adorno’s Kierkegaard. Telos 82: 191–196. Schweppenhäuser, H. (1993). Kierkegaards Angriff auf die Spekulation: Eine Verteidigung. Munch: Edition Text & Kritk. Tillich, P. (1999). Gutachten über die Arbeit von Dr. Wiesengrund: Die Konstruktion des Ästhetischen bei Kierkegaard. In: Gesammelte Werke, vol. 11 (ed. R. Albrecht), 337–338. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

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4 Guilt and Mourning: Adorno’s Debt to and Critique of Benjamin Alexander Stern

A relationship between intellectuals is always something more than an intellectual relationship. It is no more immune from the strife, feeling, and material differences that pervade human relationships than any other. Benjamin and Adorno’s intellectual exchange, in particular, was inflected by a reversal in their relative positions. In their early meetings during the 1920s, especially during their famous 1929 “Königstein talks” – which took place in a small town near Frankfurt – Benjamin had a right to come away thinking he had gained something of a disciple, as Susan Buck‐Morss puts it (1977, 140). But Adorno’s allegiance was in demand and, by the 1930s, which saw him established at the Institute for Social Research as well as displaced first to Oxford and then to America by Hitler’s rise to power, Adorno found Benjamin – without a professional home and at work in Paris on a project that would never be completed  –  now dependent on him and Horkheimer for material and editorial support. It is against this background that Adorno found fault with what would turn out to be some of Benjamin’s last writings before his 1940 suicide in flight from occupied France. Although Adorno took himself to be advocating on behalf of Benjamin’s own former theoretical orientation, an orientation they shared, it would be more accurate to say that Adorno responded from the place to which he had taken that orientation and wanted its originator to follow. The fissures in their intellectual relationship emerged over issues of culture  –  particularly Benjamin’s writings on film, high art, and Baudelaire  –  but they were already present in Adorno’s uptake of Benjamin’s philosophy of language. While each was loyal to the central insights discussed at Königstein and their later writings exhibit remarkable agreement in particular details, those insights were attached to fundamentally different philosophical programs: in Benjamin’s case one derived from a Romantic and religious linguistic philosophy first articulated by Johann Georg Hamann, and, in Adorno’s case, an interpretation of Hegelian dialectic that became increasingly important to his philosophy in the late 1930s (Lonitz 2001, 265–266). A full accounting of this relationship  –  one of the most compelling in twentieth‐ century  intellectual history and still profoundly relevant to a civilization and culture ­struggling under the contradictions Adorno and Benjamin identified – would take a book‐ length  study.  Absent such an accounting, I would like to focus on three aspects of the

A Companion to Adorno, First Edition. Edited by Peter E. Gordon, Espen Hammer, and Max Pensky. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2020 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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r­ elationship: (i) Benjamin’s early philosophy of language and Adorno’s use of it in the context of his Hegelian understanding of subject–object mediation; (ii) their differing understandings of the constellation or dialectical image, a central concept in each’s philosophical methodology; and (iii) their sadly abbreviated confrontation, especially as it relates to Adorno’s disappointment with Benjamin’s Arcades Project. Despite certain remarks of Adorno’s – and much of the secondary literature on their relationship – the fundamental issues in the break between Benjamin and Adorno lie in their respective understandings of Benjamin’s philosophy of language, rather than in the influence of Bertolt Brecht on Benjamin or any move on Benjamin’s part toward an “orthodox” Marxism.1

1.  A Metaphysics of Language The philosophy of language Benjamin developed in his mid‐20s provides the underpinnings for his entire corpus and was the focus of the first discussions between Adorno and Benjamin.2 The works by Benjamin of central importance here are “On Language as Such and the Language of Man,” an unpublished 1916 essay that grew out of correspondence between Benjamin and Gershom Scholem over the relationship between language and mathematics, and Benjamin’s withdrawn Habilitationsschrift, The Origin of German Tragic Drama, written in the mid‐1920s and published as a book in 1928, with its notoriously difficult but very important methodological Preface.3 The influences on Benjamin’s approach to language are diffuse, manifold, and idiosyncratically adopted; they include the Kabbalah, Kant and neo‐Kantianism, neo‐Platonism, and Romanticism. But the central influence is Johann Georg Hamann’s obscure, mid‐eighteenth‐century writings on language, reason, and religion.4 Benjamin’s is not a philosophy of language in the usual sense. It does not restrict itself to an investigation of the phenomenon of human language or its workings; it has little to say about the sociality or intersubjectivity of language use; it is not interested in the grammatical structure or truth conditions of given utterances. Rather, it attempts to locate human language in a global ontology of expressive media, what Benjamin calls Sprache überhaupt or “language as such.” The centrality of language to human life, on Benjamin’s view, is such that to isolate it and study it independently would already be to distort it. Hamann’s work provides the theoretical backbone for this ontology, especially through the concept of condescension. In Lutheran theology, condescension refers to God’s humbling or accommodating himself to human cognitive capacities, especially in the person of Christ (it is closely related to kenosis – Christ’s “emptying” of his divine nature). Hamann expands the scope of this idea, so that not just Christ but all of creation, including human beings themselves, are understood as a product of God’s self‐limitation.5 This means all of reality is communication by God to humanity. This is Hamann’s gloss on the identity of God and the Word. There are two important upshots of Hamann’s conception of condescension. First, it entails a paradoxical ontology that problematizes God’s transcendence or immanence. As both products and observers of His self‐limitation we are in no position to assert God’s transcendence. It’s not clear what it would mean, since the self‐limitation of condescension is limitation without the idea of a beyond  –  a self‐limitation, that is, that constitutes all of reality. There is no outside. As Katie Terezakis (2007) writes, “For Hamann, the very idea of condescension subverts ‘theology’ as oxymoronic” (20). Traditional theology presumes to subject God, even if only partially, to the Word, or logos; this is a betrayal of the fact that He 52

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is all of nature, even if the theology purports to maintain it. God’s self‐humbling condescension to humankind in the act of creation requires a reciprocal epistemological humility on our part. We are not just incapable of grasping anything transcendent, but incapable of properly conceiving of a transcendence we are unable to grasp – not because it exists beyond experience, but because it is always already there in our experience.6 Second, since reality is God’s communication to humankind, Hamannian condescension makes communication, or, as Benjamin calls it, communicability, the ontological fabric of reality. Thus, in “On Language as Such,” Benjamin contends bluntly: There is no event or thing in either animate or inanimate nature that does not in some way partake of language, for it is in the nature of all to communicate their meanings. This use of the word “language” is in no way metaphorical. For to think that we cannot imagine anything that does not communicate its intellectual nature in its expression is entirely meaningful; the greater or lesser degree of consciousness that is apparently (or really) involved in such communication cannot alter the fact that we cannot imagine a total absence of language in anything. (1996–2003, vol. 1, 62)7

This is obviously not simply a thesis in the philosophy of language (though it certainly has implications for the philosophical study of language). It is an expressive ontology, one that serves like Hamann’s to refigure the dichotomy between immanence and transcendence. Transcendence is not thought of as something outside the immanent expressive world, but as the per impossibile, paradoxical completion or fulfillment of it. This impossibility of the absence of meaning is ontologically basic for Benjamin’s understanding of reality as communicable, and it sets the terms for his understanding of the goals of philosophy as an attempt to articulate and present an expressive reality. Human language appears in this ontology not, as it does in so much philosophy of language, as the correlate of the world – a map laid atop it, a picture corresponding to it, a set of truth claims about it – but rather as a translation of it. Translation from one human language into another, as Benjamin understands it, does not paradigmatically involve two words or sets of words picking out the same content. Rather, “Translation is the transportation of one language into another through a continuum of transformations. Translation passes through continua of transformation, not abstract regions of equivalence and similarity” (1996–2003, vol. 1, 70). The theory of translation Benjamin sets out in detail in the Preface to his own translation of poems from Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal focuses on the aesthetic or mimetic aspects of translation. Benjamin uses the word “mimesis,” like the words “language” and “translation,” in a much broader sense than usual. It refers for him not just to similarities that are recognized by human beings and codified in language, for example, in onomatopoeic words, but also to “nonsensuous” similarities produced by language (1996–2003, vol. 2, 720). Our “mimetic faculty,” as he calls it in a short 1933 essay, makes us capable of producing such similarities and stands at the foundation of our linguistic capacity. Nonsensuous similarities include, for example, our sense that certain words that aren’t strictly speaking onomatopoeic nonetheless sound like what they mean, or the sense that letters of the alphabet look somehow like the sounds they indicate. “It is nonsensuous similarity that establishes the ties between what is said and what is meant,” Benjamin writes (1996–2003, vol. 2, 722). Where mainstream philosophy of language construes these aesthetic and synesthetic features of language as something auxiliary to the logical or practical functions of language, for Benjamin they are absolutely foundational. 53

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Mimesis and translation would seem on their face to be far removed from one another, but for Benjamin translation involves making one language like another, not just rendering the sense or content of one medium of expression into another. He writes: Translation, instead of imitating the sense of the original, must lovingly and in detail incorporate the original’s way of meaning, thus making both the original and the translation recognizable as fragments of a greater language, just as fragments are part of a vessel. (1996–2003, vol. 1, 260)

The borders between individual languages are viewed as much more porous than usual. The target language can, as it were, bring in or accommodate the home language, allowing it to change the target language’s character. What might seem an infelicitous and over‐ literal rendering of a word or thought may, for Benjamin, be such an accommodation, not merely of a new word or meaning only expressible in the home language, but of a new way of meaning something that can already be meant in the target language. Translation can afford the target language a new perspective on meanings it already has at its disposal; it expands the resources of the target language. Such translations don’t provide an equivalent but reveal both home and target language to be vastly limited in themselves; they show in the translated work a “great longing for linguistic complementation”; and they point to the “pure language” that both languages in themselves fall well short of. These are not limitations on the designative or conceptual capacities of these languages: “pain” and “Brot” are obviously able to pick out a class of objects as well as “bread” can (Benjamin 1996–2003, vol. 1, 257). They are limitations in the expressive power of language: its ability to mimetically give voice to individual objects in all their particularity. As Benjamin writes in the 1916 essay, translation has more philosophical import than can be reflected merely in translation between languages. “It is necessary,” he writes, “to found the concept of translation at the deepest level of linguistic theory, for it is much too far‐reaching and powerful to be treated in any way as an afterthought” (Benjamin 1996– 2003, vol. 1, 70). This kind of translation is the manner in which always already linguistic nature moves into human language. Of course, as with translation between languages, meaning in nature does not move into human language perfectly, without loss. No human language offers anything approaching a perfect and complete translation of natural meaning – such a translation is an ideal that Benjamin equates with Adamic language. Benjamin thus reads the Genesis stories of exile from Eden and the scattering of human languages in Babel together. Language is removed from its perfect connection to nature and thus doomed to become multiple. “The language of things can pass into the language of knowledge and name only through translation – so many translations, so many languages” (1996–2003, vol. 1, 71). But this “language of name” is only one aspect of human language for Benjamin. Real human language refers to nature in a way that ideal, immediate Adamic language does not. The Fall is read by Benjamin as an allegory for humankind’s exile from the immanent language of nature. This gives language a designative aspect in addition to the aesthetic and mimetic one represented by the name. In the Fall, Benjamin writes: The knowledge of good and evil leaves behind the name; it is a knowledge from outside, the uncreated imitation of the creative word. The name steps outside of itself in this knowledge: the Fall is the birth‐hour of the human word, in which the name no longer lives uninjured, and which steps out of naming‐language, out of its own knowing, immanent magic, in order

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to become explicitly [ausdrücklich], from the outside as it were, magic. The word must now communicate something (outside of itself). (1996–2003, vol. 1, 71)8

The designative character of language – its ability to stand for objects rather than translate them in the way sketched here – is thus characterized as dependent on a prior naming language. This semantic structure is externalized in human language, which rends the name from its immanent connection to nature and makes it into an arbitrary sign for its object. But language, on Benjamin’s view, depends on and never completely departs from this immanence. What’s more, the apparent externality or transcendence of human language is a vanity. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil provides no actual knowledge to Adam and Eve when they consume its fruit. The transgression and the knowledge it is meant to provide are one (1996–2003, vol. 1, 71). This represents the vanity and error that is, for Benjamin, part of the very constitution of human language, which takes its concepts to capture the meanings of objects, though they offer only a limited translation of them. Benjamin’s theory of language is often read as though the pure language from which human languages are fallen is something that existed or could exist and can be recovered. But it’s better understood – as perhaps the Fall is itself best understood – as a way of translating an enduring and repeating structure into narrative form. Human language always exists on the continuum, narrativized in the Fall, between name and sign. It is always characterized by, on the one hand, its limitations as immanent translation and, on the other, by its unfulfillable ambition as external, designative expression – by, in Friedrich Schlegel’s words, “the impossibility and the necessity of complete communication” (1991, 13). Benjamin’s theory sets the terms for his philosophical project, as it is described in the “Epistemo‐Critical Preface” to his Trauerspiel book. There, the theory of language is, in Benjamin’s words, “dressed up as a theory of ideas” (1994, 261). The goal is to find a method that can militate against the leveling, reductive character of designative, conceptual language that purports to capture its objects, and, to the extent possible, move toward genuinely complete communication by articulating given phenomena and raising them into the sphere of pure language – to reverse the Fall from name to sign. Benjamin purports to achieve the goal, not through mystical or intuitive means, but through the  construction of what he calls constellations or ideas: interpretations that group phenomenon not according to what is average in them, as concepts do, but according to the extremes that are closed off by concepts.

2. Letting the Object Speak While Adorno is indebted to Benjamin’s philosophy of language, he shifts the register of Benjamin’s analysis in crucial ways and resists its mystical and Romantic background. Benjamin’s philosophy is certainly not dependent on the literal truth of scripture, but his work, as Benjamin puts it, “follows [the Bible] in presupposing language as an ultimate reality, perceptible only in its manifestation, inexplicable and mystical” (1996–2003, vol. 1, 67). This leads Benjamin to understand the discrepancy between human language and reality in linguistic or expressive terms only. His philosophy of language is part of a project, outlined in other early essays (“On the Program of the Coming Philosophy” and “On Perception”), of overcoming an epistemological bias he finds present in modern ­philosophy – especially Kant and neo‐Kantianism – one that construes knowledge in terms 55

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of a subject’s possession of an object. For Benjamin, this bias is based on a misleading analogy between knowing and experiencing. For Benjamin, we don’t have knowledge of experience in the same way we have experience of objects. Knowledge must instead, Benjamin argues, be defined according to the medium of its expression, language. In a 1918 essay, Benjamin writes, presaging the Trauerspiel Preface: The task of future epistemology is to find for knowledge the sphere of total neutrality in regard to the concepts of both subject and object; in other words, it is to discover the autonomous, primeval [ureigene] sphere of knowledge in which this concept in no way continues to designate the relation between two metaphysical entities. (Benjamin 1996–2003 1:104)

This sphere is language. Truth – that is, genuine philosophical truth – as it is detailed in the Preface is a relationship between human language and language as such. It is the articulation and redemption of phenomena in the philosopher’s ideas or constellations, rather than the kind of possession or graspable experience implied by conceptual or scientific knowledge. Rather than extracting something from phenomena, truth gives expression to them. Adorno follows Benjamin in much: his worries about the self‐interpretation of scientistic and Enlightenment thought, his critique of conceptual language, his view of the importance of mimesis to human language, and, most of all, the importance of what Adorno termed a “microscopic” attention to the particular that escapes the concept. But he does not follow Benjamin in adopting the linguistic ontology inspired by Hamann, nor in seeking out a primeval sphere where the metaphysical relationship between subject and object can be overcome. Adorno agrees that prior epistemology has put too much stock in the subject, but is not willing to therefore leave behind the sphere of the subject–object relation entirely. Part of his project, then, involves adapting Benjamin’s insights into language to a reformulated dialectic between subject and object. Adorno thus treads a middle path between Benjamin’s translational theory of language and Hegelian dialectic. In Benjamin, he finds a corrective to Hegel’s overly abstracted theory, which purports to give the object say – to give it a negating power against our concepts – but fails to live up to its promise (1973, 159). “If thought really yielded to the object,” Adorno writes of Hegel’s failures, “if its attention were on the object, not on its category, the very objects would start talking under the lingering eye.”9 In Hegel, on the other hand, he finds a corrective to an epistemology in Benjamin too willing to entirely transcend the dialectical process of mediation between thought and its object. Where Benjamin theorized non‐conceptual particularity using the idea of a name, Adorno refers to it with the term “nonidentity.” Nonidentity in Adorno becomes an essential component of a never settled dialectic between subject and object. It is the gap in Benjamin’s philosophy of language between names and signs – the particularity names capture and the sign does not. “Identity thinking,” which Adorno was at pains to critique, involves taking conceptual language for truth, allowing it to completely determine the character of the object it designates. The concept, Adorno writes, “cuts short what the particular is and what nonetheless cannot be directly named and replaces this with identity” (1973, 173). In Benjamin’s philosophy, this failure takes place against the background of an expressive ontology, where meaning in human language always falls short of the ideal of full expressivity. For Adorno, by contrast, what is crucial about the nonidentical is the negative pressure it exerts on concepts and conceptual thought as it is carried out by the subject. This identity forced upon objects by concepts is “negative, wrong, and yet simultaneously necessary moment”; it is “a stage of dialectics” (1973, 173). 56

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Whereas Benjamin dismisses the question of the involvement of consciousness in communication in “On Language as Such,” Adorno’s philosophy can with merit be called a “philosophy of consciousness”, as Habermas (1984, 366) described it. Adorno saw in Benjamin’s philosophy of language a way to address internally, rather than to overcome or sidestep, the problems of the relationship between subject and object characteristic of German philosophy. In a 1969 essay, “Subject and Object,” Adorno rejects Romantic approaches of the kind he locates in Benjamin, which puts its faith in a “undifferentiated state before the subject’s formation” (1978, 499).10 Although he agrees with Benjamin that subject and object are stultifying metaphysical concepts, which, when thought of as cleanly separated from one another – into passive, receptive subject and independent, self‐ subsisting object – express and perpetuate ideology, they are for Adorno indispensable for philosophical and critical analysis. The crucial thing is to always keep their interdependent and dynamic mediation before oneself, and to resist the identarian thinking that fixes them in place. “Both [subject and object] are and are not” (1978, 510). Identitarian thought proceeds by absolutizing the subject pole, either in the constituting or self‐positing of idealism or the instrumental rationality of positivism, the former of which mimics the self‐possession and interiority of bourgeois private life and the latter of which replicates the domination and appropriation of instrumental reason. Nonidentity shows that these philosophical efforts to place the object under the control of the subject are doomed to end in failure. Identitarian philosophy attempts to make the object conform to the concepts forced on it by the subject, but the object resists in its nonidentity. What was a weakness of human language for Benjamin – its inability to live up to the particularity of the name after the Fall, despite the vanity of signs that purport to capture objects ­completely  –  becomes in Adorno primarily a weakness of the human subject (whether conceived of collectively or individually). The subject believes, implicitly or explicitly, that its concepts wholly determine the character of objects. This shift allows Adorno to bring Benjamin’s philosophy of language into the domain of Hegel’s dialectic. On Benjamin’s view, despite human language’s shortcomings, its goal of capturing the way things are – calling things by their proper names – is legitimate and its delusion in thinking it has captured them is unavoidable. It could not be otherwise. The kind of expression human language does capably achieve would be impossible without the overreaches and failures of self‐understanding it necessarily makes. In an analogous way, Adorno understands the subject’s drive toward identity as necessary. Adorno’s subject is doomed to seek identity in the same way Benjamin’s language is doomed to strive after complete communication. As Adorno puts it in Negative Dialectics, “The appearance of identity is inherent in thought itself. To think is to identify” (1973, 5). One central consequence of Adorno’s adaptation of Benjamin, his movement from a translational to a dialectical analysis, is that a contradiction emerges in the failure of the subject to understand the object. No such contradiction is present in the failure of human language to translate language as such, since there is no conscious agent imposing concepts onto objects. Conceptual thought fails in a similar way in Benjamin as it does in Adorno, and conceptual understanding, too, conditions and truncates experience. But the character of this failure is fundamentally different. For Benjamin, the failure is one of articulation, a mistranslation rather than a dialectical contradiction in the experience of a subject. This leads to fundamental differences in Benjamin’s and Adorno’s prescriptions for how to respond to and redeem the failure. Hegel’s dialectic is ultimately false for Adorno because like all idealists Hegel stacks the deck in favor of the subject. Hegel is convinced that reason unfolds progressively through 57

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history and, therefore, despite Hegel’s insights into the logic of the relation between subject and object, his system collapses into its own form of subjectivist, identitarian thinking. Hegel’s system purports to give the object impetus: the object is meant to negate the fixed interpretation imposed on it by conceptual thought. This determinate negation is more than a mere “no”; it has a particular content, namely the particularity in the object that outruns its concept. In Hegel this determinate negation triggers on reason’s part a new attempt to grasp the object, one that bears the trace of and amends the previous failure, and is therefore progressive.11 In Adorno, this negation remains determinate – it has content – but there is nothing in the structure of negation that triggers the new progressive standpoint central to Hegel’s philosophy of history. “The negation is not an affirmation itself as it is to Hegel” (Adorno 1973, 65). “This positivity springs from the method – not from the thing, as in Hegel’s view it should” (1973, 159). Hegel purports to let the object contradict the identitarian conceptual frameworks that force nature to fit their mold, but he only finds in his dialectic what he’s already put there: a series of transitions leading to an endpoint wherein the rational and the real coincide. Under these conditions the object is not really allowed to speak for itself; it only repeats what the method has told it to say. “To use identity,” Adorno writes, “as a palliative for dialectical contradiction, for the expression of the insolubly nonidentical, is to ignore what the contradiction means” (1973, 160). Adorno marshals Benjamin’s philosophy to diagnose Hegel’s failure to truly let the object speak and to determine what contradiction really means. “Contradiction,” he writes “is nonidentity under the aspect of identity” (1973, 5). That is, nonidentity is the negativity experienced when identitarian concepts fail to fully determine their objects. But no positive result is triggered by this negation; no process is set into motion by the concrete experience of contradiction; no new standpoint is necessitated that will be better able to bring the real under the conceptual determination of the rational. The world need not fall in line. In Adorno, the failures of human concepts in relation to the particular and the experience of contradiction they trigger lead to a feeling of guilt. As a subject experiencing the negativity of nonidentity, I feel guilty that I have been imposing my will on objects, and I may feel responsible to make good on my debt to the nonidentical (O’Connor 2004, 42). Dialectics properly understood “is the consistent sense of non‐identity. It does not begin by taking a stand‐point. My thought is driven to it by its own inevitable insufficiency, by my guilt of what I am thinking” (Adorno 1973, 5). Benjamin, on the other hand, tends to express these failures of human language more elegiacally. The original sin of externalized language implies guilt of a kind, but Benjamin places the lack in language and nature rather than in the subject. Whereas the animals named by Adam in the Garden of Eden “leap away” with “nobility,” as Friedrich Müller puts it, in the knowledge that they have been properly named, nature in the fallen world “mourns” (1996–2003, vol. 1, 72–73). Things are “overnamed” by human language. The proliferation of fallen human languages leaves things with a multitude of different names, which have “withered” – lost any connection to the thing – and can now be substituted arbitrarily for one another, since they all transmit the same content. There is thus an “overprecision that obtains in the tragic relationship between the languages of human speakers” (Benjamin 1996–2003, vol. 1, 73). Languages appear equivalent to one another and nature is buried under the weight of a thousand names. It mourns its own reduction to silence beneath concepts. For Benjamin, philosophical redemption involves producing a vision of things that puts them in the right perspective so their lament can be heard – turning 58

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them into “ruins,” as he puts it. Philosophical insight brings what has been silenced to expression. For Adorno, on the other hand, the object directly contradicts the subject. Philosophy therefore involves responding to the subjective feeling of guilt produced by this  contradiction and making good by reforming subjective thought in light of the nonidentical.

3. Redeeming the Phenomena For both philosophers, the project of redemption involves, in some fashion, reversing the damage done by concepts, rescuing the phenomena from their reductive interpretations by drawing attention to the way they are received and what escapes the remit of the concept, the nonidentical. Adorno follows aspects of Benjamin’s procedure as it is laid out in the “Epistemo‐Critical Preface” – but again with crucial modifications. In the Trauerspiel book, Benjamin draws attention to those extreme elements of baroque Trauerspiele that outpace the classical concept of tragic drama, to which the plays had been subjected by literary critics (Benjamin1998, 51–53). The constellation formed out of all these extreme elements produces for Benjamin a kind of inductive truth that makes clear  –  or, at least, clearer – the expressive relations obtaining between these works of art, the social world in which they were produced, and the politics and expressionist art of Benjamin’s own time. This method, Benjamin writes, requires something in between the analytical skill of the scientist, with whom the philosopher shares “an interest in the extinguishing of the merely empirical,” and the ingenuity of the artist, with whom he shares “the task of presentation” (1998, 32). The philosopher’s creation – variously called by Benjamin an idea, a constellation, or a dialectical image  –  must be at once extra‐phenomenal, immanent, and non‐ conceptual. Like the astral constellation, Benjamin’s constellation is more than the individual empirical phenomena that make it up. Both kinds of constellation remain immanent in the phenomena: the stars are not a symbol referring to something transcendent but compose the constellation, which, though more than the individual stars, is not above or outside them. And finally, the constellation cannot be understood as a concept under which a group of individuals fall. The constellation preserves, and redeems, the individuality of its constituent parts. Whereas the individual is averaged down in the concept and forced to sacrifice the extremes that set it apart from other individuals, in the constellation it is prized for precisely those extremes that set it apart. This does not mean that the philosopher’s presentation of ideas takes place independently of concepts. As “On Language as Such” makes clear, the leveling of phenomena by concepts is inherent to the human language in which the presentation of ideas takes place. In the constellation, however, concepts are deployed against their own tendency. As Adorno puts it, “Concepts alone can achieve what the concept prevents” (1973, 53). The philosopher dislocates concepts, removing them from the self‐evident, everyday context in which their narrow interpretations hold sway, and grouping them together in new connections so that the idea can be developed or articulated out of them. The redemption of the phenomena consists precisely in their placement and configuration in this new inductive sphere. Unlike the ideality of concepts, Platonic ideas, or Hegelian forms of consciousness, the ideality of Benjaminian ideas is constructed from the bottom up. In the construction of ideas, the phenomenality of the empirical phenomena is extinguished or “burned up” like a meteor entering the atmosphere (Benjamin 1998, 32). This requires an authenticity not found in top‐down philosophical theories, which force phenomena to fit 59

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their strictures and ignore those that don’t. The constellation does not cover the phenomena like a concept, but since it defines the extremes of a given idea, the constellation “absorbs” the phenomena; their history must be able to be “read off of ” the idea (Benjamin 1998, 46–47). The idea of Trauerspiel is therefore an essence that represents all of its historical possibilities, not just the average of all of them. Even though the phenomena that make up an idea are empirically real, in the idea they become something virtual, absorbed into the idea. In the Trauerspiel book, these were the extreme examples in baroque tragic dramas that could not be fitted beneath the concept of tragedy. In the Arcades Project, they were to be the commodities and cultural objects of eighteenth‐century French capitalism out of which Benjamin proposed to construct the idea of modernity. The result of Benjamin’s method is not precisely a return to Adamic names and the perfect relationship between human language and the natural world, but a return to what Benjamin calls a primordial way of seeing or apprehending (ein Urvernehmen). It is a way of using concepts to see non‐conceptually. “In this renewal the original mode of apprehending words is restored” (Benjamin 1998, 37). As with translation, where grouping all the words for an object in different languages allow us to remediate the conceptual reduction carried out by our own language (while at the same time using concepts to do it), ideas elevate phenomena into the purer linguistic air of the name. This recovery involves a return to something of the mimetic relationship with the natural world represented for Benjamin by Eden. In the idea, as Benjamin puts it in a letter to Adorno, “everything that was mythically paralyzed as textual evidence comes alive” (1994, 588). The presentation of the constellation produces the very vision that is required to see it. It thus also fulfills Benjamin’s desire for an epistemology that finds a sphere for knowledge neutral with respect to subject and object, since the philosopher presents truth out of objects rather than extracting it from them. The truth is neither something he finds in the object nor puts into it. It is, as Benjamin puts it, the “death of intention” (Benjamin 1998, 36). Finally, the idea is also a monad, Benjamin says, invoking Leibniz’s concept of a world made up of microscopic atoms, each separate and distinct but at the same time reflecting or expressing its relation to all the others – expressing, that is, the whole. Redemption in the idea is also a way of making things whole, a restoration of a living, mimetic world from out of a fragmented conceptual one. “Every idea,” Benjamin writes, “contains the image of the world. The purpose of the presentation of the idea is nothing less than an abbreviated outline of this image of the world” (1998, 48). The idea reveals a world that hangs together in terms of expressive relations – as a medium of communication – rather than isolated conceptual and causal ones. Benjamin’s holism strives to restore individual phenomena to their place in the whole. Already during the composition of the Trauerspiel book Benjamin began to see affinities between his own method and Marx’s analysis of the relationship between the superstructure and the base, at least as it was characterized in Lukács’ writing (1994, 247–248). Benjamin would eventually conclude that Marx’s contention that the base causally determined the character of the cultural superstructure had to be reformulated. The superstructure is not the effect but the “expression” of the economic base (Benjamin 1999, 392, 854–855). A significant goal of the Arcades Project was to demonstrate through the presentation of ideas the manner in which superstructural phenomena expressed the conditions of the base and “reacted upon” them (1999, 470). Benjamin’s book intended to deal with the “expressive character” not just of the “earliest department stores, advertisements, and so on” but also “the expressive character of the earliest industrial products, […] 60

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architecture, [and] machines” themselves (1999, 460). It is this expressive understanding of materialism that Adorno found insufficiently dialectical in Benjamin’s writing. But it should be immediately clear how far this places Benjamin from an orthodox Marxist ­position, since the cultural products of the bourgeoisie will not appear to his gaze as simple  ideology offering cover and justification for its economic position, but as an ­expression – what he calls a “dream image” – of those conditions.12 Moreover, the products under expressive investigation included, for Benjamin, Marx’s writings themselves. Adorno’s understanding of the constellation retains much of Benjamin’s sense: the constellation is a means for recovering a fuller, mimetic, and particular relationship to the object; it requires, rather than any sort of deductive logic, an aesthetically minded and essayistic pursuit of the object that is always prepared to start anew and approach the object from a different angle – “method is detour” as Benjamin puts it (1998, 28); and, finally, constellations give expression or present the non‐conceptual that was “cut away” by the concept – they “inherit some hope of the name” (1973, 53). However, as with the nonidentical, Adorno rejects the subject–object neutrality of the constellation and places it within the context of a dialectic between subject and object. It offers Adorno a replacement for Hegel’s ultimately subjectivist and overly optimistic “negation of the negation.” These differences ultimately drive Adorno’s critique of Benjamin. Of the relationship between constellations and Hegelian dialectic, Adorno writes: There is no step‐by‐step progression from the concepts to a more general cover concept. Instead, the concepts enter into a constellation. The constellation illuminates the specific side of the object, the side which to a classifying procedure is either a matter of indifference or a burden. (1973, 162)

Instead of the failures of conceptual thought progressing step by step toward identity in which we finally reach a concept adequate to the object, the failed concepts, as Adorno ­conceives of them, gather around the object they cannot capture in a constellation that more accurately represents it. The constellation is thus for Adorno a moment or a discovery in the mediation between subject and object. In the constellation the philosopher finds the proper approach toward conceptual thought, one according to which he approaches the nonidentical not by capturing it under a single concept as Hegel purports to, but by “circl[ing] the concept it would like to unseal, hoping that it may fly open […] not to a single key or a single number, but to a combination of numbers” (Adorno 1973, 163). The use of the metaphor – the kind Benjamin was at pains to critique in the “Epistemo‐Critical Preface” (1998, 28)  –  makes evident that truth for Adorno remains  –  at least from Benjamin’s ­perspective – in something of an intentional relationship between subject and object.13 Because we remain ineluctably within the mediated relationship between subject and object, the constellation does not imply as radical a revision of the philosophical project for Adorno as it does for Benjamin. It does not abrogate the subject–object structure of knowledge but is assimilated by Adorno to a nuanced, mediated version of it, one that refuses the completeness of Hegel’s system. Thus, Adorno writes, “We need no epistemological critique [of Benjamin’s kind] to make us pursue constellations” (1973, 166). Moreover, “we need not start out from a work’s own content,” as Benjamin did, nor need we go so far as to “take the very concept of truth for a constellation” (1973, 164).14 The constellation is rather another means of pursuing the truth we are driven to once we experience the contradictions that  ­identitarian thought engenders and learn their lesson. They are a penance for the guilt ­subjects feel amidst the slew of our repeated misinterpretations, rather than a way of 61

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­ ournfully recollecting and reconstructing the phenomena. They do not represent the m fundamental epistemological reorientation that Benjamin pursues. Finally, whereas for Adorno “the search for [constellations] is forced upon us by the real course of history” (Adorno 1973, 166) – it is a necessary response to the contradictions generated by conceptual thought – for Benjamin, by contrast, constellations are “not progression but image, suddenly emergent” (Benjamin 1999, 462). The constellation lights up in a flash of insight once it has been ­constructed. It is not methodically pursued by the philosopher cornering the object. The constellation as Adorno conceives of it plays a role not just in the mediation between subject and object but also in that between individual and society as a whole, which reciprocally produce and reproduce one another. Here, Benjamin’s use of Leibniz’s monadology also gets a new gloss from Adorno. In Benjamin, as we saw, the flash of insight produced by the constellation shows the idea to be a monad, lifting it into the air of pure language where it is seen as an “abbreviated outline” of the “image of the world” as a whole. In Adorno, to consider a phenomenon or consciousness itself as a monad is to consider it in relation to  –  that is, as reproducing  –  society as a whole (2005, Section  97). Adorno conceives of this relation dialectically – in terms of mediation rather than in terms of expression. Adorno’s monadology, too, drives a reconstruction of the relationship between base and superstructure in Marx. It is not to be understood causally (or expressively), but dialectically as an ongoing process where the social whole produces subjects and subjects reproduce the social whole. This requires a far more robust Marxist and Freudian theoretical structure than Benjamin’s expressive model. Superstructural phenomena and the consciousness of the bourgeois subject are to be shown to be internalizations of the structure of society that produce false consciousness.

4.  Guilt or Mourning Adorno’s project is ultimately irreconcilable with the one sketched in Benjamin’s Arcades Project. Benjamin was interested in how different phenomena in nineteenth‐century France – Fourier’s phalansteries, Baudelaire’s poems, the Paris arcades themselves – give expression to certain social conditions and even take on the expressive character of the new means of production. In the process of presenting these phenomena in a constellation, Benjamin hoped to produce the flashes of recognition that would reveal their historical and social significance for the present – in particular to show how ill‐interpreted they are by progressive, historicist theories of history that narrow them down into mere steps on the way to the present. Benjamin writes of his procedure: Method of this project: literary montage. I needn’t say anything. Merely show. the rags, the refuse—these I will not inventory but allow, in the only way possible, to come into their own: by making use of them. (1998, 460)

Adorno takes him to task for this abdication of theoretical interpretation in letters responding to material from the Arcades Project, including in 1935 an outline for the project published as “Paris, the Capital of the 19th Century,” and in 1938 Benjamin’s study “The Paris of the Second Empire in Baudelaire.”15 Of the methodology exhibited in the latter, Adorno writes: […] I consider it methodologically unfortunate to give conspicuous individual characteristics from the realm of the superstructure a “materialistic” turn by relating them to corresponding

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characteristics of the substructure in an unmediated and even causal manner. The materialistic determination of cultural characteristics is possible only when mediated by the total ­process. (Benjamin 1994, 581–582, italics original)

Adorno goes on to object to Benjamin’s characterization of a tax on wine and its relationship to certain poems of Baudelaire’s: “the recurrence of these motifs in Baudelaire’s oeuvre cannot be explained other than by the overall social and economic tendency of the age” (Benjamin 1994, 582). The result in Benjamin’s writing is an abnegation of the work of theory that tracks the mediation between cultural production and economic conditions. Benjamin’s “theological motif of calling things by their proper name tends toward a wide‐ eyed presentation of the bare facts” (Benjamin 1994, 582). In his response, Benjamin defends his method by reiterating the understanding of the relationship between theory and the practice of interpretation developed in the Trauerspiel book. He described that investigation in a letter to Scholem as “mobiliz[ing] its own theory of knowledge,” and he expected the same from the Arcades Project (1994, 482). To Adorno he writes of an “antagonism” between his own philosophical inclinations and dialectical materialism, but construes the tension as productive, rather than requiring a choice. The problem posed by this work consists in overcoming this antagonism and has to do with the work’s construction. What I mean is that speculation will enter upon its necessarily bold flight with some prospect of success only if it seeks its source of strength purely in construction instead of donning the waxen wings of esotericism alone. (Benjamin 1994, 587)

Thus, what appears to Adorno as the “wide‐eyed presentation of the bare facts” is, for Benjamin, the necessary micrological and philological investigation and reconstruction of the material that will itself engender the theory that Adorno wants applied to it from the first. “The direct inference” from the wine duty to Baudelaire’s poetry (which Adorno admits might have a basis in Baudelaire’s genuine motivations) thus does not imply a causal connection between base and superstructure but is a “juncture […] legitimately established in the philological context” (Benjamin 1994, 588). It involves an attention to detail that allows the poem “to come into its own” so that the work can subsequently “be touched, or perhaps even shaken, by interpretation.” This, for Benjamin, is letting the object speak, not in order to correct a misbegotten philosophical methodology, but to see what it has to say, what affinities it will engender once freed from the rigid facticity of everyday interpretation. This, again, shows that the feeling of guilt, for Adorno, that is forced on the subject by  the experience of the nonidentical is for Benjamin something  –  a mournful way of ­seeing – that can only be produced by the examination and construction of the phenomena themselves. In his letter, Benjamin returns to a formulation from Adorno’s 1930 Habilitationsschrift on Kierkegaard, the first of Adorno’s works written under Benjamin’s influence. There, Adorno writes of an astonishment that indicates “the most profound insight into the relationship of dialectic, myth, and image” (1994, 588). The experience of astonishment in the face of nonidentity dialectically reveals the constraints of mythical thinking and sets the stage for the philosopher’s constellating response. But Benjamin ­proposes that the sentence be amended to read “astonishment is the preeminent object of such an insight.” In a way, Benjamin here takes Adorno’s critique of Hegel even further. Not only does our negative interaction with the object not guarantee the progressive development of our understandings of it, but we cannot count on the object to contradict our understanding at all. The object only speaks to the kind of philosophical attention that 63

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refuses the self‐evident conceptual interpretations of it and places it in the constellations in which it can finally speak. The object does not induce guilt, but rather requires mourning. Adorno demonstrates that Benjamin’s insights could be severed from their foundation in his idiosyncratic expressive ontology and made to play a significant role in unraveling the riddles of traditional epistemology and philosophy. Benjamin himself, however, remained unwilling.

References Adorno, T.W. (1973). Negative Dialectics (trans. E. B. Ashton). New York: Continuum. Adorno, T.W. (1977). The actuality of philosophy. Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary 31: 120– 133. https://doi.org/10.3817/0377031120. Adorno, T.W. (1978). Subject and object. In: The Essential Frankfurt School Reader (trans. A. Arato and E. Gebhardt), 497–511. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Adorno, T.W. (1981). Prisms: Cultural Criticism and Society (trans. Samuel and S. Weber). Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. Adorno, T.W. (2005). Minima Moralia: Reflections on a Damaged Life (trans. E.F.N. Ephcott). London: Verso. Benjamin, W. (1994). The Correspondence of Walter Benjamin, 1910–40 (eds. G. Scholem and T.W. Adorno). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Benjamin, W. (1996–2003). Selected Writings. 4 vols. (eds. M. Bullock and M.W. Jennings). Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press. Benjamin, W. (1998). The Origin of German Tragic Drama (trans. J. Osborne). London: Verso. Benjamin, W. (1999). The Arcades Project (trans. H. Eiland and K. McLaughlin). Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press. Buck‐Morss, S. (1977). The Origin of Negative Dialectics: Theodor W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin, and the Frankfurt Institute. New York: The Free Press. Eiland, H. and Jennings, M.W. (2014). Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Friedlander, E. (2012). Walter Benjamin: A Philosophical Portrait. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Habermas, J. (1984). The Theory of Communicative Action, Volume 1, Reason and the Rationalization of Society (trans. T. McCarthy). Boston: Beacon Press. Hamann, J.G. (1967). Socratic Memorabilia (trans. J.C. O’Flaherty). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Hamann, J.G. (2007). Writings on Philosophy and Language (trans. K. Heynes). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lonitz, H. (ed.) (2001). Theodor W. Adorno and Walter Benjamin: The Complete Correspondence 1928– 1940 (trans. N. Walker). Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Menninghaus, W. (1980). Walter Benjamins Theorie der Sprachmagie. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag. Muller‐Doohm, S. (2005). Adorno: A Biography (trans. R. Livingstone). Cambridge: Polity Press. O’Connor, B. (2004). Adorno’s Negative Dialectic: Philosophy and the Possibility of Critical Rationality. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Rosen, M. (1982). Hegel’s Dialectic and Its Criticism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Schlegel, F. (1991). Philosophical Fragments (trans. P. Firchow). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Taylor, C. (2016). The Language Animal. Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press. Terezakis, K. (2007). The Immanent Word: The Turn to Language in German Philosophy, 1759–1801. Oxon, UK: Routledge. Tiedemann, R. (1999). Dialectics at a standstill. In: The Arcades Project (trans. H. Eiland and K. McLaughlin). Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press.

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Further Reading Buck‐Morss, S. (1977). The Origin of Negative Dialectics: Theodor W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin, and the Frankfurt Institute. New York: The Free Press. Foster, R. (2007). Adorno: The Recovery of Experience. Albany: State University of New York Press. Friedlander, E. (2012). Walter Benjamin: A Philosophical Portrait. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Hanssen, B. and Benjamin, A. (eds.) (2002). Walter Benjamin and Romanticism. New York: Continuum. Jay, M. (1984). Adorno. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Steiner, U. (2010). Walter Benjamin: An Introduction to his Work and Thought (trans. M. Winkler). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Notes   1 Adorno was maligned undeservedly in 1968 for allegedly trying to underplay the Marxist dimension of Benjamin’s work. See Muller‐Doohm (2005, 457–459). If anything, as I’ll argue in what follows, Adorno gave  –  at least in his own interpretation of Benjamin’s writings  –  the ­supposedly orthodox Marxist elements of Benjamin’s work too much weight. On Adorno’s worries about Benjamin’s relationship with Brecht, see Muller‐Doohm (2005, 218–219) and Buck‐Morss (1977, esp. 140–146).   2 As will become clear, I am at odds with a common interpretation of Benjamin’s writing career that periodizes it into an early, mystical stage and a later, Marxist one. In this respect, my interpretation shares an orientation with Eli Friedlander’s (2012), which sees in Benjamin’s writings a continuous, sustained intellectual development despite their occasional nature necessitated by his circumstances.   3 The book was submitted for Habilitation without the entire Preface (which was included in the 1928 published version). The committee at Frankfurt found it incomprehensible, including Max Horkheimer, then an assistant professor. See Eiland and Jennings (2014, 231–232).   4 Hamann’s work, similarly manifold in its sources, is also a partial influence on Benjamin’s interpretations of Kant and the Kabbalah. See Menninghaus (1980, 192). Hamann’s work is often cited at the origins of a loose tradition in German philosophy of language that Charles Taylor and others have called “expressivism,” which includes works of J.G. Herder, Wilhelm von Humboldt, and Friedrich Schlegel among others, and has an ongoing, if somewhat subterranean, influence in nineteenth‐century and twentieth‐century German philosophy, including on Benjamin and Wittgenstein. See Taylor (2016) and Terezakis (2007).   5 See esp. Hamann’s Socratic Memorabilia (Hamann 1967), Aesthetic in Nuce (Hamann 2007), and his essays responding to Herder’s Treatise on the Origin of Language: namely, The Last Will and Testament of the Knight of the Rose‐Cross, Philological Ideas and Doubts, and To the Solomon of Prussia, all translated in Hamann (2007). See also Terezakis (2007, 29–31).   6 The kind of immanence implied by Hamann’s understanding of condescension is difficult, if not impossible, to conceive of. A remark of Wittgenstein’s – made in a different, but not unrelated context – I think nicely encapsulates the problem. “The great difficulty,” he writes, “is not to present the matter as if there were something one couldn’t do.”   7 When necessary for clarity, I have modified translations of Benjamin’s writings.   8 As he notes in a letter to Martin Buber, Benjamin means the word “magical” in the sense of “unmediated” (Benjamin 1994, 80). This magical or unmediated understanding of linguistic movement is at the crux of his later disagreements with Adorno.   9 Although Negative Dialectics was written long after Benjamin’s death, it contains the most complete and perspicuous evidence for how Adorno understood and adapted Benjamin’s ideas, and the best evidence for understanding his confrontation with Benjamin.

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10 See also Adorno’s discussion of the “evaporation” of the subject before Benjamin’s “Medusan glance” in his essay on Benjamin (Adorno 1981, 235–236). 11 For criticism of Adorno’s interpretations of determinate negation, Hegel’s positive dialectic, and the standpoint of absolute knowledge, see Rosen (1982, esp. 155 and 160–69). 12 For discussion of this passage, see Tiedemann (1999, 939–940). 13 This despite Adorno’s use of Benjamin’s notion of unintentional truth. See Adorno (1977) and Buck‐Morss (1977, 78–81). 14 Adorno’s model for the construction of constellations in Negative Dialectics is not Benjamin but Max Weber, for whom, sociological concepts are “gradually composed” from “individual parts to be taken from historical reality. The place of definitive conceptual comprehension cannot, therefore, be the beginning of the inquiry, only the end” (quoted in Adorno 1973, 163). 15 The central issue in the former letter is Benjamin’s understanding of the “dream image,” which Adorno interprets, dubiously, as a psychologizing of the dialectical image that fetishizes bourgeois consciousness rather than critiquing it as false consciousness. Adorno writes, “The intérieur must be made transparent as social function and its self‐containedness must be exposed as illusion” (Benjamin 1994, 502). Benjamin’s response makes clear that dream images are not conventionally psychological, but extreme expressions of dawning modernity: the “stars” or material he was to construct into constellations (Benjamin 1994, 508). See also Friedlander (2012, 100–103).

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5 Adorno and the Second Viennese School SHERRY D. LEE

Music looms large in the philosophical, aesthetic, and sociological writings of Theodor W. Adorno, and in the musical sphere he is best known as a critical champion of the so‐called Second Viennese School, that trio of composers that included Arnold Schoenberg and his pupils Alban Berg and Anton von Webern. The concept of this School has stood as a kind of metonym for music’s historical “progress” into modernism – a break from traditional tonal musical language into atonality, followed by the imposition of Schoenberg’s twelve‐ tone system  –  and the Philosophy of New Music (Adorno 2006 [1949], Adorno’s most famous book on music, positions this radical brand of musical modernism as aesthetically reflecting the truths of modern society. But though he was always a strong proponent of the avant‐garde, the familiar, synoptic view of Adorno as a committed Second Viennese School apologist is partial: his musical background and his own creative activity as a composer, his intellectual influences, personal experiences, and the developments in his critical thought all combined to forge a less‐than‐straightforward path toward a complex philosophy of the New Music and its socio‐historical position. And that path, which was no less divergent than Adorno’s sometimes‐conflicted relationship to the Schoenberg School itself, took new turns even after the Philosophy had been written.

1.  The Path: Modernity, Music, and the New (Adorno and Berg) One narrative of Adorno’s relationship to the Second Viennese School, a particularly imaginative account, could begin, as so many lifelong passions do, with a summer vacation: In the guest room of the Post [Hotel] next to the upright piano with the Mozart medallion hung a guitar. It was missing one or two strings and the rest were badly out of tune. I could not play the guitar, but I grasped the strings all at once and let them vibrate, intoxicated by the dark dissonance, probably the first I had ever heard with so many tones, years before I heard a note of Schoenberg. I felt that music should be composed to sound like that guitar. Later, when I read [Georg] Trakl’s verse “traurige Gitarren rinnen,” it reminded me of that broken guitar in Amorbach. (Adorno 1977, 306) A Companion to Adorno, First Edition. Edited by Peter E. Gordon, Espen Hammer, and Max Pensky. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2020 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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Could this fragmentary travelog, blending memory, nostalgia, and self‐historicizing at a distance of some 40 years, be a sort of point of origin for Adorno’s unflagging investment in the musical avant‐garde? After all, the engagement must have begun relatively early. About a third of Adorno’s vast output, according to Richard Leppert (2002, 13), is devoted to musical subjects, and while these range across a wide historical span, it is clear that from his very first published writings on music – which date to his late teens, over a decade prior to his first philosophical publication – there is a notable focus on the new. He attended concerts constantly, but the contemporary offerings occupied his attention. Bernhard Sekles, Adorno’s own Frankfurt composition teacher, and the revolutionary Béla Bartók were among the subjects of his earliest critiques to make it into print in 1921; already in February of 1922 he was reviewing Schoenberg’s radical Pierrot lunaire as performed in Frankfurt, and by the mid‐1920s he had published articles on each member of that trio of composers whose works would command most of his musical attention from then on: Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern. Amidst the wealth of newly‐composed music to be heard – and Adorno was highly knowledgeable about it – theirs became “the New Music.” Contrived speculations about primal scenes of dissonance aside, it is not entirely clear just when this predilection developed. Certainly there were many ingredients in place to predispose him to what could be considered most new, modern, and advanced in the sphere of his youth – various surrounding conditions that shaped the young Adorno’s perspectives on society and culture of which music was a part. Stefan Müller‐Doohm notes that “a revolutionary mood was widespread” around that time, and that Adorno’s teenaged preoccupation with “the theory of the decay of bourgeois culture” was in the air, to the point that it was “impossible to overlook” (2005, 37). Less generally, Müller‐Doohm gives appropriate weight to the potent influence of Siegfried Kracauer, begun when Adorno was about 15 years old. Kracauer’s role of philosophical mentor, guiding the young Adorno’s reading of Kant and other thinkers, was vital in shaping Adorno’s intellectual orientation. Also clearly decisive was his reading of György Lukács’ Theory of the Novel, and perhaps especially his encounter at age 17 with Ernst Bloch’s valorization, in The Spirit of Utopia, of the revolutionary attitude of artistic expressionism, its utopianism and its effects of cultural “demolition” – the latter a term that Adorno used later to discuss modernist music, such as the effect of radical music‐dramatic works on the status of the ultra‐traditional genre of opera (Adorno 1976, 73). Bloch provided not only an example of the championship of the expressionism with which the early‐atonal Schoenberg especially was associated but also a model of philosophical writing that assimilated itself to its object and was thus revolutionary in its thought and expression as well as its content (Adorno 1991a, 1991b, 1992; Edwards 2013; Lee 2017). Max Paddison unerringly highlights, too, the sociology of Max Weber as having fundamentally shaped Adorno’s music‐aesthetic thought (Paddison 1993, 2, 13), though the die seems already to have been cast before Weber’s writings directly influenced Adorno’s developing sociology of music. Still, amidst all this intellectual predisposition toward cultural and artistic progress as against traditionalism, there apparently lacks any surviving anecdote of either a systematic indoctrination by a musical mentor or a thunderbolt listening experience of conversion to the new – from the historical, classical tonality to the radical, the dissonant, the atonal bouleversement that Schoenberg’s name connoted. Music had always been there, to be sure, but the music that abounded in Adorno’s early years was, unsurprisingly, that of the canonic eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He was always surrounded by an abundance of it. Most of the biographical record gives an impression of a steady youthful diet of Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven – sometimes retrospectively (and precariously) alluded to 68

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as “the First Viennese School” – as the constants among other classics, both in life at home or out at concerts. Adorno’s brief but evocative essay of 1933 entitled “Four Hands, Once Again” gives prominent place to Schubert, and testifies more generally to the centrality of the music of the common practice era in his childhood and his musical upbringing at the piano, playing duets with his mother and his aunt. “That music we are accustomed to call classical I came to know as a child through four‐hand playing,” he asserts. “Four‐hand playing was the gift the geniuses of the bourgeois nineteenth century placed at my cradle at the beginning of the twentieth” (Adorno 2005, 1). But how his tastes traveled from the “First” Vienna School, so to speak, to the Second is never explicitly recounted. It is almost as though, in the wake of the First World War, Adorno suddenly emerged fully formed as a devoted expert and critic of that avant‐garde whose assault on musical convention had begun a little over a decade prior. His first personal encounter with Alban Berg, at the Frankfurt première of Berg’s Three Fragments from Wozzeck that Hermann Scherchen conducted in the summer of 1924, was clearly momentous, and ultimately decisive in terms of Adorno’s direct relationship to the Second Viennese School. He followed up by moving to Vienna a few months later to study composition with Berg, but really, by that time, his dedication to the New Music was already fixed: it was indeed the motivator for that decisive meeting, for Scherchen, who Adorno already knew, made the introduction to Berg after the concert at Adorno’s request (Müller‐Doohm 2005, 84). Accounts of Adorno’s music‐filled life, then, apparently flow nearly seamlessly from his childhood attachment to established repertoires from Johann Sebastian Bach to Johannes Brahms, to his teenaged critical involvement, and a highly‐informed one at that, with the likes of Bartók, Paul Hindemith, Igor Stravinsky, and Schoenberg. The logical directness of such a musical path would probably have appeared most evident to Schoenberg himself, who always insisted that his own music’s historical position was the culmination of the great Austro–German tradition, though it would only be fair to acknowledge that Schoenberg, who disliked Adorno, would surely have been less than delighted by this notion of the latter’s own path as so perfect an exemplar of the musical‐historical inevitability to which the Second Viennese School laid claim (Auner 2004). However, the work of music historians of recent decades has increasingly enabled us to recognize that musical modernism, even the Viennese sort, was not a monolith, was never really circumscribed by the longstanding doctrinaire narrative of atonal and serial revolutions that once dominated, to the virtual exclusion of most other aesthetic directions from the accepted historiographical record (Hailey 2010, ix). In that light we might also imagine how Adorno could have been distinctly inclined toward the musically new in his era and yet have followed that inclination in a different musical direction – if, for instance, he had studied with someone who never took the “atonal path,” like Franz Schreker, teacher of Adorno’s close contemporary Ernst Krenek. Along similar lines, it may be worth recalling that Berg himself had considered studying with the more conservative Hans Pfitzner before beginning with Schoenberg instead. The point is that, pace Webern’s The Path to the New Music (1975), an impassioned and visionary account of a long, inexorable march through Western music history directly toward the Second Viennese moment, even Adorno’s path to a particular brand of the musically new can scarcely be considered audible, let alone necessary, from within his traditional musical beginnings. Joseph Auner (1999) has compellingly demonstrated how the twentieth century’s most enduring and dominant narrative of musical modernism effectively turned the notion of the Second Viennese School from a description of a composerly grouping into a historical concept. The question of Adorno’s relationship to that School, then, needs to be considered 69

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on multiple levels: in terms of music certainly, but also in terms of the members of that group as at once connected to and distinct from this overarching idea – not least because, as Leppert has noted of Adorno’s arrival to study with Berg in Vienna, “the Schoenberg ‘circle,’ which he hoped to join, turned out to be not much of one” (2002, 4). And perhaps now that this particular Schoenberg‐specific formulation of the Viennese trio’s moniker has appeared here, it is worth noting the frequency of the kind of metonymic slippage that occurs in the rough equation of the so‐called “School” or “circle” with Schoenberg, its leader or principal. The senses in which this is both a true and an untrue representation seem nearly equally important. Perhaps it is not merely obvious, on the one hand, nor wilfully missing the point of the very idea of a “circle,” on the other, to suggest that Adorno’s relationship to each of the three principal, or first‐generation, members of the Second Viennese School was distinct, and was important for different reasons and at different historical moments. According to Berg, at least, Adorno was one of a very few who not only could be thought of as musically associated with the Vienna set, but who in fact must be understood as belonging there: “worthy of being grouped with the Schönberg school (and nowhere else!)” (Berg and Schoenberg 1987, 355). Alongside this possibly controversial assertion  –  made to Schoenberg and thus almost surely received with ambivalence at best – is the indisputable fact that Adorno himself bears no small responsibility for the lasting association between the very idea of “New Music” and the concept of an avant‐ garde as specifically linked with this given group of composers. They had actually been called a (“young”) Vienna School (Wellesz 1912) for at least a decade before Adorno publicly wrote about their music, let alone joined them in the metropolis toward which he, and they all, felt so equivocal; but he is unquestionably responsible for the most influential account of the group and its historical significance. However, Adorno’s own philosophical resistance to the concept and identity thinking – toward the reductiveness of conceptual thought in philosophy, toward the restricted capacity for the language of conceptual thinking to express experience – throws into relief the problem that his championship of the School and his propagation of their historical self‐positioning has caused for so many of his critics in turn. His own philosophical agenda ought arguably to have been the very instrument for dismantling – perhaps demolishing, in Blochian terms – that master narrative of twentieth‐century musical modernism. Occasionally such opposing gestures are to be found, as in the case of his relatively later thoughts on “other” modern Viennese composers such as Schoenberg’s onetime teacher Alexander Zemlinsky, or the aforementioned Franz Schreker, whose still‐tonal music “teach[es] us that changes in material and consciousness do not necessarily move in a straight line along the same track as the New Music” (Adorno 1992, 135). Similarly, his essay “Vienna,” about the state of post‐Second World War serialist music, highlights how historical contingencies affect artists’ reputations and levels sharp critical remarks at the idea of forming composerly “cliques” (1992, 201, 222). Even in these instances, his gestures that recognize figures and aesthetic options outside the modernist mainstream and point away from the single, modernism‐bound track of Austro–German music history sit uncomfortably beside his more expected reassertions and reaffirmations of the same: the “track [of] the New Music,” “the great historical trend,” and “the Schoenberg tradition” are all still there. Of the 24 pages of the “Vienna” essay in English translation, the name of Schoenberg appears on all but five, and three of those contain direct reference either to one of his works or to the Second Viennese School – this as late as 1960. Adorno’s dedication was nothing if not enduring. 70

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As the many sources cited here, and indeed far many more, will readily attest, the topic of Adorno and the Schoenberg circle has been dealt with often before, and sometimes in depth. But what can still be productively emphasized are the ongoing complexities and indeed the conflicted aspects of Adorno’s relationships to the Viennese triumvirate as such, dissonances and contradictions that remain even when his own thought, itself not monolithic despite its weighty appearance and at times near‐overwhelming assertiveness, is thoroughly historicized. In other words, even while he remained a clearly audible and utterly committed voice for the aesthetic of the Vienna School right through the 1960s, his “take” on the nature of the School’s musical innovations is variegated, and not merely according to the dates of his diverse critical assessments and revisitations as offered over the course of decades, but nearly always at once, within any given moment. “It would be a gross oversimplification to reduce Adorno to a mere mouthpiece for Schoenberg and his circle,” note Juliane Brand and Christopher Hailey, “for the same technical expertise that afforded him insight into their works provided him with the criteria necessary for an independent aesthetic judgment” (Adorno 1994, xii). That the pervasiveness of critical variances and divergences does not translate to mere equivocation or ambivalence is principally owed, of course, to the resilience and robust adaptability of dialectics. But if the striation of his critique of the New Music makes visible the effective workings of his philosophy, it also surely reflects his own creative experience as a composer attempting to employ and adapt Schoenberg’s methods, as Brand and Hailey’s reference to technique implies. For Adorno was deeply invested in composition during the years between his first relocation to Vienna for study with Berg and the latter’s death, years also especially formative for his philosophy  –  involved with writing music to the point where, according to Müller‐ Doohm, he rather neglected the work on his (first, ultimately withdrawn) philosophical Habilitationsschrift in favor of composing (2005, 103). He completed two sets of four Lieder, published respectively as Op.1 (all on poems of Stefan George) and Op.3 (dedicated to Berg “in loving worship”), and three of the six Lieder from his Op.6 (one other predated his time with Berg and the final two were not finished until 1942); also his two pieces for string quartet Op.2 and, significantly, his set of six short orchestral pieces Op.4  –  frequently beautiful and sometimes dramatically evocative aphorisms that are redolent of a Bergian orchestral sound, as Adorno noted to Berg in a letter of 1931 (Adorno and Berg 2005, 175). It was during this period too that Adorno embarked on the project of composing an opera, his efforts overlapping with the years of Berg’s prolonged work on his famous Lulu based on Wedekind’s plays. As it turned out, both those projects remained unfinished, Adorno’s far more so (Tiedemann 2004; Goehr 2008; Lee 2015). Yet Berg’s influence as teacher extended through Adorno’s musical‐compositional activity to shape, on less technical and more philosophical and personal levels, his stance as a champion and critic of Schoenberg and the Viennese School. This broader influence is sometimes slightly more difficult to spot, though it is explicit as early as Adorno’s 1931 essay “Why Is the New Art So Difficult to Understand?” – clearly titled in direct imitation of, and partly in response to, Berg’s own prior essay “Why Is Schoenberg’s Music So Difficult to Understand?” (Berg 1924). Berg’s study of his teacher’s music is an analytical one, and sets out to answer its titular query by “testing the intelligibility of Schoenberg’s means of compositional expression” through musical content alone – rather than through intellectual content or philosophical approaches, as Berg makes clear right from the opening paragraph  –  and drawing that content from a single work, namely Schoenberg’s first String Quartet Op.7 (1904–1905). It is admittedly difficult to take at face value Berg’s insistence that he chose this example “at random,” though it is probably true that, as he 71

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suggests, there are other examples among Schoenberg’s works that would also have suited his purpose. But it seems more likely that he made in fact a careful and deliberate selection, in 1924, of a work composed 20 years prior: one predating not only Schoenberg’s turn to twelve‐tone serialism of the early 1920s but also all the previous works typically associated with the crucial 1908 “rupture” between tonal and free‐atonal composition: these could have included the subsequent, more radical String Quartet No.2, Op.10 (1907– 1908), with its inclusion of soprano voice in the final movement; the three piano pieces Op.11 (1909); the two songs of Op.14 setting texts of Stefan George and Georg Henckel (1907–1908), which Schoenberg himself identified with “the first step;” or the next George song cycle Das Buch der hangenden Gärten, Op.15 (1907–1909). It is true enough that even the earlier Op.7 String Quartet was not accorded public success at its première, which was punctuated by hissing and the abrupt departures of several audience members, so Berg was not merely making an easy choice by electing to demonstrate “intelligibility” in a piece already approved by those otherwise‐reluctant listeners to Schoenberg, whom he hoped to convince with his analytical exegesis. The strategy of Berg’s selection, however, could be viewed through the lens of Adorno’s own consideration of the difficulty of new art, penned just a few years after Berg’s apologia for Schoenberg via the Op.7 quartet. Even though Adorno’s “Why Is the New Art So Difficult to Understand?” very openly takes its titular lead from his teacher’s example, it adopts an opposite tack to Berg’s direct eschewal of philosophy. Its effort is rather to explain the challenge to comprehensibility of modern art virtually exclusively in socio‐historical terms. The element of “shock” is clearly important, in fact definitive of what is “specifically modern in the sense that [the experience of] it is accompanied by the shock of its strangeness” (Adorno 2002, 131). This sense of shock is early evidence of Adorno’s career‐long concern, starting from his reading of Bloch, with what Roger Foster defines as “the recovery of experience” (Foster 2008; Lee 2017). In Adorno’s 1931 essay, shock registers the distance between contemporary apperceptions of new twentieth‐century art movements such as expressionism and the relatively lesser newness of historical innovations in art, like Wagnerian advanced‐chromatic harmony or impressionist painting, when “the lines connecting producers and consumers had not yet been cut, as it were, but merely wired in a more complicated way” (2002, 131). This remnant of audible connectivity amidst complexity would arguably characterize Schoenberg’s Op.7 too, composed before the expressionist “atonal rupture” and thus stopping short of outright shock in its challenge to listeners. Tellingly, Adorno’s essay maintains an anti‐elitist stance and avoids any suggestion that the uncomprehending audience is either stupid or Philistine, highlighting, rather, the societal structure that precipitates the consciousness of the public as “consumers” of cultural products that are dumbed down. In its sociological emphasis as well as some of its particular concerns – the “disposition of work and leisure time,” the pairing of “advertising and anesthetization,” the insistence that “the argument that the  public wants kitsch is dishonest [and] the argument that it needs relaxation is ­incomplete”  –  it anticipates his infamous essay “On the Fetish‐Character in Music and the Regression in Listening” of 1938, though not its stringent tone. It’s a matter of speculation whether this relative absence of severity is more or less traceable to the influence of Berg’s overall politeness of tone in the midst of polemic. Much of Adorno’s essay addresses the situation of modern art in general, but he does turn to music partway through as an example of the larger situation of art under discussion, an example drawn from the sphere he has particular experience with. And the musical example happens to be that of atonal harmony: chords that are “built in many layers and do not have a given function within a 72

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given key” and thus “cannot be repeated as arbitrarily as the old ones” (2002, 129). Thus, even apart from any explicit mention of Schoenberg, the Viennese School constitutes the baseline for the philosopher‐composer’s effort at a sociology of the new aesthetic, although this takeaway is far less straightforward than Berg’s concluding gesture, which reasserts Schoenberg’s “difficulty” as a product of “bring[ing] together all the resources inherited from the classicists” from Bach through Brahms, and points ahead to the promise of a long Schoenbergian future in which “the supremacy of his own art seems assured – as well as that of German music for the next fifty years” (Simms 2014, 192, 195). Such apparent confidence! Nevertheless, Hailey describes Berg’s own fit within “the narrative of the ‘Second Viennese School’” as always uncomfortable, and his devotion to Schoenberg as a “problem” for discerning his real position vis‐à‐vis Viennese musical modernism (2010, ix). Much of the written record transmits little other than Berg’s ­faithfulness to the master of the School of which he was a steadfast member, but the divergences of his own idiosyncratic compositional style from Schoenberg’s methods are audible testaments to what Hailey describes as his “passive resistance” to his overbearing teacher. There is no question that Adorno was aware of these elements of Berg’s reserve that were otherwise concealed by unstinting personal loyalty even when Schoenberg was critical, unsupportive, petty. Such awareness allowed Adorno a growing freedom to express in his letters to Berg his own reservations about Schoenberg, whether in passing, on a personal front – “Where is Schönberg? I spoke to him at the end of March, and it was not particularly enjoyable” (2005, 195) – or more seriously, expressing musical concerns over his compositional method. In Adorno’s experience, Schoenberg had always been personally prickly anyway, but the second unease only grew over time, until it developed into Adorno’s stringent wartime dissidence against the twelve‐tone technique. In sum, the initial shift from traditional tonal musical rules and structures to free atonality had been a historically valid marker of authentic expressivity, but Schoenberg’s subsequent move to the twelve‐tone method, wherein the organization of those previously emancipated dissonant tones became systematized and controlled by an externally imposed numerical series, was equally historically appropriate and at once troubling, because its rational domination of the musical material mirrored dominating social forces. “Each tone of the entire composition is determined by the ‘row’ [the fixed order of the 12 tones]: There is no longer any ‘free’ note … A system of the domination of nature in music results” (Adorno 2006, 51, 52). Earlier, however, in the mid‐1930s, Adorno had defended the serial compositional method of the Second Viennese School. In a short, uncharacteristically accessible, and somewhat tongue‐in‐cheek piece entitled “Why Twelve‐Tone Music?” he compared the row of 12 tones to the palette of a painter (a comparison that later reappeared in the Philosophy of New Music [2006, 50]). He was at pains to dispel misunderstandings and flip judgments about the method by emphasizing that the row itself was no more the composition than the palette itself was the painting; but his discussion went further in considering the difference in audience expectations that pertained to the two arts, applying a sociological bent. No‐one would look askance at a painter for having a palette, or indeed for arranging the colors to be used thereon in some way that made sense for the means in which they were to be employed. But because the prevailing, romanticized view of musical composition was that it could only be truly artistic – rather than mere craft or mechanical work  –  if it was entirely “inspired” and characterized exclusively by inwardness, the ­structural equivalent of the planned palette in the musical‐compositional sphere was ­considered suspect. Yet unjustly so. “The twelve‐note technique is not merely a recipe for 73

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composition,” Adorno insisted; “one should not fear that it will transform ‘the man in the street’ into a Beethoven with the aid of a slide rule or a logarithmic table” (2009, 369). He continued on to assert his argument of the historical necessity of the material: the historical reason why tonality is no longer sufficient for the time, and what the twelve‐tone method affords the composer as a means of working in the absence of those structures that tonality had previously offered up ready‐made. “Why Twelve‐Tone Music?” appears to date from 1935. It was only published posthumously, but when it was written Berg was still alive, and at work on his twelve‐tone opera. Earnest as Adorno was in his efforts to promote his beloved teacher’s music, he may well have seen every reason to offer a clearly legible defense of the twelve‐tone segment of the Second Viennese path. But this is too ready an explanation, and even a straightforward statement to the effect that Adorno’s later views on the technique were vastly more critical misses the important point that Schoenberg’s system was already openly in question between Adorno and Berg. As early as 1926 Adorno was commenting on what he considered to be “the danger in dodecaphony,” which, he felt, “cannot and should not dictate a positive compositional canon” (Adorno and Berg 2005, 71). Berg’s reply was circumspect and somewhat laconic, but telling: “As far as the 12‐tone technique is concerned: The most conspicuous thing about it, I would say, is the fact that it does not exclude tonality (intentional tonality – not simply chance tonality, which would be very fishy) at all” (Adorno and Berg 2005, 74). In February of the same year that Adorno penned “Why Twelve‐Tone Music?” he wrote to Berg to ask, with perhaps surprising directness, about Berg’s own use of the Schoenbergian method in the ongoing composition of Lulu: Let me close by asking you about another matter extraordinarily close to my heart: you had said at one point that the whole of Lulu was to be developed from a single twelve‐tone row. But Reich’s analysis now seems to suggest that the Paris scene, at least, is not consistently twelve‐ tone music. So this means that you have departed from the twelve‐tone principle in a fundamental respect, and I need hardly explain what this essentially means. Are you prepared to tell me about it? (Adorno and Berg 2005, 215)

What it “essentially meant,” of course, was a transgression of Schoenberg’s rules for the use of his serial method, arguably a rebellion against the authority of the teacher. These are readily‐cited instances when Adorno’s growing critical and compositional reservations appear at least in part to result from an impulse shared with Berg, who, in Hailey’s colorful formulation, “slipped out the backdoor of the Second Viennese School to take his place among the truants milling around the schoolyard” (2010, x). That Adorno’s understanding of Berg is qualitatively different from his assessment of either the authoritative Schoenberg or the rigorously systematic Webern (who is known for having extended the structural implications of the method to an even greater degree than his teacher) is obviously accountable in terms of the nature of their personal relationship, in addition to the distinctive formal‐technical implications Adorno recognized in the features of Berg’s music  –  music with unique sonorous qualities that set it apart unmistakably from Schoenberg’s. These implications Adorno characterized, if only much later, as constituting “a process of permanent dissolution [permanente Auflösung],” though it is worth noting that he had been using the latter term to discuss the dealings of the avant‐garde with musical form since his very earliest music publications. Such dissolution its accomplished “within itself … rather than achieving a ‘synthesis’” (Adorno 1982, 184) and as such it stands formally in opposition to the later tendencies toward increasing integration of Schoenberg’s 74

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and Webern’s twelve‐tone serialisms, even while Berg, too, was employing Schoenberg’s twelve‐tone method in his own idiosyncratic way. And ultimately it must be this perception that constituted the most vital distinction, for Adorno, between Berg’s use of dodecaphony, which Adorno could accept, and Schoenberg’s ultimately more troubling move to the twelve‐tone compositional system.

2.  The Philosophy: A Dialectical Theory of the  New Music (Adorno and Schoenberg) This is only music; how must a world be made in which even questions of counterpoint bear witness to irreconcilable conflicts? How fundamentally disturbed is life today if its trembling and its rigidity are reflected even where no empirical need reaches, in a sphere that people suppose provides sanctuary from the pressures of the harrowing norm, and that indeed only redeems its promise by refusing what they expect of it. (Adorno 2006, 5)

An essay on the present subject of “Adorno and The Second Viennese School” could very well have turned out to be one on “Adorno’s Philosophy of New Music,” period. The book, from whose Preface the above quotation is drawn, was written between 1940 and 1948 while he was in exile in California, and published in German in 1949. Its two large sections deal respectively with the music of Arnold Schoenberg and Igor Stravinsky  –  both also emigrés living in close proximity in Los Angeles – the two important composers of the era whose works, Adorno felt, best encapsulated the social position and critical potential of new music at that historical moment. Adorno effectively positions the two compositional figures in opposition: he hears Schoenberg’s atonal and twelve‐tone music as “representative of the most advanced aesthetic consciousness” of its age (2006, 94), and thus capable of constituting an authentic aesthetic opposition to the dominating forces of modern culture, while Stravinsky’s neoclassical musical idiom is heard as ahistorical and reactionary, an ideological manifestation of cultural regression. Unquestionably his best‐ known work on music, the Philosophy firmly established Adorno in its moment and into the future as “a veteran defender and supreme connoisseur of the Schoenberg School,” in case his years of prior publications had not done so already (Wiggershaus 1995, 508). It is a difficult and antagonistic book, both dialectical and polemical. Admittedly, a truly impressive volume of ink has already been expended on the rich elucidation and critical interrogation of this pithy volume (Paddison 1993; Wiggershaus 1995; Leppert 2002; Chua 2006; Hullot‐Kentor 2006a, 2006b, etc.), frequently and typically illuminatingly in relation to Adorno’s and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment to which the Philosophy was, in Adorno’s own terms, “a detailed excursus” (Adorno 2006, 5). This is an interesting designation since, as Rebecca Comay notes, Adorno’s reading of Homer’s Odyssey within the Dialectic is also a lengthy excursus on that volume (Comay 2000, 21). A great deal of work was being accomplished, it would seem, under the guise of such apparent digressions. “What if,” Comay wonders of the Sirens episode in the Dialectic of Enlightenment, “the ‘appendage’ or ‘excursus’ in fact absorbs the book?” (2002, 22). In the case of the Philosophy of New Music that has already happened, the excursus has indeed become the whole book; and its reception has always made it clear that it is no Viennese modernist marginalia, rather a lodestone. As though in response to Adorno’s “Why Is the New Art So Difficult to Understand?”, we could perhaps ask why his Philosophy of New Music must be so difficult to read, though of 75

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course in doing so we would already be suggesting much of the answer (Chua 2006, 16–17). As others such as Martin Jay (1997) and Fredric Jameson (1990) have already highlighted, Adorno’s writing exemplifies the importance of mimesis within his thought, the assimilation of the self to the other, and the thorniness of the Philosophy of New Music surely bears a mimetic affinity to its object; in this light, reading Adorno’s text should properly be as challenging, and in similar ways, as listening to Schoenberg’s music. “Philosophy of New Music is a defense of Schoenberg’s work that presents New Music’s own philosophy,” asserts Robert Hullot‐Kentor; “the study aims to carry out conceptually the historical reflection implicit in the music and to raise this reflection to the point of the music’s self‐criticism” (2006b, 70). Schoenberg himself did not consider the book an appropriate “defense” of his music or his ideas, and his reaction to it was extremely negative. Its dialectical approach entailed a vital distance that enabled a critical perspective Schoenberg simply could not tolerate, even less so in the sunny environs of the new world than in the troubled enclaves of the old one. Leonard Bernstein called it a “fascinating, nasty, turgid book” (1976, 270), which made at least part of his assessment kinder than Schoenberg’s. The Philosophy of New Music really does show Adorno at his most adamant; its implacable tone, which similarly characterizes “On the Fetish‐Character in Music and the Regression in Listening,” is obdurate and flinty (little surprise then that the author references that prior essay in his Preface to the book). Anyone who has read either of these two works as a first exposure to Adorno’s thought would scarcely recognize the author of his later monograph on Berg, uncharacteristic in its highly personal warmth, let alone the abovementioned “Four Hands” essay with its poetic turns and overt nostalgia. Granted, alienating inflections of the “Fetish‐Character” and the Philosophy of New Music obviously relay, at least in part, Adorno’s own sense of alienation in his exile; and then, in the calamitous decade from 1938 to 1948 when both were written, there was an awful lot at stake. Perhaps it does not go without saying that a project seeking to offer a response to the listening public’s hatred of dissonant modernism, what Adorno referred to as “the fury toward the avant‐garde” in music, could hardly have seemed more urgent at that time. Adorno himself noted that it might have appeared eccentric, at least, to dwell on “the deciphering of esoteric questions on the technique of modern composition,” indeed, on almost any matters other than life and the immediate threat of its loss, under such circumstances (2006, 4–5). But from years before Adorno settled in Schoenberg’s Los Angeles neighborhood, their shared experience of exile from the regime that had branded as “degenerate” the music of Schoenberg and the Second Viennese School – a compositional identity that after all included Adorno, too, though his own departure from Germany was precipitated by official action against his academic position rather than his position as an artist – was a clear enough indicator that even music was far from irrelevant to the dire situation of the times, a situation in which a meaningful connection between culture and politics was not merely assumed but made explicit by the regime itself. It is already well known that this shared experience in the 1940s did not bring the two any closer together in exile than they had been in the 1920s when Adorno, as one of the School’s satellites, was drawn into old Central Vienna with Berg, while Schoenberg, as the circle’s ostensible center, was voluntarily displaced out to the suburb of Mödling. A particular affinity between their individual characters is suggested by Hullot‐Kentor’s description of them as “two of the most uncompromising figures of the twentieth century” (2006b, 67), a commonality unlikely to attract them to each other; although arguably, and ironically, when it came to the music of the Second Viennese School, Adorno was actually the more flexible. While Hullot‐Kentor characterizes the Philosophy of New Music as a “defense of Schoenberg,” and many continue to view it as only that (including a good 76

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number who have never in fact read it), the book’s ultimate critique of the twelve‐tone path effectively reified the older composer’s already‐existent antipathy toward the younger philosopher. For, just as in the Dialectic of Enlightenment’s episode of the Sirens Adorno “reckons sharply just what the costs of Odysseus’s enlightenment might be” (Comay 2000, 21), in the Philosophy of New Music he “did not deceive himself,” as Clytus Gottwald (1999) puts it, “about the price that New Music had to pay for its consolidation into dodecaphony.” That price was, in sum, the relinquishment of the freedom of Expressionism’s atonal moment. “To be sure,” continues Gottwald, “Schoenberg’s ingenuity had again and again elicited from the dodecaphonically‐organized material that eloquence which in [his earlier atonal opera] Erwartung [1908] had accrued by itself. But dodecaphony, with all its diligent immersion in technical process, was, for Adorno, fogged with resignation. That utopian window, which had opened up with free atonality, closed again” (1999, 113), in favor of a systematic domination of musical material that resonated all too well for the likes of that other School – the Frankfurt one – with more devastating models of domination in the social sphere. Based on the assessment of Schoenberg’s oeuvre offered in the Philosophy of New Music, then, in which the emancipatory language of the free‐atonal, expressionist compositional phase is valorized and the turn to the twelve‐tone technique characterized as a “Reversal into Unfreedom” (54–57), it would be reasonable for a newcomer to Adorno’s own compositional output to assume that he himself adhered solely to the atonal compositional approach and steered clear of the dodecaphonic. Accordingly, Paddison asserts that “the idiom of most of his pieces is firmly based in the heyday of Second Viennese School free atonality pre‐1914” (1993, 5). But in fact a number of the works Adorno essayed employed the twelve‐tone method in some form – the twelve‐tone melodies for the only two c­ ompleted numbers of his would‐be opera are instances of this – even if they only formulate and present a row as a basic idea without necessarily treating it strictly thereafter. “In my quartet I admittedly resort, in order to avoid leading‐note cadences, to using rows,” he wrote to Berg in 1926, “but I permit myself the acoustic liberty of choice – interruption of the row; freely following the harmonic tendency …” (Adorno and Berg 2005, 72). “Permission,” “liberty,” and “freedom” all arise here in one breath. The excerpt of correspondence with Berg already cited also showed that in Adorno’s attempts at, and struggles with, the use of the technique, he recognized its promise while deploring its strictures and their greater implications. By 1935, his complaint along these lines became more direct: he wrote to Berg that “non‐dodecaphony lacks constructive rigour and constraint; but dodecaphony severely restricts all construction coming from the imagination, and constantly invokes the danger of rigidity” (218). Here the idea of “danger” surfaces again alongside the fear of confinement. Ultimately, “[n]o rule is more repressive than one that is self‐promulgated,” he wrote a few years later in the Philosophy of New Music (Adorno 2006, 55), and as a composer he opted, in the end, against the enforcement of the law that his philosophy ­criticized. If Schoenberg’s twelve‐tone technique revoked the emancipation won by atonal expressionism, the desire to retain that freedom, despite its high cost of isolation, is one Adorno never lost sight of. This motif of isolation is of course the one he famously returns to when the end of the  Philosophy’s essay on “Schoenberg and Progress” invokes the unforgettable image of the Flaschenpost, of new music cast adrift like a message in a bottle (Adorno 2006, 102). Hullot‐Kentor stresses this condition of isolation as the means through which modern music became “a singular repository of critical historical experience,” and insists that “Adorno does not deduce this position. On the contrary, his thinking originates in this 77

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musical experience, and he devoted his life to its elucidation” (2006b, 70). Something vital is implied by this emphasis on experience over deduction, a reminder of music prior to philosophizing about it. And yet more than this. For if the experience of Schoenberg’s music as Adorno argued for it is typically thought of as one of listening (with difficulty) by those to whom the music and the argument are being offered  –  important as that sphere of aesthetic experience undoubtedly is – that conception occludes Adorno’s own experience of the New Music that comprises listening, performance, and original composition under the influence of Schoenberg’s innovations of both expression and technique. True, a presumed focus on listening per se could be understandable here: Adorno himself connected the ideas in the Philosophy with those of his 1938 polemic on “regressive listening” (Adorno 2006, 3); and he did, after all, focus the book on the music of other composers, not his own music. In fact, it is easy enough to forget about the latter altogether because Adorno had  –  nearly  –  stopped composing by this time, philosophy having finally commandeered his full attention as Berg had feared it eventually would (Adorno and Berg 2005, 44). His catalog of works does actually show some entries from the 1940s after all;  but what if he relinquished composition not out of sheer busyness, not merely because philosophy had taken over his time or his mental energy? What if he simply lost, or relinquished, his struggle with the technique, if the dialectic of harmonic freedom and structural unfreedom brought his composition to a standstill? In the face of the seeming historical inevitability of Schoenberg’s compositional method, returning to the ­emancipatory capacities of the prior expressive breakthrough would have meant turning back, which may, after all, have been Adorno’s wish: Dieter Schnebel once elaborated on the nostalgia of Adorno’s magnificent Orchesterstücke Op.4. In fact, the overarching moment of all Adorno’s compositions is that of homesickness for homelessness, a moment that probably brought him to composition in the first place. Adorno was a conservative composer; but what he was trying to preserve was not what was already fossilized, about which there were still a few subjective memories, but that youthful effervescence [Aufgärende], the exit into freedom. Adorno’s composition is reactionary against reaction: compositionally, he reacted to the course of New Music after the First World War, and New Music was called Schoenberg, Berg, also Webern …. (Gottwald 1989, 113)

Almost as if against the dialectic of progress Adorno had highlighted in the Philosophy of New Music, his own idea of what constituted New Music after the Second World War was still Schoenberg, Berg – and also, notably, Webern.

3.  The Legacy: A Philosophy’s Aesthetic Aftermath (Adorno and Webern) Twelve‐tone technique has its justification only in the presentation of complex musical ­contents, which cannot otherwise be organized. Separated from this function, it degenerates into a deluded system. While New Music, and particularly Schoenberg’s achievement, is stamped as twelve‐tone composition, and thus handily pigeonholed, the fact that a very large and perhaps, qualitatively, the decisive part of this production was composed prior to the invention of this technique or independently of it, should give reason to pause. Schoenberg himself consistently refused to teach what the music marketplace had falsified into a system. (Adorno 2002, 184–185)

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The actual musical impact of the Philosophy of New Music in the wake of the Second World War was at once both greater and different than Adorno could have expected. Max Paddison explains how the Philosophy “found a ready audience among the generation of composers and musicians that was emerging in the immediate post‐war years and which was centred on Darmstadt;” in this environment the book, like a manifesto, “seemed to provide the theoretical and philosophical legitimation for the experiments with multiple serialism … in the work of Boulez and Stockhausen in the early 1950s” (1993, 265). These two were central among the avant‐garde composers who attended the Darmstadt International Summer Courses on New Music in the 1950s and 1960s: effectively a “Third School” within the context of the present essay. Adorno himself – not merely his writings – played an active role at Darmstadt. In fact, as Leppert has noted, Adorno’s own compositions, most of them dating from before the war, were performed not infrequently during those years (Adorno 2002, 15–16). He attended in person during nine of the summers between 1950 and 1966, to give lectures or composition lessons or to otherwise participate as discussant. And paradoxically even for a dialectician, Adorno found himself required to correct for the Philosophy’s impact factor in a way that must sometimes have felt like overcompensating – unfairly enough, for the misunderstandings of others – if not outright backpedaling on the effects of his prior vehemence. Chua has wryly suggested that the Darmstadt group “simply didn’t get the drift … they heard the rhetoric and not the message, mistaking a philosophy for merely a polemic” (2006, 2). Despite the near‐exclusive focus on Schoenberg throughout The Philosophy of New Music’s most influential section (“Schoenberg and Progress”), it was not ultimately Schoenberg who furnished the most decisive example of the new for the postwar generation: this is well known. The iconoclastic Pierre Boulez, having learned well from Adorno’s polemic aspect, famously decried Schoenberg’s failure in 1952, irreverently proclaiming the death of his legacy within months of his literal passing (Boulez 1952). Boulez and Adorno agreed at least on the presence of what the former saw as Schoenberg’s romantic flaw and the latter heard as a vestige of hope: the lingering formal and gestural features of subjective expression, indeed that sonic trace of the surviving, if devastated and shattered, subject whose voice could just be heard through the cracks in the newly objectified structure of the New Music in its serial formation. That remnant constituted an audible testament to the existence of a history that the postwar generation would have liked to deny, to wipe clean with the grim optimism of a new present and a future over which they would be able to exert total systematic control. But arguably, this perception was no more occluded than that which thought to recognize a path to newer new‐ness in what Adorno had already described as historically predictable – and indeed, as an outcome whose historical moment had arrived before the war had begun. It was, of course, Anton von Webern whose oeuvre suggested the path forward into a newer New Music for the serialist composers of the postwar generation. If Webern has scarcely been mentioned here so far that is largely because, for Adorno, Webern’s significance was only really felt in the wake of 1945, and others felt the same. The crucial difference lies in the sense of what that significance was. For the Darmstadt generation, Webern’s insight was to have shed Schoenberg’s residue of romantic subjectivity and overcome it through an objectivity of method, one that successfully augmented the structural potential of the twelve‐tone row. Schoenberg’s discovery was only partial, for he failed to recognize the fuller implications of the series, but Webern tapped its capacity for a more thorough integration of compositional parameters beyond pitch. For a group of young composers in an age that sought to emerge from the horrors of the recent past by r­ econstructing newness 79

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from the recently developed technological means of both futuristic advance and prior destruction, the concept of total integration via the technology of the series proved an intoxication. But for Adorno, Webern’s most significant inheritance from Schoenberg was not the twelve‐tone method, which he refined and simultaneously expanded into an encompassing system. No, it was expressivity, of all things: Webern’s unique manner of having seized the expressive powers that “free atonality had expanded … to an unprecedented degree” (Adorno 1999, 93). Adorno had not failed to recognize Webern’s developments in technique, but for him those largely amounted to resignation, a surrender of music to the serial program to the point where Webern practically “ceases to compose” at all; “the [twelve‐tone] rows are supposed virtually to do the work themselves” (1999, 101). Nor does Adorno deny the lure of apparent progress, or the temptation posed by the aura of the absolute promised by the serial system’s capacity for complete predetermination. Thus Adorno’s 1959 essay on Webern, once the quietest member of the Second Viennese School before his postwar amplification as the prophet of the new “New,” is largely conceived as remediation. It is mostly devoted to the composer’s earlier works, the freely atonal ones; fully the first 70% of the essay is over before it even gets to the integral shift of Webern’s decisive twelve‐tone Symphony Op.21 (1927–1928), celebrated for its intricate, tightly integrative structures and its formal symmetries. If the Darmstadt group had managed to miss the Philosophy of New Music’s message that the twelve‐tone path represented a regression into unfreedom, reading the book instead as a prophecy of a Second Viennese trajectory from a twelve‐tone pitch row to a dizzying numerically governed totality, they seemed also to have missed hearing the remnant of subjective expressivity in Webern that at the very least equaled Schoenberg’s, if only through its concentrated intensity. Adorno’s task looked a bit like defending the Second Viennese School against its own legacy, which, ironically, seemed at that moment to be promising it the future reach its original members had envisioned; but actually the task was to correct the very idea of what that legacy was, or ought to have been. “Wrong number,” he might have said wryly: Webern’s posthumous reputation was really technical and stylistic and, above all, strategic, rather than dependent on his nature as a composer specifically … Of course, in contrast to the serial composers who chose him as their patron, he never completely renounced the musical methods he had inherited from Schoenberg, which incorporated traditional elements in sublimated form. With all the talk about Webern’s technical innovations and their application, however, the composer’s central idea was neglected. (Adorno 1999, 92)

This central idea, Adorno averred, was one of “absolute lyricism.” In other words, there is a conceptual ideal of an absolute here, but it is not a dream of numeric‐structural totality, rather one of resolving “all musical materiality” into “the pure sonority of the subject … After all,” he reflected, “what survives is the music itself, rather than its methods, however admirable” (1999, 93).

4. Difficulties Anyone of my age and experience who is both a musician and who thinks about music finds himself in a difficult quandary. One side of it consists in the attitude “so far and no further.” In other words, it consists in clinging to one’s youth as if modernity were one’s own private monopoly. This means resisting at all costs everything which remains inaccessible to one’s own experience … [but] the speculative artist above all ought to cling to the vestiges of common

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sense which would remind him that music is not necessarily more advanced just because he has failed to comprehend it … the judge’s own intellectual pedigree, [is not] decisive here, although that is undoubtedly an important factor in the formation of his thought. I would not wish to claim that my membership of Schoenberg’s Viennese school confers any particular authority on me or to assert that as an initiate I had easy answers to these questions. (Adorno 1992, 269–270)

In considering from a historical perspective the very possibility for still reading, taking seriously, and critically re‐employing the insights of Adorno’s work after his death, through the closing decades of the twentieth century and beyond, Berthold Hoeckner has rightly noted that “the essence of his critical thought – not to think with the status quo, but to think otherwise – need not necessarily be tied to the repertory from which it sprang in the first place” (2006, xii). Much fine recent work on Adorno and all kinds of music he did not grapple with explicitly, whether from during his lifetime or after, shows this to be manifestly true. But the fact that Adorno himself did adhere to that repertory as a model even as it receded historically can hardly be ignored. In this light his above‐cited claim, made in 1961, that his own membership in the Second Viennese School did not “confer any particular authority” is perhaps uncharacteristic. However, his work in developing a sociological approach to the elucidation of modern music during his years of closest connection with Berg and the Vienna circle did equip him with a capacity for insight into the social status of the New Music in what might be called a post‐Viennese era. Thus Adorno recognized that the serialist adherence to a system he so sharply criticized could also fairly be recognized as arising from a kind of social necessity: “In the administered world,” he acknowledged, “anything which is other than administrative by nature can only survive the winter [überwintern], can indeed only make its voice heard, by using administrative methods” (1992, 222, translation modified). And at the same time, even if he was tempted to adopt a “so far and no further” attitude toward other newnesses, such as chance‐ governed or aleatoric compositional approaches whose surrender to randomness seemed merely the flip side of the capitulation to the total system, he could see that they also constituted critiques of total serialist integration: “Composers who incorporate chance into the law are now sorely tempted to break the spell of the law yet again” (1992, 224). It is may be unsurprising, then, that Adorno should return, after nearly 35 years, to the subject of difficulty, in both listening and in composition. In his essay “Difficulties,” dating from 1966, he considers the lasting pull of tonality for both listeners and composers – even the avant‐garde ones – as a kind of retreat to the comfort of the past in the face of prevailing conditions of technological domination. As he revisits his sociology of modern listening, he explicitly points back to his essay on the difficulties of new art from 1931, though he recalls it only as “before 1933”  –  a date momentous enough that it isn’t surprising he remembers it as the dividing point. The expressionist shock, he allowed, may have abated somewhat in the intervening decades, but New Music was still met with resistance. Apparently it remained difficult to understand.

References Adorno, T.W. (1976). Introduction to the Sociology of Music (trans. E.B. Ashton). New York: Seabury Press. Adorno, T.W. (1977). Amorbach. In: Gesammelte Schriften 10.1 (ed. R. Tiedemann), 302–309. Frankfurt: Surhkamp Verlag. Adorno, T.W. (1981). Prisms (trans. S. Weber and S.W. Nicholsen). Cambridge: MIT Press.

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Adorno, T.W. (1982). On the problem of musical analysis (trans. M. Paddison). Music Analysis 1 (2): 169–187. Adorno, T.W. (1991a). Bloch’s Spuren: on the revised edition of 1959. In: Notes to Literature, vol. 1 (ed. R. Tiedemann and trans. S.W. Nicholsen), 200–215. New York: Columbia University Press. Adorno, T.W. (1991b). The handle, the pot, and early experience. In: Notes to Literature, vol. 2 (ed. R. Tiedemann and trans. S.W. Nicholsen), 211–219. New York: Columbia University Press. Adorno, T.W. (1992). Quasi una Fantasia (trans. R. Livingstone). London and New York: Verso. Adorno, T.W. (1994). Alban Berg: Master of the Smallest Link (ed. and trans. Juliane J. Brand and C. Hailey). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Adorno, T.W. (1999). Anton von Webern. In: Sound Figures (trans. R. Livingstone), 91–105. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Adorno, T.W. (2002). Essays on Music (ed. R.D. Leppert). Berkeley: University of California Press. Adorno, T.W. (2005). Four hands, once again (trans. J. Wipplinger). Cultural Critique 60: 1–4. Adorno, T.W. (2006 (1949)). Philosophy of New Music (ed. and trans. R. Hullot‐Kentor). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Adorno, T.W. (2009). Night Music: Essays on Music 1928–1962 (ed. R. Tiedemann and trans. W. Hoban). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Adorno, T.W. and Berg, A. (2005). Correspondence 1925–1935 (ed. Henri Lonitz and trans. W. Hoban). Cambridge: Polity Press. Auner, J. (1999). The Second Viennese School as historical concept. In: Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern, A Companion to the Second Viennese School (ed. B. Simms), 1–36. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Auner, J. (2004). Proclaiming a mainstream. In: The Cambridge History of Twentieth‐Century Music (eds. N. Cook and A. Pople), 228–259. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Berg, A. (1924). Warum ist Schönbergs Musik so schwer verständlich? Musikblätter des Anbruch 6: 329–341. Berg, A. and Schoenberg, A. (1987). The Berg‐Schoenberg Correspondence: Selected Letters (eds. J. Brand, C. Hailey and D. Harris). New York: Norton. Bernstein, L. (1976). The Unanswered Question: Six Talks at Harvard. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Boulez, P. (1952). Schoenberg is dead. The Score and IMA Magazine 6: 18–21. Brand, J. and Hailey, C. (1994). Translators’ introduction. In: Alban Berg: Master of the Smallest Link, vii–xiv. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chua, D. (2006). Drifting: the dialectics of Adorno’s Philosophy of New Music. In: Apparitions: New Perspectives on Adorno and Twentieth‐Century Music (ed. B. Hoeckner), 1–17. New York and London: Routledge. Comay, R. (2000). Adorno’s siren song. New German Critique 81: 21–48. Edwards, C. (2013). Uncovering the ‘gold‐bearing rubble’: Ernst Bloch’s literary criticism. In: Utopianism, Modernism, and Literature in the Twentieth Century (eds. A. Reeve‐Tucker and N. Waddell), 182–203. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Foster, R. (2008). Adorno: The Recovery of Experience. New York: SUNY Press. Goehr, L. (2008). Elective Affinities: Musical Essays on the History of Aesthetic Theory. New York: Columbia University Press. Gottwald, C. (1989). Der Ketzer der Wiener Schule: Über die Frauenchöre von Theodor W. Adorno. In: Theodor W. Adorno, der Komponist (eds. H.‐K. Metzger and R. Riehn), 111–120. Münich: Edition Text + Kritik. Hailey, C. (ed.) (2010). Alban Berg and His World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Hoeckner, B. (ed.) (2006). Apparitions: New Perspectives on Adorno and Twentieth Century Music. New York: Routledge. Hullot‐Kentor, R. (2006a). Translator’s introduction: things beyond resemblance. In: Philosophy of New Music, ix–xxx. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Hullot‐Kentor, R. (2006b). Things Beyond Resemblance: Collected Essays on Theodor W. Adorno. New York: Columbia University Press.

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Jameson, F. (1990). Late Marxism: Adorno, or, the Persistence of the Dialectic. London and New York: Verso. Jay, M. (1997). Mimesis and mimetology: Adorno and Lacoue‐Labarthe. In: The Semblance of Subjectivity: Essays in Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory (eds. T. Huhn and L. Zuidervaart), 29–53. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Kolleritsch, O. (ed.) (1979). Adorno und die Musik. Graz: Universal Edition für Institut für Wertforschung. Lee, S. (2015). Dissonant opera, dissident fragments. The Germanic Review 90 (4): 273–284. Lee, S. (2017). Narrative traces. Journal of the American Musicological Society 70 (3): 835–840. Leppert, R. (2002). Introduction. In: Theodor W. Adorno, Essays on Music (ed. R. Leppert), 1–82. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Leppert, R. (2005a). ‘Four hands, three hearts’: a commentary. Cultural Critique 60: 5–22. Metzger, H.‐K. and Riehn, R. (eds.) (1989). Theodor W. Adorno, der Komponist. Münich: Edition Text + Kritik. Müller‐Doohm, S. (2005). Adorno: A Biography (trans. R. Livingstone). Cambridge: Polity Press. Paddison, M. (1993). Adorno’s Aesthetics of Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Schwarz, M. (2015). Über Anton von Webern: Theodor W. Adorno bei den Darmstädter Ferienkursen 1951. Musik & Ästhetik 19: 5–20. Simms, B. (ed.) (2014). Pro Mundo––Pro Domo: The Writings of Alban Berg. New York: Oxford University Press. Tiedemann, R. (2004). Adorno’s Tom Sawyer opera singspiel. In: The Cambridge Companion to Adorno (ed. T. Huhn; trans. S. Bird‐Pollan), 376–394. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Webern, A. (1975). The Path to the New Music (trans. W. Reich and L. Black). Vienna: Universal Edition. Wellesz, E. (1912). Schoenberg et la jeune école Viennoise. Bulletin français de la Sammelbände der Internationalen Musikgesellschaft 8 (3): 21–26. Wiggershaus, R. (1995). The Frankfurt School: Its History, Theories, and Political Significance (trans. M. Robertson). Cambridge: MIT Press.

Further Reading Borio, G. (2007). Work structure and musical representation: reflections on Adorno’s analyses for interpretation (trans. M. Iddon). Contemporary Music Review 26 (1): 53–75. Calico, J.H. (2015). Old‐age style: the case of Arnold Schoenberg. New German Critique 42 (2): 65–80. Frisch, W. (ed.) (1999). Schoenberg and His World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Geuss, R. (1997). Berg and Adorno. In: The Cambridge Companion to Berg (ed. A. Pople), 38–50. New York: Cambridge University Press. Goehr, L. (2003). Adorno, Schoenberg, and the Totentanz der Prinzipien – in thirteen steps. Journal of the American Musicological Society 56 (3): 595–636. Shaw, J. and Auner, J. (eds.) (2010). The Cambridge Companion to Schoenberg. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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Part II

Cultural Analysis

6 The Culture Industry FRED RUSH

“‘Emigration is the best school for dialectics’” declares Ziffel in Brecht’s Fluchtlingsgespräche. He expands on the theme: The most acute dialecticians are refugees. Refugees, on account of change, study nothing but change. They infer the greatest incidence from the least indication – that is, if they are being reasonable. If their adversaries are victorious, they calculate the cost of victory. They do have a fine eye for contradiction. Long live dialectic! (Brecht 1961, 112).

Ziffel’s point: exile and dialectical reasoning both consist in reconciling “opposites,” where reconciliation is temporary, in time revealing new, more subtle forms of opposition. The more opposition there is – the starker the apparent imbalance in one’s situation – the more force given to the process. Discomfiture is both a precondition for and result of the process. No Tomis, no Tristia. Development of the conception and critique of what Horkheimer and Adorno in their Dialectic of Enlightenment call the “culture industry” coincides historically with Critical Theory’s expatriation. The near‐decade Adorno spent in the Los Angeles area in the 1940s impacted him mightily, so much so that one might think quite reasonably that the omnipresent film industry in Southern California and the culture it secreted around itself were more than enough impetus for his critical reckoning with the culture industry. Hollywood could not be ignored from Brentwood, after all. But Critical Theory’s discussion of the commodification of culture begins with Adorno’s first mature essays, written before his Aufenthalt on the West Coast.

1.  Music and its Transmission Two early essays in the philosophy of music stand out: “On the Social Situation of Music” (1932) and “On the Fetish Character in Music and Regression in Listening” (1938). Both essays investigate the social status of advanced art‐music in modern Europe. Such music is “autonomous” to the extent that it is reasonably independent from everyday social

A Companion to Adorno, First Edition. Edited by Peter E. Gordon, Espen Hammer, and Max Pensky. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2020 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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demands. It follows from the fact that such demands in modern European society are bourgeois demands that autonomous art be relatively free from bourgeois requirements. To the extent that such requirements would operate to standardize music, as Adorno holds they would, one might think that such autonomy is a very good thing. But it is only a very good thing for music, and only then qualifiedly. Modern society is riven by contradiction and art‐music’s capacity to stand outside the demands of the ordinary in such a society depends on just that social fragmentation. Moreover, for Adorno “autonomy” is a concept that admits of degrees and has no pristine instantiation. It always makes sense to ask how autonomous a is from b or reflect on which of a or c is less or more autonomous from b. It never makes sense to assert that a is autonomous full stop, that is, is fully and irrevocably free. Given this, Adorno holds that art‐music at even its most avant‐garde reflects the sundered nature of modern society. To be sure, it does so at a remove, but being at a remove does not invest the music with a transcendent, post‐social character. Adorno is here developing in the domain of music a conception of dialectical rationality and critique: art‐music detaches from society in general such that one may regard that music as constituting a separate “world” in which it answers to its own demands. Yet, since that world and its separateness is a product of the antagonisms of society generally, it will carry within its autonomous form a content reflecting its having‐been‐separated and therefore the antagonisms (Adorno 1984a, 729, 2002, 391–392). Five years earlier Benjamin had ascribed similar structural principles to Trauerspiele. This means that even art‐music can only have commodity value for society in general. As far as society is concerned it has value, like all else, in terms of its ability to exchange for other goods, that is, its ability to play a role in markets. We shall discuss Adorno’s understanding of the cognitive import of commodity form and relations later; for now, it is enough to note that commodities have no inherent worth. They are abstract fungibles, items whose nature consists precisely in their ability to function systematically with a great deal of substitution. Of course any commodity will have its use and use‐value, and it is a mistake to think that a broadly Marxian approach to capitalist markets asserts that use plays no role in commodity. The point is, rather, that use‐value is “overwritten” by exchange‐value, that is, that markets function by means of abstract equivalences between radically different kinds of goods so that those goods may trade without essential regard for their uses. Money marks equivalences between such goods. (Of course money or various indices of monetary worth, can themselves be commodities, as it were “at second order.”) Music exists at a point of tension between commodity and autonomy and, at that point, finds itself alienated. For, modern art‐music must attempt to retain its unique form of expression in the teeth of the ever‐expanding scope of the sphere of commodity. At advanced stages of this encroachment, music is forced to become reflexive; its freedom is indexed to an explicit awareness of its alienation and to a coordinately explicit investigation of the resources still available to it, with which it might resist the encroachment. This accounts for the acceleration in late‐modern musical composition of formal innovation. As propulsive as this is for the music, the music itself can do nothing to mend general society. All it can do is bear witness through an ever‐contracting lens. Adorno is also concerned by what he takes to be the diminution of aesthetic experience by means of music’s technological reproduction. Primary here are radio broadcasts and phonograph records. In terms of mere sonic quality of course Adorno is quite right to insist that radio and, less invidiously, records are no match for live performance. There is simply no comparison. If one extrapolates to media unknown to Adorno – for example, cassette tapes, compact discs, mp3s, etc. – one may feel the point to be dire. Listening to 88

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Gurrelieder on one’s iPhone through earbuds is at best a faint remnant of the performance. To come to be able to accept this gnat‐buzz as the default way music sounds is surely a very bad thing. But psychoacoustics is not Adorno’s main worry; the way mass media shape musical form, performance, and intellectual reception is suspect. Radio parses out the intervals in which it will play the music, a symphony must be distributed across many sides of 78 rpm records, and these sorts of constraints  –  all extra‐musical  –  in turn affect listening and performance. Tempi will increase (or decrease), the attempt to communicate “as‐if‐there” vivacity will impact timbre and volume, and many details will simply be lost. Over the long run, listening will “regress” such that, were one in the audience at a live performance, one would experience the music through the implied filter that radio and records provide; that is, one would experience the live music under the aspect of “what‐is‐ to‐be‐transmitted.” Moreover, albums, radio broadcasts, and, now ubiquitously, internet recordings of music can be repeated ad libitum. Such repetition dulls primary responsiveness, that is, it places a precondition on first hearing music that it conforms to type, since repetitive listen is constructive of types and type‐listening. Adorno does leave room for records as a form of musical recollection, not as of live, but as of a “petrified” (erstarrtet) music (Adorno 1984b, 532, 2002, 279). This is a testamentary phenomenon. The deadness of the music presents its life as evanescent, that is, under the aspect of having lived. Its eternal life (as recorded) is also its eternal death (as having been played live). One finds here a musical correlate to still‐life painting. Adorno writes that the phonograph’s reification of the music is no objection to this; one cannot have a memorial without a corpse. But, in the end, one might consider this only a slight concession. On the other side of the ledger, art‐music becomes a “fetish,” an inanimate object invested with animate qualities, tokening a magical form of experience (Adorno 1969, 9–45, 2002, 288–317). An inanimate object imbued with spirit is spirit withdrawn from the realm of the human. Music’s autonomy becomes increasingly socially marginalized; accordingly, it is treated as a rarefaction with no essential social connection. Adorno deploys the concept of “fetish” intending that it be placed alongside both Lukács’s conception of reification (Lukács 1967, 1971) and Benjamin’s developing notion of aura (Benjamin 1968, 1977).

2.  Dialectic, Form, Concept Adorno’s most sustained discussion of the relation of art to culture is the section of Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944/7) called “The Culture Industry.” Adorno co‐authored the book with Horkheimer, but took the lead in the composition of the culture industry section. Before turning to the text, there are three preliminary conceptual matters to discuss. The first has to do with what one might call the proper unit of analysis. Adorno’s early work in the philosophy of music provides the key point, that is, that autonomous art, on the one side, and cultural commodities, on the other, are not independent, opposed phenomena. They are two elements of a single structure. Within that structure they relate to one another, in one way of looking at things, in opposition; yet, from another perspective, the elements are mutually supporting. Autonomous art and commodity art oppose one another in that in the former there is singularity and detail of approach, whereas in the latter the work’s generic integration controls the relation of all its elements. Nevertheless, autonomous and commodity art reinforce one another in that the effect of the former as a stand‐out instance of singular art depends on a contrast established between it and the generic. Likewise, the lability of generic works, their ability to satisfy audiences across the board, 89

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rests on their taking on aspects of distinctiveness. That is, it is part of the developing generic nature of cultural commodities to adapt singularity to their purposes and seem more differentiated than they are. If one does not keep this interrelation of autonomous art and cultural commodity firmly in view, one has no hope of tracking Horkheimer and Adorno’s discussion of the culture industry. A second preliminary matter has to do with the philosophical form of the chapter on the culture industry. Dialectic of Enlightenment bears a subtitle that reads: “Philosophical Fragments.” This is no casual designation; it has both historical and conceptual purchase. Historically the subtitle resonates with aphoristic practice in French and German letters dating from the Eighteenth Century. Dialectic of Enlightenment offers very little in the way of  explicit argumentation. For most philosophers, this will be disappointing. But by Horkheimer and Adorno’s lights it is an entirely principled way to proceed. Arguments are only as good as their premises. Successful intellectual exchange by means of argument depends on at least some shared premises on at least some level. But the premises apt to be accepted by one’s conversant are products of the stifling and self‐enclosed structure that Dialectic of Enlightenment is set to challenge. Under such conditions, it is much more powerful to show, not prove, one’s point. One does this by presenting the phenomenon one wishes to draw attention to so that it is seen unmistakably. The best aphorisms are evidence‐free, but fix attention. They stand by and for themselves. Horkheimer and Adorno write that this fragmentary approach is especially evident in the chapter on the culture industry (Horkheimer and Adorno 1962, 6, 2002, xix). The third prerequisite is to take stock of the theory of concepts that informs Horkheimer and Adorno’s understanding of the social ramifications of commodity form. A commodity must be generic enough to trade efficiently in a system of diverse items. One might think that the term “generic” expresses over‐generality and, thus, lack of needed specificity. That is, there is often a negative normative dimension to the term. Horkheimer and Adorno do not dissent from this judgment, but they also do not think that rejecting something as blasé goes far enough. Being generic is an especially robust form of being general. Now, the capacity to represent the world in general terms is widespread among higher‐order animals. One might equate conceptuality with this capacity if conjoined with a certain dispositional regularity. But Horkheimer and Adorno’s concern with the generic nature of concept is directed at a more restricted notion of conception. They are concerned with Kantian specifications of conceptuality. Kant allows that concepts proper might be unstructured by transcendental apperception, but his main interest has to do with laws and universal structure, and thus with concepts that figure in what he calls “cognition” (Erkenntnis). Being conceptually general in this sense is the result of categorization. Categorization in turn presupposes reduction, by means of judgment, of difference in favor of sameness. That is, concepts organize specificity under generality by eliminating from consideration differences between things so that two or more items can be grouped by a rule in terms of what they have in common. The concept “string quartet” includes within it Haydn’s op. 51, Beethoven’s op. 131, and Bartók’s Fourth, but only does so in virtue of abstracting from their great variation. Of course humans must think, if not always at least very often, in just this way. Adorno especially can seem as if he holds that there is something inherently pathological about everyday conception or, if one shifts the thought a bit toward language, about predication. For, any description of a thing that is general must be selective, sacrifice detail, and display the thing in less than its complete form. Adorno in other of his works draws dire consequences from the requirements of generality or, more precisely, from a lack of circumspection that general, rule‐like thought must obscure 90

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­ articularity. But perception of the case borders on the mundane and the consequence he p envisions is hyperbolic. One wants to say: of course categorizing things in a certain way puts to the side both other ways that they might be categorized and that they have a certain dignity prior to their categorization. But it does not push such matters to the side forever, nor is there any danger that one reduces even for now things to the way they are categorized. Something must be added to the picture in order to generate the concern Adorno expresses. A more plausible version of the claim detaches it from what Adorno takes to be the methodological constraints of negative dialectics and advances it against a more sociological background. Adorno and Horkheimer are convinced that modern society achieves its structural integrity and scope by so tightly concatenating generalities in rigid systematic hierarchies. The conceptual systems in question develop more and more in terms of an internal prescription to increase scope and tighten conceptual and inferential relations that hold between their constituent parts at the expense of the plasticity and non‐ systematic role of those parts. This is to be sure not the only notion of a system or of systematic power, but it is one that Horkheimer and Adorno think is dominant in science and one that is exported from that context into other sectors of social life. Under such conditions, it is very difficult to think of things in manners that significantly depart from convention. Commodities are forms of thought, in the following sense. Economic structures are human constructs, that is, are, broadly, intentional structures. If this is allowed, it is open to treat commodities as special cases of the predominance of generality over specificity in thought. Consider the phrase “forms of thought” used at the beginning of this paragraph. One may understand it in two distinct ways. The first, stressed earlier, is that forms of thought are the results of ways of thinking. But one might also take the phrase to indicate that commodities form thought. Horkheimer and Adorno treat these two dimensions as complementary and discuss commodity art in terms of both. Art that has the form of commodity is art that is produced by a structure to which commodity form is native and necessary. Likewise, art that is commodity fosters interactions with it as of a commodity. It  is important not to overplay Adorno and Horkheimer’s Marxism here. Dialectic of Enlightenment contains no explicit mention of Marx (excepting the Marx Brothers). In part that was for “existential reasons”  –  the expatriated critical theorists to varying degrees were anxious not to seem communist, for reasons having to do with their political freedom and with securing research. (Mention of Marxian economics was systematically redacted from Dialectic of Enlightenment prior to its 1947 publication. The editor of the most dependable English translation [Horkheimer and Adorno 2002] very helpfully marks these ­excisions.) But that is not the whole story. Adorno, for one, was a Marxist sotto voce at best.  So, while Horkheimer and Adorno’s excoriation of commodity thinking may put one in mind of Marx, the theoretical motivation has more to do with the twin pillars of Lukács’ concept of reification and Weber’s of rationalization as they give rise to what Horkheimer called “instrumental reason” (see Horkheimer and Adorno 1962, 137, 173, 176, 2002, 102, 133, 136). Dialectic of Enlightenment addresses its topics with a fair degree of philosophical speculation. Not very much of the presentation invokes a priori generalization in its usual philosophical forms. Horkheimer and Adorno take themselves to be dealing with social facts and their dialectical extrapolation. But the “ground rules” of dialectic, while perhaps in some sense immanent to the subject matter, do have non‐empirical bases. It is important therefore to note that the culture industry chapter does not stand alone in its attention to the ideological impacts of mass communication, automation, and technology. It is of a 91

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piece with other, more empirical work of the Institute for Social Research that was published before and after its exile in the United States (see Adorno, Frenkel‐Brunswik, Levinson et al. 1969; Horkheimer 1988a; Kirchheimer 1939; Löwenthal and Guterman 1949; Neumann 1944; Pollock 1957). Adorno in particular was wary of the way empirical research was carried out in the United States, a phenomenon he knew (or thought he knew) from his time in New Jersey working on the Princeton radio project. But, at least officially, he did not conceive his work in isolation from the empirical tout court.

3.  The Silver Screen and Beyond Film is the primary art form considered in Dialectic of Enlightenment. As “enemy nationals,” Adorno and Horkheimer were subject to travel restrictions that prevented them from a more first‐hand perusal of Hollywood; nevertheless, film culture in Los Angeles was ­ubiquitous. The term “mass art” was common enough among early twentieth-century cultural critics; Benjamin (1968, 1977), Kracauer (1976, 1994, 2003, 2005), Horkheimer (1988b), and Löwenthal (1984, 1990) all used it. Horkheimer and Adorno open “The Culture Industry” by deploying several variants of the concept (1962, 129, 130, 131, 2002, 95, 96, 97). Later, Adorno became unhappy with the term, which he felt could be misleading in its implication – as he took it – that such art was art that is made by and for “the masses” (Adorno 1967, 60–61, 1991, 98–99). Notwithstanding this, Adorno utilizes the term occasionally in his postwar work. Film is “mass art” in at least three senses. First, it is mass produced; it is by its very nature replicable without significant alternation after printing the edited camera negative (or interpositive). While there are print stages closer to the original negative than the release print, any number of prints can be made. (Adjusting for digitalization, this is true for DVD and Blu‐ray discs as well.) Second, because any number of prints can be made, the distribution of a film to its audience depends not on some limit of the number of available copies, but rather on the provisioning of apparatus to view the film, for example, projectors, screens, theaters, etc. Films are made to be seen by as many people who have a desire to see them, which viewing is provided for in theaters located so as to maximize viewership. This is still the era of the great Los Angeles and New York movie palaces, opulent “destination venues” where going to the films was sold as spectacle. Third, these facilities are constructed to seat several hundred or even a thousand audience members, who see the film en masse. One doesn’t want to strain credulity and posit on this basis a collective oceanic experience on the part of audiences. But to contend that audience members are “alone amongst others in the dark,” as one sometimes sees written, is even more improbable as a description of audience experience in the 1940s. It makes sense, in a moderate way, to allow that seeing a film is a “mass experience” both in that films are calibrated to be seen by a group of people who at least are together for the purpose of seeing that film and in that one’s responsiveness to the film takes into account the responsiveness of others. In any case, mass‐appeal is a matter of degree. Some films intend more individuated responses; some do not. It is useless to attempt to argue away the fact that an important part of the experience of the first run of Psycho was the added chill given to one’s screams by everyone else’s. Being technological – being mass art in the first sense – is not itself what makes works articles of the culture industry. It is rather the way technology subtends their domination and deception. Technology does so when it “monopolizes” social expectation and responsiveness (Horkheimer and Adorno 1962, 130, 2002, 95–96). While it is true that 92

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c­ ommodity form is the form of the art product, it is crucial to mark the contention that commodity form is the form of experience, the form in which the artist makes and the audience encounters the work. Horkheimer and Adorno rate this commodity effect on works more powerful than anything the arch‐progenitor of mass art, Wagner, could have dreamt (Horkheimer and Adorno 1962, 132, 2002, 97). This is accomplished not, as one might think, by dulling sensibility but by attuning it. Products of the culture industry do not present themselves as bland and inconsequential; rather, they mimic the onrush of commercial activity to which they belong. Schematization for Kant was the process by which pure concepts are modeled a priori as rules for the organization of specific intuitions. Kant wrote that this process, required for experience to be even so much as possible, is a “hidden art in the depths of the human soul” (Kant 1990, A141/B180–181). Hidden no longer, say Horkheimer and Adorno: the culture industry has penetrated those depths and installed commodity form as the crux of possible artistic representation and thus of possible self‐ knowledge attendant to the experience of artworks (Horkheimer and Adorno 1962, 132– 133, 2002, 98–99). This creates a trifurcate pre‐established harmony between the order of economy, of object, and of reception. Such art delivers (i.e. makes good) in that it delivers (i.e. transports) the audience back into the world of everyday work (Horkheimer and Adorno 1962, 145, 2002, 109). It is an engine of false reconciliation, a reified form of cultural self‐harm (Adorno 1978, 146–148 [Section 96], 1993, 193–195). Horkheimer and Adorno advance this thesis along many tangents, and one might pick any one of them (or group of them) to chart their presentation. I would like to emphasize two concepts that have received less attention than others, but I do not in any way wish to suggest that this is the only path through the presentation. The first is diversion (Zerstreuung) (Horkheimer and Adorno 1962, 143, 2002, 107). “Zerstreuen,” the verb in which the noun is rooted, has three slightly different shades of meaning, all of which are implicated in their use of the term: “scatter,”, “dissipate,” and “offer diversion.” The latter meaning is most prominent. A Hollywood film sets the task of being a diversion from the everyday by replicating the everyday in a slightly different form. But the degree of difference is under strict control; the work cannot be so discontinuous from the workaday world that experience of it would be too laborious. Such art is duplicitous in its effect, both offering respite and denying it (Horkheimer and Adorno 1962, 150, 2002, 113). The satisfaction of the experience is a reinforcement of standard modes of reacting to the world at large: “to be pleased is to be in agreement” (Horkheimer and Adorno 1962, 153, 2002, 115). But such “amusements” also dissipate possible aesthetic reaction, this also in the service of insuring predictable reintegration into society. When Adorno writes in Minima Moralia that “every visit to the cinema leaves me, against all my vigilance, stupider and worse” (Adorno 1993, 21, 1978, 25 [Section 5]) he is reporting, so to speak, from the trenches. And, last, the works themselves scatter their elements in order to achieve their optimal reintegrating effects. Horkheimer and Adorno stress here the kind of variability that such works exhibit. Even audiences under what critical theorists take to be the lockdown constraints of ideology are not automata; they must be presented with something they think is special. The paradigm is something like franchise films – there were plenty in Hollywood at the time, especially in the mystery and horror genres: for example, The Thin Man, Charlie Chan, Sherlock Holmes, Frankenstein, The Mummy, etc. When one reads that “every film is a preview for the next” (Horkheimer and Adorno 1962, 172, 2002, 132), one might be put in mind of such franchises: star‐driven sets of films calibrated to provide one more of the same, with just enough variation in plot and special effects to be fun. If there is a point where an enhanced effect can be had by departing from the overall plan of the work, that 93

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is just the minor difference sought. It is characteristic of such works, then, that they are not strongly unified by their overall aesthetic conception: rather, they have what integrity they do in virtue of the role they play in rendering audiences pliable. In a memorable disowning of the “Lubitsch touch,” one sees the central claim: the wry detail is only the wry detail to the extent that “showing the wry detail” is generalizable as style (Horkheimer and Adorno 1962, 163, 2002, 125). This point made, as it were, in miniature spells the  culmination of a development in modern European self‐understanding. Adorno and Horkheimer endeavor to show that the “official story,” according to which modern ­subjectivity develops through bourgeois individuality, inverts matters. The development of  bourgeois sensibility is not the result of a “principle of individuality” (Prinzip der Individualität) (Horkheimer and Adorno 1962, 164, 2002, 125 [a coy adaptation of Schopenhauer’s principium individuationis]). The opposite is true; bourgeois self‐understanding develops only by suppressing individuality (Horkheimer and Adorno 1962, 148, 2002, 111; cf. Marcuse 1965, 1968). If by “heroic” one means “standing out in terms of highest, definitive qualities,” in the modern world it is the Average Joe who becomes heroic (Horkheimer and Adorno 1962, 165, 2002, 126). Horkheimer and Adorno are making the same point from the other extreme when they write that the culture industry has raised “species being” to an epitome. Gattungswesen is of course a concept from Marx, specifically from his early work prized by critical theorists. The extension of the term is not entirely clear, but in general it denotes a proper object of productive activity, the sundering from which causes alienation. Here this is not the meaning intended. It is rather that the very conception of what it is generally to be human has been perverted into an order of “second nature.” Against this conceptual backdrop, stereotypes constructed from averaged human activities are the fundamental objects that one takes to be individual (Horkheimer and Adorno 1962, 154, 2002, 116). The second concept that orders the analysis is style (Stil). The function Adorno and Horkheimer assign to this concept is informed by the centrality it enjoyed in Hegel‐inspired late nineteenth‐century European history of the visual arts. Heinrich Wölfflin is representative. Wölfflin sets himself the problem of discovering the “double root of style.” One of the roots has to do with the question of what makes possible a unified artistic sensibility. The answer: temperament, school, country, and race – considered historically – all unify artistic sensibility in both artist and period. The second root is Hegelian, and constitutes what is novel in approach. Driving the various forms of contextualized unified sensibility is a reciprocating rational process of developing representational schemata. It is this foundation in Hegel that would have recommended style to Horkheimer and Adorno as a concept with which to attempt to come to grips with the culture industry as one such “schema” (cf. the aforementioned remark concerning schematism in Kant). In order to adequately grasp the nature of this underpinning, one must take a historical step back from Wölfflin to Alois Riegl. Stilfragen – the title given to Riegl’s first important book – arose as questions in the first place when idealist art historians in central Europe reconceived the importance of ornament to the plastic arts. The given view was that ornament was inessential, an additive feature to art the formal nature of which was bounded by the possibilities offered by the artistic materials. Riegl instead argued that one could chart an unbroken history of ornament in European art on account of the continuity of mutating modes of visual schemata that artists deploy. Art is not based in neutral imitation of nature and rated in terms of its verisimilitude on that measure; rather, art is a primary way in which humans express their desire that the world answer to their visions of it for them. Riegl called this impulse to make over the world, and not merely copy it, the Kunstwollen. 94

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This  too  is recognizably Hegelian. If one wants to understand the primary forces determining artistic modalities and their uses at a given time in history, one will have to discuss the human desire to find the world to be satisfactory at that given time. The artwork expresses that historically situated demand; and style is the manner in which the demand is rendered coherent and communicable. Style is thus tied to general forms of visualization at given points in history; one may use the concept to understand the aesthetic unification of a work in terms of its individual maker and its period. One practical implication of this view of the relative priority of vision to what is envisioned was a reconsideration of periods of art that had been branded devoid of style (e.g. late‐Imperial art of Rome, the Baroque, etc.) Wölfflin’s “history of seeing” was immensely important to Ernst Gombrich, who despite this criticized the Hegelian universalism of the view. Benjamin did likewise in a 1933 review of a collection of essays from the followers of Riegl (Benjamin 1985), but there are traces of the positive effect of the Riegl–Wölfflin line on him (see Schwartz 2005). One bit of ­evidence is Benjamin’s appropriation of Riegl’s term for how style integrates works, “crystallization.” Riegl writes that he took the idea from Burckhardt, but it descends ultimately from Schelling’s Naturphilosophie, where it denotes a reciprocating and self‐reproducing part‐whole form prior to organic structure proper. Adorno uses this term several times, often in his approving discussion of Benjamin’s view about how primordial names are refracted semantically into concepts (see Adorno 1976, 240, 1982, 234; cf. Adorno 1970, 201, 1978, 195, 1993, 148 [Section 97], 1997, 133,). There is a tendency in thinking about artistic style to see it as a marker of “high” culture and, coordinately, to view periods of cultural diminution as lacking style. These are degenerate periods where, at best, style is equivalent to what is stylish. In a word: the concern is decadence. For Horkheimer and Adorno the touchstone of such a view of the relation of style to culture is Nietzsche (see Horkheimer and Adorno 1962, 136n.1, 2002, 101n.1). Horkheimer and Adorno endorse the proposition that the art of the culture industry is debased. And one might think that, if the art is debased, it stands to reason that it lacks style. But it does not follow from the fact that lack of style implies debased culture that a debased culture implies lack of style. This is precisely what Adorno and Horkheimer point out as against the Burckhardt–Nietzsche line of Kulturkritik. The culture industry has a style, perhaps several. More than that, the particular style or styles that it deploys are every bit or even more powerful than prior forms of style. As Weber might have added, the culture industry outfits itself with a “steel‐hard shell” (stahlhartes Gehäuse) of style. This dialectic move is typical of early Critical Theory and of Dialectic of Enlightenment especially. When one is presented with a phenomenon that seems extremely negative, say, a destitute form of culture, there is a tendency to see it as extraordinary, even monstrous. Thereby one exempts the phenomenon from analysis, on the assumption that analysis must operate with what is suitable to rational understanding. Adorno and Horkheimer reject this exemption. The treatment of the relation of myth to enlightenment rejects it, the treatment of the relation of Sade to Kant rejects it, the treatment of the kinship of capitalism and fascism rejects it, and it is rejected here as well. What is truly horrible about “mass deception” is that it is a product of structures that seem benign and ordinary. The prospects for autonomous art in the era of the culture industry are dim. Whether art forms that have emerged in the period and have been all but identified with mass art can be liberated from the culture industry is an issue treated later. Music, literature, the visual arts, architecture, and dance preexisted the advent of the culture industry and, while any of those forms is by and large open to the incursions of the culture industry, their native means to resist commodification might be rated somewhat greater than those 95

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of photography or film if only because of their longer histories. Following Lukács, one might say that artworks that focus meaning through stylistic integration aspire to “totality.” Non‐autonomous works exhibit uncritical totality. That is, their integrating styles harmonize the work into a self‐sealing whole, which represents the world external to it as in good order (Horkheimer and Adorno 1962, 138–139, 2002, 103–104). Artworks are integrated entities; each is unified in some way around the ideas and sensibility that guide its making and reception. But harmony and unity are not the same thing; a work may have unity without that unity being harmonious. Autonomous art unifies without harmonizing, pitting totality against totality. Its integrative force consists in style that cannot be wholly comprehended within the antecedent possibilities of form. Adorno sometimes speaks of artworks that are dissonant; they reject harmony from within. This does not mean a rejection of all conventional devices, but autonomous style exceeds such devices, recasting them as present in the work yet as not controlling it (see Adorno 1964, 13–17, 2002, 564–567). Often it is the case that such “belated style” is only qualifiedly within the intentional competence of the artist. Style in this sense enforces a principle of non‐closure of works; any totality at hand is deferred. Horkheimer and Adorno write that style is only a “promise” (Horkheimer and Adorno 1962, 138, 2002, 103). The reference is to Stendhal’s bon mot that “beauty is but the promise of happiness” (la beauté n’est que la promesse du bonheur) (Stendhal 1965, 64n.; see also Adorno 1970, 461, 1997, 331). Works that present unproblematic totalities are, as far as promises go, false. But style as such need not be rejected on that basis, as autonomous works promise truth by their refusal to harmonize themselves and their relation to the world. The condition they state, however, is negative and indeterminate, that is, not this harmony but another not‐yet‐realizable one. The most resistive work, then, will present disrupted formal harmonies, that is, harmony as disrupted. This of course recalls the conception of the fragmentary that sustains the compositional form of much of Dialectic of Enlightenment.

4.  Afterlife of an Idea On his return to Germany, Adorno continued to reflect on the issues raised in “The Culture Industry.” He never retracted the core views stated there, but he did branch out from the Hollywood context to consider the prospects of mass art as autonomous. Again the focus is primarily on film, but Adorno also considers television. Television comes into its own as mass media in the United States and Germany in the period of the late‐1940s to the early‐1950s (regular commercial broadcasts began in the United States in 1947, in the BRD in 1952, and in the GDR in 1956). It is perhaps a surprise that Adorno is not completely opposed to the medium, writing that any analysis of television must provide both a critique of what is nefarious about it and a way forward to improve the medium (Adorno 1954, 213). The key to this approach is to do justice to what Adorno calls the “stratification” of mass media generally. Television is positioned ­between film and radio; they constitute an unavoidable continuity in which they are thoroughly intermeshed, lending powers and effects to one another (Adorno 1966, 69–71, 2005, 49–50). The effects that most concern Adorno are experiential. Any mass art object operates on several levels at once, where the strata involved are not “fused” but “rigidly superimposed” (Adorno 1954, 221). Unlike autonomous art, in which the many layers of meaning thoroughly combine due to their deep interdependence, mass art fires experience by simultaneously hitting any number of social‐psychological targets separately. Such 96

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cultural artifacts are planned to do so, and Adorno is especially struck by advertising’s capacity to coopt both conscious and unconscious desire by means of stratification, “psychoanalysis in reverse” (Adorno 1954, 223; Löwenthal 1987, 186). Adorno does not mean “unconscious” in a strict sense  –  although he does not rule out such incursions. Rather, the “hidden messages” are, as he puts it, “inconspicuous,” permitting television to maintain the subliminal qua subliminal (Adorno 1954, 224). Because there is no release of the implicit into the explicit, the mere disposition to take what one is provided in its own terms is reinforced by every viewing (Adorno 1966, 79, 2005, 55–56). The main culprits are genres, which embed in the viewer responses that are themselves stereotypical, and because they are so, are preadapted for further standardization. There may be a feeling of ersatz freedom in having a “cinema in one’s home,” a form of entertainment that is small and seemingly controllable, but the increased repetitiveness and commercialism of the medium outweigh such superficialities, revealing its power to dominate choice (Adorno 1966, 74–75, 2005, 52–53). Much of this follows the treatment already given to film genre in “The Culture Industry.” What is different is the interesting further claim that stereotypes in television programs operate to relativize ideas to personality types (one of Adorno’s examples is a show about a dictator, where totalitarianism is reduced to a conjunction of personal ambition and general maliciousness) to deliver moral bromides, or to reinforce nationalism. But perhaps the most significant aspect of the postwar essays is the shift they presage from consideration of the content of mass art to more basic questions having to do with the formal nature of media. It is possible, in part at least, to see Adorno’s outlook in “The Culture Industry” to be a lengthy answer to Benjamin’s less guarded views on the critical potential of film. Likewise, one might say that Adorno’s thought on film after his repatriation has its impetus in responding to Kracauer’s Theory of Film (1960). The main work here is “Transparencies on Film.” This essay benefits from Adorno’s improved understanding of film structure. Adorno had co‐written a book on musical composition in film (Eisler 1947; Adorno and Eisler 1969) and developed a script for an unproduced film called Below the Surface (see Jenemann 2007, 105–47); nevertheless, he had little technical understanding of filmmaking and even less of photographic art more generally. Given the pervasiveness of photography in modern Europe and the United States, this constitutes a significant gap in his theory of mass art. Specifically, Adorno had not thought sufficiently about the photographic basis of film, shot construction, or cutting technique. “Transparencies” takes up this first matter, that is, the inherent realism of film due to its basis in photography. Photography is ontologically real, that is, what it represents has to have existed at the time of its representation. Photography is inherently and unerringly referential. Corollary to this, the photographic image in the first instance is not rendered, but recorded. The contrast with painting has impressed many, but it is important not to draw too strong a conclusion from it. Nothing appears on the canvas unless a painter puts it there; he or she marks the surface with intention and craft. The photographic impression results from a mechanical process; there is no fashioning of the image in the process of its creation. But it is a mistake to reduce the craft that has as its result the photographic image to the recording of the initial impression for the simple reason that the image that one sees on the print is also the result of many other stages of preparation. So if the idea that photography, and with it film, is real is supposed to show that it is limited to its referential function, that is clearly wrong. If the inherent reality of photography and film is meant to imply that the referential function must always be a proper part of their meaning, that seems much more tenable. One might say that film amplifies this inherent realism by showing what it represents as moving (or potentially moving). Painting, sculpture, and 97

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­ hotography can represent moving objects, but they cannot represent objects in movement. p (Adorno does not make a more telling point, i.e. that movies “move” in that the camera can move, moving the visual frame of reference within diegetic space.) Adorno holds that film’s realism tends the medium to realize its core potentialities by achieving greater and greater grasp on the world as it is. There are two conclusions to be drawn from this. First, in virtue of its base formal characteristics, film’s aims are satisfied when it represents faithfully, where “faithfully” means to capture as much of the world as can be seen (and heard). Adorno does not make this point, but one might even say – as Kracauer and Bazin do – that film sees better than the eye (nothing escapes it) and, because it presents this hyper‐sight to audiences, it invites them to attend even more deeply to what is visible on the screen than they would in everyday life. Some films, for example, Béla Tarr’s Turin Horse, exploit this by extra‐long takes and ultra‐gradual shifts in focus. Second, when inserted into an artistic culture dominated by the culture industry, the world that is the norm for gauging satisfaction of the realist aim is especially conformist. This means that films are made in order to serve up a reality whose antecedent integrity is required and unquestioned. Otherwise, the vocation film sets for itself to be as real as possible is problematic. So much the authors of Dialectic of Enlightenment might have said. Adorno wishes to challenge, however, the presupposition that film’s integrity as an art depends on this mimetic function; but he holds that it would be undialectical to think that this is made possible by a simple denial of the realism of film. Instead, realism has to work against itself to break down the idea that film must subserve current states of the world. The gloss of film’s realism as “referential” is no throwaway. “Transparencies” suggests that a film can detach itself sufficiently from its realism by nominalist means to count as autonomous art. It will decompose the world represented, by renouncing “professional” technique, arresting motion, or radical editing. This seems reasonable enough, if vague. But the specific way that Adorno makes the point may seem arcane in the extreme. He does not analogize film to spoken language or to language as an abstract system, as one sometimes finds film theorists doing; rather, experiencing film images is similar to reading writing (Schrift) (Adorno 1967, 82, 1991, 180). It is difficult to make Adorno’s intentions entirely precise; what follows is an attempted reconstruction. Adorno is focusing on the graphic element of written language, the nature of writing as marking. The analogy he pursues runs from the film image as graven, that is, as imprinted, to the letters in words as marks. At this base level, both film images and letters are inscriptions. Adorno’s guiding idea is that, if one can track imparting meaning back to such rudiments, change in rudimentary structure will cause change in meaning, in both cases visual meaning. Moreover, if one does this on the model of récit, as is Adorno’s normal compositional practice, one increases the awareness that one is deriving meaning from the marks. Adorno holds that such derivation itself is an active, pre‐syntactic compositional process (at least in the first instance). In themselves these marks are non‐iconic. One must read in order to glean, and reading, as automatic as it may seem, is a matter of making marks mean something. Concern with the graphic elements of writing is not standard fare in mainstream philosophy of language or linguistics. One can make a great deal about this inattention, as Derrida does, and one may even find some common ground between deconstructive theory in that vein and Adorno in terms of the Bilderverbot, the prohibition on representing the transcendent. As Gertud Koch (1993) emphasizes, this concept is at work in Adorno, again through the influence of Benjamin. Lest this seem wild speculation, consider a further analog. Sütterlin is a German form of handwriting that was taught in school from the early Twentieth Century until the Second 98

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World War. It exhibits angular continuity between the letters of single words, several ligatures, and strong verticality of stroke. Nowadays, it can be challenging for even a native speaker of German to read, and is harder than that to write (its lower‐case “d” has migrated into standard proofreading symbols, standing for deleatur). The Swiss novelist Robert Walser’s Aus dem Bleistiftgebiet is written in an almost microscopic variant of this script, made even more difficult to decipher by the use of several invented abbreviations and contractions. Only pencil was used in the initial writing. The reason Walser chose to work this way is a subject of some controversy. Here is a possibility, or more accurately, a set of possibilities. Walser wrote to correspondents that he was unable to use pen and ink to write. “Write” here does not mean “write down”  –  Walser apparently used pens for other tasks – but rather to compose. He sometimes put the point in terms of disability. The few photographs we have of Walser late in his life, when Bleistiftgebiet was written, show his hands balled into fists, but his medical records disclose no physical malady (he was living for years in a mental hospital). It might be that Walser was stymied by the idea that pen and ink is too assertive, that is, once it is there, one has an indelible mark that must be lined through if it is to be changed, whereas pencil is less permanent. Indeed, Walser seems to have thought this of himself, that is, that living for him was a matter of willed diminishment or self‐erasure. And to the degree one thinks one’s writing expresses oneself graphically, that might matter a great deal to him. The use of extreme miniscule might be thought to express this self‐withdrawal as well. But he also seems to have thought that only in the rhythm of writing in this script could he reflect the flow of his thoughts. The idea, presumably, is that the script and its size tempered the physical action of marking the paper, as would the drag of the pencil lead. One might think that the basis for Walser’s insistence tracks the conception of marking that Adorno trades on here: that human thought realizes itself (sometimes) in marking things and in marking them in certain ways. Perhaps the relation of thinking and marking is such that a change in marks would entail a change in thought or a change in the latter a change in the former. If this is plausible, it is a short step to claim that the way a film strikes one is a matter of its visual marks, which marks are apprehended by a mark‐sensitive capacity of mind. Recall that film has a non‐reflective, near‐compulsory effect on its audience: to immerse oneself seamlessly in the film world. This is possible because the film world is a better, more‐than‐real duplication of the world it is about. In order to disrupt this effect, one must structure film to defeat easy inference and expectation. In what one might call its “subjective dimension,” one can introduce the necessary discontinuity by taking advantage of a general feature of depth psychology. Human visual experience, Adorno avers, does not merely get recorded straightaway in the mind. Rather, the mind “snaps up” certain images and holds them side‐by‐side. Such image‐aggregates do not then recur in memory as moving images (they lack the represented causal connection); rather, they are stored and experienced sub‐reflectively as static afterimages of the moving (cf. the aforementioned purported value of phonograph records). Adorno compares this to the “magic lantern slides of childhood” (Adorno 1967, 82, 1991, 180). Writing is fixed in text. Yet the marks move under one’s eyes, movement imparted by the action of reading. A contestable phenomenology of reading, but let it stand for the purposes of explication. If this is so, one might exploit the way visual memory reconstructs the filmic image by providing images for viewing that accentuate the reconstructive activity of mind in gleaning meaning. Such images will do so by being difficult to process mentally, but not so difficult that the process abates. Such films would not replicate a given world and, moreover, they would engage the reconstructive imaginative agency of the viewer to institute the world of the film. Along its 99

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“objective dimension,” film must decontextualize the images it presents, eschewing stylistic realism by playing the meaning of realistic images against critical counterparts. What Adorno primarily has in mind here is montage, but one might imagine less mosaic forms of cutting and more emphasis given on shot construction and camera movement. In any event, the images must allow multiple forms of legibility; they should be set in “constellations,” not systems (Adorno 1967, 84, 1991, 182).

5.  Concluding Thoughts We owe the slogan ubi nihil vales, ibi nihil velis (loosely: “worth naught, want not”) to the seventeenth‐century Flemish occasionalist Arnold Geulincx. Beckett never tired of saying this to his intimates; its astringency especially suits him. Geulincx also happened to be a favorite of Horkheimer’s. The tag stands well as the moral of Horkheimer and Adorno’s tale of art in the land of the commodity. The truth of the proposition is uncontestable: vast swaths of contemporary culture are permeated by updated forms of the malaise, duplicity, and stupidity that exercised Horkheimer and Adorno. If radio, Hollywood films, the funny papers, TV, and records are to blame, what is one to say about the internet? Even if one does not accept every particular of Horkheimer and Adorno’s complaint against the culture industry, one might feel a certain solidarity with them. The “falsifiers” consigned to Inferno’s Pits of Woe – the eighth, to be exact – might well be cultural industrialists and those who appreciate their depredations. Recall that contrapassi become more precise as one descends, so the cohort would be condemned to very specific and symbolically fitting punishments, say, reification visited on them in especially brutal physical forms. No one who is attentive at all to the world in which we now live can miss its debasement by cellphones, click tracks, Auto‐Tune, Facebook, Twitter, Rotten Tomatoes, emojis, call‐in radio, Googling, posting “likes,” selfies, and the like. Mediocrity puffed into prestige through “networking,” decisively sealing off any connection to intellectual substance, is now a mainstay of academic life, all but controlling hiring, promotion, and access to research fellowships. Adorno’s views on the culture industry are often the object of parody. He can seem to overreact, his sensitivity getting the better of his sensibility. Moreover, his prescriptions for mass art of distinction have not been productive. There is perhaps a way to consider early Godard to be clunky in the way Adorno thinks, and there is a certain truth to his assessment of Antonioni’s La notte. But the idea of balkanization of filmic material, in both film proper and TV, has not proven very useful. This is not because film as an art form has stagnated. Mizoguchi, Tarkovsky, Bresson, and Bergman are resolute narrative artists whom no one would rate as commodifiers. Kieślowski’s Dekalog, surely the very summit of television, carries no Adornian pennant. Still, in times where many are oblivious to the deadening arrangement of their lives by means of culture, a loud voice can be productive, especially if it is also strident.

References Adorno, T.W. (1954). How to look at television. The Quarterly of Film, Radio, and Television 8: 213–235. Adorno, T.W. (1964). Moments Musicaux. Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp. Adorno, T.W. (1966). Eingriffe: Neun Kritische Modelle. Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp. Adorno, T.W. (1967). Ohne Leitbild/Parva Aesthetica. Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp.

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Adorno, T.W. (1969). Dissonanzen, 4e. Göttingen: Vanderhoeck & Ruprecht. Adorno, T.W. (1970). Ästhetische Theorie. Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp. Adorno, T.W. (1976). Prismen: Kulturkritik und Gesellschaft. Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp. Adorno, T.W. (1978). Minima Moralia (trans. E.F.N. Jephcott). London: Verso. Adorno, T.W. (1982). Prisms (trans. S.W. Nicholson and S. Weber). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Adorno, T.W. (1984a). Zur gesellschaftlichen Lage der Musik. In: Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 18 (ed. R. Tiedemann), 729–777. Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp. Adorno, T.W. (1984b). Die Form der Schallplatte. In: Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 19, 530–534. Adorno, T.W. (1991). The Culture Industry (ed. J.M. Bernstein). London: Routledge. Adorno, T.W. (1993). Minima Moralia, 21e. Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp. Adorno, T.W. (1997). Aesthetic Theory (trans. R. Hullot‐Kentor). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Adorno, T.W. (2002). Essays on Music (ed. R. Leppert; trans. S. Gillespie). Berkeley: University of California Press. Adorno, T.W. (2005). Critical Models (trans. H. Pickford). New York: Columbia University Press. Adorno, T.W. and Eisler, H. (1969). Komposition für den Film. München: Rogner and Bernhard. Adorno, T.W., Frenkel‐Brunswik, E., Levinson, D. et al. (1969). The Authoritarian Personality. New York: Norton. Benjamin, W. (1968). The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction. In: Illuminations (ed. H. Arendt; trans. H. Zohn), 217–252. New York: Schocken. Benjamin, W. (1977). Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit. In: Illuminationen, 136–169. Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp. Benjamin, W. (1985). Strenge Kunstwissenschaft: Zum ersten Bande der Kunstwissenschaftliche Forschungen. In: Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 3 (eds. R. Tiedemann and S. Hermann), 363–374. Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp. Brecht, B. (1961). Fluchtlingsgespräche. Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp. Eisler, H. (1947). Composing for the Films. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Horkheimer, M. (1988a). Authorität und Familie. In: Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 3 (eds. A. Schmidt and G. Schmid Noerr), 336–417. Frankfurt/M: Fischer. Horkheimer, M. (1988b). Neue Kunst und Massenkultur. In: Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 4, (ed. A. Schmidt and G. Schmid Noerr), 419–438. Horkheimer, M. and Adorno, T.W. (1962). Dialektik der Aufklärung: Philosophische Fragmente. Stuttgart: Fischer. Horkheimer, M. and Adorno, T.W. (2002). Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments (ed. G. S. Noerr; trans. E.F.N. Jephcott). Palo Alto: Stanford University Press. Jenemann, D. (2007). Adorno in America. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Kant, I. (1990). Kritik der reinen Vernunft, 3e (ed. R. Schmidt). Hamburg: Meiner. Kirchheimer, O. (1939). Punishment and Social Structure. New York: Columbia University Press. Koch, G. (1993). Mimesis and Bilderverbot. Screen 34: 211–222. Kracauer, S. (1976). Jacques Offenbach und das Paris seiner Zeit. Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp. Kracauer, S. (1994). Das Ornament der Masse, 6e. Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp. Kracauer, S. (2003). Jacques Offenbach and the Paris of his Time (trans. G. David and E. Mosbacher). New York: Zone. Kracauer, S. (2005). The Mass Ornament: Weimar Essays (ed. and trans. T. Levin). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Löwenthal, L. (1984). Literature and Mass Culture. London: Transaction. Löwenthal, L. (1987). Theodor Adorno: an intellectual memoir. In: An Unmastered Past: Autobiographical Reflections (ed. M. Jay), 183–200. Berkeley: University of California Press. Löwenthal, L. (1990). Literatur und Massenkultur. In: Schriften, vol. 1 (ed. D. Helmut). Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp. Löwenthal, L. and Guterman, N. (1949). Prophets of Deceit: A Study of the Techniques of the American Agitator. New York: Harper & Bros.

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Lukács, G. (1967). Geschichte und Klassenbewußtsein. Amsterdam: de Munter. Lukács, G. (1971). History and Class Consciousness (trans. R. Livingstone). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Marcuse, H. (1965). Über den affirmative Charakter der Kultur. In: Kultur und Gesellschaft, 56–101. Zürich: Ex Libris. Marcuse, H. (1968). The affirmative character of culture. In: Negations: Essays in Critical Theory (trans. J. Shapiro), 88–133. Boston: Beacon. Neumann, F. (1944). Behemoth: The Structure and Practice of National Socialism 1933–1944, 2nd rev. ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pollock, F. (1957). Automation: A Study of Its Economic and Social Consequences (trans. W.O. Henderson and W.H. Caloner). New York: Praeger. Schwartz, F. (2005). Blind Spots: Critical Theory and the History of Art in Twentieth‐Century Germany. New Haven: Yale University Press. Stendhal (Beyle, Marie‐Henri) (1965). De l’amour. Paris: Flammarion.

Further Reading Auerbach, E. (1946). Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Balázs, B. Der sichbare Mensch, oder die Kultur des Films. Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp. Bürger, P. (1974). Theorie der Avantgarde. Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp / 1984. Theory of the Avant‐Garde, translated by Michael Shaw. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Debord, G. (1967). La société du spectacle. Paris: Buchet Castel / 1994. Society of the Spectacle, translated by Donald Nicholson‐Smith. New York: Zone. Friedeburg, L. and Habermas, J. (eds.) (1983). Adorno‐Konferenz 1983, 131–197. Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp. Greenberg, C. (1961). Art and Culture: Critical Essays. Boston: Beacon Press. Hansen, M.B. (2011). Cinema and Experience: Siegfried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, and Theodor Adorno. Berkeley: University of California Press. Kracauer, S. (1968). Theory of Film. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lindner, B. and Lüdke, W.M. (eds.) (1979). Materialen zur ästhetischen Theorie Th. W. Adornos Konstruktion der Moderne. Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp. Lukács, G. (1971). Die Theorie des Romans. Darmstadt und Neuwied: Luchterhand / 1974. The Theory of the Novel, translated by Anna Bostock. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Menke, C. (1991). Die Souveränität der Kunst: Ästhetische Erfahrung nach Adorno und Derrida. Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp / 1999. The Sovereignty of Art: Aesthetic Negativity in Adorno and Derrida, translated by Neil Solomon. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Podro, M. (1982). The Critical Historians of Art. New Haven: Yale University Press. Seel, M. (2004). Adornos Philosophie der Kontemplation. Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp.

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7 Adorno and Horkheimer on Anti‐Semitism FABIAN FREYENHAGEN

The literature on Adorno and anti‐Semitism presents a somewhat curious state of affairs. On the one hand, concern with anti‐Semitism, at least post-1940, and in particular “the administrative murder of millions of innocent people” (MWP, 557/90) at Auschwitz and other extermination sites, is presented as pivotal to his views and major works (see notably Tiedemann 2003). On the other hand, the account of anti‐Semitism offered by Adorno – and Horkheimer, with whom he co‐authored key texts (such as notably “Elements of Anti‐Semitism” in their Dialectic of Enlightenment) – faces trenchant criticisms for failing to do justice to the complex phenomena at issue. According to dominant story in the secondary literature, Adorno had a welcome influence on Horkheimer and other members of the Institute of Social Research in placing more emphasis on anti‐Semitism and eschewing purely economic explanations of it (see Jacobs 2014, 53ff). However, the resulting position he and Horkheimer adopted from about 1943 still contained fundamental problems (see Bahr 1978; Jay 1980; Diner 1993; Rabinbach 2002; Benhabib 2009; Rensman 2017). It is not formally inconsistent to say that a certain issue is of pivotal importance to a thinker despite his or her misconceptualizing it fundamentally. Still, one would hope that things are otherwise, and not just curiosity but also charity demand that the matter ought to be re‐examined and possibly re‐evaluated. Such a re‐examination and re‐evaluation is what I undertake in this chapter. In particular, I aim to show that the account of anti‐ Semitism developed by Adorno  –  and Horkheimer  –  has more merit than is normally accepted. I argue that they navigate well two central dilemmas intrinsic to any endeavor of making sense of anti‐Semitism and the events for which the name “Auschwitz” stands. While I emphasize neglected elements from a wider corpus than is often consulted, the focus is squarely on the 1940s writings on anti‐Semitism (many of them co‐authored with Horkheimer). Related issues – like Adorno’s “new categorical imperative” or his views on education after Auschwitz  –  are addressed in other contributions to this volume or the existing literature. This chapter is structured as follows. I begin by cataloging three main objections, and outlining two general dilemmas to which they are related. Then, I address each of the objections in turn, presenting Adorno and Horkheimer’s views in a new way.

A Companion to Adorno, First Edition. Edited by Peter E. Gordon, Espen Hammer, and Max Pensky. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2020 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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1.  Objections and Dilemmas Adorno’s views on anti‐Semitism have been subject to a number of criticisms. At its most trenchant, the purported failure to account adequately for anti‐Semitism is judged to show the failure of critical theory as a whole (Bahr 1978). It is not possible here to discuss each individual criticism. I concentrate on the three most important criticisms: (1) Incoherence: Adorno and Horkheimer’s account has been criticized for presenting an “unsystematic juxtaposition” of perspectives and components, which are “not entirely compatible” with each other (Rabinbach 2002, 135–136; see also Jay 1980, 144; Rensman 2017, 398f; and, for a more implicit version of this criticism, Diner 1993). (2) Too general: their account is “too general to do justice to the concrete Jewish historical experiences throughout different centuries and across countries” (Benhabib 2009, 306; drawing on Jay 1980 and Rabinbach 2002; see also Bahr 1978; Rensman 2017). (3) Blaming the victims and/or entrenching their negative image: Adorno and Horkheimer “hold the Jews accountable for their own fate” (Rabinbach 2002, 145); or, at least, they “entered the dangerous territory in which the contribution of the Jews was also open for discussion” (Jay 1980, 144). In accepting that some of the negative characteristics attributed to Jewish people were real, they are “repeating the negative construction of Jews that facilitated their destruction” (Judaken 2008, 39). At least the final two of the abovementioned criticisms are related insofar as they pertain to a general dilemma, which is captured by Benhabib as follows: In Adorno and Horkheimer’s various attempts to explain anti‐Semitism, we witness a dilemma …: not only in the case of the explanation of anti‐Semitism, but with prejudice and racism generally, if one’s explanatory scheme is too general it will miss the specific constellation of experiences, images, and metaphors, which define the others as “the Other”; if, on the other hand, one attempts to account for the “othering” of groups in terms of the specific qualities of these groups themselves, one can be accused of blaming the victim. Attaining the right balance between the standpoint of the victim and that of the victimizer, between the agent of racism and the object of it, is a difficult task. (2009, 306–307)

This is not the only explanatory (and ethical) challenge that accounting for anti‐Semitism and specifically the destruction of the European Jews poses. Indeed, for our purposes here it is helpful to consider also a second, which similarly requires a delicate navigating between Scylla and Charybdis. In a nutshell, the two are: (A) It is problematic both to fail to explain why the specific victims were targeted, and to explain it in a way that blames them for being so targeted. (B) It is problematic to ignore that anti‐Semitism has a long history, but also problematic to miss the particularities of anti‐Semitism in different contexts. Neither might be a strict dilemma in the final analysis – perhaps, there is a way to navigate between the two horns on each occasion. But, I submit, they present prima facie dilemmas. Dilemma A basically restates Benhabib’s point and can be seen at work in Rabinbach’s 104

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­ ersion of criticisms 2 and 3, notably when he writes that it is unclear whether Adorno v and Horkheimer’s account “has anything to do with the Jews at all” and that it arguably “holds the Jews accountable for their fate” (2009, 145)  –  effectively accusing them of sitting on both horns. In relation to dilemma B, critics of Adorno (and Horkheimer) tend to focus on the second horn, that is, they concentrate on the objection that particularities of anti‐Semitism in different contexts are missed (see criticism 2). But, while it is important to include the right level of specificity, we should not neglect the more general level ­altogether – or so I suggest in what follows. I use the three main criticisms and the two (prima facie) dilemmas listed earlier as a standard for re‐examining and re‐evaluating the account of anti‐Semitism offered by Adorno (and Horkheimer). What is at issue is how this account fares compared to that standard – not a defense of it against all possible objections. Among other things, I leave aside here criticisms of the work that Horkheimer and other first‐generation members of the Institute of Social Research were doing in the late 1930s (and early 1940s), in which Adorno did not play a major role. Bahr (1978) also leads the charge when it comes to these criticisms, accusing the Institute of reacting too late to anti‐Semitism, failing to notice the distinctive danger it posed (see also Rabinbach 2002; Benhabib 2009). For a partial defense – in terms of inconceivability of what was to happen during the war years – see Diner (1993). There is a general consensus that Horkheimer’s 1939 “The Jews and Europe” was problematic in being reductively economistic and not making it clear enough that what anti‐Semites attributed to Jews was – at least to a large extent (as will be explored further)  –  a product of their imagination. For detailed discussion, see Bahr (1978), Jay (1980), Diner (1993), Rabinbach (2002), and Jacobs (2014). Adorno is, normally, exempted from these further criticisms and tends to be credited for moving the Institute to a subtler, less economistic account, bringing in psychoanalytic elements (Jacobs 2014, 53ff). He also seems to have had a more realistic view of how widespread, important, and virulent anti‐Semitism was in Nazi Germany than other members of the Institute of Social Research at the time (notable Neumann).

2.  Complex Coherence In this section, I address the first criticism (and speak to dilemma B). As a start, it will be helpful to make a brief comment on the textual basis. The most discussed text by Adorno on anti‐Semitism is “Elements of Anti‐Semitism. Limits of Enlightenment” (henceforth “Elements”). It was co‐authored with Horkheimer (and, in part, Löwenthal), and appeared as the final longer piece in what became known as the Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944, 1947). “Elements” consists of seven sections; the first six of which were completed in 1943. Löwenthal is credited with having contributed to the first three of these six sections. For the 1947 edition, the seventh section was added. In many ways it is understandable and appropriate that “Elements” has received the biggest attention – it is the most sustained discussion of anti‐Semitism at the theoretical level, and has a pride of place in the influential Dialectic of Enlightenment. Still, it is important to see the text in the context of the whole corpus of works either completed or planned, particularly those from the same period. “Elements” is a difficult text, prone to be misunderstood. Among other things, it is not always easy to decipher who is speaking. By this I do not mean so much who of the co‐authors is speaking (although there is that difficulty too). Rather, my point is that sometimes Adorno and Horkheimer (and Löwenthal) are 105

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reporting what anti‐Semites (or someone else) are saying or committed to; and sometimes they are commenting on, explaining, or criticizing this, presenting their own views. But they do not tend to designate clearly when they are doing what. It is thus easy to misunderstand a report of what someone else thinks about “Jews” and their characteristics as a (problematic) commitment of the authors. One example is the opening line of the 1947‐ added section VII: “But there are no longer any anti‐Semites” (“Elements,” 230/165). My suggestion would be that this is best read as a provocatively expressed report of the prevailing post‐Second World War view about anti‐Semitism in the United States, not as an expression of what Horkheimer and Adorno held true. Their point in section VII is that even if the prevailing view that explicit hatred of “Jews” was in decline after 1947 were true, anti‐Semitism still exists – for there can be, according to them, anti‐Semitism without hatred of “Jews” (I will come back to this). This is not the place to provide detailed commentary on “Elements.” The literature already contains a number of detailed summaries (see Bahr 1978, 129–133; Jay 1980, 144–148; Ziege 2009, 123–133; Jacobs 2014, 75–78; Rensman 2017, Ch. 6). Instead, I provide a more systematic picture of the account Adorno (and Horkheimer) offered than the chronological expositions typical in the literature, by also drawing on other texts in the corpus. Of particular importance for a more systematic picture is a text published in 1941 by the Institute of Social Research as its research program for an envisaged project on anti‐Semitism (henceforth “Research Project”). Adorno is said to have completed the first two drafts of it, with Neumann completing the final version (Jacobs 2014, 58, 59, 67f). Its ambitious research agenda was never fully implemented, but two components were funded – one on anti‐Semitism among the US working class, the results of which were never published (but see Ziege 2009 for a reconstruction and analysis); and the multi‐volume Studies in Prejudice, to which Adorno contributed as co‐author of The Authoritarian Personality. “Research Project” is important because it gives us a glimpse of what the wider project would have been, had sufficient funding been available. There is a danger that because some elements were not funded and others completed but not published we get a distorted picture of the overall account. While this text is often mentioned in the literature – typically as evidence that the early Frankfurt School finally started to take anti‐Semitism seriously (Jay 1980, 139) – there is little engagement with its contents. This strikes me as an oversight, for it contains a number of insights that complement other texts, including “Elements,” and correct some of the misleading impressions one otherwise can get from these other texts. One of the most interesting components of “Research Project” is that it contains a typology of anti‐Semites. This includes both a (mostly implicit) distinction between followers and agitators, and a suggestive differentiation between anti‐Semitic agitators. An example of the latter is that Streicher is presented as a “‘Jew‐baiter’, [whose] anti‐Semitism is a relatively thin pretext for repressed fury,” while Goebbels is characterized as “fascist‐political anti‐ Semite,” who is pursuing anti‐Semitism mainly because of its power for manipulation, and plans annihilation without necessarily feeling any hatred, but no less effectively for that (“Research Project,” 398f/203). This typology did not make it into “Elements,” in which the co‐authors differentiate instead between types of anti‐Semitism (such as (i) bourgeois anti‐ Semitism encouraged by capitalists, (ii) the form anti‐Semitism takes within modern mass movements, (iii) the version peddled by political elites, (iv) liberalism’s ambivalent attitude to “Jews”, and (v) religious anti‐Judaism). The difference between distinguishing anti‐Semites and anti‐Semitisms should not be overstated. The key point is that Adorno and his co‐authors do not treat anti‐Semitism as a uniform phenomenon. 106

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This, I submit, is a welcome, even required level of complexity. Consider the events for which “Auschwitz” stands in Adorno’s work. While it is important not to forget that large segments of the population contributed to this administrative murder, their motives and actions were different – indeed, even their anti‐Semitism, insofar as it was present, was different. We need to account for the different ways anti‐Semitism was conceived and operative in different segments of the German population (such as the Nazi elite that was setting the policy and made high‐level decisions, the administrative apparatus that implemented them, members of the execution squads, SS guards and others working in the camps, party members, the general population) and in different populations across occupied and allied Europe. And this is just to look at one period in relation to one specific set of events in Europe. Accounting for anti‐Semitism across history and geographical sites will require an even more complex typology. One danger in advocating this complexity is that the overall account may seem to be less coherent than it is (and hence it can (and did) give rise to criticism 1 noted earlier). By distinguishing between different types of anti‐Semites or anti‐Semitisms, one can give the impression that one says inconsistent things – such as that “Jews” are persecuted because they are (seen as) driving progress and because they refuse progress  –  when in fact the thesis is that there is a difference between religious anti‐Semitism/anti‐Semites (who tend to construe “Jews” as refusing to join the progress that Christianity purportedly brought) and other types of anti‐Semitism/anti‐Semites (who tend to construe them as the representation of capitalist domination mediated by the circulation sphere and thereby as driving the global progress of capitalism). However, it seems to me a price worth paying: as noted, it is this complexity that we need to make sense of the multifaceted way in which anti‐Semitism operated in varied populations during the Europe of the 1930s and 1940s (and also beyond). Something similar holds not just at the level of content, but also method. Instead of thinking of the use of different disciplines and tools of explanation used by Adorno and Horkheimer as an eclectic juxtaposition, it might well be apt to bring different methods and insights to bear on the different types of anti‐Semitism/anti‐Semites. For example, psychoanalysis might work better in relation to the type of anti‐Semites represented by Streicher than those for whom Goebbels was paradigmatic; and Marxist class theory might work better in relation to the industrialists which sided with the NSDAP than with either the party elite or its followers. Moreover, it is also important to note that anti‐Semitisms, while at least sometimes involving some level of internal consistency, are not logically tight, carefully constructed belief systems (and possibly do not involve, strictly speaking, beliefs at all, but are rather constituted solely by repressed desires and feelings). In other words, we need to keep in mind that anti‐Semitic worldviews tend to lack coherence (notably when ascribing to “Jews” mutually excluding characteristics) and that reporting this does not imply that the account of anti‐Semitism is incoherent. Adorno and the other members of the Institute of Social Research were clearly aware of the “contradictory accusations” made against “Jews” (“Research Project,” 403/208; see also Wiggershaus 1994, 364), and tried to do justice to this phenomenon, by understanding it as “a multifaceted, mutating, essentially amorphous social ideology,” as “an almost free‐floating matrix where all kinds of problems can be projected and ‘unloaded’,” and as “intrinsically contradictory” (Rensman 2017, 160, 161, 163; see also 164–165, 400). Finally, it is not the case that complexity need come at the expense of coherence also in a different sense. If we peruse the corpus of 1940s writings by Adorno and other members 107

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of the Institute for Social Research, we can see that there is not just an insistence on different types of anti‐Semitism/anti‐Semites, but also a requirement that they are “different aspects of one basic phenomenon” (HGS 5: 367/Simmel [ed.] 1946, 5; emphasis added). In one of Horkheimer’s (1943) talks, he makes this explicit. After introducing parts of the typology from “Research Project,” the typescript for the talk continues: There exist still many other types, and in reality anti‐Semitism will mostly appear in form of combinations of or intermediate stages between the mentioned types. They all share one thing in common: secret hate of civilization, [hatred directed] against all that is encapsulated in the ten commandments. (HGS 12: 180; my translation; see also 178)

The idea of anti‐Semitism as united in hatred of civilization fits well with “Elements,” where anti‐Semitism is repeatedly linked to a repressed “rage” against civilization – a rage that “is vented on those who are both conspicuous and unprotected” and “sanctioned by the collective” within anti‐Semitic popular movements (“Elements,” 199, 200/140, 139). What is distinctive – and controversial – about this diagnosis is not just that anti‐ Semitism is connected with negative responses to civilization, but that these responses are  not seen as having occurred despite civilization, but as its own result. Once again, Horkheimer is most explicit about this position shared with Adorno, when he states ­earlier in the 1943 talk: Civilization, as we know it, has trigged through its own mercilessness exactly those tendencies that have proven to be hostile to it … Civilization cannot be released of responsibility for bringing about its opposite: barbarism. Historically, taming human beings succeeded only at the cost of incessant suffering. (HGS 12: 174f; my translation)

Here we see in which way anti‐Semitism crystallizes the dialectic of enlightenment: civilization and its hatred are dialectically intertwined. Specifically, Adorno and Horkheimer claim that civilization “as we know it” has always been entangled with domination – notably repression of inner nature (but also social coercion and domination of external nature). This is connected to anti‐Semitism because such repression can only be maintained by finding an outlet for the rage it (rightly) generates, and “Jews” – for more specific reasons we consider later – have tended to be construed as the objects of hate against which this rage has been directed. In this sense, “Anti‐Semitism is … a ritual of civilization” (“Elements,” 200/140). (Adorno and Horkheimer do not address which group[s] were the objects of hatred in areas of the world where no “Jews” had ever been present prior to the initial globalization waves of capitalist modernity, like the Far East or the Americas. Still, their account of civilization requires that the repression happening there must also have found an outlet for managing the libidinal economy of those subjected to it.) One way in which to understand this thesis better is to consider what is being said here in connection and partial contrast with another trope of Frankfurt School Critical Theory: the idea of social pathology (see Freyenhagen 2018). It is striking how explicitly Horkheimer uses social pathology language in relation to anti‐Semitism during this period: in the aforementioned talk, he speaks about it as an “illness” and how it should be countered by analogy with fighting “cancer” (HGS 12: 181, 180; see also 167f, 5: 406, 17: 572). He also presents totalitarianism as a “bacillus” that we need to prevent from spreading in our country “like a virus” (HGS, 12: 183); elsewhere of the need to “immunize” ourselves against anti‐Semitism and other prejudices (HGS, 5: 410; see also 108

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MWP, 571/102). And it is not just Horkheimer; the Institute of Social Research’s initial work on anti‐Semitism in the early 1940s resulted in a conference and an accompanying volume with the telling title Anti‐Semitism: a Social Disease (1946). Typically, the idea of social pathology is restricted to one society or type of society – thus, social critics might say that capitalist societies are pathological in their runaway growth that is destroying the planet, and imply that non‐capitalist societies would not be pathological. However, in the case of anti‐Semitism, Adorno and Horkheimer seem to make a stronger claim: not just a particular society at a particular time, but civilization as we know it is pathological (see Wiggershaus 1994, 338–341, 417, 421). (There is a parallel here to Freud’s Civilization and its Discontent [1930].) This is most explicit in a memo Adorno wrote in 1948, where he writes (in English): “Our hypothesis of what causes anti‐ Semitism is the following: It is due to the total structure of our society or, to put it more sweepingly, to every basically coercive society” (quoted in Ziege 2009, 277)  –  and thereby, given his (and Horkheimer’s) views about the entwinement of civilization with coercion, due to civilization as we know it. Still, the pathological civilization claim operates with a pattern recognizable from social pathology claims: ascribing some inner telos (or teloi) to what is being criticized (here civilization) and then claiming that it fails to realize its telos (or teloi). This comes out in the opening of Dialectic of Enlightenment, which puts it succinctly: “Enlightenment … was always aimed at liberating human beings from fear and installing them as masters. Yet the wholly enlightened world is radiant with triumphant calamity” (25/1, see also 15/xiv). Similarly, the above quoted passage from Horkheimer’s (1943) talk suggests that civilization has aims  – avoiding barbarism, taming human beings, and ending suffering – that it has failed to achieve, and it thereby presents a pathological case of civilization. To say that “civilization, as we know it” is pathological, and that this finds expression in, and can be seen from, the hatred of it that is anti‐Semitism, is controversial and contestable. But we do not do Adorno and Horkheimer a service if we overlook or downplay that this is their view. For example, Diner’s strategy of defending the Institute of Social Research for having engaged only in 1939 with anti‐Semitism combines valid points with  what is, ultimately, a denial of their distinctive approach. Diner argues that the mass  annihilation pursued by German National Socialism was “unimaginable” before its  occurrence (1993, 335, see also 337, 338, 343, 356, 360n6). This might well be true – indeed, some have suggested that it is inconceivable even after its occurrence, including possibly Adorno (see AGS 20.1: 652). But Diner’s reasons for thinking that it was inconceivable are such that they could not defend Adorno and Horkheimer’s position: his reason is that the mass annihilation was “a rupture in civilization,” a “caesura” (1993, 343, 338). Rightly or wrongly, Adorno and Horkheimer want to make a different claim: that this annihilation is not a rupture or break in the path of civilization, but tied up with that path as its continuation – in a certain sense, its culmination. This is not to say that there was not something unprecedented about the total annihilation pursued by the Nazis, but to insist that it stands in a continuity with what came before. It is also not to say that it could have been imagined before. In a certain sense, the true character of “civilization, as we know it” only revealed itself in Auschwitz, and it might not have been conceivable in advance that it would take this form. Moreover, the thesis is not that civilization simply is its opposite, but rather that it contains, even produces, its opposite within itself. In that sense, the radical departure from its aims (such as in Auschwitz) is not a rupture interrupting it, but a sign of its being broken in its inner constitution – a sign of its being pathological. 109

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3.  Long History and Levels of Specificity From what I have said so far, one might get the impression that the second criticism of Adorno’s (and Horkheimer’s) account of anti‐Semitism has been vindicated, rather than rebutted. Understanding anti‐Semitism as a symptom of pathological civilization would seem to be “too general to do justice to the concrete Jewish historical experiences throughout different centuries and across countries” (Benhabib 2009, 306). It would also seem that Adorno and Horkheimer have got shipwrecked in navigating the abovementioned dilemma B – it would appear that they have provided a sense of long history of anti‐ Semitism at the expense of the particularities of different contexts. However, this impression is misleading. Even in the most explicit passages about the link of anti‐Semitism to pathological civilization, Horkheimer insists that this long historical view “does not imply that enmity towards Jews doesn’t have specific characteristics” (HGS 12: 175). It turns out – as we will see – that there are, actually, several levels of specificity within the account. In “Research Project” – and that is another important aspect of it – the co‐authors trace different historical forms of anti‐Semitism prior to the twentieth century, thereby acknowledging not just specificity of the enmity compared to other phenomena but also within it. In a 1944 talk, Horkheimer takes this up again, including differentiating ­between the anti‐Judaism of the Middle Ages and modern anti‐Semitism (HGS 5: 369–371/ Simmel [ed.] 1946, 6–9). In other words, the first‐generation members of the Institute of Social Research advanced a complex (one is tempted to say “dialectical”) thesis: that anti‐ Semitism is both something specific and general. It is specific in differing both across and within historical periods – as (partly) traced in the typology of anti‐Semitisms and anti‐Semites – and in being distinguishable from other phenomena (such as sexism). And it is general in expressing hatred of civilization that is generated by “civilization, as we know it.” Before I say more about the specificity, it is helpful to note three points. First, one upshot of the pathological civilization thesis is that Adorno and Horkheimer do not tie anti‐ Semitism in Nazi Germany to something merely about Germany, such as a national character. Indeed, for them, even “totalitarian anti‐Semitism” is not “a specifically German phenomenon” and they reject the notion of “national character” (AGS 20.2: 652; see also Jacobs 2014, 58f). Instead, they hold once again a complex thesis with two key components. One component is that, due to civilization’s unfolding pathologically, anti‐Semitism is a latent danger not just in Germany but elsewhere (“Research Project,” 377, 382/182, 186). This danger consists in psychological dispositions to hate and destroy that are remarkably similar across countries (HGS 5: 368/Simmel [ed.] 1946, 5f). Depending on the social, political, and economic context, these dispositions manifest themselves differently. In Germany’s case – and this is the second component – a specific social and economic constellation arose, which explains why it was – as Horkheimer writes in 1946 – “not mere accident that the great explosion of anti‐Semitism first occurred in Germany” (HGS 5: 368/ Simmel [ed.] 1946, 5; see also AGS 20.1: 382f). One problem about the incomplete nature of the research program sketched in “Research Project” is that Adorno, Horkheimer, and the other members of the Institute did not undertake a detailed historical study of this constellation. “Research Project” contains some pointers as to what the study would have included. The closest to this is a book by Paul Massing (a lesser‐known member of the Institute, who was not part of its core set of theorists) on anti‐Semitism in imperial Germany, which was meant to cover also the Weimar Republic and Nazi period but was scaled back and published as part of the multi‐volume Studies in Prejudice. It might strike 110

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one as odd, or even problematic, that the members of the Institute concentrated on the US context rather than the German one during the 1940s peak period of researching anti‐ Semitism (see Bahr 1978). But not only were they worried about the rise of anti‐Semitism and fascist propaganda in their supposedly safe haven of the United States, they also could not have the kind of access to research subjects required to carry out studies like Authoritarian Personality in Germany during the Second World War and its immediate aftermath. Moreover, despite repeated attempts, they did not succeed in securing funding for studies on Germany during these financially precarious years of the 1940s (see Ziege 2009, 159; and also Wiggershaus 1994, Ch. 4). Second, one can read the final two sections of “Elements” as a discussion of the general structure of anti‐Semitism, as what is common despite its variety (while this variety is discussed in presenting different types of anti‐Semitism in the first five sections). Section six focuses on the idea that anti‐Semitism involves something like paranoid projection: while all experience involves projection, such projection can become so cognitively and socially rigid that it blinds itself to experiences and interactions that could call the projections into question. There is a structural parallel here between anti‐Semitism and certain forms of mental illness, despite their other difference: in their totalized projections, they are both pathological ways of experiencing the world (pathological compared to the reflective projection that we are capable of as part of our basic human functioning). Section seven adds a second common element: “ticket mentality” – in a nutshell, stereotypical thinking held together in ideological blocs, which its adherents mechanically apply to the world. The expression “ticket mentality” comes here from electoral politics: the practice of having party lists (such that candidates are on “the ticket” or not) and giving voters merely the choice of whole lists, denying them the use of judgment in differentiating between different candidates. Adorno and Horkheimer take this as a launch pad and label to capture the idea of the kind of stereotypical thinking that – combined with paranoid projection – yields a loss of genuine experience. All ticket mentality includes a drive structure with a tendency toward persecution, and depending on the ticket, this tendency is then directed at different objects (“Elements,” 236/171). Often, this involves a stark friend–enemy distinction, and those persecuted are sometimes not even seen as fellow human beings (MM, Sections 68, 85). Crucially, “It is not just the anti‐Semitic ticket which is anti‐Semitic, but the ticket mentality itself ” (“Elements,” 238/172). It is this mentality that Adorno and his colleagues investigated further in Authoritarian Personality and Gruppenexperiment (a later study in Germany). By identifying these two elements  –  paranoid projection and ticket mentality  –  as common to all forms of anti‐Semitism/anti‐Semites, Adorno and Horkheimer allow for the possibility that there could be anti‐Semitism/anti‐Semites without hatred of “Jews.” Indeed, they do not merely allow for this possibility, but propose that it has been reality. In section seven of “Elements,” the authors are discussing this in relation to post‐1945 US society. Similarly, the historical part of “Research Project” presents the persecution of Aristocrats during the 1789 French Revolution as an example of anti‐Semitism without hatred of “Jews” insofar as it involves stereotypical thinking and certain tropes associated elsewhere with hatred of “Jews” (that they are parasites, achieving happiness without work). The authors also mention a similar style of thinking and tropes in authors who explicitly rejected hatred of “Jews” (including Zola); and they include Philosemites among the typology of anti‐Semites, presumably again because of the stereotypes it involves, albeit that those stereotypes are in this case positively evaluated, rather than negatively (see “Research Project,” 386, 387–94, 399/190, 191–198, 204). 111

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Adorno and Horkheimer never offer a justification of why it is still apt to speak of anti‐ Semitism in those cases where ticket mentality, paranoid projection, and psychological ­dispositions to hate and destroy occur without hatred of “Jews” (or what makes ticket mentality itself anti‐Semitic). Perhaps, their thought is that  –  at least within Western civilization  –  this symptom of pathological civilization typically or paradigmatically ­ involved Jew‐hatred, in part because it offered a readily available pattern once it had contingently arisen in the first place. Or perhaps they wanted to capture the phenomenon without any reference to “Jews” in order to avoid the risks involved in construing a notion of “Jewishness” at the general level at all (more on this follows). Third, Horkheimer – and I suggest also Adorno – is impressed that despite the historical variety and specificity there is a surprising – even “strange” – constant that seems to run through the diverse history of humanity and anti‐Semitism within it. While an important aspect of anti‐Semitism is its historical character, one should not emphasize the historical differences too much because, as Horkheimer puts it in his 1944 talk: It is a strange thing that the Jews have always been attacked  –  even before the rise of Christianity. The attacks have been so stereotyped, they have always followed the same pattern so closely that one is tempted to say though the Jews, who have changed much in the course of history, are certainly no race, the anti‐Semites in a way are a race, because they always use the same slogans, display the same attitudes, indeed almost look alike. This idea sounds like a joke, but really is not so much of a joke. (HGS 5: 368‐9/Simmel (ed.) 1946, 6, emphasis in the original)

Horkheimer might well overstate his case in saying that the slogans and attitudes of the anti‐Semites have always been the same. Indeed, my sense is that he realizes that he ­exaggerates – the intricate formulation about the temptation to speak of anti‐Semites as forming a race and his reference to this sounding like a joke suggest that he was consciously hyperbolic. But among the hyperbole familiar from Horkheimer and Adorno’s writings, there is a serious thesis: that there is a surprising continuity of tropes when it comes to anti‐Semitism, and that despite important differences among anti‐Semites there are also common characteristics. Horkheimer backs this up with two pieces of evidence. First, presumably referring to the work done by the Institute at the time (some of which was published as the Studies in Prejudice, including Authoritarian Personality), he writes: “Some preliminary psychological studies reveal that the character structures of the anti‐Semites are much more alike than the character structures of the Jews” (HGS 5: 369/Simmel (ed.) 1946, 6). Then, he provides an example of anti‐Semitism predating the spread of Christianity: When the Greeks attacked the Jews in old Alexandria, they used the slogan that the Jews were strangers in order to infuriate the Egyptians. That was a lie: the Jews were no more strangers than the Egyptians. Alexandria was not Egyptian; when it was founded both Jews and Egyptians were imported and both were strangers. Nevertheless, the slogan caught on; the Jews were strangers. (HGS 5: 368–9/Simmel (ed.) 1946, 6)

Horkheimer is, presumably, referring here to the 38 CE attack under Roman rule or perhaps to the bloodier one in 66 CE. What we should take away is that Horkheimer (and Adorno) held that one common characteristic of anti‐Semitism throughout the ages and despite its variety is certain repeated tropes of how “Jews” were construed – notably always as strangers, but also as 112

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parasites, as those engaged in conspiracy, and as performing ritual murders and other (lesser) aggressive acts. While neither Horkheimer nor his colleagues say this explicitly, the complex thesis of anti‐Semitism as both specific and general could be understood to imply more complexity here too: while there is continuity in one sense in relation to these tropes, there is also specificity – what it meant to be a foreigner in Ancient Alexandria was different from being a non‐Christian in Europe during the Middle Ages, and both, in turn, are different from what it was not to be part of a racially understood German people. In other words, to do justice to the complex thesis, we probably do best to understand even the talk of a common core to all forms of anti‐Semitism more along the lines of Wittgensteinian family resemblance than in terms of an unchanging core with clear boundaries (and necessary and sufficient conditions). In this way, the use of “foreign” would be both adequately similar and sufficiently open to apply it across different contexts (both cultural and historical). There would be some paradigmatic cases (including Roman Alexandria), and because of them it makes, arguably, sense to speak of the common pattern as one of anti‐ Semitism, even if not all cases involve hatred of “Jews.” The importance of this general level in the overall account is that it allows us to speak of a long history of anti‐Semitism, rather than think of each outpouring of hatred as completely unrelated to what came before (and after). Those critics of Adorno (and Horkheimer) who insist on specificity risk make such general perspective impossible, when it is key – as per dilemma B – to give both generality and specificity its due. What, then, about specificity in Adorno and Horkheimer’s account? On my reading, their wider research program contains different levels of increasing specificity. Apart from the most general level (the claim about pathological civilization, of which anti‐Semitism is a key “symptom”) and the common characteristics of all forms of anti‐Semitism (introduced in the preceding paragraphs), we get several mid‐level explanations about epochs or specific strands of anti‐Semitism. These remain still fairly general and speculative, but are meant to be supplemented by yet‐more specific accounts, which Horkheimer and Adorno did not offer in their own writings, but those inspired by them did (such as Claussen 1987a). These focus on the genesis of particular historical events or, like the Massing study mentioned earlier, a specific country during a pivotal period. Unsurprisingly, particular importance here has been attached to Nazi Germany and the lead‐up to it and its program of annihilation, whereby “Jews” were not just treated as a hated “minority, but the antirace, the negative principle as such” (“Elements,” 197/137). Finally, envisaged as part of the wider research program were also case studies of individual anti‐Semites, drilling down to identify what in their biographies and historical context explains why they became anti‐Semites (and what type). In Adorno and Horkheimer’s work, we find some of the mid‐level explanations, with which they also seek to address the question of why “Jews” in particular were targeted. Let me indicate three key lines: (1)

“The Jews” are targeted for reasons to do with Christianity: According to Adorno and Horkheimer, a tendency toward hatred of the Jewish faith has been present from the beginning of and remains constitutive for Christianity. Their explanation invokes psychoanalytic themes, albeit not (so much) at the level of individuals, but religions: Christianity is tied up with Judaism in a way that it is not with other religions, and this intimate link means that the aggressions the former generates will be targeted at the latter. One first element in this falls under the heading of patricide: having emerged from Judaism, Christianity, in order to both establish 113

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and maintain itself, has to prove its (purported) superior status vis‐à‐vis the father religion, presenting itself as having sublated it (in the Hegelian sense of both overcoming a preceding stage and preserving what was good about it at the higher stage). In a certain sense, people of Jewish faith are hated for not having become Christians when they purportedly should have become so, dropping their “outdated” faith rather than deliberately excluding themselves from the Christian community (“Research Project”, 395/200). Adorno and Horkheimer specify this schema further by adding the following element to it (inspired by Freud’s Moses and Monotheism [1939]). Judaism is presented as more rational, as more enlightened, than previous religious orientations insofar as it ­banishes – through its ban on images and world‐transcending idea of god – any magical elements. Christianity maintains many of the elements of Judaism, but – through the figure of Christ, who “is the deified sorcerer” (“Elements”, 207/145) – reneges on the other‐worldliness and banishment of magic. Instead of faith, a quest for certainty returns, but only by reintroducing magical rituals and sacrificial logic (with the more blatant example’s being the appeal to saints). However, all this comes with a bad conscience, which – at least if unreflected – leads Christians to attack those who are seen as holding out and thus having avoided this guilt (“Elements”, 209/147). While this may account for the long history of anti‐Jewish sentiment and action in Christian Europe, modern anti‐Semitism is different from this religious hatred. Indeed, the racist anti‐Semitism of the Nazis sought “to disregard religion” (“Elements”, 205/144). However, even such anti‐religious anti‐Semitism feeds off its religious predecessor. Notably, the latter provides the former with a “treasure trove of anti‐Jewish imagery” (Benhabib 2009, 306). In other words, historical precedent was an enabling condition for modern anti‐Semitism to emerge and take hold, and in that sense one specific explanation of why “the Jews” were targeted by the Nazis and other forms of modern ticket mentality is the historical hatred of “Jews” within Christianity. There is even a kind of structural analog to the guilty conscience Christianity had vis‐à‐vis Judaism. Specifically, it is no accident that modern nationalism has come together with anti‐Semitism (not just in Germany, but also notably in France). Members of the Jewish faith are held together as a community, despite having no state – they are the “nation” par excellence, which in its ideal constitution (as constituted by an idea of a transcendent god) will always seem superior to the empirical lineage claimed by “late nations” like Germany, reminding the latter of the arbitrariness of their boundary‐setting. (For a more historical account of this speculative thought, albeit inspired by it, see Claussen 1987a, 1987b.) (2) “The Jews” are targeted as symbolizing the circulation sphere: A separate specific explanation of why “the Jews” are targeted (in modern forms of anti‐Semitism) relates to their role as “symbols” of the circulation sphere (“Research Project,” 400/205). There is one link to the previous explanation: members of the Jewish faith were forced into certain professions – in trade and banking – because of the restrictions placed on them within Christian Europe. But beyond this contribution to the etiology, the two explanations are separate. An important role further down in the etiology is played here  –  if Adorno and Horkheimer are correct – not by religion but class domination and the use of ideology to conceal it. Following Marx, Adorno and Horkheimer hold that exploitation of workers continues as part of the production process under capitalism, but this is masked. Compared to earlier societies, workers are not directly forced to work for an 114

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individual (or institution) extracting surplus value. Instead, the force they experience is impersonal: it is due to the capitalist system of ownership of the means of production that they have to sell their labor power in order to survive. Formally free to contract, it appears as if they are not exploited at all. They still are, but this exploitation only becomes visible to them when they see what they can buy for their wages, making it seem as if exploitation originates at that point. As a result, the merchant appears as “the bailiff for the whole system, taking upon himself the odium due to others” (“Elements,” 204/143). “Jews,” as symbols of the circulation sphere, are also associated – notably in the figure of the banker (but also the figure of the intellectual) – with the idea of “reward without work” (“Elements,” 229/165) and thereby with what people long for but are denied by civilization’s failure to live up to its promise: “The banker and the intellectual, money and mind, the exponents of circulation, are the disowned wishful image of those mutilated by power, an image which power uses to perpetuate itself ” (“Elements,” 202/144). Given that it is not only “Jewish” people who are part of the circulation sphere (and not all “Jews” work in it), the scapegoating of them in particular (rather than merchants in general) calls for further explanation. Adorno and Horkheimer suggest that the long historical association and active propaganda by non‐“Jewish” members of the capitalist class provides this further explanation. As to the historical association, there is, first, the fact that restrictions or outright repressions made trade the “fate” of “Jews”; and, second, this meant that they became unwittingly “the colonizers of [capitalist] progress,” “earn[ing] the hatred of those who suffered under the system” (“Elements,” 204/143). This historical association is then exploited by active propaganda. Not the whole merchant class is accused of being thieves, but “people shout: ‘stop the thief!’ – and point at the Jew” (“Elements,” 203/142; my emphasis). Adorno and Horkheimer do, however, not go into detail about who these “people” engaged in pointing are and how their scapegoating functions (but see Postone 1986). They merely suggest that the culprits tend to come from the owners of the means of production, from among which “Jews” were historically excluded. Among the distraction techniques employed is the alleged distinction between productive and unproductive capital (“Research Project,” 401/206). The idea of a bad conscience also plays a role here: capitalist owners of production (“the knights of industry”) sense that they benefit from exploitation, and cope with it by blaming “Jews,” such that “their anti‐Semitism is self‐hate, the bad conscience of the parasite” (“Elements,” 205/144). Finally, the association with the circulation sphere is also invoked to explain the particular vulnerability of “the Jews” in the 1930s. Following Horkheimer’s “Jews in Europe” and Pollock’s work on state capitalism, Adorno and Horkheimer adopt the idea that the circulation sphere is declining in importance in the particular phase capitalism entered, with massive state intervention not just in the Soviet Union, but also fascist Europe and New Deal United States. This thesis of decline is contested (see Diner 1993, who ignores the economic data cited in “Research Project” [407/212], which shows a dramatic decline of the banking sector in 1930s Germany). A corollary of the decline‐of‐the‐circulation‐sphere thesis is that the protection capitalist modernity had increasingly provided to economic actors – including “the Jews” as symbols of the circulation sphere  –  is no longer functionally required. It promptly becomes one of first casualties of totalitarian systems, particularly in Nazi Germany, 115

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where industrial elites ally themselves with the regime. While “the Jews” remain “conspicuous” because of their historical association with and propaganda against them as symbols of the circulation sphere, its decline also means that they are left “unprotected” – and it is against those who are “both conspicuous and unprotected” that the rage against civilization is vented (“Elements,” 200/140). (3) “The Jews” are targeted as symbolizing unassimilated and repressed nature: The third specific explanation connects directly with the thesis of pathological civilization. Here the thought is that “Jews” were targeted not because they were symbols of capitalist expansion and thus modernity, but because they became associated with what had to be repressed in the course of the history of civilization (and has to be repeated, according to Adorno and Horkheimer, in each childhood). Crucial for this are the repression of particularity and mimetic impulses. Adorno and Horkheimer construe civilization as a problematic siding with universality over particularity, such that: [anything] which has not been absorbed into utility by passing through the cleansing channels of conceptual order – … the sweat which appears on the bow of the diligent – whatever is not quite assimilated, or infringes the commands in which the progress of centuries has been sedimented, is felt as intrusive and arouses a compulsive aversion. (“Elements,” 209/147f)

In particular, this aversion arises because civilization depended on the repression of humans’ “submerging themselves … in the ebb and flow of surrounding nature” – in short, the repression of mimicry (“Elements,” 210/148). As the promise of fulfillment in return for this has never really materialized, there is a rage against this repression. Unacknowledged, however, this rage turns against the “shameful residues” of people’s “own tabooed mimetic traits,” of which they become aware “only through certain gestures and forms of behavior they encounter in others,” such that “What repels them as alien is all too familiar” (“Elements,” 211/149). But what makes people aware of this unwanted repression then incurs the wrath they feel about it. Such projection is most often associated with those who particularly bear the marks of the repression (be it external or internal, such as self‐imposed codes regarding behavior, including the Jewish dietary regulations of Kashrut) – which, for aforementioned historical reasons, include “the Jews” (see Diner 1993, 351). Moreover, political movements – most notably the Nazi movement – can then use this anti‐Semitic sentiment as a pretext to allow its members to give in to the temptation of mimicry – albeit now as mere “mimesis of mimesis” (“Elements,” 214/152). This, according to Adorno and Horkheimer, explains both the ritualistic element of these movements and the particular clownery of the leaders, Hitler’s “ham‐actor’s facial expressions and the hysterical charisma turned on with a switch,” the performance of which “acts out by proxy and in effigy what is denied to everyone else in reality” (“Elements,” 214f/152). In this way, “The Jews are the predestined target,” because in their image as that which has been overcome in the process of (pathological) civilization they symbolize what people yearn for but lack and so end up hating when encountering it (“Elements,” 229/164f). In the case of Germany, this hate was fueled by the activities of the Nazi party. While it is ultimately chance as to where guilt is projected, this made the difference as to its being directed at “Jews.” 116

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These three lines of explanation are fairly abstract and also speculative – especially as presented here in a high‐altitude sketch (although I indicated in two cases how they have been taken up in more concrete historical enquiries). Further discussion would be required in each case, and also in relation to how exactly they are meant to work together. Here, I can only offer a reminder of what I have said so far in relation to criticism 1 (alleging incoherence of Adorno’s account of anti‐Semitism): not all three are meant to be relevant to each type of anti‐Semitism (or anti‐Semite). For example, the second line of explanation is – at least in “Elements”  –  associated particularly with “bourgeois anti‐Semitism” of certain elites (and perhaps also the working class), while the third line is more relevant to other population groups. Moreover, the three mid‐level explanations would have to be supplemented with more micro‐level ones. For example, Adorno and Horkheimer say surprisingly little about how “Jews” were associated with communism and targeted in virtue of this in Nazi Germany and elsewhere. Here differences across (i) history, (ii) national or cultural contexts, (iii) sub‐groups of society, and (iv) individuals would have to be attended to.

4.  The Image of “the Jews” One crucial point in all of this is that for anti‐Semitism what matters is the image of “the Jews,” not the actual makeup of those who self‐identify as Jewish or are categorized as “Jewish” (“Elements,” 229/164; see also 215/153; MM, 125/110). This point is important, not least in order to navigate dilemma A and avoid criticism 3, that is, to avoid blaming the victims. For if it is an image that is the object of anti‐Semitic hate and if, moreover, this image is a false projection constructed or at least fueled by agitators, then whatever those who become victims are like or do is not actually related to what they become victimized for. Perhaps the strongest formulation of this point can be found in Adorno’s “The Meaning of Working through the Past.” There he expresses skepticism that face‐to‐face encounters – and similar measures – can work for counteracting anti‐Semitism. He states: All too often the presupposition is that anti‐Semitism in some essential way involves the Jews and could be countered through concrete experiences with Jews, whereas the genuine anti‐ Semite is defined far more by his incapacity for any experience whatsoever, by his unresponsiveness. If anti‐Semitism primarily has its foundations in objective society, and only derivatively in anti‐Semites, then – as the National Socialist joke has it – if the Jews had not existed, the anti‐Semites would have to invent them. As far as wanting to combat anti‐Semitism in individual subjects is concerned, one should not expect too much from the recourse to facts, which anti‐Semites most often will either not admit or will neutralize by treating them as exceptions. Instead one should apply the argumentation directly to the subjects whom one is addressing. (MWP, 571/101f; see also AGS 20.1: 385; “Elements,” 236238/170172)

This is a rich passage, and I leave aside here that what Adorno says in it about anti‐Semites seems topical and apt to capture the trends connected with buzzwords like “alternative facts” at the time of writing this chapter (early 2018). Pertinent to our context here is the claim that anti‐Semitism has nothing essentially to do with “Jews,” but with certain problematic aspects of anti‐Semites – notably, their inability to make experiences in the sense of an openness to the world, which would include that one’s encounter with it could falsify, change, and/or dislodge one’s projective patterns with which one perceives the world. (To be clear, the thesis is not that anti‐Semites are unable to experience medium‐sized dry 117

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objects like tables and chairs; rather, the point is that they are unable to not experience people construed as “Jews” as foreign in a threatening kind of way.) Often the only truth content of the “image of the Jew” is one about not the object of anti‐ Semitism but the anti‐Semite: in case of the Nazis, “Their craving is for exclusive ownership, appropriation, unlimited power, and at any price” and they burden “The Jews” with their own guilt (“Elements,” 197f/137f; see also Adorno’s comments about fascist agitators and followers in “Psychological Technique,” 14, 117, 77, 131). Anti‐Semites project their wishes and fears onto “the Jews” – for example, representing them as aggressor, against which one needs to defend oneself to survive, making various means permissible that otherwise would be ruled out and thereby (in one’s mind) transforming one’s aggression into something that is noble rather than base. What is attacked are “projections of psychological drives,” such that “anti‐Semitism is based less upon Jewish peculiarities than upon the mentality of the anti‐Semite” (“Psychological Technique,” 117; see also “Elements,” 215/153). Given these views, it is unsurprising that Adorno and Horkheimer think that, ultimately, the victims of anti‐Semitism are “interchangeable: vagrants, Jews, Protestants, Catholics” (“Elements,” 201/140) and there can be anti‐Semitism without hatred of “Jews.” One might think that Adorno and his fellow first‐generation members of the Institute of Social Research did not go far enough in relation to this crucial point. In particular, they still use expressions like “the Jews” in a way that does not sufficiently problematize this as  a  construction. One of the complications in discussing anti‐Semitism is that whom anti‐Semites include among the objects of their hatred does not necessarily track the self‐ understanding of the victims regarding the membership in the group in question. It does not even track the self‐understanding of such Orthodox interpreters of the Jewish faith, who understand membership in the faith community in terms of descent (specifically maternal descent). Notoriously, the Nazis understood descent more broadly and introduced grades of Jewishness, such that Adorno, for example, counted as Half‐Jew for the Nazis, but as not Jewish at all on Orthodox interpretations of the Jewish faith. In talking about anti‐Semitism, it is difficult to avoid adopting the anti‐Semitic characterization of the object of hatred (see also Ziege 2009, 16). This problem is illustrated further by Améry’s essay “On the Necessity and Impossibility of Being a Jew,” in which the Auschwitz survivor discusses how his upbringing and identity  –  particularly the significance of Christmas trees for him – means that he cannot be a (self‐identifying) Jew, while the attack on him by the Nazis means that he has to be one in order to reassert his dignity against the real denial of it because he was understood and treated by them (including legally) as “a Jew” (reprinted in Améry 1980). Another related complication is that various types of anti‐Semites/ anti‐Semitism construe the notion of “the Jews” differently – this can, for example, be seen in relation to the question of whether or not one can stop being a member of this group and if so, how (such as by being baptized as Christian). This complexity makes it difficult even to express the issue. In this chapter, I follow Lyotard (1990, 4) in using quotation marks when I indicate the varying constructed group identities to which particular individuals, not all self‐identifying as Jewish (be it religiously or culturally construed), were subjected. On the other hand, one might think that Adorno (and the other members of the Institute of Social Research) went too far in relation to this crucial point. One could argue – in line with the first horn of dilemma A – that it is problematic (i) to understand anti‐Semitism as having nothing to do with actual people of Jewish faith or cultural identity; and/or (ii) to say that the group subjected to prejudice or even annihilation could have just as been different ones and are, ultimately, “interchangeable”; and/or (iii) to claim that there could be and has been anti‐Semitism even when the objects of hatred were not “Jews.” 118

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There are two moves that we can unearth from the work of Adorno (and the Institute) to answer this criticism. First, it is important again to recall the complexity of the position – of its combining specificity and generality. Thus, what is said about the common core of anti‐Semitism – specifically, the idea of ticket mentality and the re‐use of certain images and tropes – is meant to be compatible with, and no substitute for, specific historical and contextualist explanations of how different types of anti‐Semitism/anti‐Semites function and change over time, and why they target “Jews.”. The second move to respond to a criticism that stresses the first horn of dilemma A – that is, failing to explain why specifically “Jews” were targeted – is to argue it is actually the right thing to enter “the dangerous territory” (Jay 1980, 144) of talking about actual (not just perceived) characteristics of “Jews” and thereby accepting that there is not merely projection going on. While, as already noted, Adorno is generally adamant that what anti‐ Semitism is about is the image of “the Jews,” rather than any actual properties of people, he and Horkheimer do accept that this is so only for the most part, and that, to some extent, actual properties come into it. Some of these passages should probably be discounted as reporting the views they are criticizing, rather than as expressing their own views. Still, some passages cannot be interpreted away like this. For example, Adorno wrote in a memo in October 1944: not all ever recurring objections against the Jews are of an entirely spurious, projective, paranoid character. There are a number among then which, though distorted within the framework of general aggressiveness, have their basis in certain Jewish traits which either really are objectionable or at least likely to evince actual hostile reactions. (Quoted in Jacobs 2014, 201n313)

Adorno even proposed to produce a manual for how “Jews” could be overcoming such traits, although it is disputed how serious he was about that (Jacobs 2014: 201n313). The important point here is that even insofar as Adorno and Horkheimer accepted that there was some basis in reality for some of the assertions of anti‐Semites about “Jews,” there was one crucial difference between how the former thought about it compared to the latter. For Adorno and Horkheimer, any objectionable traits were not innate, but the consequence of socialization, particularly in early years (“Research Project,” 403f/208f) – indeed, in many ways the consequence of socialization that itself was shaped by (some forms) of anti‐ Semitism. Thus, in “Elements,” they write: The Jews had not been the only people active in the circulation sphere. But they had been locked up in it for too long not to reflect in their makeup something of the hatred so long directed at this sphere. … But they always had to justify this with redoubled devotion and diligence, and stubborn self‐denial. They were only admitted if, through their behavior, they tacitly adopted and confirmed the verdict on the other Jews. (“Elements,” 204/143)

In other words, whatever actual traits of “Jews” anti‐Semitism latched onto were the outcome of oppressive circumstances people of Jewish faith found themselves in already (such that they were “locked up” in the circulation sphere, and “Trade was not [their] vocation, but [their] fate” [“Elements,” 204/144]). As such, those traits could disappear along with these oppressive circumstances, at least after several cycles of socialization. We know from trauma research that it can take one or two generations for traumas to no longer be passed on. Similarly, “it happens that inclinations, skills, anxieties which have long lost their real meaning leave their mark on the faces and behavior of later generations” (“Research Project,” 404/209). 119

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One might still worry that in accepting that some of the negative characteristics attributed to Jewish people were real, one is “repeating the negative construction of Jews that facilitated their destruction” (Judaken 2008, 39). Still, at least in some contexts, we do better to insist on the real effects the prejudices have, which include creating reality in the projected image. The mechanisms for making “ticket mentality,” in a certain sense, self‐ validating and thereby entrenching it, need to be revealed and then combated, not ignored. Moreover, what is revealed here is nothing for which the victims can be blamed  –  if anything, it reveals an additional harm that anti‐Semitism imposes on its victims: they are made by way of social pressures to conform to its image, having traits foisted onto them that are – to return to the earlier passage from Adorno’s 1944 memo – “objectionable or at least likely to evince actual hostile reactions.” In sum, Adorno and Horkheimer once again adopt a complex position, which combines a clear rejection of race theory and an insistence on the importance of projections in anti‐ Semitism with the acceptance of the “historical phenomena” of “Jewish traits” as a consequence of character formation under severely restrictive circumstances and their after‐effects on later generations (“Research Project”, 403f/208f; on the rejection of race theory, see also HGS 5: 373, 374f). With this move – together with the abovementioned first move concerning specific explanations for why “Jews” became targets of ticket ­mentality – they navigate dilemma A much better than is normally asserted. In all of this, it is crucial to recognize that the complexity of their position is called for to do justice to the inherently multifaceted nature of anti‐Semitism. This is not to say that what I have presented in this chapter shows that they do full justice to it. For example, one might still maintain that their general level explanations are unfalsifiable or simply unnecessary and potentially distorting insofar as what we need is not “sophisticated speculations” (Améry 1980, viii) about the course of human history but witnessing from the standpoint of the victims. This raises issues going beyond the confines of this occasion, including about whether we need a theory of anti‐Semitism at all, such as for combating it (as Adorno and Horkheimer thought). My purpose here has merely been to suggest that Adorno and Horkheimer’s account of anti‐Semitism can be re‐positioned as a more coherent and richer contribution to navigating this inherently fraught domain than has been recognized so far in the literature.

References Adorno, Theodor W. 1951. Minima Moralia. Reprinted in AGS 4. English translation by E.F.N. Jephcott. London/New York: Verso, 2005. [Abbreviated as “MM”; references to AGS and the English translation, separated by a “/”]. Adorno, Theodor W. 1959. “Was bedeutet: Aufarbeitung der Vergangenheit”. Reprinted in AGS 10.2: 555–72. English translation as “The Meaning of Working Through the Past” in his Critical Models (trans. Henry Pickford). New York: Columbia Press, 89–103. [Abbreviated as “MWP”; references to AGS and the English translation, separated by a “/”] Adorno, T.W. (1973ff). Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 20 (ed. R. Tiedemann)). Frankfurt a/M: Suhrkamp. [Abbreviated as “AGS” in the text, followed by volume and page number.]. Adorno, Theodor W. 1975. “The Psychological Technique of the Martin Luther Thomas’ Radio Addresses” in AGS 9.1: 7–141. [Abbreviated “Psychological Technique”; references to AGS.] Adorno, T.W., Brunswik, E.F., Levinson, D.J., and Sanford, R.N. (eds.) (1950). The Authoritarian Personality. New York, Evanston & London: Harper & Row.

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Améry, J. (1980). At the Mind’s Limits. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Bahr, E. (1978). The anti‐Semitism studies of the Frankfurt school: the failure of critical theory. German Studies Review 1 (2): 125–138. Benhabib, S. (2009). From ‘the dialectic of enlightenment’ to ‘the origins of totalitarianism’ and the genocide convention: Adorno and Horkheimer in the company of Arendt and Lemkin. In: The Modernist Imagination: Intellectual History and Critical Theory (eds. W. Breckman, P.E. Gordon, A.D. Moses, et al.), 299–330. Oxford/New York: Berghahn Books. Claussen, D. (1987a). Grenzen der Aufklärung. Zur gesellschaftlichen Geschichte des modernen Antisemitismus. Frankfurt a/M: Fischer. Claussen, D. (ed.) (1987b). Vom Judenhass zum Antisemitismus. Materialien einer verleugneten Geschichte. Darmstadt: Luchterhand. Crook, S. (ed.) (1994). Theodor W. Adorno: The Stars Down to Earth and Other Essays on the Irrational in Culture. London (etc.): Routledge. Diner, D. (1993). Reason and the ‘other’: Horkheimer’s reflection on anti‐Semitism and mass annihilation. In: On Max Horkheimer: New Perspectives (eds. S. Benhabib, W. Bonß and J. McCole)), 335– 363. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Freyenhagen, F. (2018). Social pathology and critical theory. In: Routledge Companion to the Frankfurt School (eds. E. Hammer, A. Honneth and P. Gordon). London: Routledge. Horkheimer, M. (1989 [1939]). The Jews and Europe”. Reprinted in. In: Critical Theory and Society. A Reader (eds. S.E. Bronner and D.M.K. Kellner), 77–94. New York/London: Routledge. Horkheimer, Max. 1943. “Zur Psychologie des Antisemitismus [On the psychology of Anti‐ Semitism].” Reprinted in HGS 12, 173–83. Horkheimer, M. (1985ff). Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 19 (eds. A. Schmidt and G.S. Noerr). Frankfurt a/M: Fischer. [Abbreviated as “HGS” in the text, followed by volume and page number.]. Horkheimer, Max & Adorno, Theodor W. 1947a. “Elemente des Antisemitismus” in Horkheimer, Max and Adorno, Theodor W. (1947b). [Abbreviated as “Elements”; references to HGS and the English translation, separated by a “/”] Horkheimer, Max, and Adorno, Theodor W. 1947b. “Dialektik der Aufklärung” (Amsterdam: Querido). Reprinted in HGS 5, 11–290. English translation as Dialectic of Enlightenment by Edmund Jephcott (Stanford: Stanford University Press). [References to HGS and the English translation, separated by a “/”] Institute for Social Research. 1941. “Research Project on Anti‐Semitism: Idea of the Project”. Reprinted in Crook (ed.) 1994, 181–217. German translation in HGS 4: 377–411. [Abbreviated as “Research Project”; references to HGS and the English original, separated by a “/”] Jacobs, J. (2014). The Frankfurt School, Jewish Lives, and Antisemitism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Jay, M. (1980). The Jews and the Frankfurt school: critical Theory’s analysis of anti‐Semitism. New German Critique 19: 137–149. Judaken, J. (2008). Between Philosemitism and antisemitism: the Frankfurt School’s anti‐antisemitism. In: Antisemitism and Philosemitism in the Twentieth and Twenty‐First Centuries. Representing Jews, Jewishness, and Modern Culture (eds. P. Lassner and L. Trubowitz)), 23–46. Newark, DE: University of Delaware Press. Lyotard, J.‐F. (1990). Heidegger and “the Jews.”. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press. Massing, P. (1949). Rehearsal for Destruction. A Study of Political Anti‐Semitism in Imperial Germany. New York: Harper and Brothers. Postone, M. (1986). Anti‐Semitism and National Socialism. In: Germans and Jews Since the Holocaust (eds. A. Rabinbach and J. Zipes)), 302–314. New York: Holmes and Meier. Rabinbach, A. (2002). ‘Why were the Jews sacrificed?’: The place of antisemitism in Adorno and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment. In: Adorno: Critical Reader (eds. N. Gibson and A. Rubin) Ch. 5. Oxford: Blackwell. Rensman, L. (2017). The Politics of Unreason: The Frankfurt School and the Origins of Modern Antisemitism. Albany, NY: SUNY.

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Tiedemann, R. (2003). Introduction. In: Theodor W. Adorno: Can One Live After Auschwitz? A Philosophical Reader (ed. T. Rolf). Stanford: Stanford University Press. Wiggershaus, R. (1994). The Frankfurt School. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Ziege, E.‐M. (2009). Antisemitismus und Gesellschaftstheorie: Die Frankfurter Schule im amerikanischen Exil. Frankfurt a/M: Suhrkamp.

Further Reading Institute for Social Research 1941. “Research Project on Anti‐Semitism: Idea of the Project.” This co‐ authored text gives a good sense of the overall account of anti‐Semitism Adorno (and Horkheimer) aimed for, although it is marred in places by the problematic views Neumann and Horkheimer held at the time (regarding the virulence of Anti‐Semitism in Nazi Germany and the role of anti‐ Semitic propaganda and pogroms there). Adorno, Theodor. W. “Anti‐Semitism and Fascist Propaganda” (in Crook 1994). Summary of Adorno’s longer work on fascist propaganda, with insights into propaganda techniques that are still relevant today. Horkheimer, Max and Theodor W. Adorno, “Elements of Anti‐Semitism.” Their most influential text on the topic. Wiggershaus, Rolf 1994. The Frankfurt School. Chapters 4–5 provide a summary and detailed account of the production of and context for the 1940s works on anti‐Semitism. Postone, Moishe 1986. “Anti‐Semitism and National Socialism.” An influential, albeit not uncontroversial, account of anti‐Semitism in Nazi Germany that is inspired by Adorno and Horkheimer, foregrounding the link between Nazi propaganda and “Jews” as symbols of the circulation sphere.

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8 Adorno and Jazz ANDREW BOWIE

1.  “That’s Not Jazz” “Adorno? He’s the guy that hated jazz, isn’t he?” is the response I sometimes get from fellow musicians in the jazz scene when I mention that I work on Adorno. The fact that one of the most significant twentieth‐century writers on music and philosophy is almost exclusively known in some musical circles for his highly critical assessment of jazz might be seen as a symptom of precisely what concerned Adorno about the “culture industry.” The tendency for complex cultural phenomena to be reduced to only one of their aspects, so obviating the need to engage with the challenges they present, could be construed as a symptom of how the world has come to be dominated by the reductive forms of labeling characteristic of the commodity form. However, if one looks at what Adorno says about jazz, it is arguable that he is equally guilty of such thinking in relation to jazz itself. The verdict on Adorno’s direct responses to jazz seems to me to have to be pretty damning. However, I also want to use this particular aspect of Adorno’s work to touch on broader questions about how we might approach music in philosophical terms. This will lead to important questions for research into relationships between the production and reception of art, where Adorno still has much to offer. What, then, decides whether something is jazz or not? The problem in the case of Adorno is that he offers few defensible criteria for distinguishing jazz from music that does not merit the title. Music referred to as “jazz” has a fairly specific historical point of origin, in New Orleans, and is a result of mixing musical sources such as spirituals, marches, blues songs, popular songs, and ragtime. From the very beginning, then, jazz was a hybrid music, and remains so today, which helps explain why identifying something as jazz can be controversial: “that’s not jazz” is heard virtually every time a new form of the music emerges. In the 1910s a break seems to have been made from ragtime and other popular small band and piano music, which was either written out or based on musicians learning fixed parts by heart if they could not read music. If one considers recordings of early jazz, which begin in 1917 with the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, certain features become apparent that were lacking in the music that preceded it (though the three‐minute time limitation means we don’t know for sure how this music was played live). The rhythm of

A Companion to Adorno, First Edition. Edited by Peter E. Gordon, Espen Hammer, and Max Pensky. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2020 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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ragtime, for example, involved syncopation, but lacked a strong element of “swing,”1 and there was little improvisation. As we shall see, Adorno maintains that very little of jazz is really improvised, but there is evidence that in live performance the King Oliver band already played long versions of tunes they recorded in the three‐minute format in the early 1920s, particularly when playing for dancers, where a greater measure of improvisation would be necessary. Any concept of jazz that relies on specifying identifying musical features is likely to exclude music that does not involve those particular features, but may still justifiably be termed jazz for other reasons. Adorno quite often refers to the Duke Ellington orchestra, and they illustrate the issue: throughout its long history, some of the solos of the Ellington band were often repeated largely note for note in live performance, but soloists would also improvise at length.2 (The recordings cited in this chapter can easily be found on YouTube – it is important to note the dates of the recordings, as some artists recorded the same tunes more than once – and form a key part of what I want to say.) A central aspect of the development of jazz is that features that are characteristic of one style, such as a choice of particular notes against certain chords, or trick instrumental effects, come to be regarded as “corny,” “cheesy,” and so on in another. Part of what happens here can be regarded, as Adorno does, as being akin to changes in fashion. However, the dynamic of these changes also relates precisely to what Adorno demands of new music, where failure to go beyond established techniques leads to aesthetic failure. The term “jazz” needs to be understood, then, as being both descriptive and normative. A historical account can describe the musical features of each style that is designated as “jazz” at a particular time: the designation “jazz” may be disputed, the characterization of musical features need not be. The real dynamic of such musical changes is, however, more complex, relating to social and political tensions that gain expression in the adoption, and rejection, of aesthetic and technical resources, and in the establishing of new musical demands. These factors inevitably change the content of the term “jazz.” A normative approach leads to “jazz” becoming a dynamic notion, which precisely depends on its not being a “definition” that would enable the classification of something as jazz. Indeed, it is a feature of jazz that music that was considered to be jazz is sometimes seen by those bringing about innovations as ceasing to be jazz, because it no longer “says” anything significant. Trumpeter Nicholas Payton has recently suggested dropping the word “jazz,” and now referring to Black American Music.3

2.  Adorno’s Jazz Essay Adorno’s essay “On Jazz” of 1936 is a complex reflection on jazz as a social and cultural phenomenon. It is based on many of Adorno’s assumptions about how music can tell us about the state of a society, and suffers from some of the problems in those assumptions. The essay gives musicological analysis of putative jazz music, but is notable for the fact that it does not analyze specific features of recordings, let alone live performances, to illustrate the analysis, using sheet music and other sources instead. Adorno often refers to this essay even in his late work, but pays scant attention to the fact that, particularly with the bebop revolution, jazz moves in very new directions that could not have been predicted in 1936, and which in some respects parallel developments in modern classical music. The two main theoretical frameworks Adorno employs in the essay are the Marxist theory of commodity, and a version of psychoanalysis based on something like Weberian 124

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ideal types, notably what Adorno terms “the jazz subject,” a composite of what he sees as the psychological attributes of those enthused by jazz. With respect to the former he claims: “in any case, this much is certain, that the serviceability of jazz does not negate alienation, but amplifies it. Jazz is a commodity in the strict sense, it is subject to the laws, and the contingency of the market” (GS 17: 78).4 With respect to the latter, he maintains that comic, grotesque, and anal traits are characteristic of jazz: “They characterise a subjectivity which protests against a collective power which it itself ‘is’; for this reason its protest appears ridiculous and is beaten down by the drum like syncopation is by the beat” (GS 17: 100). Rather than the ways in which jazz deviates from musical norms being a real expression of protest, they are supposedly a kind of identification with the oppressor. In both cases his concern is to deny jazz a critical status with respect both to the “culture industry,” in which the importance of art as a means of criticizing the existing state of society is negated by being beholden to the market, and to social forces which he sees as leading to fascism. Adorno’s analysis is not based on field work within the communities in which jazz played a significant cultural role – for example, in New Orleans, New York, or Chicago – but, in line with assumptions we will consider later, on analysis of what he sees as the internal features of the music, such as rhythm: “Old and repressed drives are not emancipated in the regularised rhythms and regularised outbursts: new, repressed, mutilated drives freeze into masks of those which have long been in existence” (GS 17: 83). The supposedly spontaneous elements of jazz he sees as mere appearance: “the much cited improvisations, those hot‐passages and breaks have merely ornamental significance, never constructive and form‐establishing significance” (GS 17: 82). Adorno here uses criteria from his evaluation of the tradition from Bach to Schoenberg, which, for him, represents the ongoing possibility of creating new musical sense that criticizes the social given, to claim that jazz cannot establish emancipatory new sense. In line with this view, the essay concludes with a claim that recurs in his work, namely that jazz is actually a thing of the past.

3.  Adorno’s Empirical Limitations The idea that jazz is a thing of the past is clearly mistaken, and seeing why can take us into important issues concerning philosophically based criticism of art. One obvious reason for Adorno’s failure here is that his familiarity with jazz was limited.5 The names he cites include Louis Armstrong, Ellington, Benny Goodman, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, in the earlier writings, and Count Basie and some others in the later texts. He also includes some novelty musicians, like Ted Lewis, whom nobody would now seriously regard as jazz musicians. Marithé van der Aa makes some useful remarks about how Adorno’s early view of jazz was actually shaped by the particular way jazz developed in Germany in the 1920s, where only a few records by authentic black jazz artists were available, rather than by American jazz.6 The fact that Adorno, later in life, as far as I can ascertain, never mentions Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, or John Coltrane, whose recordings were available and widely listened to in Germany (in the 1960s Frankfurt was a center for modern jazz), also raises questions about how much attention he paid to the specifics of the music that he uses throughout his life as a target for criticisms of the “culture industry.” He mentions ragtime, swing, and bebop, but makes few extended differentiations between them, and also includes a much broader range of popular music in the category than any jazz historian would. The latter fact helps explain why much that he says about jazz now seems very appropriate to the worst end of the pop and rock music industries. 125

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To underline the empirical problems with Adorno’s position it is worth taking the case of Louis Armstrong. In later life Armstrong was to some extent coopted into the culture industry, but it was the young Armstrong, above all, who, from the mid‐1920s onwards, initiated the central role of the jazz soloist in contrast to the more collective styles of previous jazz. When Adorno writes about composers from the European tradition he highlights and analyses specific musical examples, but nothing of the kind happens in relation to Armstrong (or any other jazz recordings).7 In a review of two American books on jazz Adorno remarks: “It is really of interest that Hobson associates the moment of the eccentric with that of the castrato. He cites a remark by Virgil Thompson, who describes Armstrong, the eccentric‐trumpeter par excellence, as a ‘master of musical art comparable only … to the great castrati of the eighteenth century’” (GS 19: 396). Adorno repeats this characterization elsewhere. What is specifically meant by an “eccentric” is unclear, beyond it being someone who appears not to conform to established social norms. More instructive is Adorno’s readiness to assimilate Armstrong to a peculiar aspect of European musical history, in order to be able to classify him in the terms of the music on which he usually focuses. Thompson is presumably referring to Armstrong’s use of vibrato, and capacity for playing “operatically” in the trumpet’s high register. In one of the greatest early jazz recordings, in 1929, Armstrong demonstrated these qualities in the popular song “Some of These Days,” which can suggest how Adorno misses the mark. The record’s opening palais de dance style orchestral introduction exemplifies a tension in the period, which Adorno mentions more than once, between mere commercial “sweet” dance band music, and “hot” playing. As soon as Armstrong sings, paraphrasing and altering the written vocal part in a way he largely invented, something starts to happen that is actually heightened by the banality of the accompanying orchestra. A slightly melancholy, rather good, popular song played in a stodgy, sickly‐sweet manner begins, when Armstrong starts his trumpet solo, to be transformed into something which combines tragic intensity with great elation. The opening break of Armstrong’s final climactic solo is phrased in a quite remarkable rhythmic fashion, and the way he builds tension in the very short space of the solo is breathtaking. Nothing had been heard in Western music like this up to that time, and nobody had made a trumpet sound that way before.8 Had Adorno actually heard this recording it seems hard to believe he would have just stuck to concurring with Thompson. If he did hear it, it seems that he was unable to listen beyond the frame of his own musical culture. The way Armstrong combines the expression of suffering and elation exemplifies a black culture whose responses to the racial repression that continues to this day have a nobility and wit that Adorno did not appreciate, despite his opposition to racism in the United States. Indeed, Adorno did not see jazz as essentially related to black experience at all, looking at it largely through the prism of white European music. One further example of Armstrong from 1929, this time with a band of excellent jazz soloists who were very suited to his playing, the Luis Russell Orchestra, underlines a further point. Adorno frequently criticizes the supposedly mechanical keeping of a basic tempo and the rigidity of the rhythm of jazz. In “St Louis Blues” the bassist, Pops Foster, does indeed just play a straight four in a bar slapped bass in the swing parts of the tune, but hearing swing like this as mechanical and rigid is surely impossible. Armstrong here produces a climax that seems in each chorus as though it can’t get any more intense, and then does. His playing underlines how much jazz depends on creation and release of rhythmic and other tension, which Adorno shows little sign of appreciating. For most of its history 126

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jazz has been closely linked to dance, and the somatic, dance‐related effect of the climax of this recording is hard to miss. One source of Adorno’s misunderstandings is that, despite his focus on the importance of the somatic aspect in human well‐being in other contexts, he often reduces rhythm to being something merely coercive when he criticizes jazz (though we will come to his more positive assessment). Adorno comments that “The thought that a solo chorus by Armstrong cannot be graphically encompassed, whereas a quartet by Webern can be written down, is rather too bold – even apart from the question of where and when in the real practice of jazz there is any improvisation at all” (GS 19: 384). A mere correct rendering of pitches and note values by a string quartet playing a work by any significant composer will indeed not do justice to it. However, getting a trumpet player who had never heard any of Armstrong’s work to play a transcription of what Armstrong plays on either of the recordings cited above would result in them playing something that also did very little justice to the original. When Adorno wrote this remark, transcriptions were rare. Transcriptions of solos by major artists are, though, now an important pedagogic tool in jazz, but playing them without listening to the recording being transcribed misses most of what matters in the music (and there are frequent disagreements about how to notate more complex rhythmic passages). Many of the features of timbre, variations of timing, phrasing, and so on, that are essential to jazz, which Armstrong perfectly exemplifies, do elude useable notation.9 With respect to Adorno’s claim about improvisation, recordings in the era of three‐ minute 78 RPM records are not, as we saw, a reliable guide to how much was improvised. Furthermore, the role of jam sessions, where improvisation is essential to the session, makes it clear that there was a lot of improvisation, at least from some time in the 1920s onwards, and such sessions are particularly crucial in the development of new forms of jazz from the later 1930s to the present day. Jam sessions also make clear how jazz is an active social practice in which communication between musicians and with the audience is an ineliminable aspect of the music’s significance. Adorno seems not to appreciate that the culture of jam sessions is the antithesis of consumer culture: as any jazz musician will tell you, a good audience becomes part of the band, enabling it to improvise things that would not be possible without the stimulus they provide.10

4.  “Interpretation Has a Lot to Learn from Jazz” Adorno’s criticism of jazz is, then, rarely empirically adequate to what is being criticized, and it tends to be pretty relentless. However, his general tendency to very emphatic criticism often also involves him making it clear that he sees some aesthetic value in the thing criticized, but regards it as of lesser importance in relation to the social and philosophical significance of what he criticizes. This is the case for his response to all kinds of music. Having, for example, in the manuscripts on Musical Reproduction from the 1940s and 1950s, criticized almost everything about a performance, conducted by Herbert von Karajan, of the second movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Adorno adds: “This great (grossartige) conductor has not understood the Hegel in Beethoven” (Adorno 2001, 104), and wonders how he himself is to make people understand it. Similarly, he quite frequently praises the skill, particularly of “hot” (i.e. less commercially oriented) jazz musicians, in dealing with rhythm, and admires the virtuosity of the best players. In a lecture on “Light Music,” published in 1962 in Introduction to the Sociology of Music, he states: “Within light music jazz unquestionably has its merits. In relation to the idiocy 127

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of the operetta after Johann Strauss, it taught technical skill, quick‐wittedness, the concentration which had otherwise been degraded by light music, also tonal and rhythmic capacity for differentiation” (GS 14: 212–213). Elsewhere he discusses how to sustain rhythmic differentiation in music performance, and remarks: “A light falls from here on a real function of jazz: namely to sustain such differentiations, which otherwise are disappearing. As, by the way, interpretation has a lot to learn from jazz” (Adorno 2001, 172). Discussing the relationship between notation and its effects on musical memory, he states: “whenever music was made traditionally, without being bound to fixed writing, memory reveals itself as strong: the rhythmic models which are retained by primitive peoples are so complex that no civilised person, except perhaps the trained musician, could achieve the same thing (there is still something of this in jazz)” (Adorno 2001, 70). These last two remarks contrast sharply with much that he says elsewhere about jazz rhythm, and suggest that Adorno too often conflated jazz‐related commercial music with the jazz that is a central part of modern musical culture. Given the ambivalent relationship of jazz to the commercial music market, especially in the swing era, when as fine a jazz musician as Goodman was in some ways treated like a pop star, this is perhaps understandable.11

5.  “What Jazz Is Really Saying in Social Terms” As the US Civil Rights movement showed, jazz can be critical of modern societies in something akin to the way Adorno demands of “serious music,” so why does he not appreciate this possibility? Although his view of jazz probably became somewhat less stringent in later years, the overall framework for his criticisms, set out in the 1936 essay, did not change a great deal. Just how problematic some aspects of that essay were is evident in the following passage: To the extent to which in the beginnings of jazz one can speak of negro‐elements, it is less a matter of archaic‐primitive expressions than of the music of slaves; even in the autochthonous music of Inner‐Africa syncopation along with the sustaining of the beat seems to belong only to the lower social class. Psychologically it may be that the structure of ur‐jazz is most reminiscent of the singing to themselves of servant girls. (GS 17: 83)

Leaving aside the inane condescension of the final remark, the association of jazz with primitivism was indeed characteristic of the commercial (and often racist) exploitation of jazz in the 1920s, so Adorno can justifiably suggest that the idea of jazz as evoking something archaic and primitive, rather than something new, is questionable. However, the Ellington band’s “jungle music” of the 1920s introduced a whole range of sophisticated instrumental techniques and timbres, and harmonic innovations that belie the supposed primitivism. These innovations are apparent in Ellington’s 1927 recording of “East St Louis Toodle‐Oo,” from the very early days of the band, well before its heyday from the late 1930s onwards. Despite some of the idiom of the music now appearing as very much of its time, its expressive power endures. This has not least to do with the fact that the black culture that gives rise to the music is today still confronted with the sort of repression the music is reacting against. In “Black and Tan Fantasy” (also 1927), the dark tone, the plaintive use of muted brass, not as a novelty effect, but as a means of bringing the sound closer to speaking, and the quotation of Chopin’s Funeral March at the end are indications of racial repression in a society where direct criticism of this repression could have been dangerous. 128

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Adorno’s lack of attention to details of actual jazz and its relation to the socio‐political situation has a specific theoretical basis which lead to questions for his work on music as a whole. In the Introduction to the Positivism Dispute in German Sociology, he summarizes a key aspect of “On Jazz” as follows: In “On Jazz” of 1936, reprinted in Moments Musicaux, the concept of a “jazz subject” was used, of an ego‐image which generally represented itself in that type of music; jazz was through and through a symbolic process in which this jazz subject fails in the face of collective demands represented by the basic‐rhythm, stumbles, “drops out”, but, as what drops out, reveals itself in a kind of ritual as the same as all other powerless subjects, and, at the price of deleting itself, is integrated into the collective. (GS 8: 333)

He seeks to justify the lack of empirical detail, as opposed to setting up such ideal types, by suggesting that social research based on the use of observation statements from different areas of society involved with jazz would not get to “what jazz is really saying in social terms” (GS 8: 333). Construction of the ideal type of the “jazz subject” from analysis of the internal constitution of the music, in the form of syncopated deviation from the basic rhythm, in contrast, is supposed to be able to decode the hidden significance of jazz: “subjective reactions do not need at all to accord with the determinable content of the cultural [geistige] phenomena that are being reacted to” (GS 8: 333). This may well be true in some cases, and it points to a real danger of inquiry into music that just looks at how listeners respond, without first critically engaging with what it is that they are responding to. However, it is doubtful whether this is the case for what he says here about jazz, not least because he doesn’t engage with the detail of the music. Elsewhere, in the same vein as the “jazz subject” remarks, he contends: “soap operas generally follow the formula ‘getting into trouble and out again’, a device which incidentally seems also to be valid for jazz” (GS 9.2: 42), in order again to explain how jazz rhythm functions as a symptom of what he thinks is only pseudo‐resistance to social pressures. Adorno maintains that in his writings on jazz: “the attempt is made to interpret technical‐musical matters as a system of formulae which predetermine certain schemata of social identification” (GS 10.2: 814). For jazz this involves “Treating a sustained basic metre so that it apparently constitutes itself without in the least sacrificing anything of its rigid authority: this is how one could define the technical idea of jazz” (GS 13: 466–467). The bottom line is that technical aspects of jazz rhythm are supposed to be encoded results of the pressure of a repressive social world, which the analyst is to decode in the manner of a therapist interpreting a psychological symptom.

6.  Art and Objectivity If one considers specific jazz, Adorno’s framework here, which has some traction with respect to more commercial music, proves to be inadequate. He repeatedly cites Ellington as saying his favorite composers are Debussy and Delius (the influence of Debussy may actually have come after the early recordings discussed earlier), and uses this to suggest that Ellington’s music, and other jazz, is essentially derivative of European impressionism. However, he thereby omits most of the specific character of Ellington’s music, with its rootedness in the blues, its unique orchestration, and harmonically sophisticated tunes that still form a staple of the jazz repertoire, even for some of the most innovative soloists today. 129

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By 1940 the Ellington band could produce recordings like “Harlem Air Shaft,” which are on a par with or outdo not a few of the influences to which Adorno tries to reduce Ellington: Delius never produced anything remotely as original. The combination of a rapidly shifting, montage‐like orchestral score with characterful improvised solos, and swinging rhythm section achieves more as a musical evocation of the rhythms of modern city life in three‐minute time format than many pieces of what Adorno calls “serious music.” Adorno asserts that jazz “subjects itself to the measure of art music, but reveals itself before it as being left far behind” (Adorno GS 17: 90), but the question is on what basis such a judgment is founded, if one takes recordings like “Harlem Airshaft” into account. It might be contended that my judgments on these Ellington pieces are just subjective preference, but the same objection could be made to Adorno, as it can in many contexts to any aesthetic judgment. Demanding objectivity in relation to art is very often seen as ­questionable in a culture that tends to assume that aesthetic judgment is irredeemably subjective. However, one of Adorno’s most important achievements is to show how dubious this view is, both because individual subjective preference is itself greatly influenced by objective social factors, which opens it up to critical analysis, and because art is part of the “space of reasons,” discussion of its value not being merely arbitrary.12 In the late essay, “Vers une musique informelle,” Adorno insists on an idea that informs many of his judgments on music: “art cannot absolve itself of the discipline of science, from which it borrows, with whatever right it does so, its ideal of objectivity” (GS 16: 528). Adorno’s sense of objectivity here relates to two conceptions. On the one hand, a Kantian conception maintains that claims about art have to aim at an objectivity based on their commanding universal assent – this is also seen, in some versions of pragmatism, for example, as a way to think about cognitive forms of objectivity. On the other hand, subjective command in art is, for Adorno, a manifestation of resistance to the subjection and objectification of internal and external nature characteristic of modern technology and bureaucracy, enabling what is repressed to speak in a way that is not distorted by the mechanisms it is subjected to. Adorno’s justification of this latter conception depends on the idea that modern art’s capacity for revealing truth depends on its not falling behind the historical development of the artistic “material” – in music this is the development of forms of harmony, rhythm, melody, and so on. In Philosophy of New Music Adorno explains it like this: The demands which go from the material to the subject derive […] from the fact that the “material” is itself sedimented spirit, something social, which has been preformed by the consciousness of people. As former subjectivity which has forgotten itself this objective spirit of the material has its own laws of motion. What seems to be merely the autonomous movement of the material, which is of the same origin as the social process and is always once more infiltrated with its traces, still takes place in the same sense as the real society when both know nothing of each other and mutually oppose each other. (GS 12: 39–40)

Why, though, should the “movement of the material” have the same origin as “the social process,” and share a development with it, even if there is no awareness of this on the part of those involved? Adorno relies rather too heavily here on a Hegelian conception of the development of “objective spirit” in relation to art, as well as on Marx’s ideas about economic developments taking place in ways that those producing them are not aware of: talk of “laws of motion” suggests this. At the same time, ideology, which can similarly be seen as “former subjectivity which has forgotten itself,” is indeed effective in objective ways that can elude those subject to it. 130

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Language is also “sedimented spirit,” generated in social interaction and modified by “the consciousness of people,” though usually not in a manner directly intended by individuals, and it is part of “the social process.” Because language users are always already engaged in it, language cannot be fully objectified from an external perspective, and something analogous applies to music.13 Adorno’s idea that modern music is a kind of seismograph of social developments that registers things which the drive for ever greater cognitive command may obscure can be defended from this perspective, but he fails to see how jazz fits into this idea. Adorno construes the history of modern classical music from Bach to Schoenberg and beyond in terms of the following: All progress in cultural domains is progress in the command of the material, of technique. The truth‐content of Geist is not indifferent to this. A quartet by Mozart is not just better made than a symphony of the Mannheim School, but also ranks, as better made, more right, higher in the emphatic sense. (GS 10.2: 634)

This raises a problem that Adorno quite often underplays, even though the example he cites points to something important. The command of the material evident, say, in the use of fugal elements in the last movement of Mozart’s “Jupiter” Symphony, number 41, can put much of the rest of the symphonic music of that period in the shade, and creates demands for subsequent composers, which they ignore at the peril of becoming derivative or trite. Much the same can be said in jazz about the playing of Charlie Parker or John Coltrane, for example. But does Mozart get put in the shade when, in the Missa Solemnis, the Ninth Symphony, and elsewhere, Beethoven takes such symphonic use of counterpoint to an even higher level, in terms of complexity, emotional range, and expressive force? There is indeed no way of just going back to a preceding “state of the material” if a musician wants to say something significant – even a brilliant contemporary pastiche in the manner of a movement like the finale of the “Jupiter” would not now produce a great work of art – nor would a perfectly executed contemporary solo in the precise manner of Parker or Coltrane. However, Mozart’s symphony still makes the kind of demand on performers suggested by pianist Artur Schnabel’s remark about music that is better than it can ever be played, and this does not fit easily with Adorno’s tendency to aesthetic progressivism.14

7.  The “State of the Material” Adorno’s concern is predominantly with Rimbaud’s insistence that “Il faut être absolument moderne,” if art is to articulate its own kind of truth rather than reproduce the given. He is therefore confronted with something analogous to Marx’s puzzlement at why Greek art still appeals to the modern world when the conditions of its production no longer obtain. The upshot of Adorno’s problem becomes apparent in relation to what he sees as the most advanced “state of the material,” exemplified by the music of the Second Viennese School, against which he measures what he sees as the failure of jazz. Important as free atonality and serialism undoubtedly are, their impact as part of what has become world music culture is still relatively restricted. In his own terms Adorno admittedly can’t lose here: if the music of Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern has not become a central factor in wider music culture, this can be seen as confirming his view that the culture industry has so come to dominate that the inability of listeners to see through the 131

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“­context of delusion” of ­commodified popular culture is now ubiquitous. The problem is that one can cite plenty of other reasons explaining why this music has not always taken a central cultural role. Much of Adorno’s criticism of jazz derives, as we saw, from his rejection of claims made for its oppositional, avant‐garde status, the status he grants to the Second Viennese School. The way jazz was bound up with the US entertainment industry, and so was often just commercially exploited, is part of what led Adorno to contest its oppositional status, but he thereby neglects the fact that jazz has also demonstrably played an oppositional role in certain social contexts, and continues to be part of black culture’s resistance to oppression. In the contemporary world much of the most important and innovative jazz has, significantly, become detached from the corporate domination that is the norm for much of the most commercially successful popular music. In the United States jazz now struggles as a commercial enterprise and has trouble sustaining itself for a dearth of venues and audiences, despite there being no lack at all of truly outstanding jazz musicians. In Europe, however, where jazz was less coopted by commercial exploitation, things are generally healthier. Adorno’s later conception of the future of serious music is summed up in his idea of “musique informelle,” which would develop what was made possible by Schoenberg et al.: “the progress of the command of the material cannot be reversed, even if the result, what is composed, did not progress: that is one of the paradoxes of the philosophy of history of art” (GS 16: 499). The music aimed at would involve the following: “It is about a truth content which represents itself and a true [richtig] consciousness, not an accommodation with the false” (GS 16: 538). He maintains, in a formulation that could apply to the best improvised modern jazz, of the kind exemplified by Coltrane’s startling changes of approach, that “Experimental music should no longer just be music that budgets with already minted coins, but one which cannot be predicted in the process of production itself ” (GS 16: 523). At some point, however, the truth content of new music has to be socially effective, rather than remaining a “message in a bottle,” and the question is how it is to do so. Adorno is right to suggest that such truth content may not become immediately apparent, and this can justify his role as philosophical interpreter of the message. However, when he approvingly cites Berg’s remark that “the time of Anton Webern would only come in a hundred years; then his music will be played in the way poems by Novalis and Hölderlin are read today” (GS 17: 204), he makes a key problem clear. As Stephen Toulmin argues (Toulmin 2003, 13), a socially influential reception of this music on a par with that afforded some other kinds of music has not occurred. The esoteric construction of “new music,” and the fact that some of it is beyond the technique of all but highly specialized players make a wider social effect unlikely, even if the music’s less direct effects on the development of all kinds of other music (including jazz and film music) are very significant. If any modern classical music seems to have articulated a truth content that only really became manifest to a wider public quite a lot later, it is, Toulmin suggests, that of Bruckner and Mahler. The revival of their music from the 1970s onwards can be seen as resulting at least in part from its articulation of the complexity and anxiety inherent in the experience of technologically developed societies. In Adorno’s terms, though, Bruckner and Mahler cease to exemplify the most advanced “state of the material” once the Second Viennese School moves toward atonality. That fact suggests precisely what is problematic about Adorno’s account of music and society. In the natural sciences, there are unambiguous advances that render previous theories redundant, especially when a 132

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theory makes possible the solution to a previously intractable practical problem. In music, in contrast, what counts as an advance is inherently contested, and depends a great deal on musical and social contexts. The use of mid‐European modernism as a yardstick gives some important insights in Adorno, but also leads to him being blind to other ways of assessing music like jazz.

8.  Music, Philosophy, and Social Theory Adorno’s general aim is “social theory by dint of the explication of aesthetic right and wrong in the heart of the [musical] objects” (GS 12: 33). The philosophical interpretation of the music itself is the primary concern, not the actual reception of it in society, of the kind that would be investigated with the means of empirical social research. He sees reception as conditioned by so many objective social factors that it has limited use in understanding music’s significance. The kind of interpretation he intends is possible, he thinks, because “All forms of music […] are sedimented contents. In them survives what is otherwise forgotten and can no longer speak in a direct manner […] The forms of art draw the history of humankind more justly than documents” (GS 12: 33). In “On the Present Relationship between Philosophy and Music” of 1953 he elucidates one sense in which music may enable what “can no longer speak in a direct manner … In music it is not a question of meaning but of gestures. To the extent to which it is language it is, like notation in its history, a language sedimented from gestures” (GS 18: 154). He is concerned, then, with a kind of truth that cannot be articulated in propositions, and so has to be expressed in “mimetic” fashion: “The need to give a voice to suffering is the condition of all truth. For suffering is objectivity which weighs on the subject; what it experiences as most subjective to it, its expression, is objectively mediated” (GS 6: 29). In music the objective mediation relates to the technical demands that Adorno thinks must be fulfilled if music is to retain its capacity for expression. In “On the Social Situation of Music” of 1932 he already claimed that music will be “all the better” the more it “expresses in the antinomies of its own language of forms the misery of the state of society, and demands change in the coded‐language of suffering” (GS 18: 731). Much of what Adorno says here really is germane to issues in modern music and its problematic relationship to its audiences. The “antinomies” of music’s “own language” suggest that modern production of music inherently involves contradictions, for example, between the need for music to make sense to its listeners, and the possibility that this will lead to a loss of expressivity through adherence to established conventions and a failure to challenge its listeners. This situation evidently plays a role in the development of “new music,” but is just as much a major factor in jazz. The development of bebop, for instance, was precisely a reaction against the conventions of commercialized 1930s swing. It involved new technical demands that excluded musicians who adhered to the older conventions, and had a more explicit critical dimension. This is reflected in its uneasy reception by musicians schooled in earlier traditions, and something analogous subsequently occurs with respect to Coltrane, and then Ornette Coleman’s and others’ free jazz. Adorno, though, never investigates how bebop’s innovations in harmony, rhythm, and melody, which are epitomized by the remarkable ramifications of the use of the flattened 5th/sharp 11th substitution (e.g. f# dominant seventh chord for c dominant seventh), begin a development in jazz that parallels how music from Wagner to Schoenberg and beyond seeks to find ways of, in Schoenberg’s phrase, “emancipating dissonance.” 133

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Bebop and the music it makes possible by emancipating dissonance establish possibilities for a jazz language that are both in opposition to much of the commercial music of its time, and, significantly, given the need to get beyond being a message in a bottle, can also reach a very wide audience. Sales of Miles Davis’ groundbreaking modal album, Kind of Blue, have now reached over four million since its release in 1959, for example. It seems invidious to see this success, which was not predominantly based on advertising‐driven massive initial sales of the kind familiar in pop music but rather on continuing sales over the years, just in terms of the culture industry. Moreover, the album established a new dimension to jazz improvisation, so creating new ways of making sense through music. There are ways of linking this music to developments in “serious music,”15 but doing so can risk obscuring the specific social and other dimensions involved in the production and reception of jazz that do not appear in analysis of the parallels in musical techniques. I have elsewhere (Bowie 2007, chapter 9) analyzed the underlying issue here in terms of Adorno proposing a notion of “philosophical music,” which he sees as doing something analogous to what philosophy should achieve in Hegelian terms, that is, “grasping its age in thought.” The problem with this can be suggested by the reasons Adorno gives for objecting to triumphant resolutions like the conclusion of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, where he talks of “Beethoven’s coerced tribute to the ideological nature of music, under whose spell even the most elevated music falls that aims at freedom in a state of persistent unfreedom” (GS 14: 412–413). What is appropriate in Adorno’s most stringent terms is, in contrast, the refusal to compromise that is present in avant‐garde music, whose truth “seems rather to be contained in the fact that it denies the meaning of organised society, of which it wishes to know nothing, by organised emptiness of meaning, rather than being capable of producing meaning of its own accord” (GS 12: 28). This version of his extreme position lands one, however, in a kind of Gnosticism, where only that which is free of any taint of positive meaning is true. In the light of Auschwitz, the idea that there are some things that destroy the possibility of making sense even in art has to be taken seriously. However, Adorno adheres to such a view of the attempt of art to make sense in the modern world well before the Holocaust, as the remark from “On the Social Situation of Music” quoted earlier suggests. He seems to pronounce a quasi‐theological verdict on the whole of the modern world as irredeemably lacking in hope, which preempts alternative responses in art to making new kinds of sense, of the kind present in jazz. It is not that jazz that expresses anger and despair at injustice and suffering tries just to beautify it, and so falls prey to “the ideological nature of music,” but neither does it involve “organised emptiness of meaning.” The music of Albert Ayler and others (including Coltrane toward the end of his life) often rejects conventional musical beauty, but its expressiveness is not empty of meaning: it also speaks of resistance and hope. Had it not done so it would have remained culturally ineffective, when it in fact became part of the formation of an oppositional black culture whose significance continues to grow today. It also opened up new dimensions for jazz that transcend the immediate socio‐political context in which it emerged. Elements of free jazz have been incorporated into tonal improvisation in ways that are not best understood as compromising the radicality of free jazz, because the results of this incorporation have in turn opened up new expressive possibilities. Adorno’s “Gnostic” stance relies on an approach to music that he later sometimes came to see was flawed, as suggested in this remark about the failings of his earlier writings on Schoenberg: “The decisive thing, the interpretation of the compositions of Schoenberg, was always inadequate. In consequence it appeared that music was supposed to be completely dissolved into cognition” (GS 18: 165). The central tension here in Adorno’s work 134

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can be illustrated by two passages, the first from 1962, the second from 1968. In the first he refers to the following principle: comprehending and analysing subjective responses towards music in relation to the thing itself (“zur Sache selbst”) and its determinable content, rather than ignoring the quality of the object, treating it as a mere stimulus of projections and limiting oneself to the identification, measuring and ordering of subjective reactions or of sedimented responses to music. (GS 14: 176–177)

This corresponds to his aim in the criticisms of jazz, but, as we have seen, his lack of adequate empirical engagement with the music means that the inferences from the musical “thing itself ” to the truth about the subjective responses is deficient. The problem with this approach is summed up by the second passage: “It is an open question, which can indeed only be answered empirically, whether, to what extent, in what dimensions the social implications revealed in musical content analysis are also grasped by the listeners” (quoted in Dahms 1994, 252–253). This assertion can derail a lot of what Adorno says, and not just about jazz. If these implications are not grasped in any way by the listeners, the music remains an esoteric code supposedly accessible only to the philosophical interpreter, with no grip on the actual socio‐political world. Perhaps most significantly, Adorno largely neglects the way that jazz is a participatory practice, which relies for its success on forms of communication and expression that can (but, admittedly, by no means always do) run counter to the social (and aesthetic) conformism that he rightly regards as a source of many of the social ills of modernity. Adorno’s failure in relation to jazz is characteristic of his era’s failure in relation to the understanding of the history of black oppression, the effects of which are really only now becoming better understood. Fumi Okiji has recently explored “the idea that jazz – the music Adorno considered archetypically affirmative of the failed Enlightenment project and insufficiently autonomous to mount effective critique of it – is capable of contributing to a ‘model of a possible praxis’” (Okiji 2018, 6). She develops an interpretation of black music, using aspects of Adorno, that challenges his model of content analysis by suggesting that “jazz is also capable of reflecting critically on the contradictions from which it arises – indeed, […] it is compelled to do so” (Okiji 2018, 4). At the time of Trump’s fascist rule, the contemporary United States reveals how little progress has really been made in many areas in overcoming the racist heritage of slavery and segregation, the significance of jazz as an oppositional practice that continually seeks to transcend cultural boundaries  – while recognizing the particularity of the cultural forms it incorporates – offers a model of expressive sociality that has few parallels in modern culture. Jazz’s very restlessness and contested status, that result not least from its continuing assimilation of and dialog with other musics, are a powerful counter to the return of forms of oppression and exclusion that are an ever more dismaying aspect of the contemporary world. Adorno identifies some of the dangers facing music that walks a line between commercialism and aesthetic integrity, and offers some important conceptual tools that enable us to understand how serious music can function as an expression of and a response to what society represses and oppresses. But his evaluation of jazz has proved to be very wide of the mark. Indeed, contemporary jazz continues to evolve and innovate, while sustaining a diverse worldwide audience for that innovation. Contemporary classical music, in contrast, is faced with the dilemma that, to judge from the response of audiences in much of the world, its past, in the form of the great tradition from Bach to Mahler, puts too much of its present in the shade. 135

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References Adorno, T.W. (1997). Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 20. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Adorno, T.W. (2001). Zur Theorie der musikalischen Reproduktion. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Adorno, T.W. (2006). Current of Music. Elements of a Radio Theory. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Bowie, A. (2007). Music, Philosophy, and Modernity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bowie, A. (2013). Adorno and the Ends of Philosophy. Cambridge: Polity Press. Cassirer, E. (1994). Philosophie der symbolischen Formen. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft. Cavell, S. (1976). Must We Mean What We Say? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Dahms, H.‐J. (1994). Positivismusstreit: die Auseinandersetzung der Frankfurter Schule mit dem logischen Positivismus, dem amerikanischen Pragmatismus, und dem kritischen Rationalismus. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Okiji, F. (2018). Jazz as Critique. Adorno and Black Expression Revisited. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Toulmin, S. (2003). Return to Reason. Cambridge Mass., and London: Harvard University Press.

Further Reading Berliner, P. (1994). Thinking in Jazz. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Bowie, A. (2007). Music, Philosophy, and Modernity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bowie, A. (2013). Adorno and the Ends of Philosophy. Cambridge: Polity Press. Gioia, T. (2011). The History of Jazz. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Okiji, F. (2018). Jazz as Critique. Adorno and Black Expression Revisited. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Notes   1 Characterizing “swing” (referring to the attribute of rhythm, rather than to the jazz style that dominated the 1930s and early 1940s) is very difficult. Adorno himself deals with the first sense in a quite restricted way, and uses “swing” mainly to refer to the jazz style. What matters most, in the context of discussing Adorno, is that the rhythm involved is not metronomic or mechanical, and involves shifting of the emphasis of the beat in a way which can have a strong somatic effect on the listener. In many forms of jazz, saying an otherwise competent jazz musician doesn’t swing is a damning verdict on their playing.   2 As on the justly famous occasion of their playing “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue” at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1956, when tenor sax player Paul Gonsalves changed the course of the band’s history in a solo that ran to 27 choruses. I cite this one to highlight Adorno’s failure to understand the differing aspects that can be emphasized in jazz improvisation: Gonsalves’ solo is not particularly virtuosic, because he is most concerned with the effect of his interaction with the rhythm section and the crowd, but it is also harmonically highly sophisticated.   3 http://www.offbeat.com/articles/nicholas‐payton‐jazz‐fest‐simple‐truth.   4 References to Adorno, Gesammelte Schriften will be to GS with the volume number.   5 Compounding this, one of the defenses of Adorno on jazz, “Th. W. Adorno Defended against His Critics, and Admirers: A Defense of the Critique of Jazz”, (IRASM 41 (2010) 1: 37–49), Michael J. Thompson does not cite a single actual jazz recording or performance.   6 http://marithevanderaa.com/2017/05/20/according‐to‐adorno‐a‐portrait‐of‐jazzs‐harshest‐critic.   7 In the Current of Music, a detailed experiment, based on reactions of people listening to, among others, Benny Goodman’s Quartet on a 1937 record of “Avalon,” still does not detail anything about the melodic line and the harmonic basis of the improvisations, which are just noted as

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involving “rhythmical difficulties” (Adorno 2006, 585). To underline the issue of improvisation, the live version of this tune at the famous Carnegie Hall concert in 1938 involves quite different solos, though some elements are retained from the earlier version.   8 The shape of Armstrong’s solo was demonstrably worked out in advance, because there is another recorded version of this tune, without a vocal, from the same session. However, Armstrong does improvise to some extent, as the solos do differ.   9 Adorno differentiates the position in the quoted passage in a letter to Ingolf Dahl in 1949 (Adorno 2001, 345–347), but does not see the issue I suggest. He does, though, concede that less commercialized forms of “hot jazz” use techniques of expression, which he is critical of in commercialized jazz, in a more musically effective way. 10 The recording of Gonsalves with Ellington cited earlier gives a flavor of just how remarkable this collective process can be. 11 Goodman was also the first to break the color bar in a nationally known jazz ensemble, when he formed a quartet with black musicians Teddy Wilson and vibraphonist Lionel Hampton, and he gave the first true jazz concert that did not try to mimic a symphony concert at Carnegie Hall in 1938, including a jam session with members of the Ellington and Basie bands. 12 Stanley Cavell suggests the specific nature of this space in aesthetic matters when he says: “It is essential in making an aesthetic judgement that at some point we be prepared to say in its support: don’t you see, don’t you hear, don’t you dig? […] Because if you do not see something, without explanation, then there is nothing further to discuss” (Cavell 1976, 93). Without a moment of as yet unconceptualized immediacy in aesthetic experience, it loses its specific character: see Bowie (2013), chapter 6 for a discussion of Cavell in relation to Adorno. 13 On the proximity of language and art, see Cassirer (1994), who sees them as “symbolic forms.” 14 The analogy with jazz, which often does not exist in notation prior to its performance, breaks down here, though the point with respect to the continuing aesthetic significance of music from the past still stands. 15 Other developments in this area of jazz, like the “Coltrane [chord] changes,” are motivated by something partially analogous to what motivated twelve‐tone music’s incorporation of all the notes of the chromatic scale, namely a desire to extend the scope of melody by changing harmonic norms to avoid repeating notes too often. In contrast to classical music, where twelve‐ tone music is a response to free atonality, one key movement from the quite strict form of the Coltrane changes is toward free jazz. This essay was written with the support of a Major Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Foundation.

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9 Adorno’s Democratic Modernism in America: Leaders and Educators as Political Artists Shannon Mariotti

If Adorno’s status as a proponent and practitioner of artistic modernism has long been established, we are only now beginning to appreciate how the theory and practice of democracy fits into his work. Recent scholarship has moved beyond proving that Adorno has a politics, to more deeply exploring the terrain of his political theory (Hammer 2005; Mariotti 2016). Adorno’s writings on American political culture are especially rich for understanding him not just as a political theorist, but as a democratic theorist. Examining a set of largely neglected texts, composed in English and directed toward an American audience, we can see how Adorno outlines – and enacts – a democratic theory to inform the everyday practice of democracy (Mariotti 2016). His American writings help us see the connections between his work on democracy and his larger critical theory: the problems that Adorno is concerned with throughout his writings – the culture industry, idealism, capitalism, alienation – are also central problems for democracy. Making this case requires reconsidering the traditional view of Adorno as apolitical and elitist while also revising the conventional narrative of his time in the United States as simply one of exile. But there is an additional consideration that helps illuminate Adorno’s democratic theory and practice that this essay explores: his aesthetic modernism. If, in the past, we have missed or misunderstood Adorno’s relationship with democracy because of partial readings of his American writings, today our assessment seems limited by disciplinary divisions. The discourses of modernism that are familiar to those in the arts and the humanities have not generally carried over to those who study politics and democracy in the social sciences. Through the lenses of the traditional parameters of politics, even when we recognize how Adorno engages with the discourse of democracy, his contributions look incomplete, unsatisfactory, or even apolitical. His work does not conform to the conventions of democratic theory and political theory, much less political science. Here, democracy tends to be studied in terms of institutions, structures, organized groups, and social movements and progress is charted through the accumulation of durable gains that overcome obstacles and problems on an overtly political and public level and in a linear and sustained fashion. But Adorno’s democratic modernism ruptures these categories. The work of democratic leadership and democratic pedagogy unfolds outside of institutions and official positions and is not based on credentials, groups, or

A Companion to Adorno, First Edition. Edited by Peter E. Gordon, Espen Hammer, and Max Pensky. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2020 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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measurable markers of progress. “Democratic enlightenment” is an experience at the level of everyday life that is, at once, personal, cognitive, and corporeal. As we will see, for Adorno, democratic leaders and democratic teachers attune us to and draw out the interruptive agencies of the flow of everyday experiences, to make space for moments of rupture that unsettle the default modes of perception that govern us in late modern capitalism. Democratic enlightenment is about attending to, illuminating, pausing in, and drawing out the potential of the fleeting moments where what Adorno calls “pseudo‐democracy” pushes back against itself. Adorno’s understanding of “democratic enlightenment” resonates with the exemplary modernist moment as a “framing” and “interspatial” epiphany that unfolds on the surface of ordinary life (Taylor 1989). This essay shows how, for Adorno, those who do the work of democratic leadership and democratic pedagogy are like modern artists who frame a space for the experience of democratic enlightenment. These political artists engage in personal dialogue to identify what Adorno calls the “countertendencies” and contradictory  antagonisms that course through individual lived experience in American pseudo‐ democracy. As we will see, the democratic leader, as political modernist, leans on these countertendencies, pushing on what Adorno calls “nerve centers” and “levers,” and working with the individual to draw out the implications of their own thoughts and ­feelings. The leader and educator frames a space for a momentary epiphany that takes place on the horizontal field of ordinary life in a retrograde modern landscape but provides a glimpse of meaningful democracy even if it cannot be fully named. Fleeting flashes emerge that push against the inevitability of hollow pseudo‐democracy and point toward something more meaningfully democratic: more autonomous, more empowering, more critical, less lonely, less isolating, less impotent. Democratic leaders and educators, these artists of political modernism, frame a space for experiences that are prompted by encounters with the objects of the modern world, but then move inward to foster personal self‐ reflection, to ultimately move the self beyond the self, beyond narrow and egoistic subjectivism, beyond instrumental reason, beyond coldness and hardness, gesturing and glimpsing toward a kind of community and solidarity that would be part of meaningful democracy. But we may not recognize the unique contributions of this democratic theory and practice unless we can appreciate how Adorno translates artistic modernism to the political realm. In what follows, I draw from Adorno’s writings on democracy in America to articulate his theory of democratic leadership as democratic pedagogy, situating it within his larger critical theory. The second section shows how Adorno’s understanding of democratic enlightenment borrows the modernist concept of epiphany from the realm of art. The work of the artist, for Adorno, translates to the work of the democratic leader or teacher. Finally, I consider what this new understanding of Adorno’s democratic modernism means for us today, both as scholars and as political actors.

1.  Democratic Leadership as Democratic Pedagogy In 1950, the social scientist Alvin Gouldner published an edited volume titled Studies in Leadership: Leadership and Democratic Action. The volume aims to analyze leadership in ways that, as the editor says, “promise some help to people engaged in democratic action” (Gouldner 1965, xiii). It includes essays by social scientists such as Robert Merton, Paul 140

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Lazarsfeld, Daniel Bell, Seymour M. Lipset, and David Riesman. It also contains an essay, originally composed in English and written for an American audience, by Theodor Adorno titled “Democratic Leadership and Mass Manipulation.” This little essay, overlooked and neglected, is surprising and surprisingly important, for a number of reasons. Here, Adorno does several things that push against conventional interpretations of him. First, he speaks overtly about politics, leadership, and democracy in direct terms and in ways that are meant to be prescriptive and useful on the ground, to strengthen the meaningful practice of American democracy. Second, Adorno’s tone is markedly accessible and he is clearly working to translate his theory to a broader audience of American citizens. His style itself is more democratic. Third, the piece is also surprising because of its positive and hopeful tone. He starts, though, in a more familiar place, by outlining the pathological landscape of what he calls “pseudo‐democracy.” In the United States, he says, the empty rhetoric of democracy is deployed in ways that undermine the sense that people have power, solidarity, autonomy, and a capacity for self‐determination. Institutional factors undermine citizens’ everyday practices of democracy. For example, democracy is increasingly equated with voting and elections, but modern parties are controlled by established leadership and are subservient to the world of finance and vested interests (Adorno 1965, 418). This makes a bad situation worse: “today, democracy breeds antidemocratic forces and movements” (Adorno 1965, 419). When “the people feel that they are unable actually to determine their own fate” and are “disillusioned about the authenticity and effectiveness of democratic political processes, they are tempted to surrender the substance of democratic self‐determination and to cast their lot with those whom they consider at least powerful: their leaders” (Adorno 1965, 419). Adorno makes connections between Hitler and American demagogues who also take on fascist methods, appealing to people’s sense of powerlessness, manipulating them, and also stirring up anti‐Semitism. He is concerned with how an ostensibly democratic American landscape actually bears strong resemblance to Hitler’s Germany, populated with “hollow” and “inflated” leaders who demonstrate a “phony charisma” and prey on the powerlessness and impotence of citizens to cultivate obedience and irrationality. But Adorno quickly notes that “grass‐roots democracy, as opposed to official public opinion, shows amazing vitality” (Adorno 1965, 418). He also says “those who prate about the immaturity of the masses” overlook “the mass potential of autonomy and spontaneity which is very much alive” (Adorno 1965, 423). There are “strong countertendencies” in American citizens that “work against the all‐pervasive ideological patterns of our cultural climate” (Adorno 1965, 420). Democratic leadership should “lean on these countertendencies” to cultivate what he calls “democratic enlightenment.” As he puts it: Today perhaps more than ever, it is the function of democratic leadership to make the subjects of democracy, the people, conscious of their own wants and needs as against the ideologies which are hammered into their heads by the innumerable communication of vested interests. They must come to understand those tenets of democracy which, if violated, logically impede the exercise of their own rights and reduce them from self‐determining subjects to objects of opaque political maneuvers. (Adorno 1965, 420)

Democratic leaders work with people to cultivate what Adorno calls the “Truth Principle.” “Truth” is attained by drawing out the countertendencies that are generated by pseudo‐democracy but also, at the same time, push against it. The truly democratic leader 141

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would take the whole self into account. Adorno knows that antidemocratic movements gain traction by playing on people’s fears and passions rather than just appealing to the rational and cognitive self. Consequently, the irrational element has to be “fully considered” and “attacked by enlightenment” (Adorno 1965, 424). Democratic leaders should try to “promote insight into the irrational dispositions which make it hard for people to judge rationally and autonomously” (Adorno 1965, 424). They should seek to “emancipate people” from the “grip of all‐powerful conditioning” and the Truth that they will spread “pertains to facts which are clouded by arbitrary distortions and in many cases by the very spirit of our culture” (Adorno 1965, 424). The democratic leader would create  space for an uncomfortable and unsettling  –  but ultimately productive and ­ ­illuminating  –  experience of rupture. Finally, the democratic leader or educator would meet people where they are, and locate the countertendencies that are meaningful to their own lived experience, pushing on these “nerve centers” and “levers” to generate an ­awakening “shock” (Adorno 1965, 431). Adorno highlights some countertendencies that are generally rooted in American culture. Here, the levers or nerve centers exist as part of a national identity, as part of the feeling of what it means to be “American.” For example, the “American tradition of common sense, of sales resistance” and of not wanting to be “treated like a sucker” is a valuable countertendency that can be redirected against the fascist agitator. If the authoritarian leader takes advantage of this susceptibility with specific stimuli  –  by telling Americans that they are being made into suckers by “Jews, bankers, bureaucrats, and other ‘sinister forces’”  –  the democratic leader can also make use of this susceptibility. Leaning on these countertendencies, the democratic leader can highlight how, in fact, the fascist agitator is himself “nothing but a glorified barker” (Adorno 1965, 434). People don’t like to be taken advantage of, so highlighting their manipulation can foster the realization of a productive antagonism. A second example that highlights valuable countertendencies drawn from American culture concerns the idea of neighborliness. Adorno describes how the fascist agitator poses as a man of the people, someone just like you. He exploits people’s desire for “warmth and companionship,” and this “cold‐blooded promoter of the inhuman” exploits and seizes upon Americans’ “truly human motive,” their “longing for spontaneous, genuine relationships, for love” (Adorno 1965, 435). The agitator “shrewdly attempts to enroll their support by posing as their neighbor,” just like one of them. In an era of mass culture where people suffer from alienation, they are especially ripe for this kind of exploitation. But this desire for relationships is a countertendency that can also swing against the antidemocratic leader. People will turn on the leader when it is revealed that their “sincerest feelings are being perverted and gratified by swindle” (Adorno 1965, 435). All of the emotional desires and yearnings that made people fall for the fascist leader can be used to bring him down, once his own hypocrisy is revealed and it becomes clear that he is not one of the people, not one of the simple folk. Then, “the energy inherent in their longing may finally turn against its exploitation” (Adorno 1965, 435). A section from another book of Adorno’s also composed in English and directed toward an American audience contains more examples of the kinds of countertendencies the democratic leader might lean on and draw out. The Psychological Technique of Martin Luther Thomas’s Radio Addresses analyzes a Christian right radio personality  –  Martin Luther Thomas – who was on the air in the 1930s and employed the rhetoric of democracy to cloak authoritarian ends. The American form of authoritarianism, Adorno says, is unique in that it must always disingenuously root itself in the language of freedom, liberty, and democracy. 142

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The American tradition is “ideologically bound up with democratic ideas and institutions” in a way that has “tended to give some elements of democracy a quasi‐magical halo, an irrational weight of their own” (Adorno 2000, 52). In America, democracy is attacked “in  the name of democracy” even with an aim to “overthrow democracy in the name of democracy.” Hitler and his henchmen could “openly attack democracy as such,” but the “strength of democratic tradition in America makes this impossible” and every kind of propaganda must advance itself with democratic rhetoric: “The famous saying of Huey Long’s, that if there ever should be fascism in America, it would be called antifascism, goes for all of his kin. The American attack on democracy usually takes place in the name of democracy” (Adorno 2000, 50). The fascist agitator Martin Luther Thomas constantly referred to the American Constitution, the ideals of the Founders, and invoked “democratic personalities” such as Jackson or Lincoln: Thomas claimed his goal was to preserve and protect the values of the framers and these original liberties. Ultimately, this all “shows that the fascist agitator still has to reckon with democratic ideas as living forces and that he has a chance for success only by perverting them for his own purposes” (Adorno 2000, 51). Meaningful democracy would cultivate feelings of empowerment, autonomy, reason, critical thinking, solidarity, and hopefulness about the possibility of change. These are things, though, that are only present in their absence and they become tools of manipulation by the propagandist. People are ripe for emotional manipulation because they feel that they are “somehow at the mercy of society” and no one “but the very rich feels himself as the master of his economic fate any longer” but instead feels like the “object of huge blind economic forces working upon him” (Adorno 2000, 20). Thomas draws upon the outrage, anger, impotence, dependency, helplessness, futility, loneliness, and isolation that people experience, as a way of cultivating greater obedience to him. He assumes a “veneer of democratic equality.” Thomas is “affable,” no better than anyone else, aggressively “anti‐highbrow,” ­projecting a “carefully calculated image of the common man with sound instincts and little sophistication” (Adorno 2000, 52). This folksy intimacy is a tactic that only further undermines true solidarity among people: “the very immediateness and warmth of his approach” ultimately only helps him “to get a firmer grip” over people (Adorno 2000, 27). But manipulating the concept of democracy is also a dangerous game because of the countertendencies contained even by this retrograde pseudo‐democracy. The fascist agitator can only be successful by deforming democratic ideas to his own purposes, but in doing so he still has to appeal to and negotiate them as “living forces,” given the prevailing culture. But by “perverting” democratic ideas, he is “always bound to hurt the very feelings which he wants to utilize” (Adorno 2000, 51). If democracy actually is important to Americans, pointing out the manipulations that take place in its name could open space for democratic enlightenment. Adorno says that democratic leaders “should point out as concretely as possible in every case the distortions of democratic ideas which take place in the name of democracy. The proof of such distortions would be one of the most efficient weapons for defending democracy” (Adorno 2000, 51). In his essay on leadership, Adorno translates these dialectical moves through the language of a “boomerang” and a “vaccine.” The image of the boomerang captures the dialectical work of redirecting, inverting, turning things around, inside out and upside down, and throwing something back against itself in a transformative way. And Adorno’s use of the metaphor of a “vaccine” in this essay on leadership is similarly appropriate and illuminating. A vaccine is a prophylactic that improves one’s immunity to a particular disease. A vaccine is prepared with a weakened form of the disease‐causing microbe or toxin itself. The vaccine works because the weakened form of the disease‐causing agent is 143

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administered to the body, which stimulates the immune response. Then in the future, when confronted with the real toxin, the immune system recognizes and remembers the disease‐ causing microorganism and destroys it. In his writings on democracy, Adorno exposes the pathological qualities, the “disease‐causing” toxins, of pseudo‐democracy because within them also lies the “cure,” so to speak. Democratic leaders would work to turn discontent against itself, to generate its other. Indeed, in the essay on Martin Luther Thomas, Adorno notes that the same sense of discontent that drew people to Thomas could turn them against him and his kind: illuminating people’s “objective situation might possibly convert them into radical revolutionaries” (Adorno 2000, 66). Adorno’s writings on democratic pedagogy help complete this picture of what the ­practice of meaningful democracy looks like. In a series of essays on education written after his return to Germany, Adorno again speaks about democracy in the kind of positive and prescriptive tone that characterizes his writings on leadership. Adorno emphasizes the themes of autonomy and self‐determination again and outlines the overall tasks of a truly democratic form of pedagogy. First, democratic pedagogy must cultivate a sense of possibility, a sense that change is possible, that the conditions we are given are not necessary and inevitable but contingent and mutable. Toward this end, Adorno says that education should foster the recognition that we are all both subjects and objects, who are neither wholly constructed nor wholly free, but can – at least in small ways – think against and resist the forces that would control and contain us. The world makes us but we also make up the world, and in this “doubleness” lays “the possibility of perhaps changing it” (Adorno 2005b, 298). As he says, “We are neither simply spectators of world history, free to frolic more or less at will within its grand chambers, nor does world history, whose rhythm increasingly approaches that of the catastrophe, appear to allow its subjects the time in which everything would improve on its own. This bears directly on democratic pedagogy” (Adorno 2005d, 99). Second, a democratic form of pedagogy would cultivate people’s autonomy. Adorno notes that “Democracy is founded on the education of each individual in political, social and moral awareness” (Adorno and Becker 1999, 21). The “prerequisite” for democracy, he states, is this kind of awareness, “the capacity and courage of each individual to make full use of his reasoning power” (Adorno and Becker 1999, 21). The kind of transformative education that Adorno has in mind, however, requires working against a society that cultivates not autonomy but rather “heteronomy,” which means that “no individual in today’s society can, on their own, determine the nature of their own existence” (Adorno and Becker 1999, 30). Modern society works to preshape, preform, predigest our experience for us, to “mould people through a vast number of different structures and processes” so that “they swallow and accept everything, without its true nature even being available to their consciousnesses” (Adorno and Becker 1999, 30). So democratic pedagogy works to highlight the contrasts between autonomy and authoritarianism. This form of education unfolds “in the spirit of an immanent critique, because there can be no normal democracy which could afford to be explicitly against an enlightenment of this kind” (Adorno and Becker 1999, 31). Third, Adorno thinks education also needs to teach us to attend to suffering, to be compassionate, and to try to overcome modern society’s tendency to make us hard and cold in ways that can cause us to turn away from the pain of others. Unfortunately, much of traditional education is still governed by “the ideal of being hard”: This educational ideal of hardness, in which many may believe without reflecting about it, is utterly wrong. The idea that virility consists in the maximum degree of endurance long ago

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became a screen‐image for masochism that, as psychology has demonstrated, aligns itself all too easily with sadism. Being hard, the vaunted quality education should inculcate, means absolute indifference toward pain as such. (Adorno 2005c, 198)

So an educational program that works to make us “hard” is dangerous because it encourages us to close ourselves off to the elements of the world that may be represented in terms of pain and suffering, encouraging us to become atomistic, imperial selves who cannot feel, cannot really think, and cannot be receptive to the critical impulses that are key to democratic enlightenment. Meaningful democracy, for Adorno, is not defined in a “merely formalistic way,” in terms of institutions, representation, or the will of the majority (Adorno 1965, 420). Rather, democracy is about “the dialectics of lived experience” and unfolds at the level of everyday life (Adorno 1965, 432). By this he means that democracy is a practice, a doing, rather than a being. Politics “is not a self‐enclosed, isolated sphere, as it manifests itself in political institutions, processes, and procedural rules, but rather can be conceived only in its relationship to the societal play of forces making up the substance of everything political and veiled by political surface phenomena” (Adorno 2005a, 281). Politics is about the dynamic interaction between humans and elements of the world that prompt people to think and feel against, and to resist, to rebel. And indeed, since meaningful democracy is a dynamic enactment, Adorno does not define the democratic leader or the democratic teacher in terms of institutions, credentials, official positions, or official organizations. The moves he associates with both practices map onto each other. Leadership is about education and education is a form of leadership. And neither unfold in the kinds of spaces we typically associate with political leadership or education, like the halls of Congress or the school. Both are defined in terms of how you act and what you do and Adorno thinks anyone with the attentiveness, will, and energy can be a democratic leader and engage in this kind of democratic pedagogy. Democratic leadership becomes a form of democratic pedagogy where “people who are of a mind to do so [work] with all their energies towards making education an education for protest and for resistance” (Adorno and Becker 1999, 31). For would‐ be leaders and educators, Adorno says: “What we can do is give people contents, give them categories, give them forms of consciousness, by means of which they can approach self‐reflection” (Adorno 2005b, 300). This means working with people, as we have seen, to draw out the countertendencies in their own lived experience, to cultivate  critical self‐reflection broadly understood that encompasses both critical and ­corporeal impulses. But how does the work of democratic leadership and pedagogy relate to Adorno’s larger body of work? How does his essay on leadership represent a translation of his critical theory into more accessible terms? In the essay on democratic leadership, Adorno’s language of “countertendencies” resonates with his idea of the “nonidentical.” The nonidentical are dissonant particular qualities of our material and ideological world that resist categories, push against containers, and rebel against smooth logics and harmonious equations. Nonidentical countertendencies push back against the logics of late modern capitalism: they are the remainders that resist the overall system that presents itself as natural, inevitable, and just the way things are. There is a utopian quality encapsulated is this resistance. Nonidentical countertendencies tell us that things are not as they should be, that something is wrong, in ways that dislocate what is given and point toward alternative possibilities. 145

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Ultimately, for Adorno, democratic leadership and democratic pedagogy connect to the practice of critique where we draw out and respond to the nonidentical elements of our material and ideological world. In his essay “Critique,” Adorno says that “Critique is essential to all democracy. Not only does democracy require the freedom to criticize and need critical impulses. Democracy is nothing less than defined by critique” (Adorno 2005a, 281). Critique is a practice of thinking and feeling that unfolds through encounters with “critical impulses” that are generated by the contradictory antagonisms of late modern capitalism. These impulses represent forms of interruptive agency. For Adorno, autonomy is a dialectics of lived experience where we do not harden ourselves against – but instead respond to – the critical impulses coming from the world around us. But this is not a liberal sense of autonomy as possessive individualism, to use C.B. MacPherson’s term: this is not a sovereign, independent, atomistic individual based on self‐ownership and self‐mastery. Democratic autonomy is not about closing off the self, but about opening the thinking and feeling self – opening this expanded sense of reason more widely – to the world in a way that includes deeper attentiveness to pain and suffering. As Adorno puts it, “Using the language of philosophy, one indeed could say that the people’s alienation from democracy reflects the self‐alienation of society” (Adorno 2005d, 93). If we are alienated from our own experiences and from the critical impulses of the world around us, we cannot be truly autonomous or truly democratic. The work of the democratic leader is to draw out the determinate negations of democracy to frame spaces for moments of democratic enlightenment. If elsewhere Adorno says that “wrong life cannot be lived rightly,” then we might say that wrong democracy cannot be lived rightly either (Adorno 1974, 39). But “wrong democracy” can lead to dislocating and disruptive moments of enlightenment where the hollowness of actually existing democracy is revealed in ways that also contain alternative possibilities.

2.  Epiphanies and Enlightenment: Adorno’s Democratic Modernism In his writings on democracy in the United States, we see Adorno translating his aesthetic principles to the political realm and associating the experience of democratic enlightenment with the kind of decentering epiphanic experiences that are characteristically modernist. Adorno’s modernism is central to understanding the unconventional form of his democratic theory and practice. Adorno casts backward to Romantic expressivism in certain ways despite his predominantly modernist sensibility. The relationship between Romanticism and modernism is complicated and these movements interconnect and overlap in different ways, but scholars have also tended to identify salient differences. Charles Taylor captures these differentiating features in discussing the forms that epiphanies can take for Romantics and modernists, as they play out in response to modernity. For the Romantics, “The epiphany which will free us from the debased, mechanistic world brings to light the spiritual reality behind nature and uncorrupted human feeling” (Taylor 1989, 457). For these artists, there was still a way to access a deeper, direct, unified, and immediate experience of reality, of spiritual self‐realization, of oneness and wholeness, of the good, the true, the beautiful. Romantic enlightenment takes the form of what Taylor calls “epiphanies of being” (Taylor 1989, 459). This kind of epiphanic experience, turning us away from the shallowness and instrumental reason of modernity, is motivated by sublime and transcending experiences in nature, by subjective passion and expressive feelings, by the spiritual. The Romantic epiphany seeks the true self, authenticity, against and apart from the modern world. 146

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The modernist epiphany, however, places emphasis on different kinds of experiences and is motivated by different encounters and engagements with modernity. There is a skepticism about transcending movement and the idea that there is a deeper, immediate, concrete reality that we can encounter. Modernist epiphanies unfold not through surface and depth metaphors, but on a horizontal field, on the surfaces of everyday life, in juxtapositions, interruptions, and spaces in between. In contrast to the Romantic “epiphanies of being,” Taylor categorizes modernist epiphanies as “epiphanies of interspaces” or “framing epiphanies.” Here, there is less faith in the expression of a deeper, more true reality, but there is still an epiphanic experience where a new appearance is brought into our presence, brought near, and where a mode of experience is momentarily recovered. Modernist epiphanies “frame a space, and bring something close which would otherwise be remote” (Taylor 1989, 479, 478). Modernism also complicates the Romantic expressivist turn inward to the subjective, to the unitary self, and there is instead an urge to get outside of the self. If the Romantic expressivists idealized unitary integration, oneness, and holism, the negative quality of modernist epiphanies also entails an awareness that “human life is irreducibly multi‐­ levelled” (Taylor 1989, 480). We live on multiple levels and modernist epiphanies are often prompted by transpersonal encounters with the objects of ordinary life that “decenter” the self. But inwardness, reflexivity, and personal experience are still key parts of the modernist sensibility: epiphanic experiences may unfold on a transpersonal level and “may take us beyond the subjective, but the road to them passes inescapably through a heightened awareness of personal experience” (Taylor 1989, 481). Taylor’s delineations of artistic Romanticism and modernism help us better understand Adorno’s mode of political theorizing, in several ways. First, Adorno’s writings on democracy reflect a Romantic yearning for a more meaningful experience of democracy that is also ultimately impossible to fulfill in any whole or integrated sense. There is a sense of loss and a yearning for redemption of a lost mode of experience and expression that resonates with Romantic expressivism. But his approach to democratic politics is still resolutely modernist: instead of emancipation, lasting enlightenment, reconciliation, truth, or deeper reality in a vertical sense, for Adorno interruptive spaces open up on a horizontal field  through negations of our reified capitalist society, through rupturing rebellions against existing categories of meaning and repressive totalities – including the idea of a unitary self  –  and through dislocations of instrumental reason and the instrumental ego. Determinate negations and attention to the nonidentical particularities that push against systems and totalizing categories open up utopian moments, flashes of enlightenment. There are ultimately only glimpses of what has been lost, seen in the countertendencies of the retrograde modern landscape of pseudo‐democracy. Adorno’s modernism is evident in how he arranges a constellation of concepts to point toward the meaningful democracy, the “true” democracy that can no longer itself be named in full or directly but only briefly illuminated by the nonidentical sparks that fly out from the grinding machinery of pseudo‐democracy. If “democracy” cannot be named directly or immediately, its particular elements can be glimpsed in the constellations Adorno arranges. Second, these epiphanic experiences of “democratic enlightenment” take place in unexpected places and spaces. If Adorno valued modern art because of how it could offer an encounter with the nonidentical by resisting expected forms and being unassimilable into existing categories, his understanding of democracy also resists conventional  political parameters. Democratic leadership and democratic pedagogy are not 147

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understood in terms of organized public institutions led by credentialed leaders in official positions. Moments of democratic enlightenment unfold, instead, through fractures, fissures, and dislocations that are encountered and experienced in various contexts on the surface of everyday life. Third, Adorno understands democratic enlightenment as a personal experience that also takes us beyond subjectivity. The work of democratic leadership and democratic pedagogy, where nerve centers are stimulated, levers are pressed, and countertendencies are leaned on, is deeply personal work that calls forth self‐reflection. The objects of the outer world and the landscape of pseudo‐democracy generate countertendencies. These contradictory and antagonistic feelings or thoughts are drawn out through democratic leadership and education that prompts a necessarily personal introspection and reflexivity. So democratic leadership and pedagogy frame a space for the disrupting and dislocating experience of democratic enlightenment that ultimately also momentarily moves us beyond the subjective ego, instrumental reason, and the cold, hard, imperial self. Critique starts with an encounter with the world that then moves inward to motivate self‐reflection but ultimately also moves outward to decenter the self. Finally, of course, Adorno’s understanding of democratic enlightenment is an epiphanic experience that unfolds in what Taylor calls “interspaces” in a horizontal field on the surface of ordinary life. The epiphanies of artistic modernism translate to the political realm. We look at a Picasso painting and it is valuably disruptive, defies convention, and make us see differently. Or we listen to the atonal music of the modernist composer Arnold Schoenberg and it is dissonant, it is not harmonious: we may not find it enjoyable or comforting but it valuably makes us sit up straight and listen hard, opens our ears in a new way, shocks us and makes us think. We watch Samuel Beckett’s dramas and we are forced to become attuned to particularities without comfortable recourse to existing categories. Or we feel anxiety, restlessness, and a sense of unease. If modern artists frame spaces for these interspatial epiphanies that productively shock us into recognition of our own dehumanization and temporarily recover and redeem a lost mode of experience, democratic leaders and educators do similar work: these political artists frame spaces that wake us up to pseudo‐democracy as a pale imitation of something more meaningfully democratic that we can briefly glimpse. Adorno’s democratic modernism is evident in the modest and momentary nature of these particular moments of encountering the nonidentical that throw some kind of grit in the gears of our conventional modes of perception, dislocating, however temporarily and fleetingly, the smooth operations of pseudo‐democracy. This shuddering realization, this wrench in the machinery, this pang of feeling, causes us to come up against a blockage and we perceive anew and perceive new things, we think anew and we think new things. Regarding democracy, these nonidentical moments of interruptive agency cause dislocations in the constellation of concepts that give meaning to democracy itself and we stop and think. If the United States is democratic, then is anything the country does by definition democratic? What does it really mean to be democratic? Can I really pull myself up by my own bootstraps? Does my vote really count? If I’m supposed to feel power and authority in a democracy, why do I feel so helpless and impotent? Is our system of government really representative? Are we really equal as citizens and is there equality under the law? Does my life have equal value to the lives of other citizens? What does freedom mean in a liberal democracy? Or we stop and feel: loneliness, anxiety, isolation, angry, fright, perhaps. But  also glimpses of empowerment, strength, community, solidarity, a fleeting genuine experience of autonomy or spontaneity. 148

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But this may all seem partial, incomplete, just a beginning to democratic politics unless we appreciate Adorno’s modernist approach. There is no total awakening, no ultimate enlightenment, no final claims of authenticity. There are only moments. But we can all try to create these spaces for democratic enlightenment. For Adorno, we can all take on the work of democratic leadership and education by engaging others in dialogue that meets them where they are, in the dialectics of their own lived experience, to frame spaces for democratic enlightenment. We can all do the work of democratic modernism and work with others in informal and dialogic ways to frame spaces for moments of epiphanic enlightenment, drawn out from the surfaces of a retrograde political landscape but nevertheless orienting our compass beyond it.

3. Conclusion What does all this mean for us today, as scholars of Adorno’s work and in terms of our own everyday practice of democracy? Recognition of the deep connections between Adorno’s writings on democracy and his larger critical theory should finally put to rest any assertions that he is apolitical or that his work has a democratic deficit. Adorno is not just a critical theorist, but a political theorist, and not just a political theorist but a democratic theorist. What needs to happen now is a deeper analysis of the connections between Adorno’s democratic theory and his aesthetic theory, as well as an appreciation for how, at different points, he is translating back and forth between the language of politics and the language of art and aesthetics. Adorno’s attention to experience unfolds in distinct but linked ways in his work as a political theorist and an aesthetic theorist. But Adorno’s analysis of post‐Second World War democracy in the United States also speaks powerfully, even eerily and hauntingly, to the same country decades later, where the hollow and empty language of democracy masks what is increasingly revealed in overt ways as a neoliberal oligarchy. Adorno presciently articulated how the language of democracy could mask authoritarianism. He appreciated the complex libidinal ways that frustration, anger, and impotence could generate support for demagogues. There are obvious connections between the manipulations Adorno identifies in Martin Luther Thomas and what we have seen more recently in the campaign and presidency of Donald Trump. Like Thomas, Trump exploits people’s feelings of impotence and powerlessness, directing these energies toward veneration of a new charismatic authority figure and leader who promises to solve all their problems. Like Thomas, Trump channels fear and alienation in racist and sexist directions. Like Thomas, Trump manipulates a desire for greater community and solidarity into an us versus them mentality that pits those who wear red “Make America Great Again” hats against those who are framed as America’s enemies. Like Thomas, Trump presents himself as the friend of the common man, as anti‐ establishment, as someone who is opposed to the concentration of power in the hands of the wealthy elite. Like Thomas, Trump ultimately uses hollow democratic rhetoric to further undermine democracy, by giving common people less actual power and authority and less of a share in shaping the powers that govern their lives. But beyond these parallels, and beyond the uncanny experience of reading Adorno’s book The Psychological Technique of Martin Luther Thomas’ Radio Addresses in the era of Trumpism, Adorno may be most instructive in educating our response. Adorno is particularly valuable today in helping us see the dangers of intensifying what is already a polarized political climate in the United States by hardening the divisions between the left and 149

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the right. Today, people on the left and the right, people in red states and blue states, feel like they are living in different worlds and often cannot understand each other’s positions. There is a tendency to vilify the other, the supposed opposition. People on the left who identify as progressives, for example, may see anyone who voted for Trump as simply ignorant, crazy, cruel, or racist. But, as Adorno’s diagnosis of the Martin Luther Thomas phenomenon indicates, many apparently voted for Trump because of a misplaced desire for things that point toward meaningful democracy, out of a misdirected sense of alienation, disempowerment, and frustration. These are energies that can be turned in a different direction. Indeed, the forces that generated support for Trump – powerlessness, frustration, impotence, a desire to have a voice, a desire for change, a desire to unseat elite and established powers, to “shake things up” in Washington – can be read as substantive democratic forms in the United States that indicate how democratic ideas still have a living vitality. People do not want to feel left out and left behind. People want to have a voice. People are suspicious of concentrated power. Trump exploited impulses that could be turned in more substantively democratic directions. These are the countertendencies produced by our contemporary pseudo‐democratic landscape. On the most basic level, Adorno helps us appreciate the complexity of the psychological, social, and economic dimensions that gave rise to and sustain the Trump phenomenon. Adorno cautions us against easy categorizations. And since democratic leadership and democratic pedagogy is work that falls to us all, Adorno’s work pushes us to try to understand, on a more personal level, the various and complex ways that people act out their pain, suffering, and feelings of frustration and impotence. The practice of democracy is about meeting people where they are, at the level of their own lived experience, and engaging them in dialogue about the things that matter to them, to draw out the critical impulses and contradictory antagonisms that animate their lives, to push on the levers and stimulate the nerve centers that are meaningful to them. Creating these moments of unsettling insight, through dialogue and an expanded understanding of critical reason as cognitive and corporeal attentiveness to suffering, frames an open space for democratic enlightenment, in Adorno’s view. The work of democracy, of course, also requires us to attend to our own complexity, to resist hardening in ourselves. We are all works in progress. This requires anyone and everyone who would be a democratic leader or educator to be continually self‐reflective about drawing out the nonidentical energies of their own lives even and especially as they work to engage others in dialogues that are dislocating, uprooting, and interruptive, but also potentially enlightening. Artistic modernism translates to the realm of politics as democratic leadership and pedagogy, and Adorno’s writing on American democracy helps us see deep connections between his aesthetics and his politics. But democratizing Adorno, so to speak, also reconfigures our traditional understanding of him in another way. It shows us how this supposedly elitist and inaccessible thinker sees how ordinary people can do important democratic work with each other, to frame space for illumination and insight, to frame space for change.

References Adorno, T. (1965). Democratic leadership and mass manipulation. In: Studies in Leadership: Leadership and Democratic Action (ed. A. Gouldner), 418–438. New York, NY: Russell and Russell. Adorno, T. (1974). Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life (trans. E.F.N. Jephcott). New York: Verso.

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Adorno, T. (2000). The Psychological Technique of Martin Luther Thomas: Radio Addresses. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press. Adorno, T. (2005a). Critique. In: Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords (trans. H. Pickford). New York: Columbia University Press. Adorno, T. (2005b). Discussion to lecture ‘the meaning of working through the past’. In: Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords (trans. H. Pickford). New York: Columbia University Press. Adorno, T. (2005c). Education after Auschwitz. In: Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords (trans. H. Pickford). New York: Columbia University Press. Adorno, T. (2005d). The meaning of ’working through the past. In: Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords (trans. H. Pickford). New York: Columbia University Press. Adorno, T. and Becker, H. (1999). Education for maturity and responsibility (trans. R. French, J. Thomas, and D. Wymann). History of the Human Sciences 12 (3): 21–34. Gouldner, A.W. (1965). Introduction. In: Studies in Leadership: Leadership and Democratic Action (ed. A.W. Gouldner). New York: Russell and Russell. Hammer, E. (2005). Adorno & the Political. London: Routledge. Mariotti, S. (2016). Adorno and Democracy: The American Years. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. Taylor, C. (1989). Sources of the Self: The Making of Modern Identity. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Further Reading Adorno, T. (1993). The Authoritarian Personality: Studies in Prejudice. New York: W.W. Norton. Adorno, T. (2009). Current of Music: Elements of a Radio Theory. Malden, Mass: Polity. Adorno, T. (2001). The Stars Down to Earth and Other Essays on the Irrational in Culture. New York: Routledge. Apostolidis, P. (2000). Stations of the Cross: Adorno and Christian Right Radio. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Berman, R. (2002). Adorno’s politics. In: Adorno: A Critical Reader (eds. N. Gibson and A. Rubin). Malden, Mass: Blackwell: 110–131. Mariotti, S. (2014). Adorno on the radio: democratic leadership as democratic pedagogy. Political Theory 42 (4): 415–442. Mariotti, S. (2009). Damaged life as exuberant vitality in America: Adorno, alienation, and the psychic economy. Telos 149 (Winter): 169–190. Berman, Russell, Ulrich Plass, and Joshua Rayman, eds. 2009. “Adorno and America.” Telos 149, Winter: 3–5. Bernstein, J.M. (2001). Adorno: Disenchantment and Ethics. New York: Cambridge University Press. Claussen, D. (2008). Adorno: One Last Genius. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press. Claussen, D. (2006). Intellectual transfer: Theodor W. Adorno’s American experience. New German Critique 33 (Winter (97)): 5–14. Hammer, E. (2006). Adorno & The Political. New York: Routledge. Hammer, E. (2018). Adorno’s Modernism. New York: Cambridge University Press. Jay, M. (1986). Adorno in America. In: Permanent Exile: Essays on the Intellectual Migration from Germany to America. New York: Columbia University Press: 120–140. Jenemann, D. (2007). Adorno in America. Minneapolis, Minn: University of Minnesota Press. Mullen, G. (2015). Adorno on Politics After Auschwitz. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. Müller‐Doohm, S. (2005). Adorno: A Biography (trans. R. Livingstone). Malden, Mass: Polity. Offe, C. (2005). Theodor W. Adorno: ‘culture industry’ and other views of the ‘American century’. In: Reflections on America: Tocqueville, Weber, and Adorno in the United States. Malden, MMA: Polity: 69–92. Wiggershaus, R. (1995). The Frankfurt School: Its History, Theories, and Political Significance (trans. M. Robertson). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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1. Introduction Theodor Adorno has a reputation as an implacable critic – if not outright opponent – of empirical research. “The method,” he wrote in 1957, “is likely to both fetishize the object and, in turn, to denigrate into a fetish.” Empirical research, Adorno continued, demonstrated “the arrogance of the uninstructed” in adjudicating what did and did not count as an object and means of social research (Adorno 2000, 179). A decade later, Adorno put the normative implications of this methodological circle plainly: empirical research, he told students in an introductory course on sociology, elevated instrumental reason and subtended technocratic administration; it suborned reification and alienation. Students “who are trying to discover a new form for their autonomy in a reified world, and are rebelling against the reification of the world and of consciousness, ought also to direct their rebellion intellectually against the reified forms of consciousness which are imposed on them by current scholarship, especially by the social sciences” (Adorno 2002, 77). Simultaneously, Adorno disclaimed any real involvement with empirical research. Recalling his work at the Princeton Radio Project, a multifaceted study of radio programs and audiences, Adorno wrote that when “confronted with the demand to ‘measure culture,’ I reflected that culture might be precisely the condition that excludes a mentality capable of measurement” (Adorno 1969, 347). Despite his repeated insistence to the contrary, however, Adorno contributed to dozens of empirical research projects conducted by the Institute for Social Research from the 1930s through the 1950s. First in the United States and then in Germany, Adorno proposed and conducted studies that ranged from evaluating the degree and kind of American workers’ anti‐Semitic prejudices to cataloging the form, content, and quantity of radio listeners’ fan mail. As Detlev Claussen (2008, 181) has observed, Adorno in fact had little professional experience of any kind prior to his work as an empirical researcher. Likewise, Martin Jay (1985, 41) has pointed out that Adorno’s reputation among Americans as a scholar and intellectual followed not from the now‐famous Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947) but from his ambitious empirical project, The Authoritarian Personality (1950).1

A Companion to Adorno, First Edition. Edited by Peter E. Gordon, Espen Hammer, and Max Pensky. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2020 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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Given the Institute’s commitment to theoretically inflected dialectical materialism, it is only fitting that its members combined methods from across the social and human sciences to study the society and culture of late capitalism. Why, then, does Adorno’s empirical research continue to surprise scholars of his Critical Theory? As some historians have recently argued, early popularizers of the Frankfurt School were politically, temperamentally, and methodologically opposed to the functionalism and empiricism then dominating American social science (Wheatland 2005, 170; Worrell 2006; cf. Jay 1984). For some scholars, Adorno’s empirical research – conducted mostly during his exile in the United States between 1938 and 1949 – appeared as an aberration, a concession to the institutions that supported and funded the Institute émigrés. Even those scholars who have examined this material often relegate it to second‐class status, depicting it as mere preparation for Critical Theory.2 But minimizing the role of Adorno’s empirical research within his larger corpus produces a decidedly undialectical representation of his thought – a representation that no critical theorist could countenance. This chapter takes a step toward a comprehensive history of Adorno’s empirical research by examining three key studies: “The Essential Value of Radio to All Types of Listeners” (1938–1941), “Anti‐Semitism among American Labor” (1944–1945), and “The Function of Anti‐Semitism in the Personality” (1944–1950). Although he began his career as a researcher enthusiastically, Adorno became disillusioned by his colleagues’ adherence to the illusions of choice, preference, experience, and individuality. To avoid these ideologies, Adorno argued, empirical research must be connected continuously to  social theory. This connection would not rescue empirical research but reveal its ­insufficiencies  –  and, further, link these to the privations of capitalism. The Institute’s empirical projects of the 1940s enabled Adorno to transform this critique of existing methods into a positive program of research. Adorno used techniques from sociology, statistics, psychoanalysis, and behavioral psychology to study prejudice and authoritarianism. But he did not synthesize these approaches. Rather, Adorno subjected both these methods and their results to theoretical interpretation and critique, revealing inevitable and insuperable contradictions. These contradictions, Adorno argued, followed from and illuminated the incongruities of capitalist society itself.

2.  Using the European Approach In 1936, the Rockefeller Foundation established an interdisciplinary Communications Group to coordinate research in the nascent field of media research. Interwar American thinkers were divided over the psychological power and social significance of the radio. Some, inspired by the likes of John Dewey, believed radio could cultivate the elusive “public”; others, following Walter Lippmann, argued that radio would exert effective “social control” in an era of massification and fragmentation.3 The Communications Group, the Foundation hoped, would provide “an opportunity for relatively free experimentation” so that this debate might be settled scientifically (quoted in Gary 1999, 86). Among the studies the Rockefeller Foundation funded was “The Essential Value of Radio to All Types of Listeners,” better known as the Princeton Radio Research Project. Directed by Hadley Cantril and overseen by John Marshall, the Princeton Radio Project aimed to examine the psychological impact and social consequences of the new medium by “quantifying the influence of radio listening” on its audiences (Cantril 1937, 5). 154

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Paul F. Lazarsfeld, an émigré who had crafted a research method that abstracted, quantified, and typologized subjective attitudes, was recruited to lead the Princeton Radio Project.4 In his earliest memorandum for Cantril and Marshall, Lazarsfeld argued that understanding the influence of radio required deeper knowledge of how the “nucleus of personality” developed within the “total context” of society (Lazarsfeld 1938a, 1–2, 6, 10–12). Lazarsfeld turned to Max Horkheimer and the Institute for Social Research, looking for a scholar versed in the “European approach,” to assist in this task; Horkheimer, in turn, recommended Adorno.5 Lazarsfeld and Adorno had known one another – by reputation, at least – since 1936, when Adorno complained to both Horkheimer and Walter Benjamin about the intellectual merit of Lazarsfeld’s work (Adorno 1994a, 179–191, 350–360, 389–396; Adorno and Benjamin 1999, 180, 209). Lazarsfeld, by contrast, held Adorno in high regard, praising his “On the Social Situation of Music” (Adorno 1932) in a letter from November 1937. Indeed, this article convinced Lazarsfeld to offer Adorno a job researching music for the Princeton Radio Project: Our project definitely deals with empirical research. But I am convinced, the same as you are, that fact‐finding can be extremely improved by extensive preliminary theoretical thinking. Taking, for instance, the papers that you wrote in the Institute’s magazine, I might put the situation to you in the following terms: It is exactly this kind of thing which we shall expect from you, but it has to be driven two steps further: (1) Toward an empirical research problem; (2) Toward an actual execution of the field work. (Quoted in Wiggershaus 1994, 238, fn. 246)

Although conflicted – torn between his family and friends in Europe and the prospect of collaboration with Horkheimer in New York City – Adorno ultimately accepted Lazarsfeld’s offer (Adorno 1994a, 440–443, 468, 480–482, 497; Adorno and Benjamin 1999, 227–232). Historians have thoroughly documented Adorno’s tenure at the Princeton Radio Project. Upon arriving in the United States in February 1938, Adorno was surprised and confused about the direction of the Princeton Radio Project’s ongoing research, but he remained optimistic that he could use his position to continue his studies of music, aesthetics, and social theory (Adorno 1994b, 12–18). Over the ensuing months, Adorno composed two memoranda on the theory and practice of studying radio music (Adorno 1938b, 2009d). The document, “Music in Radio,” directly criticized Lazarsfeld’s quantitative research as methodologically shallow and the Princeton Radio Project’s reformist aims as “cheap utopianism” (Adorno 1938b, 4–5, 64–66, 102, 125, 135–136). Unsurprisingly, “Music in Radio” elicited a hostile response. Lazarsfeld excoriated Adorno as so “uninformed about empirical research work […] that the reader is forced to doubt your authority in your own musical field” (Lazarsfeld 1938b, 1). “Never visit Institut [sic],” Lazarsfeld scrawled in the margin of one page (Adorno 1938b, 114a). Despite his growing concern about Adorno’s role at the Princeton Radio Project, Lazarsfeld asked him to revise “Music in Radio” (Lazarsfeld 1969, 323–324). Adorno duly spent much of 1939 drafting shorter memoranda and delivering presentations on the subject. Lazarsfeld hoped that Adorno would moderate his position; instead, he amplified his critiques. By so doing, Adorno foreclosed any possibility of continuing at the Princeton Radio Project: when renewed in October 1939, the Princeton Radio Project allocated no monies for Adorno’s musical study. Adorno seemed relieved, writing to Benjamin in February 1940, “I am now finally free of the Radio Project” (Adorno and Benjamin 1999, 322). 155

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How does existing scholarship explain the brief duration and troubled nature of Adorno’s work for the Princeton Radio Project? For some historians, irreconcilable differences between Critical Theory and market research doomed Adorno’s collaboration with Lazarsfeld. Because they frequently rely on autobiographical texts, these scholars often become somewhat partisan, blaming either Adorno or Lazarsfeld for the outcome for the Princeton Radio Project.6 Other historians situate Adorno’s music studies within his career, asking how this work affected his Critical Theory of modern society and its culture industry.7 Few, however, examine “Music in Radio” and its accompanying texts for ­themselves – as ledgers documenting Adorno’s critiques of existing research techniques and attempts to formulate new empirical methods. What were his critiques? What alternatives did he propose?

3.  Adorno’s Most Dangerous Thesis From his earliest writings for the Musikblätter des Anbruch, Adorno framed the study of music ambitiously. At Anbruch – where he became an editor in 1925 – Adorno expanded criticism to include developments of light entertainment, musical technology, and cultural consumption (Levin and Linn 1994). By 1932 Adorno had further enlarged this remit, analyzing music as an embodiment of the alienation inherent in late capitalist society. In 1941, Adorno described the study of music as a “model settlement” established in the “remote terrain” of uncharted social and psychological research (Adorno 2009c, 467, cf. 1938b, 99). Across its 150 pages, Adorno’s memorandum for the Princeton Radio Project did not did not produce a map of this territory but described the cartographic methods by which one might be drawn. Adorno deployed two complementary methods in his examination of radio music. Using “physiognomics” to study the technological and musicological aspects of “serious music” broadcasts, Adorno found that transmissions necessarily distorted the totality of compositions, breaking them down into their component parts. Audiences accustomed to listening to works in their intended setting  –  the concert hall  –  might apperceive the symphonic structure, but a new “radio generation” would hear nothing but “musical atoms” (Adorno 1938b, 69–71, 93–95, cf. 1938a). Connecting this formal analysis to a social examination, Adorno argued that capitalism turned this “regression of hearing” to its advantage, using its monopoly of the airwaves to “plug” hits made of recycled musical atoms, simultaneously satisfying listeners’ desires for immediate gratification and further dulling their faculties (Adorno 1938b, 93–95, 125–126, cf. 1936, 1941). Adorno further claimed that just as nineteenth‐century serious music had birthed the bourgeois individual of industrial capitalism, so had twentieth‐century “elevated entertainment” engendered the alienated subject of late capitalism. “Perhaps what matters most in radio is not so much what influence it exercises upon people,” Adorno wrote “as it is how the general mechanism of society which affects people everywhere shows itself in a new tool in a very distinct and definite way” (Adorno 1938b, 99). While these arguments had many implications, of particular importance to the present discussion were their consequences for Adorno’s view of empirical social research. Under Lazarsfeld’s direction, the Princeton Radio Project had focused on the development of tools and metrics for the accurate measurement of audiences’ preferences. Together with Frank Stanton, Lazarsfeld developed the “Program Analyzer,” a tool for recording audiences’ “likes” and “dislikes” in real time (Jenemann 2007, 25–26). Adorno’s memorandum 156

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­ uestioned Lazarsfeld’s invention – which Adorno dismissively called “that machine” – and q the paradigm behind it. Researchers, “Music in Radio” claimed, could not measure, record, or analyze audiences’ likes and dislikes for the simple reason that the radio generation had no such preferences. By focusing on rigorous methods for determining individuals’ preferences, Lazarsfeld and his colleagues had neglected changes in material reality and lived experience that undermined both individuals and their preferences. Most simply, this critique originated in Adorno’s argument that musical atomization and broadcast monopolies effectively eliminated individuals’ choices. Whether listening to CBS or NBC to hear the latest performances of Irving Berlin or Guy Lombardo, audiences were sure to hear the same tunes over and over again, their essential sameness masked by a veneer of difference. “The standardization of production in this field, as in most others goes so far that the listener has virtually no choice,” Adorno later wrote. “Products are forced upon him. His freedom has ceased to exist” (Adorno 1945, 216, 2009a, 141). Without recognizing the present state of composition and broadcast, studies of radio music could not be truly empirical. Rather, they chased ghosts of a bygone economic system and its cultural artifacts. More broadly, this critique followed from Adorno’s claim about the disappearance of the individual. Adorno was not alone in developing this position: Horkheimer and other ­members of the Institute had traced the fading bourgeois individual – the introspecting, discerning subject shaped by the dynamics of the private sphere and market economy – throughout the 1930s (see, e.g. Horkheimer 1936; Horkheimer and Adorno 1985b). Whatever claims subjects made about their preferences, Adorno argued, were efforts to kindle individuality either through the empty gestures of “pseudo‐activity” or the nihilistic violence of “self‐mutilation” (Adorno 1938b, 15–18, 80–81, 122–124, cf. 1936). In its current form, the Princeton Radio Project was a kind of pseudo‐activity, insisting on the existence of individuality despite ample evidence to the contrary. Although he showed existing methods to be misconceived and misapplied, Adorno did not countenance the abandonment of empirical research altogether. In addition to insisting that “Music in Radio” was itself a work of empirical research – a characterization Lazarsfeld contested in his marginal comments – Adorno proposed studies that would reveal atomization and alienation rather than perpetuate illusions of choice and individuality (Adorno 1938b, 23, 111–113, 124–129). To better understand the fetishization and commodification of music, for instance, Adorno outlined an empirical study of subjects’ abilities to recall both serious and popular music (Adorno 1938b, 128–130). Alienation could be assessed, Adorno further suggested, by studying listeners “pseudo‐activities” in response to radio broadcasts – by, for example, examining the form, content, and volume of fan mail (Adorno 1938b, 111–113). Establishing a position that became increasingly important to his understanding of empirical research, Adorno emphasized that such studies would not generate evidence to prove or disprove a particular hypothesis but, as “experiments in theory,” would “contribute to our stock of interpretation” (Adorno 1938b, 103). In contrast to the research conducted by the Princeton Radio Project, Adorno’s studies would be motivated by Critical Theory, unmasking the “pre‐established harmony” between social dynamics, economic forces, cultural products, and individuality. Forgoing the ideologies of late capitalism and bourgeois individuality, these studies would adhere to the realities of the material world and social order. Unlike the Princeton Radio Project, this empirical research would not instantiate “affirmative consciousness” by “bewitching” listeners with hollow satisfaction but would cultivate instead “consciousness,” “intelligence,” and the “power of discrimination” that allowed subjects to see the world as it actually 157

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existed (Adorno 1938b, 139, 146–148, 161). Adorno called this thought and its implications his “most dangerous thesis.” Rather than try to rescue serious music or the bourgeois individual through empirical studies, researchers must confront the deterioration of these artifacts. Moreover, they must accept as their duty the obligation to “shove something which is already falling, in order to make room for something new” (Adorno 1938b, 158). This thesis held for sclerotic empirical research, too: if it could not be salvaged, it must be discarded in favor of methods apposite to the material world and social order.

4.  Empirical Research Contra Empirical Verification In March 1939, Adorno explained to psychologists at Princeton University that their research techniques were inimical to their scientific ends. In order to measure exactly psychological responses to sensory stimuli, researchers isolated subjects in controlled environments free from external influence or interference. But, Adorno argued, because music was not a mere “acoustic event” but a “social entity,” removing subjects from the context of listening invalidated experimental results. “Our experimental setting,” Adorno told the audience, “where people state their preferences on sheets of paper or by pressing a button offers no opportunity to make any statement about different ‘layers’ of their conscious or unconscious life” (435). Paradoxically, this is to say, the more psychologists strove to create perfect conditions for obtaining “empirical security,” the further removed their findings would be from “objective knowledge.” As Adorno pointedly put it, “empirical verification may become the enemy of empirical knowledge” (Adorno 2009b, 440). Implicit in this argument was a rhetorical gesture familiar from the Horkheimer’s formulation of Critical Theory: in order to fulfill itself, empirical research must transform itself into its opposite, abandoning the pursuit of objectivity and neutrality and embracing instead the tasks of interpretation and critique.8 During his last months at the Princeton Radio Project, Adorno outlined this process of transformation. Because radio music and listeners’ responses could only be studied within the total social field, Adorno insisted, researchers must first leave the isolation of the laboratory. To properly comprehend the standardization of the jazz‐listening masses, for example, researchers must “witness the tremor which goes through a nightclub crowd when the band plays something which everyone knows after some lesser‐known composition” (Adorno 2009b, 438). Adorno recognized that psychologists would be hesitant to conduct research of this kind, believing that it would “presuppose a large degree of subjective spontaneity, of life observation, and of thinking on the part of the researcher” (Adorno 2009b, 440). In keeping with the intentions and methods of Critical Theory, Adorno argued that empirical research required such subjectivity. As he explained to his colleagues in October 1939, Adorno held that researchers must abandon the pretense of neutrality and adopt four axioms: the unchecked spread of commodification, the heavy concentration of capital, the inexorable ossification of power relations, and the indelible contradiction of social and economic antagonisms (Adorno 2009b, 136). Adhering to these axioms would decenter the individual subject sacrosanct to naïve empirical research: If we regard listener reactions mainly as a function of the existing system and not as final data upon which interpretation should be based, the social processes working on the listeners are then susceptible to a socio‐scientific analysis – as distinct from a natural‐scientific analysis which accepts the world as given, because it can find no other way to take it. (Adorno 2009b, 142)

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By contrast, true empirical research must “question what everybody knows and accepts as given and inescapable – that is, to challenge the given” (Adorno 2009a, 135–136). These arguments failed to raise Adorno’s standing with Lazarsfeld, Cantril, or Marshall. Radio and the Printed Page, a collection of the Princeton Radio Project’s findings completed in June 1939, contained almost no mention of Adorno.9 Marshall’s decision not to renew funding for the music study may have disappointed Adorno, but it was likely unsurprising. Adorno continued to seek funds from the Rockefeller Foundation into 1941, submitting proposals for the Princeton Radio Project’s study of educational broadcasts.10 In one such proposal, “The Problem of the New Type of Human Being,” Adorno took his earlier critiques to their logical conclusions. Following the Institute’s Authority and the Family, Adorno argued that late capitalism had dissolved the boundary delimiting private existence and enabled economic, social, and cultural forces to shape subjects without mediation. Although the “individual as a biological unit naturally continues to exist,” Adorno wrote, “in large sectors of society there is no longer an ‘ego’ in the traditional sense” (Adorno 2009c, 462, emphasis original).11 Concurrently with this strong statement that the individual presupposed by the Princeton Radio Project no longer existed, Adorno redeployed his critique of naïve empirical research: “A single path leads from the conveyor belt via the office machine to the ‘capturing’ of spontaneous intellectual acts through reified, quantified processes” (Adorno 2009c, 464). Bound by its obligation to examine the material world, truly empirical research would act on Adorno’s most dangerous thesis: recognizing that the modern individual was already falling, it would give her another push. Continually rebuffed by the Rockefeller Foundation, Adorno left New York City for Los Angeles in November 1941. While the integration of the “European approach” and American methods Lazarsfeld had hoped for may not have been accomplished, it would be incorrect to regard Adorno’s work between 1938 and 1941 as either unsuccessful or unimportant. To be sure, much of Adorno’s writing about empirical research was thoroughly negative and explicitly critical; the studies he proposed and methods he described were tentative and fragmentary. But some of Adorno’s colleagues  –  Charles Siepmann (1941), Herta Herzog (1941), and even Lazarsfeld (1941) – undertook research in accordance with Adorno’s critiques. During the following decade, Adorno himself conducted empirical studies – not in the field of radio but in characterology. Understood as preparation for these later projects, Adorno’s work for the Princeton Radio Project revealed that empirical research was not only compatible with but central to his “European approach.”

5.  A Highly Promising Method Although Adorno relocated to California to begin his long‐anticipated collaboration with Horkheimer on a study of dialectical logic, he did not abandon his interest in the theory and method of empirical research. Rather, from the summer of 1943 onwards, Adorno was at the center of the Institute’s research into anti‐Semitism – and, later, authoritarianism – first for the Jewish Labor Committee (JLC) and, subsequently, for the American Jewish Committee (AJC).12 Historians have thoroughly described Adorno’s work in this period, often characterizing it as a concession to American funders and, consequently, a distraction from the real work of Critical Theory.13 Even those scholars who have adopted a more nuanced view still position Adorno’s empirical projects as supplementary and therefore subordinate to his Critical Theory.14 159

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But resituating Adorno’s contributions to the JLC and AJC studies in the context of his work at the Princeton Radio Project reveals them to be part of his developing theory and practice of empirical social research. Specifically, this chapter will now show, Adorno’s leading role in these studies enabled him to transform his critiques of existing techniques into a set of practicable methods. Adorno deployed tools from psychoanalysis, statistics, sociology, and behavioral psychology in these studies and – simultaneously – submitted the results obtained and the methods themselves to theoretical interpretation and critique. This “combination of the highly developed American empirical methods with the more established European methods,” Horkheimer informed the Institute’s AJC sponsors in 1942, “will constitute an approach which many scholars regard as highly promising” (Institute of Social Research 1942, 30–32, cf. 1941).

6.  Outflanking the Research Racket Motivated by the manifest failure to counteract National Socialist “mass psychology” with “educational” counter‐propaganda, the JLC commissioned an empirical study “to ascertain how prevalent anti‐Semitism is in the ranks of American labor” in 1943 (Sherman 1943, 2). After this initial effort failed, A.R.L. Gurland, a sometime‐affiliate of the Institute, suggested that the JLC consider hiring the Institute to conduct the study. In February 1944, the Institute submitted a proposal that would determine the number and distribution of prejudiced workers and discern the particular character of working‐class anti‐ Semitism (Institute of Social Research 1944, 1–2). In May, the JLC approved funding for a six‐month project. From the outset, the Institute researchers insisted that existing methods used in public opinion polling and market research surveys were inadequate to the “highly complex psychological phenomenon” of anti‐Semitism, which was “hidden and devious in both its individual and group expression” (Institute of Social Research 1944, 4). Gurland, Paul Massing, and Leo Lowenthal derived an ingenious method to discover “what being antisemitic means for these workers” (Massing et al. 1945, 13). Institute‐affiliated social workers recruited volunteers to learn questions, “interview” their coworkers during ordinary conversations, memorize their answers, and, finally, debrief with the researchers. Questions included: “Do Jewish people act and feel different from others?” and “How do you feel about what the Nazis did to the Jews in Europe?” (Massing et  al. 1945, 1259). These “screened” interviews exceeded the bounds of scholarly neutrality used by social scientists, the Institute researchers argued, but this did not invalidate them. Instead – and in keeping with Adorno’s admonitions to his Princeton Radio Project colleagues – they held that such methods would recover the “texture” of anti‐Semitism (Massing et  al. 1945, 1254–1258). Fieldwork began in June and lasted until September. Quantification and categorization of the interview material occupied the Institute researchers for a month. In November 1944, they began the interpretation and analysis of these results (Massing et al. 1945, 1264–1266). The Institute researchers’ central task was categorizing experimental subjects according to the degree and character of their prejudice (or lack thereof). Using both fine‐grained statistical analysis and representative interview material, the researchers fashioned a typology that ranged from those evincing “extreme hostility aiming at the extermination of Jews” (Type A) to “non‐discriminatory, friendly attitude excluding critique” (Type H) (Massing et al. 1945, 73–151). This typologization painted a disturbing 160

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picture. Fully half of American workers were susceptible to some form of fascist agitation. Of these, 11% were in the “fascist vanguard,” ready and willing to fight for totalitarianism in the United States. Only a small percentage of the remainder could be counted on to take an active stand against anti‐Semitism (Massing et al. 1945, 14). After a vitriolic debate between Gurland, Massing, Lowenthal, and Horkheimer over the proper interpretation of these results and the course of Critical Theory more generally imperiled the completion of the JLC project, Adorno took charge of the Labor Study, as he called it, guiding it to completion.15 In November and December 1944, Adorno drafted a series of memoranda focused not on the findings themselves but on the methods used in their discovery (Adorno 1944a, b, c). Across these memoranda, Adorno strove to position the Labor Study between quantitative sociological and qualitative psychological research.16 Adorno’s characterization of the Labor Study as a work of quantitative sociology can be understood in two ways. On the one hand, the memoranda straightforwardly proposed strategies for defending the project against charges leveled by the “research racket” who would think the study technique unscientific, biased, and limited (Adorno 1944c, 2). Adorno suggested, for example, explaining away criticism of the small sample size by emphasizing the “pioneer character” of the study and justifying the necessity of participant interviews by highlighting the sensitive nature of the topic (Adorno 1944c, 1–3). On the other hand, the memoranda subtly elaborated Adorno’s critiques of the Princeton Radio Project. Rather than sequester themselves in laboratories like Lazarsfeld and his colleagues, the Institute researchers went out into the field – or, at least, trained others to do so – to study phenomena in social contexts. Likewise, the researchers did not insist upon an inflated norm of scholarly neutrality but instead approached their topic “through particular reference to a theory of society” (Adorno 1944c, 1–3). Further, Adorno insisted that the Labor Study did not perform a “naïve statistical breakdown of the results” because it recognized that this “material is not an ultimate source of knowledge but needs incessant critique and correction” (Adorno 1944c, 4, 7 emphasis original). Adorno, this is to say, reiterated his earlier claim that empirical research must be continuously and consciously subjected to theoretical interpretation and critique. Returning to ideas developed in a discussion among Institute members in 1941, Adorno held that research of this kind – properly, fully empirical research – would replace a vicious circle in which findings merely proved or disproved a hypothesis with a virtuous circle in which the reciprocal interaction between research and theory generated new insights and further questions (Adorno 1944c; cf. Horkheimer 1985). Contemporary readers of Adorno’s work might well be surprised by his defense of the Labor Study as an empirical research project  –  one opposed to the sorts of studies conducted by the research racket, to be sure, but empirical nonetheless. But Adorno was demonstrably more anxious to distinguish the Labor Study from recent works of social psychology. Once again, the memoranda can be read in two ways. First, Adorno emphasized the need for methodological clarity. When studies “à la [Erich] Fromm” combined concepts, arguments, and insights from sociology and psychology, Adorno wrote, they confused “motivating ideas” acting on the conscious mind with “compulsory psychological forces” operating below the surface, leading to imprecise analysis (Adorno 1944a, 44; cf. Adorno et al. 1950, 94, fn. 10). Second, Adorno followed the Institute’s developing critique of Fromm, implying that, because it came at the expense of Freud’s most tendentious theories – of instincts, drives, and sexuality – this reconciliation vitiated psychoanalysis’ radical critique of contemporary society.17 The Institute researchers, by contrast, would keep sociology and psychology distinct. Moreover, by “following up to the extreme the 161

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inherent categories of each discipline involved,” they would force both methods to confront their limitations and incongruities. In this way, the researchers would “rediscover the social element at the very bottom of psychological categories” (Adorno 1944a, 44). Specifically, the Institute would uncover the disappearance of the individual as a psychological entity and social category. As Adorno acknowledged, these were “unconventional and apparently paradoxical statements” that might well “shock” the Institute’s supporters in the JLC and AJC (Adorno 1944a, 44). But framed against the background of Adorno’s earlier critiques of the Princeton Radio Project, these claims reveal their sense: as he had done in the late 1930s, Adorno argued that empirical research necessarily resulted in contradictions; maintaining the connection between research and theoretical interpretation and critique, however, these contradictions became productive sources of insight and argument. Going beyond his earlier critiques, Adorno now included quantitative sociology and depth psychology among the empirical methods that could be reformulated in this way. Because Adorno joined the Labor Study so close to its conclusion, his influence on its methods, results, and conclusions was, at best, peripheral. When he assumed a leading role in the Institute’s ambitious study of the anti‐Semitic and fascistic personality, Adorno finally implemented his reformulated research methods, demonstrating their ability to illuminate the inhuman world.

7.  The Rigidity of Constructing Types The Institute’s Labor Study was concurrent with – and, in some sense, a component of – its much larger project on anti‐Semitism, prejudice, and authoritarianism for the AJC.18 Although research had begun in the spring of 1943, it accelerated and expanded after the AJC renewed its support and created its own Scientific Research Division in the fall of 1944. By the spring of 1945, the project had swelled to include nine subsidiary studies, conducted by researchers spread across the United States. Of these, Horkheimer placed particular importance on an empirical investigation of the ideology and psychology of the anti‐Semitic  –  and, later, authoritarian  –  character conducted by the Berkeley Public Opinion Study Group. Impressed by the contribution of the Berkeley Group’s leader, R. Nevitt Sanford, to a study of the “psychosocial origins of morale,” Horkheimer recruited the researchers to the AJC project in the spring of 1943. While drafting his memoranda on the Labor Study during the fall of 1944, Adorno began collaborating closely with the Berkeley Group on a study variously called “The Berkeley Project on the Nature and Extent of Anti‐Semitism” and “The Function of Anti‐Semitism in the Personality.”19 For Horkheimer and Adorno, the Berkeley Group offered several opportunities. Because these researchers used methods from personality, developmental, and behavioral ­psychology – a diverse array but also an idiom more familiar to American scholars – they were more likely to produce results that both the AJC and the “research racket” would find satisfactory. Moreover, because one member of the Berkeley Group – Else Frenkel‐ Brunswik – was also an accomplished depth‐psychological theorist, Horkheimer hoped that collaboration with the organization would provide openings for the Institute to realize its longstanding goal: the “bringing together of certain European concepts with American methods” (quoted in Wiggershaus 1994, 360).20 For both these reasons, Adorno and Horkheimer thought, the Berkeley Group could conduct the necessary “relentless study” of the “nerve centers where social and psychological causation merge” (Horkheimer 1946, 9–10). Although this description may suggest an affinity between 162

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the Berkeley Group and Fromm, the organization’s methods and intentions were decidedly distinct from those of the social psychologist. Specifically, the Berkeley Group’s presentation and interpretation of results from its preliminary studies of anti‐Semitism suggested that these researchers pursued empirical psychology to the point at which it revealed its own contradictions and, more important, illuminated those of contemporary society. Prior to 1944, the Berkeley Group had aimed to construct a reliable description and scale of the anti‐Semitic personality. First, they designed questionnaires to assess subjects’ manifest and latent prejudices; then, they used psychographic methods to rank responses on a scale from strong agreement to strong disagreement; finally, the researchers invited high‐scoring subjects in for further examination through clinical interviews and projective tests.21 The Berkeley study was, Adorno later wrote, “a first, preliminary attempt to ­integrate depth‐psychology and statistical generalization” (Adorno 1948, 8). Frenkel‐ Brunswik and Sanford emphasized the interconnection between psychoanalysis and statistics: the “insights or hunches gained from” psychoanalytic interpretations “were used in revising the three parts of the questionnaire […], in establishing categories for the evaluation of the ‘projective’ part of the questionnaire, and in devising a new section of the questionnaire” (Frenkel‐Brunswik and Sanford 1945, 272). When Adorno began collaborating closely with Sanford, Frenkel‐Brunswik, and Levinson, he discovered that the Berkeley Group’s research method met the requirements for truly empirical research he had been developing since his tenure at the Princeton Radio Project. As Frenkel‐Brunswik later wrote, the Berkeley study “was guided by a theoretical orientation that was present at the start” (Adorno et al. 1950, 225). Adorno contributed to the Berkeley study by supplementing its existing psychoanalytic theory with the Institute’s critical‐social theory.22 In December 1944, Adorno wrote to Horkheimer that he had completed a questionnaire derived from the “Elements of Anti‐Semitism” fragment of Dialectic of Enlightenment (Adorno 1994b, 345–349; cf. 623–624). This advance enabled the researchers to formulate a scale for measuring the fascistic personality directly, without the need for further testing and interviews. As Adorno described it to Horkheimer, he had translated their dialectical account of modernity into “operational terms” suitable for the analysis of quantitative data gathered from empirical research (Adorno 1994c, 146–151). Throughout 1945, the Berkeley study researchers both used this questionnaire to survey subjects’ manifest ideologies, latent attitudes, and underlying personalities and, simultaneously, subjected it to theoretical refinement and critique (Adorno et  al. 1950, 18–19). Through this process, the researchers ultimately formulated the “Fascist scale” or “F‐scale,” which combined nine variables  – conventionalism, authoritarian submission, anti‐intraception, superstition and stereotypy, power and “toughness,” destructiveness and cynicism, projectivity, and sex – to assess the degree to which the superego had been integrated into the personality and the strength of the ego itself (Adorno et al. 1950, 228). Put simply, Adorno and the Berkeley Group had successfully realized Adorno’s long‐developing plans to bring together quantitative techniques, theoretical critique, and interpretation to create a superior form of empirical research. How did Adorno and the Berkeley Group use this revised research method? Like the Labor Study, the Berkeley project sorted subjects into categories according to the virulence and content of their prejudices. As Adorno reported to Horkheimer in September 1945, the study’s typology was – once again – drawn from their anti‐Semitism fragment (Adorno 1994c, 146–151). At one extreme were the “psychopath,” “rebel,” “manipulative,” and 163

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“authoritarian” types; at the other were the “protesting,” “impulsive,” and “easy‐going” types. Unlike the Labor Study, however, this project used the Berkeley Group’s facility with psychometrics to score responses – and therefore to sort respondents – according to judiciously weighted and carefully calculated composite scores.23 For Horkheimer, this typology represented not only “one of the most important steps in the Berkeley study” but also an advance “in our general theory” itself (Adorno 1994c, 3: 154–161). Collaboration between Adorno and the Berkeley Group, this is to say, had yielded the hoped‐for union of European concepts and American methods. Adorno argued that these types were not distinct conditions but different presentations of a single “high‐scoring syndrome” (Adorno et al. 1950, 744–786). Both the calculation of composite scores and the interpretation of interview material revealed that prejudiced subjects thought according to ossified categories and reified concepts (Adorno et al. 1950, 468–486). Returning to an argument originating in both the Princeton Radio Project and  the Labor Study, Adorno claimed that stereotypes undercut high‐scoring subjects’ “capacity for having experiences” at all (Adorno et al. 1950, 617, emphasis original). Those who suffered from this condition of “stereopathy” had a dim prognosis: after entering the individual’s mind, stereotypes developed out of themselves according to an “archaic logic” of “associational transitions” that allowed them to defeat normative reservations, rational objections, and unconscious defenses, ultimately inducing a “paranoid ‘system’ which always tends to include everything, to tolerate nothing which cannot be identified with the subject’s formula” (Adorno et al. 1950, 632–633). As Peter Gordon (2017) has recently argued, Adorno’s description and diagnosis of stereopathy raised the possibility that the Berkeley project suffered from a potentially fatal contradiction. According to Adorno and the Berkeley Group, high‐scoring subjects’ stereopathy prevented them from recognizing the particular or unique; instead, it forced them to mechanically categorize and rationalistically classify true individuals as mere instances of a general type. For Adorno and the Berkeley Group, this was not an abstract point. “To express it pointedly,” Adorno wrote in The Authoritarian Personality, “the rigidity of constructing types is itself indicative of that ‘stereopathic’ mentality which belongs to the basic constituents of a potentially fascist character.” “It cannot be doubted,” he emphasized, “that the critique of psychological types expresses a truly human impulse, directed against that kind of subsumption of individuals under pre‐established classes which has been consummated in Nazi Germany, where the labeling of live human beings independently of their specific qualities, resulted in decisions about their life or death” (Adorno et  al. 1950, 746). Adorno and the Berkley Group recognized that they were caught in what Gordon describes as a “vicious circle or self‐referential paradox where the principle that animates the study becomes trapped in its own diagnostic” (Gordon 2017, 40). Empirical research uncovered endemic stereopathy and, alongside it, stereopaths’ inhumane typologization – but this research itself consisted in typologizing. Could Adorno and the Berkeley Group conduct typological research without falling prey to stereopathy?

8.  Empirical Research Presupposing its Own End To be sure, Adorno justified the use of typologies on pragmatic grounds, likening the study of authoritarianism to the treatment of disease and arguing that the categorization of symptoms must always precede treatment of the underlying conditions (Adorno et  al. 1950, 745–746). More important for the present discussion, however, were his theoretical 164

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explanations of typologies. Adorno’s initial defense of the Berkeley study’s use of typologies in The Authoritarian Personality and the claims that later followed from this defense were the culmination of his reflections on the theory and method of empirical research. Returning to ideas first developed in his critiques of the Princeton Radio Project, sharpened in his contributions to the Labor Study, and made explicit in the Berkeley project, Adorno argued that empirical researchers had “reason to look for psychological types because the world in which we live is typed and ‘produces’ different ‘types’ of persons” (Adorno et al. 1950, 747). Reviving themes familiar to not only Adorno’s colleagues at the Institute but also his contemporaries conversant in the work of American public intellectuals, Adorno argued that individuals as such no longer existed. Late capitalism, Adorno wrote in an unpublished introduction to The Authoritarian Personality, produces subjects “stamped by variegated social processes,” formed into instances of “psychological ‘classes’” as uniformly standardized as the material and cultural commodities they consumed (Adorno et al. 1950, 747). Adorno did not deny that typologizing individuals would deny their humanity, but he insisted that there were no true individuals to be reified in this way. Empirical research, if it hoped to faithfully document material reality, must recognize that “individualism, opposed to human pigeonholing, may ultimately become a mere ideological veil in a society which actually is inhuman and whose intrinsic tendency towards the ‘subsumption’ of everything shows itself by the classification of people themselves” (Adorno et al. 1950, 747, emphasis original). Having solved the problem of inhumane typological research by describing the inhumanity of the world itself, Adorno immediately encountered another problematic contradiction. From the Berkeley Group’s preliminary reports to the published text of The Authoritarian Personality, the Berkeley study was saturated with psychoanalytic concepts, arguments, and insights. Even Adorno acknowledged that depth psychology “structurally predetermined” the project’s conclusions (Adorno et al. 1950, 750–751, cf. 316–317). Given Adorno’s argument – evident as early as 1939 and refined through his work for the Princeton Radio Project and Labor Study – that psychoanalysis subtended the ideology of individuality, how could the Berkeley study avoid becoming apologetics for late capitalism? Moreover, in The Authoritarian Personality and in other contemporaneous texts Adorno insisted that psychoanalysis was not merely the vestigial remains of now‐surpassed research but an actually valuable means of documenting how “objective social forces […] work upon the individual not only from the outside but actually from within” the subject (Adorno 1948, 18, 24). Put simply, Adorno seemed to readmit precisely the kind of research he had just disallowed: one founded on and directed toward the individual. Adorno resolved this second contradiction by returning – once more – to the theory of empirical research he had been developing since his arrival in the United States. As in his memorandum for the Labor Study, Adorno’s unpublished introduction to The Authoritarian Personality emphasized that researchers must not “sociologize psychology” but instead carry it “to the extreme” (Adorno 1948, 26–27). Such a psychology in extremis would not borrow the concepts and hypotheses of psychoanalysis without accepting its conclusions, as Fromm was accused of doing, but instead accept the whole Freudian framework. Analyzing a subject according to depth‐psychological orthodoxy would show him not to be an individual – molded through reflection upon and interpretation of experience – at all but a “bundle of conditioned reflexes” responding to social stimuli (Adorno 1948, 29). When carried to its conclusion, this is to say, psychology led away from the ideology of the individual and toward the reality of the human type. Or, as Adorno put it, this psychology “in a way presupposes its own end” (Adorno 1948, 28). 165

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For Adorno, researchers’ recognition of this contradiction was the first step toward rehabilitating psychology as a means of empirical research. Consider the changed role of Freud’s notion of Oedipal conflict. During the nineteenth and early twentieth ­centuries, the concept of Oedipal conflict had aptly described the structure of father–son competition within the nuclear family and, thus, usefully illustrated the adult subject’s psychical state – his adherence to the reality principle, his latent unconscious desires, and so on. But as the economic conditions of late capitalism eroded the father’s position within the nuclear family and, eventually, the nuclear family itself, the son was exposed to social forces directly; he was socialized into a human type rather than a true individual. Adorno – along with Horkheimer, Marcuse, and even the early Fromm – insisted that the idea of Oedipal conflict remained useful as a “pattern of translation” between society and the subject (Adorno et al. 1950, 759). Just as the concept had once explained the young individual’s internalization of fatherly authority, it now explained the developing type’s acquiescence to social authority. Specifically, the sadomasochistic resolution of Oedipal conflict described the “transformation of hate into love” that enabled social ­control (Adorno et  al. 1950, 753–771). Again, Adorno’s empirical research did not arrive at such conclusions by applying psychoanalytic methods to social problems but by  pursuing psychoanalysis to its own end. Only by entering into contradiction could psychology reveal that “modern society is a mass society” (Adorno 1948, 30).

9. Conclusion Adorno’s empirical research was not – and should not be understood as – separate from his corpus of critical‐theoretical, aesthetic, and philosophical works. As this chapter shows, Adorno considered empirical research among the means by which he sought “to use the strength of the subject to break through the deception of subjectivity” (Adorno 1973, xx). Studying Adorno’s empirical research does more than merely complete the catalog of such means. Recovering this work opens connections between Critical Theory and other intellectual discourses. American social scientists and public intellectuals – including Harold Lasswell, C.H. Cooley, Walter Lippmann, Robert Merton, Nathan Glazer, and Daniel Bell – both influenced and were influenced by Adorno’s empirical research. Through this work, Adorno engaged with ideas and arguments drawn from fields often considered anathema to Critical Theory: behaviorism, scientism, and positivism. A broader reintegration of Adorno’s and his Institute colleagues’ empirical research into Critical Theory would go further still, productively connecting their thought to the transatlantic circulation of social research methods and theories in the mid‐twentieth century. Adorno himself recognized this potential in his empirical research. With no small amount of surprise, Adorno wrote in his unpublished introduction to The Authoritarian Personality that the study of anti‐Semitism most proximate to his own was Jean‐Paul Sartre’s Anti‐Semite and Jew (1946) (Adorno 1948, 22–25). Sartre, like Adorno and the Berkeley Group, had concluded that prejudice, hatred, and stereotypy followed from the fact that “the anti‐Semite is afraid of discovering that the world is badly made” (Adorno 1948, 22; Sartre 1948, 40). What, given the well‐established differences ­between Critical Theory and existentialism, could account for this similarity?24 Adorno proposed a number of solutions but ultimately concluded that the alignment arose “from the kinds of details, which, as a rule, can be expected only from empirical investigations” (Adorno 1948, 22). 166

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References Adorno, T.W. (1932). Zur gesellschaftlichen Lage der Musik. Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung 1: 103–124. Adorno, T.W. (1936). Über Jazz. Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung 5: 235–263. Adorno, T.W. (1938a). Über den Fetishcharakter in der Musik und die Regression des Hörens. Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung 7: 321–356. Adorno, T.W. (1938b). “Music In Radio.” Unpublished Memorandum for Paul F. Lazarsfeld. Paul Felix Lazarsfeld Papers, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University, Series I, Box 25, Folder 4. Subsequently cited as PFL Papers. Adorno, T.W. (1941). On popular music. Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung 9: 17–48. Adorno, T.W. (1944a). “Evaluation of Participant Interviews (Labor Project).” PFL Papers Series I, Box 20, Folder 1. Adorno, T.W. (1944b). “Problems of Qualitative Analysis.” PFL Papers Series I, Box 20, Folder 1. Adorno, T.W. (1944c). “Write‐Up of Final Report.” PFL Papers Series I, Box 20, Folder 1. Adorno, T.W. (1945). A social critique of radio music. The Kenyon Review 7 (2): 208–217. Adorno, T.W. (1948). “Remarks on ‘The Authoritarian Personality’ by Adorno, Frenkel‐Brunswik, Levinson, Sanford.” Nachlass Max Horkheimer, Universitätsbibliothek, Goethe‐Universität Frankfurt am Main, Box VI, File 1D. Subsequently cited as MHA. Adorno, T.W. (1969). Scientific experiences of a European scholar in America. In: The Intellectual Migration. Europe and America, 1930–1960 (ed. D. Fleming and B. Bailyn; trans. D. Fleming), 338– 370. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Adorno, T.W. (1973). Negative Dialectics (trans. E.B. Ashton). London and New York: Routledge. Adorno, T.W. (1994a). Theodor W. Adorno Briefe und Briefwechesel (eds. G. Gödde and H. Lonitz) vol. 4.1. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. Adorno, T.W. (1994b). Theodor W. Adorno Briefe und Briefwechesel (eds. G. Gödde and H. Lonitz) vol. 4.2. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. Adorno, T.W. (1994c). Theodor W. Adorno Briefe und Briefwechesel (eds. G. Gödde and H. Lonitz) 4.3. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. Adorno, T.W. (2000). Sociology and empirical research. In: The Adorno Reader (ed. B. O’Connor; trans. G. Adey and D. Frisby), 174–191. Malden, MA: Blackwell. Adorno, T.W. (2002). Introduction to Sociology (ed. C. Gödde; trans. E. Jephcott), 1e. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Adorno, T.W. (2009a). A social critique of radio music. In: Current of Music: Elements of a Radio Theory (ed. R. Hullot‐Kentor), 133–143. Malden, MA: Polity. Adorno, T.W. (2009b). The problem of experimentation in music psychology. In: Current of Music: Elements of a Radio Theory (ed. R. Hullot‐Kentor), 413–450. Malden, MA: Polity. Adorno, T.W. (2009c). The problem of the new type of human being. In: Current of Music: Elements of a Radio Theory (ed. R. Hullot‐Kentor), 462–468. Malden, MA: Polity. Adorno, T.W. (2009d). Theses about the idea and form of collaboration of the Princeton Radio Research Project. In: Current of Music: Elements of a Radio Theory (ed. R. Hullot‐Kentor)), 477–480. Cambridge, UK and Malden, MA: Polity. Adorno, T.W. (2013). The Jargon of Authenticity (trans. K. Tarnowski and F. Will). London and New York: Routledge. Adorno, T.W. and Benjamin, W. (1999). The Complete Correspondence, 1928–1940 (ed. H. Lonitz; trans. N. Walker). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Adorno, T.W., Frenkel‐Brunswik, E., Levninson, D.J., and Sanford, R.N. (1950). The Authoritarian Personality (eds. M. Horkheimer and S.H. Flowerman). New York: Norton. Alpers, B.L. (2003). Dictators, Democracy, and American Public Culture: Envisioning the Totalitarian Enemy, 1920s–1950s. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. Barton, A.H. (1979). Paul Lazarsfeld and applied social research: invention of the University Applied Social Research Institute. Social Science History 3 (3/4): 4–44.

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Brantlinger, P. (1983). Bread and Circuses: Theories of Mass Culture as Social Decay. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Cantril, H. (1937). “The Essential Value of Radio to All Types of Listeners.” PFL Papers Series I, Box 26, Folder 7. Claussen, D. (2006). Intellectual transfer: Theodor W. Adorno’s American experience. New German Critique 97: 5–14. Claussen, D. (2008). Theodor W. Adorno: One Last Genius (trans. R. Livingstone). Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Coser, L.A. (1984). Refugee Scholars in America: Their Impact and Their Experiences. New Haven: Yale University Press. Craig, D.B. (2000). Fireside Politics: Radio and Political Culture in the United States, 1920–1940. London: Johns Hopkins University Press. Dubiel, H. (1985). Theory and Politics: Studies in the Development of Critical Theory. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Frenkel‐Brunswik, E. (1940). Psychoanalysis and personality research. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 35 (2): 176–197. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0060754. Frenkel‐Brunswik, E. and Sanford, R.N. (1945). Some personality factors in anti‐Semitism. The Journal of Psychology 20 (2): 271–291. https://doi.org/10.1080/00223980.1945.9917259. Frenkel‐Brunswik, E. and Sanford, R.N. (1946). The anti‐Semitic personality: a research report. In: Anti‐Semitism: A Social Disease (ed. E. Simmel), 96–124. New York: International Universities Press. Gary, B. (1999). The Nervous Liberals: Propaganda Anxieties from World War I to the Cold War. New York: Columbia University Press. Goodman, D. (2011). Radio’s Civic Ambition: American Broadcasting and Democracy in the 1930s. New York: Oxford University Press. Gordon, P.E. (2017). The authoritarian personality revisited: reading Adorno in the age of Trump. Boundary 2 44 (2): 31–56. Gurland, A.R.L., and Massing, P. (1944a). Letter to Max Horkheimer. MHA, Box IX, File 147.3. Gurland, A.R.L., and Massing, P. (1944b). Letter to Max Horkheimer. MHA, Box IX, File 147.3. Herzog, H. (1941). On borrowed experience. Studies in Philosophy and Social Science 9: 65–95. Hohendahl, P.U. (1995). Prismatic Thought: Theodor W. Adorno. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Horkheimer, M. (ed.) (1936). Studien über Autorität und Familie, Forschungsberichte aus dem Institut für Sozialforschung. Paris: Librarie Félix Alcan. Horkheimer, M. (1945). Letter to A. R. L. Gurland and Paul Massing. MHA, Box IX, File 147.3. Horkheimer, M. (1946). Sociological background of the psychoanalytic approach. In: Anti‐Semitism: A Social Disease (ed. E. Simmel), 1–10. New York: International Universities Press. Horkheimer, M. (1972a). Materialism and metaphysics. In: Critical Theory. Selected Essays (trans. M.J. O’Connell), 10–46. New York: Continuum. Horkheimer, M. (1972b). The latest attack on metaphysics. In: Critical Theory. Selected Essays (trans. M.J. O’Connell), 132–187. New York: Continuum. Horkheimer, M. (1972c). Traditional and critical theory. In: Critical Theory. Selected Essays (trans. M.J. O’Connell), 188–243. New York: Continuum. Horkheimer, M. (1985). “Debatte über Methoden der Sozialwissenschaften, besonders die Auffassung der Methode er Sozialwissenschaften, welche das Institut vertritt.” In Max Horkheimer Gesammelte Schriften (eds. A. Schmidt and C.S. Noer), 12: 542–552. Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer. Horkheimer, M. and T.W. Adorno. (1985a). “Diskussionen über die Differenz zwischen Positivismus und materialistischer Dialektik.” In Max Horkheimer Gesammelte Schriften (eds. A. Schmidt and C.S. Noer), 12:436–492. Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer. Horkheimer, M. and T.W. Adorno. (1985b). “Ursprung und Ende des Individuums.” In Max Horkheimer Gesammelte Schriften (eds. A. Schmidt and C.S. Noer), 12:437–466. Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer.

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Hullot‐Kentor, R. (2006). Right listening and a new type of human being. In: Things Beyond Resemblance: Collected Essays on Theodor W. Adorno, 193–209. New York: Columbia University Press. Hullot‐Kentor, R. (2009). Second salvage: prolegomenon to a reconstruction of current of music. In: Current of Music: Elements of a Radio Theory (ed. R. Hullot-Kentor), 1–40. Malden, MA: Polity. Institute for Social Research. (1941). “Re: Anti‐Semitism Project of the Institute of Social Research.” MHA, Box IX, File 93. Institute for Social Research. (1942). “The Political Function of Anti‐Semitism. Supplementary Statement to the Research Project on Anti‐Semitism.” MHA, Box IX, File 92, Document 7. Institute for Social Research. (1944). “Project on Antisemitism and American Labor.” Jewish Labor Committee Records, Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Archive, New York University, Part III, Box 270, Folder 29. Subsequently cited as JLC Records. Institute for Social Research. (1946). “Sitzungsprotokolle und Memoranden der ‘Los Angeles Branch of the Berkeley Research Project on Social Discrimination.’” MHA, Box IX, File 140.1. Jay, M. (1973). The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1923–1950. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Jay, M. (1984). Adorno in America. New German Critique 31: 157–182. https://doi.org/ 10.2307/487894. Jay, M. (ed.) (1985). The Frankfurt School in exile. In: Permanent Exiles: Essays on the Intellectual Migration from Germany to America, 28–61. New York: Columbia University Press. Jenemann, D. (2007). Adorno in America. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Lazarsfeld, P.F. (1938a). “Princeton Radio Project. Plans and Problems.” PFL Series I, Box 26, Folder 8. Lazarsfeld, P.F. (1938b). Letter to Theodor W. Adorno. September 1938. PFL Series I, Box 20. Lazarsfeld, P.F. (1940). Radio and the Printed Page. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce. Lazarsfeld, P.F. (1941). Remarks on administrative and critical research. Studies in Philosophy and Social Science 9: 2–16. Lazarsfeld, P.F. (1969). An episode in the history of social research: a memoir. In: The Intellectual Migration. Europe and America, 1930–1960 (eds. D. Fleming and B. Bailyn), 270–337. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Levin, T.Y. and von der Linn, M. (1994). Elements of a radio theory: Adorno and the Princeton Radio Research Project. The Musical Quarterly 78 (2): 316–324. Levinson, D.J. and Sanford, R.N. (1944). A scale for the measurement of anti‐Semitism. The Journal of Psychology 17: 339–370. Lowenthal, L. (1943). “Memorandum: Post‐War Anti‐Semitism in Germany.” MHA, Box IX, File 147.5a. Marcuse, H. (1948). Existentialism: remarks on Jean‐Paul Sartre’s L’Etre et Le Neant. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 8 (3): 309–336. https://doi.org/10.2307/2103207. Massing, P. and A. R. L. Gurland. (1944). “Some Remarks on L.L.’s Memorandum.” MHA, Box IX, File 147.4. Massing, P. A. R. L. Gurland, and L. Lowenthal. (1945). “Antisemitism among American Labor. A Research Project Conducted by the Institute of Social Research (Columbia University) in 1944– 1945.” JLC Records, Part III, Box 53A. Meloen, J. (1991). The fortieth anniversary of ‘the Authoritarian Personality’. Politics and the Individual 1 (1): 119–127. Morrison, D.E. (1978a). Kultur and culture: the case of Theodor W. Adorno and Paul F. Lazarsfeld. Social Research 45 (2): 331–355. Morrison, D.E. (1978b). The beginning of modern mass communication research. European Journal of Sociology 19 (2): 347–359. Morrison, D.E. (1998). The Search for a Method: Focus Groups and the Development of Mass Communication Research. Luton: University of Luton Press. Müller‐Doohm, S. (2009). Adorno: A Biography (trans. R. Livingstone). Malden, MA: Polity Press.

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Olick, J.K. and Perrin, A.J. (2011). Translators’ introduction. In: Group Experiment and Other Writings. The Frankfurt School on Public Opinion in Postwar Germany (eds. A.J. Perrin and J.K. Olick), xv–xli. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Parkinson, A. (2014). Adorno on the airwaves: feeling reason, educating emotions. German Politics and Society 32 (1): 43–59. Pelinka, A. (1998). Paul F. Lazarsfeld as a pioneer of social sciences in Austria. In: Paul Lazarsfeld (1901–1976): La sociologie de Vienne à New York (eds. J. Lautman and B.‐P. Lécuyer), 23–32. Paris: Harmattan. Samelson, F. (1993). The authoritarian character from Berlin to Berkeley and beyond: the Odyssey of a problem. In: Strength and Weakness: The Authoritarian Personality Today (eds. W.F. Stone, G. Lederer and R. Christie), 22–43. New York: Springer‐Verlag. Sanford, R.N. (1986). A personal account of the study of authoritarianism: comment on Samuelson. Journal of Social Issues 42 (1): 209–214. Sartre, J.‐P. (1948). Anti‐Semite and Jew. New York: Schocken Books. Sherman, C.B. (1943). “Minutes of the First Meeting of the Committee to Combat Anti‐Semitism.” JLC Records, Part III, Box 270, Folder 5. Siepmann, C. (1941). Radio and education. Studies in Philosophy and Social Science 9: 104–120. Steele, R.W. (1985). Propaganda in an Open Society : The Roosevelt Administration and the Media, 1933– 1941. Westport: Greenwood Press. Wheatland, T. (2005). Not‐such‐odd couples: Paul Lazarsfeld and the Horkheimer circle on morningside heights. In: Exile, Science, and Bildung: The Contested Legacies of German Emigre Intellectuals (eds. D. Kettler and G. Lauer), 169–184. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Wheatland, T. (2009). The Frankfurt School in Exile. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Wiggershaus, R. (1994). The Frankfurt School: Its History, Theories, and Political Significance. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Worrell, M.P. (2006). The other Frankfurt School. Fast Capitalism 2 (1) http://www.uta.edu/huma/ agger/fastcapitalism/2_1/worrell.html.

Further Reading Adorno, T.W. (1976a). Introduction. In: The Positivist Dispute in German Sociology (eds. T.W. Adorno, H. Albert, R. Dahrendorf, et al.; trans. G. Adey and D. Frisby), 1–67. London: Heinemann. Adorno, T.W. (1976b). Sociology and empirical research. In: The Positivist Dispute in German Sociology (ed. T.W. Adorno, H. Albert, R. Dahrendorf, et al.; trans. G. Adey and D. Frisby), 68–86. London: Heinemann. Adorno, T.W. (2002). Introduction to Sociology (ed. C. Gödde; trans. E. Jephcott), 1e. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Adorno, T.W. (2010). Guilt and Defense: On the Legacies of National Socialism in Postwar Germany (ed. and trans. J.K. Olick and A.J. Perrin). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Adorno, T.W., Albert, H., Dahrendorf, R. et  al. (1976). The Positivist Dispute in German Sociology (trans. G. Adey and D. Frisby). London: Heinemann. Amidon, K.S. and Worrell, M.P. (2008). A. R. L. Gurland, the Frankfurt School, and the critical theory of antisemitism. Telos (144 (Fall)): 129–147. Bonss, W. (1982). Die Einübung des Tatsachenblicks: zur Struktur und Veränderung empirischer Sozialforschung. Suhrkamp. Bonss, W. (1984). Critical theory and empirical social research: some observations. In: The Working Class in Weimar Germany: A Psychological and Sociological Study (eds. E. Fromm and W. Bonss), 1–38. Leamington Spa: Berg Publishers. Brunner, J. (1994). Looking into the hearts of the workers, or: how Erich Fromm turned critical theory into empirical research. Political Psychology 15 (4): 631–654. https://doi.org/10.2307/ 3791624.

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Coser, L.A. (1984). Refugee Scholars in America: Their Impact and Their Experiences. New Haven: Yale University Press. Drake, R. (2000). Objectivity and insecurity: Adorno and empirical social research. Philosophy Today 44 (2): 99–107. Frisby, D. (1976). Introduction to English translation. In: The Positivist Dispute in German Sociology (eds. T.W. Adorno, H. Albert, R. Dahrendorf, et al.; trans. G. Adey and D. Frisby), ix–xliv. London: Heinemann. Fromm, E. (1980). Arbeiter und Angestellte am Vorabend des Dritten Reiches: eine sozialpsychologische Untersuchung. Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags‐Anstalt. Jay, M. (1984). Adorno in America. New German Critique 31: 157–182. https://doi.org/ 10.2307/487894. Jay, M. (1985). Positive and negative totalities: implicit tensions in critical theory’s vision of interdisciplinary research. In: Permanent Exiles: Essays on the Intellectual Migration from Germany to America, 107–119. New York: Columbia University Press. Olick, J.K. and Perrin, A.J. (2010). Introduction. Guilt and defense: Theodor Adorno and the legacies of national socialism in Postwar German Society. In: Guilt and Defense: On the Legacies of National Socialism in Postwar Germany (eds. J.K. Olick and A.J. Perrin), 3–44. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Pollock, F. and Adorno, T.W. (2011). Group Experiment and Other Writings. The Frankfurt School on Public Opinion in Postwar Germany (ed. and trans. J.K. Olick and A.J. Perrin). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Smith, D.N. (1998). The ambivalent worker. Max Weber, critical theory, and the antinomies of authority. Social Thought & Research 21 (1–2): 35–83. Wheatland, T. (2004). Critical theory on morningside heights: from Frankfurt Mandarins to Columbia sociologists. German Politics and Society 22 (4): 57–87. Worrell, M.P. (2009). Es Kommt Die Nacht: Paul Massing, the Frankfurt School, and the question of labor authoritarianism during World War II. Critical Sociology 35 (5): 629–635.

Notes   1 On the impact of The Authoritarian Personality on midcentury social researchers, see Meloen (1991) and Samelson (1993).   2 Recent overviews of this historiography can be found in Wheatland (2005) and Olick and Perrin (2011).   3 On intellectuals’ varying reactions to the radio, see Steele (1985, 17–21), Craig (2000, 215– 233), and Goodman (2011, 65–115). For an overview of these debates, see Brantlinger (1983), Alpers (2003, 59–86, 94–128), and, especially, Gary (1999).   4 For an overview of Lazarsfeld’s early career, see Morrison (1978b), Barton (1979, 5–10), Pelinka (1998), Morrison (1998, 16–60).   5 On the connection between Lazarsfeld and the Institute, see Wheatland (2005, 2009) and Claussen (2006).   6 For apt illustrations of such approaches, see Morrison (1978a) and Jenemann (2007).   7 See, e.g. Levin and von der Linn (1994), Claussen (2006), Müller‐Doohm (2009), Hullot‐Kentor (2009), and Parkinson (2014).   8 See, e.g. Horkheimer (1972a, b, c) and Horkheimer and Adorno (1985a).   9 For the only mention of Adorno in the text, see Lazarsfeld (1940, 182, fn. 31). 10 For an overview of this work, see Jenemann (2007, 47–104), Wheatland (2009, 215–226), and Parkinson (2014). 11 For a subtle interpretation of this argument, see Hullot‐Kentor (2006). 12 The Institute members and their interlocutors were unsystematic in their capitalization of “anti‐ Semitism” and its derivatives. When citing these sources, I have followed the authors’ usages without indicating each instance of variation.

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13 See, e.g. Coser (1984), Dubiel (1985), Wiggershaus (1994), and Wheatland (2009). 14 Stefan Müller‐Doohm (2009, 292) aptly summarized this view when he wrote that The Authoritarian Personality was “a continuation of the Dialectic of Enlightenment by other means.” 15 For the precipitating texts and resulting responses in this debate, see Lowenthal (1943), Gurland and Massing (1944a, b), Massing and Gurland (1944), and Horkheimer (1945). 16 For an overview of the Institute’s arguments about the relation between psychology and sociology, see Jay (1985). 17 On the Institute’s changing position on Fromm, see Jay (1973, 86–112). On the significance of Fromm’s dismissal for the Institute’s social research, see Wheatland (2009, 109–214, 224–226). 18 Martin Jay (1973, 224–226), for instance, has characterized the Labor Study as “an important testing ground for the Institute’s more ambitious work for the AJC.” 19 For an overview of the Institute’s work for the American Jewish Committee (AJC), see Jay (1973, 226–250), Wiggershaus (1994, 350–380), and Wheatland (2009, 227–257). 20 See Frenkel‐Brunswik (1940) for an example of her integration of psychoanalysis and personality psychology. 21 For descriptions of this method, see Levinson and Sanford (1944), Else Frenkel‐Brunswik and Sanford (1945, 1946). 22 On Adorno’s role in the Berkeley study, see Adorno (1969) and Sanford (1986). Martin Jay (1973, 86–112) has documented the integration of psychoanalysis into the Institute’s Critical Theory. In what follows, this chapter shows that the Institute took a more skeptical stance on psychology in and through its empirical research projects of the mid‐1940s. By so doing, the chapter qualifies arguments such as those made by Peter Uwe Hohendahl (1995, 41–52) that Adorno shifted from sociological to psychological approaches in this period. 23 For an example, see Institute of Social Research (1946, 3). 24 See Marcuse (1948) and Adorno (2013).

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Part III

History and Domination

11 Adorno and Blumenberg: Nonconceptuality and the Bilderverbot Martin Jay

In 1967, only one year after Theodor W. Adorno published Negative Dialectics, a seminar was devoted to it at the University of Bochum. The class was led by the philosopher Hans Blumenberg (1920–1996), who had himself just published his first major work, The Legitimacy of the Modern Age (Nicholls 2015, 197).1 We have no record of the seminar discussions, nor did Blumenberg ever write a sustained evaluation of Adorno’s book. But much in it was likely to have pleased him, as it echoed many arguments he himself had recently advanced. In particular, Negative Dialectics mounted a sustained and nuanced defense of “nonconceptuality” (Unbegrifflichkeit),2 which bore a remarkable resemblance to the critique of the privileged role of concepts Blumenberg had previously leveled in the service of a new philosophical discipline he called “metaphorology” (See Adams 1991; Savage 2008; Haverkamp 2012; Ifergan 2015). Adorno never publically expressed any awareness of these similarities, nor did he live long enough to respond to Blumenberg’s later Work on Myth, which in many ways was in conversation with Dialectic of Enlightenment. Although he did contact Blumenberg in September 1967 to convey his positive first impressions of The Legitimacy of the Modern Age, he seems to have been entirely ignorant of Blumenberg’s earlier work on metaphor as an alternative to concepts.3 For his own part, Blumenberg came to signal a certain solidarity with Adorno by employing the term “nonconceptuality” in his lectures of the mid‐1970s, published ­posthumously in 2007 as Theorie der Unbegrifflichkeit (Blumenberg 2007). Its first acknowledgment in print came in 1979, when Blumenberg appended an essay entitled “Prospect for a Theory of Nonconceptuality” to his little book on Shipwreck with Spectator, the title of which referred to one of the many paradigmatic metaphors whose histories he was to trace with astounding erudition over his long career (Blumenberg 1997). Although their political investments were very different and Blumenberg, unlike Adorno, did not play a  role in the public debate over the legacy of Nazism, on this one issue they shared a common enthusiasm. Blumenberg had in fact already begun exploring nonconceptuality avant la lettre in 1957 in his path‐breaking essay on “Light as a Metaphor for Truth: At the Preliminary Stage of Concept Formation” (Blumenberg 1993). As his subtitle reveals, however, he had then believed that metaphors should be primarily considered as inchoate anticipations of

A Companion to Adorno, First Edition. Edited by Peter E. Gordon, Espen Hammer, and Max Pensky. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2020 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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concepts. “In constantly having to confront the unconceptualized and preconceptualized,” he wrote, “philosophy encounters the means of articulation found in this nonconceptualizing and preconceptualizing, adopts them, and develops them further in separation from their origin.” But he then added: “The notion that the philosophical logos has ‘overcome’ prephilosophical mythos has narrowed our view of the scope of philosophical terminology; besides concepts in the strict sense, which are measured off by definition and fulfilled ­intuition [Anschauung], there is a broad range of mythical transformations, bordering on metaphysical conjectures, which find expression in a metaphorics with diverse forms” (Blumenberg 1993, 30; translation emended). We can discern here not only a plea for attending to the non‐ and preconceptual sources of philosophical concepts in their own right, but also an anticipation of Blumenberg’s later interest in the abiding importance of myth, which he came to include with metaphor as a nonconceptual alternative to the hegemony of logos and conceptualization (Blumenberg 1985).4 These prefigurations of his later positon were made even more manifest in 1960, when Blumenberg was asked to contribute to the emerging field of “conceptual history” (Begriffsgeschichte) then being developed by Erich Rothacker, Otto Brunner, and Reinhart Koselleck. Although he accepted the invitation, the result was a slyly subversive text entitled Paradigms for a Metaphorology, published in 1960 both in the Archiv für Begriffsgeschichte and as a separate book (translated as Blumenberg 2010a). In it, Blumenberg challenged the still powerful assumption, which he identified with the Cartesian stress on clarity and distinctness, that philosophical concepts should be demarcated by definitions that overcame their polysemic play and effaced their sedimented history. Blumenberg argued instead that Nietzsche had been right in The Genealogy of Morals to point out that “only that which has no history is definable” (Nietzsche 1989, 80). In echoing this position, Blumenberg was, to be sure, embracing the newly formulated program of conceptual history, which also stressed the value of tracing a concept’s development over time with no teleological favoritism showed to its current usage or archaic privileging of its alleged origin. But – and this is where the subversion took place – unlike Rothacker, Brunner, Koselleck, and their colleagues, he now explicitly rejected the idea, still operative in his earlier essay on light as a metaphor of truth, that all metaphors were merely primitive elements left over in the transition from mythos to logos. From Edmund Husserl, or more precisely the later Husserl who had authored The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology, Blumenberg had learned that the discursive world of concepts is rooted in a still vibrant, prereflective “lifeworld,” the realm of everyday experience, in which the roles of rhetoric in general and metaphor in particular are key. But rather than trying to transcend these ­origins in the name of cultural progress and conceptual clarification, it was important, he came to believe, to acknowledge that some lifeworld metaphors remained “foundational ­elements of philosophical language, ‘translations’ that resist being converted back into authenticity and logicality” (Blumenberg 2010a, 3). As such, they can be called “absolute” metaphors, which although vulnerable to historical change nonetheless “prove resistant to terminological claims and cannot be dissolved into conceptuality” (Blumenberg 2010a, 5). There is much in Blumenberg’s defense of metaphoric nonconceptuality that will be familiar to readers of Adorno. In the opening entry in his 1958 Notes to Literature, “The Essay as Form,” he also endorsed Nietzsche’s critique of Descartes: “just as the essay rejects primordial givens, so it rejects definition of its concepts” and “gently challenges the ideal of clara et distincta perceptio and indubitable certainty” (Adorno 1991, 13, 14). His 1963 essay “Skoteinos, or How to Read Hegel,” reiterated his critique of the Cartesian fetish of clarity and distinctness, noting, albeit without citing Blumenberg, its origins in religious 176

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notions of divine light (Adorno 1993, 96–111). In Jargon of Authenticity, which appeared in the following year, Adorno expatiated on the dangers of adhering to a dubious model of authenticity in language, philosophical or otherwise, which foreclosed the ambiguous play of terms that were in healthy excess of their mandated definitions or alleged original meanings (Adorno 1973a). And most significant of all, in Negative Dialectics, he advanced a complicated argument against the potential tyranny of concepts and the importance of valuing what was irreducible to their domination, a tyranny against which he and Max Horkheimer had already warned in the early sections of Dialectic of Enlightenment. In what follows, I want to examine the overlap between Blumenberg’s and Adorno’s appreciations of nonconceptuality as a counterweight  –  although never a fully self‐ sufficient alternative – to the traditional philosophical preference for rigorous conceptualization. Although I want to show the ways in which their positions overlapped, in for example their embrace of the non‐sublatable dialectic of concepts and their negations, I will also argue they diverged in important ways. Perhaps, to anticipate my conclusion, they differed most of all over the relative roles subjects and objects play in generating the nonconceptual other of concepts. There is, it turns out appropriately enough, a nonidentity in their understanding of the alternatives to conceptual hegemony and in the tasks they assign to them. By playing one off against the other, we may reach a more nuanced understanding of the stakes involved in their respective projects. It might seem prudent to begin such a comparison by defining the relevant terms and clarifying what each of our protagonists meant both by a concept and by nonconceptuality. But once we start to do so, we are confronted immediately with a dilemma that both Blumenberg and Adorno themselves fully appreciated. In Negative Dialectics, Adorno acknowledged it head on in considering the implications of providing an alternative positive ontology to the one he disdained in other thinkers such as Hegel and Heidegger: In criticizing ontology we do not aim at another ontology, not even one of being nononotological. If that were our purpose we would be merely positing another downright “first”  –  not absolute identity, this time, not the concept, not Being, but nonidentity, facticity, entity. We would be hypostasizing the concept of nonconceptuality and thus acting counter to its meaning. (Adorno 1973b)

Although “nonconceptuality,” Adorno conceded, might not be able to avoid being turned into a weak “concept,” we should at least resist a nondialectical assertion of it as a strong one, thus effacing and neutralizing its internal tensions, historical variations, and critical potential. It must be employed instead like an apophatic term in negative theology, which can only indirectly gesture toward what it cannot positively express. Blumenberg was no less sensitive than Adorno to the dangers in the hypostasizing reconceptualization of the nonconceptual, the turning of what was irreducibly singular into merely an example of an abstract generality and nothing more. Although he was perhaps not fully successful – how, after all can we see metaphor and myth as instances of “nonconceptuality” unless we acknowledge at least some generalizing abstraction in that term? – he performatively sought to undermine it, especially when he came to developing his argument about the role of metaphor. “It is remarkable,” Anselm Haverkamp writes, “that Metaphorology does not contain even the slightest hint of a definition of the term metaphor itself, and retrospectively it can only be doubly striking that Blumenberg makes no attempt … to deduce a definition of metaphor in terms of its conceptual history, almost as if metaphor – possibly it alone – had no history” (Haverkamp 2012, 40). That is, not 177

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only does he try to deny “metaphor” the status of an ahistorical concept in the manner of traditional philosophy, but he also denies it the status of one even in the antidefinitional, historical terms of Begriffsgeschichte. Thus in his programmatic introduction of metaphorology in the already mentioned 1960 text he contributed to the Archiv der Begriffsgeschichte, he was careful to present only a series of exemplary “paradigms” of the approach he was proposing. Among them were the figures of “mighty truth,” “naked truth,” and “probability” (in German Wahrscheinlichkeit, which contained Schein, implying both a shining forth and a deceptive semblance). In the spirit of what Kant had called reflective rather than determinant judgments in The Critique of Judgment, he sought to avoid positing a ­general rule and subsuming examples under it as mere illustrations. Instead, he contended that nonconceptuality must be evoked ostensively – by pointing at instances – or demonstrated performatively rather than categorically defined. For there was no fully external observer position from which the scholar of nonconceptuality could examine it, as it were, from the outside or above, employing a meta‐language itself entirely free of metaphoric indeterminancy and play.5 Although not as insistent on the aporetic tensions of an implicitly metaphysical “ology” of metaphor as, say, Jacques Derrida was to be in his seminal essay of 1971, “White Mythology: Metaphor in the Text of Philosophy,” Blumenberg, like Adorno, appreciated the performative contradiction entailed by conceptualizing the ­nonconceptual.6 He understood that metaphors abetted what Husserl had called “resistance to harmony” because as inherently transpositional figures – metaphor comes from the Greek for “carrying over” – they introduce a heterogeneous element into the differentia homogenized by concepts (Blumenberg 1997, 83). But, it should quickly be added, both Blumenberg and Adorno were also at one in resisting the temptation, call it either radical nominalist or romantic, to valorize nonconceptuality as a straightforward and self‐sufficient antidote to the domination of concepts tout court. They acknowledged instead the necessity of conceptualization as a valuable tool in the human struggle to make sense of and survive in a world that provided no intrinsic ­signposts. In Blumenberg’s case, this necessity was given an explicitly anthropological foundation, which he largely derived from Arnold Gehlen’s notion of humans as Mängelwesen (creatures of deficiency) (Gehlen 1940).7 From Gehlen, he learned that, despite the poverty of our instincts, our fecund cultural imagination allows “world‐open” humans to compensate as best they can for the relative lack of the biological preprogramming that allows other animals to orient themselves automatically in the world. Rather than a fixed human nature, there is only a human condition that requires the ad hoc development of technologies, cultural and otherwise, to cope with the challenges faced when hominids left behind the unreflective patterns of instinctual behavior. Often drawing on delay and indirection, they allow us to stave off the dire challenges of an unforgiving environment. To meet those challenges, both concepts and nonconcepts, most notably among the ­latter metaphor and myth,8 have consoled humankind for the opaque contingency of a world bereft of inherent meaning, as well as providing practical guidance to survive its dangers. What Blumenberg called the resistance of “absolute reality” to full mastery or comprehensibility could only be met with such temporary expedients, some pragmatically more successful than others, but none providing permanent solutions. Myths offer a limited sense of security and purpose by personifying forces of nature and narrativizing events whose underlying causes were occluded. Metaphors lessen anxiety by guiding us through the unfamiliar and distant via a healthy detour through the familiar and proximate.9 And concepts make sense of the seemingly inscrutable particularities of the here 178

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and now through broader spatial and temporal categories that permit some predictive ­control over a future that is not entirely random and haphazard. But even if they can ­temporarily compensate us for our vulnerabilities in an unforgiving world, none of these expedients brings us really closer to a truthful understanding of reality. If one answer falters, another fills the space left behind, but there is no unidirectional progress from mythos to logos or metaphor to concepts. “Demythicization,” Blumenberg insisted, “is in large measure nothing more than remetaphorization” (Blumenberg 1997, 94). Another way to formulate Blumenberg’s position is to say that he was critical of both ontological universalism, in for example the conceptual realism of Scholastic philosophy, and the ontological particularism of its nominalist critics, which culminated in the modern positivist fetish of individual facts and entities. Against the competing impulses to synthesize and to analyze, he defended the value of relationality, which maintained the difference of particulars while also avoiding the isolation of what was not identical. “Analogy,” he claimed “is the realism of metaphor.” In fact metaphors and concepts are alike in their ability to represent what is not present, to introduce a productive gap between what the senses register and what language can say. “The animal symbolicum masters the reality that is originally lethal for him by letting it be represented; he looks away from what is uncanny or uncomfortable for him and towards what is familiar” (Blumenberg 1987, 440). Not only is this tactic evident in the rhetorical realm, where metaphor plays a key role, but also in the practical one, where ritualized sacrifice draws on the power of representational substitution.10 Not surprisingly, Blumenberg was allergic to efforts, most notably those of Heidegger, to undo entirely the distinction between conceptuality and nonconceptuality by recovering an equiprimordial unity prior to the split. His engagement with Heidegger began with his  unpublished Habilitationschrift Die ontologische Distanz in 1950 and continued throughout his life (Blumenberg 1950). In Work on Myth, Blumenberg analyzed Heidegger’s dispute with Ernst Cassirer at Davos, resisting the widespread conclusion that Cassirer had lost.11 The latter’s functionalist interpretation of myth, even if in the service of a questionable progressivist belief in the victory of logos over mythos, was superior to attempts to rescue myth as a repository of the eternal wisdom of the species. Moreover, insofar as Heidegger’s insistence on the priority of Being over human beings meant a denigration of philosophical anthropology and its implications for nonconceptuality, Blumenberg remained wary of it. Already in Paradigms for a Metaphorology, he noted ironically that “the perfection and comprehensiveness with which one can deal with ‘Being’ is quite unattainable in this field” (Blumenberg 2010a, 17). In “Prospect for a Theory of Nonconceptuality,” he expanded his critique, noting that Heidegger’s ruminations on the “meaning of being” failed to credit the logic of substitution that always informed metaphoric displacement (Blumenberg 1997, 101).12 In an essay of 1987, he playfully enlisted Alfred Hitchcock’s celebrated notion of a “MacGuffin,” a gimmick in a movie that claims to possess meaning but is utterly bereft of it, which thus generates unfulfillable curiosity, as a surrogate for Heidegger’s Being itself. In so doing, he ironically metaphorized precisely the numinous word Heidegger had claimed pointed to something beyond both concepts and metaphors (Blumenberg 1991). Blumenberg’s argument can be spun out still further on its own, but I want to compare it now to that in Adorno’s Negative Dialectics, where the unsublatable dialectic of concepts and nonconceptuality was also a major concern. Perhaps the first point to make is that Adorno was even more relentless than Blumenberg in his condemnation of Heidegger’s bid to return to an equiprimordial moment prior to the distinction. The dangerous mission 179

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of Heidegger’s archaicism, he charged, is to “heal the concept ‘Being’ of the wound of its conceptuality, of the split between thought and its concept … In this ontology, Being must be defined by itself alone because it is held to be neither comprehensible in concepts – in other words, neither ‘transmitted’  –  nor immediately demonstrable after the model of sensory ascertainment. In lieu of any critical authority for Being we get a reiteration of the mere name” (Adorno 1973b, 70–71). The result is to isolate Heidegger’s thought from any possible critique: “that Being is neither a fact nor a concept exempts it from any criticism” (Adorno 1973b, 76). Secondly, while both Adorno and Blumenberg resisted Heidegger’s attempt to overcome the inevitable tension between conceptuality and nonconceptuality and suture the wounds of Being, they nonetheless shared his concern that concepts can easily devolve into rigid and static categories abstractly homogenizing the differences they claim to subsume. Correctly applied, dialectics should serve as a protest against the reification of concepts: “The concept in itself, previous to any content, hypostatizes its own form against the content. With that, however, it is already hypostatizing the identity principle” (Adorno 1973b, 154). Even Hegel had mistakenly sought to sublate harmoniously what a negative dialectics kept apart. Although right in noting that particular entities are always mediated by the whole and cannot, pace nominalists and positivists, be grasped in their isolation, he failed, Adorno charged, to valorize the resistance of those entities to being smoothly absorbed by those mediations: “the triumphant finding that immediacy is wholly indirect rides roughshod over indirectness and blithely ends up with the totality of the concept, which nothing conceptual can stop any more. It ends up with the absolute rule of the subject” (Adorno 1973b, 172). Finally, both Blumenberg and Adorno were suspicious of what is often considered as the most obvious alternative to the potential domination of the concept: direct perceptual experience. Along with subpersonal representational states and the behavior of other ­animals and preconceptual infants, perception has emerged as the favorite exemplar of nonconceptuality for analytic philosophers (See Anon. n.d.). Perceptual experience, they argue, cannot be adequately expressed in the propositional terms that are a necessary element of conceptual thought. Unlike concepts, perception can experience states of affairs that are contradictory, such as Escher staircases, or are irreducible to discrete units, such as distances that are experienced without precise measurement, or are more fine‐ grained than propositional or generic concepts can accommodate (for example, the infinite gradations of colors). They are also developmentally prior in children to the concepts that are acquired with language. Although agreeing on the limits of propositional thought, Blumenberg, and Adorno were nonetheless uneasy with calling perceptual experience the primary “other” of conceptuality.13 This unease was manifest in their refusal to elevate one perceptual experience in particular, which was traditionally understood to come through the noblest of the senses, vision. Before I turn to the differences separating them, I want to linger for a while with their reluctance to identify visual perception as the quintessential vehicle of nonconceptuality. Whatever the actual influence of their half‐Jewish backgrounds, which may have been more of a post facto justification than actual cause, both appreciated the abiding power of the so‐ called religious Bilderverbot, the iconoclastic prohibition first enunciated in the Second Commandment as recorded in Exodus, 20:4: “Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image.” The secular philosophical implications of this prohibition have, of course, been widely recognized, ever since Kant invoked it in his exploration of the idea of the sublime.14 Its role in modern interpretations of the Mosaic legacy by figures as diverse as Freud and 180

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Schoenberg has also been the object of endless discussion, as has its ethical import in the work of postmodernists such as Jean‐François Lyotard.15 But both Blumenberg and Adorno made a special use of it in explaining their ideas about the role of nonconceptuality. In “Prospect for a Theory of Nonconceptuality,” Blumenberg argued that concepts often generalize from what is experienced sensually. In contrast, symbols, and especially metaphors, move away from what is directly experienced to something absent. “What is decisive,” Blumenberg insisted, “is that this elementary organ of the relation to the world makes possible a turning away from perception and visualization, a free control over what is present. The symbol’s operability is what distinguishes it from representation [Vorstellung] and from depiction [Abbildung]” (Blumenberg 1997, 97). What Derrida would call “the metaphysics of presence” – the term is not used by Blumenberg, but it is apposite – is thus avoided by the introduction of metaphoric heterogeneity, which resists the lure of perceptual or intuitive immediacy. An even more explicit observance of the Bilderverbot is apparent in Adorno’s negative dialectics. In the literature on the Frankfurt School in general, it has often been associated with two related taboos: one aimed at imagining future utopia in worked out form, the other at attempts to represent what is unrepresentable, most notably the Holocaust. The first paralleled the comparable Jewish taboo on directly pronouncing God’s name, an example of that apophatic theology mentioned above, which can only gesture to what it cannot positively know or express.16 It reinforced a more pragmatic reluctance to provide a blueprint, to borrow the familiar Marxist opposition, of the future realm of freedom from the limited vantage point of the current realm of necessity. Although Adorno maintained his own adherence to the utopian impulse in Critical Theory, he insisted, as he put it in a dialog with Ernst Bloch, that “one may not cast a picture of utopia in a positive manner … What is meant here is the prohibition of casting a picture of utopia actually for the sake of utopia, and that has a deep connection to the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not make a graven image!’” (Adorno 1988, 10–11). Reversing the valence of its target, the Bilderverbot also informed Adorno’s celebrated warning against writing poetry after Auschwitz, where the inadequacies of representation are now applied to what is demonic rather than divine, dystopian rather than utopian. It has often been noted, to be sure, that in Negative Dialectics, he nuanced his position somewhat by conceding that “perennial suffering has as much right to expression as a tortured man has to scream; hence it may have been wrong to say that after Auschwitz you could no longer write poems” (Adorno 1973b, 362). But he did not suspend his skepticism concerning the positive visual representation of that suffering. Of particular importance for the question of nonconceptuality, however, was an additional reason for honoring the taboo that Adorno introduced in Negative Dialectics. In a critique of the simplistic reflection theory of orthodox Dialectical Materialism, exemplified by Lenin’s diatribe against the alleged solipsism and subjective idealism of Ernst Mach and Richard Avenarius in his Materialism and Empirio‐Criticism, Adorno denied that passive visual imitation was the way to reveal the object whose predominance he hoped to restore. As Gerhard Richter has noted in connection with Aesthetic Theory, “what he wishes for in the work of art as well as in philosophy is in fact a different kind of mimesis: a mimesis of what does not yet exist” (Richter 2011, 64). Rather than treating images in the mind as second‐order representations of external reality, as had Lenin, “the materialist longing to grasp the thing aims at the opposite: it is only in the absence of images that the full object could be conceived. Such absence concurs with the theological ban on images” (Adorno 1973b, 207). 181

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Honoring the ban, Adorno suggested, meant the materialist embrace of a frankly theological yearning: “its great desire would be the resurrection of the flesh, a desire utterly foreign to idealism, the realm of the absolute spirit” (Adorno 1973b).17 The literal realization of this yearning after death was less important than what it symbolically signified: the restoration of the rights of the corporeal against the ideal, the suffering, desiring body against the subjective consciousness of the mind or spirit. “The somatic moment as the not purely cognitive part of cognition is irreducible,” Adorno wrote, “and thus the subjective claim collapses at the very point where radical empiricism had conserved it” (Adorno,1973b, 193). In this sense, nonconceptuality implied not merely acknowledging the preponderance of the object outside of the constitutive subject, but also valorizing the object within the subject, the soma in the psyche. It was moreover, the embodied subject understood individually, which idealist philosophies of Geist as well as Dialectical Materialist theories of collective meta‐subjectivity had wrongly ignored or even denigrated. It honored, in other words, the animal in the animal rationale, whose instinctual demands Freud had helped us to appreciate. But significantly, it did so without depending on the uniqueness of the individual human face, which had been Emmanuel Lévinas’ favored instance of nonconceptuality, because it too privileged visual experience.18 It is this condensed and cryptic argument that allows us now to turn in conclusion to the salient differences between Adorno’s position and that of Blumenberg. For despite the similarities in their critique of Heidegger’s equiprimodial notion of Being, their shared warning against the potential domination of subsumptive concepts, and their common reluctance to identify nonconceptuality with perception in general and visual images in particular, their ultimate understanding of nonconceptuality was not the same. Unlike Blumenberg, Adorno was suspicious of the ultimate privileging of the constitutive subject that he discerned in the assumption that concepts, metaphors, myths, and the like were only cultural strategies to deal with the opacity of an unknowable “absolute reality.” His reluctance to grant such a privilege to constitutive subjectivity did not, however, mean that Adorno was suspicious of concepts tout court. It is important to realize that in addition to his stress on the preponderance of the nonconceptual object, both in the world and in the subject, he also took more seriously than Blumenberg the claims of concepts over metaphors. In fact there are indications that he still respected, as Blumenberg explicitly did not, the Hegelian legacy of what might be called ontological conceptual realism, which contends that concepts are more than just conventional linguistic expedients foisted on a contingent world in order to help us cope with its threatening meaninglessness. “The concept of nonconceptuality cannot stay with itself, with epistemology;” he wrote, “epistemology obliges philosophy to be substantive” (Adorno 1973b, 137). It may well be that because of his residual Hegelian belief in the ontological reality of the concept that he could conclude Negative Dialectics by acknowledging “there is solidarity between such thinking and metaphysics at the time of its fall” (Adorno 1973b, 408). In a letter to Gershom Scholem, on March 14, 1967, he in fact proudly admitted that “the intention to save metaphysics is actually the central point of Negative Dialectics” (Adorno and Scholem 2015, 413). In contrast, the final sentence of Paradigms for a Metaphorology reads: “metaphysics has often revealed itself to us to be metaphorics taken at its word; the demise of metaphysics calls metaphorics back to its place” (Blumenberg 2010a, 132). Another way to make the same point is as follows. Blumenberg believed that one should begin with the nonconceptuality of the prereflective lifeworld with its often metaphoric language and then move on to concepts, without, as we have noted, valorizing the transition as inherently progressive or denying the persistence of absolute metaphors that 182

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resisted any transition at all. Adorno, indebted as he was to Hegel, argued instead that “because entity is not immediate, because it is only through the concept, we should begin with the concept, not with the mere datum” (Adorno 1973b, 153). And that means taking seriously the ontological status of concepts, not merely their epistemological function as subjectively created expedients making sense of an opaque world.19 Placing too much of an emphasis on the cultural inventiveness of humans as “creatures of deficiencies” in fact is what leads to an exaggerated role for the constitutive, self‐asserting subject, understood transcendentally or historically. It leads to the exaggerated critique of reification typical of the humanist Marxism of a Lukács, which was more idealist than materialist in inspiration.20 In addition to the ontological status of natural kinds, which were more than just human conventions, history, he argued, often functions as if it were what Hegel would have called “second nature.” That is, some concepts, such as the commodity form or the exchange principle, reflected institutional reifications that exist objectively in the real social world, even if others, such as “industrial society,” do not (Adorno 1973b, 152). In addition to its descriptive validity, conceptual realism also had a critical potential, a normative force that would be lost if it were jettisoned in favor of an undialectical celebration of pure nonconceptuality. Even the identitarian exchange principle, Adorno argued, can be rescued as a norm to be realized in a transformed reality: To define identity as the correspondence of the thing‐in‐itself to its concept is hubris; but the ideal of identity must not simply be discarded. Living in the rebuke that the thing is not identical with the concept is the concept’s longing to become identical with the thing. This is how the sense of nonidentity contains identity. The supposition of identity is indeed the ideological element of pure thought, all the way down to formal logic; but hidden in it is also the truth moment of ideology, the pledge that there should be no contradiction, no antagonism. (Adorno 1973b, 149)

If, in some future utopia, that pledge would be honored and the “longing” of the concept to become identical with its nonconceptual instantiations was fulfilled, it would not, however, mean a hierarchical domination of the former over the latter. Instead, the relationship would be one of mutual respect akin to the mimesis of objects by subjects, a mimesis, however, in which similarity rather than absolute equivalence would be the rule.21 The longing for identity would only be realized in a healthy sense if some nonidentity were preserved and the subsumptive logic of traditional conceptual realism were thwarted. Nor is there ultimately a meta‐concept under which specific concepts might be subsumed, but rather the arrangement Benjamin identified with a dialectical image. “Instead, the concepts enter into a constellation. The constellation illuminates the specific side of the object, the side which to a classifying procedure is either a matter of indifference or a burden” (Adorno 1973b, 162). But it was through Adorno’s insistence on the legitimate demands of the nonconceptual object, as we have noted, that he most clearly differed from Blumenberg. Here what has been called his Kantian rather than Hegelian sympathies came to the fore, at least to the extent that he warned against reducing the unmediated object to nothing but an expression of subjective constitution.22 Whereas Blumenberg focused on metaphor and myth as rhetorical alternatives to concepts – that is, on purely linguistic or cultural expedients – designed to deal with the incomprehensibility of “absolute reality,” Adorno understood nonconceptuality in terms of the material and corporeal limits to cultural constructivism of any kind. Although he too valued the ability of language to go beyond the homogenizing abstractions 183

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of discursive concepts, especially as expressed in works of art, and defended rhetoric against its philosophical detractors, he never singled out metaphor as a privileged medium.23 Instead, and here without any debt to Kant, he preferred  –  albeit with some reservations  –  Benjamin’s Adamic theory of proper names, which communicated nothing but themselves, somehow unifying signifier and signified.24 He thus valued music above the other arts because “what is at stake is not meaning, but gestures … as language, music tends towards pure naming, the absolute unity of object and sign, which in its immediacy is lost to all human knowledge” (Adorno 2002, 139–140).25 Blumenberg, in contrast, was impatient with the belief that names could serve as an effective antidote to the definitional imperatives of conceptualization. In his collection of aphorisms, Care Crosses the River, he recalled the Adamic power to name in the Garden of Eden with explicit suspicion: Whoever can call things by their names doesn’t need to comprehend them. The strength of names has thereby remained greater in magic than in every type of comprehending. The tyranny of names is grounded in names having maintained an air of magic: to promise contact with what hasn’t been comprehended. (Blumenberg 2010b, 63)

There was, in other words, nothing in Blumenberg of what I have called elsewhere the “magical nominalist” impulse in Adorno’s negative dialectics (Jay 2016). That impulse was clearly behind Adorno’s yearning, to cite the evocative title of Robert Hullot‐Kentor’s collection of trenchant essays on him, somehow to reach “things beyond resemblance” (Hullot‐Kentor 2006). At its best, art moved toward this unattainable limit through a refusal of meaning, or as he put it in Aesthetic Theory: “the true language of art is mute, and its muteness takes priority over poetry’s significative element, which in music too is not altogether lacking” (Adorno 1997, 112). Although not utterly absent, the significative or metaphoric moment in music should not be allowed to block out its more fundamental search for an acoustic equivalent to the unity of object and sign, that utopia of non‐communicative immediacy for which Benjamin had yearned in his ruminations on Adamic language. There may well have been an unresolved tension in his work between what we have been calling its Hegelian conceptual realist moment and its Benjaminian magical nominalist moment, which were never fully reconciled. This is not the place to decide if the tension was productive or disabling. What is important to register is that both impulses can be understood as opposing Blumenberg’s identification of nonconceptuality with the cultural expedients contrived to fend off the incomprehensibility of a hostile environment. For if Adorno declined to privilege metaphor with its comforting transposition of threatening distance into familiar proximity and infinite deferral of utopian unity, he was even less disposed to consider myth as a viable nonconceptual alternative to conceptual domination. “Dialectics,” he insisted, “is a protest against mythology” (Adorno 1997, 56), because of the latter’s tacit acceptance of the status quo. Rather than adopting Blumenberg’s defense of myth as an enduring alternative to the domination of concepts, he argued that both can serve the same function in canceling out the claims of the dominated object, which, as we have stressed, included the vulnerable bodies of people: “The smallest trace of senseless suffering in the empirical world belies all the identitarian ­philosophy that would talk us out of that suffering: ‘While there is a beggar, there is a myth,’ as Benjamin put it. This is why the philosophy of identity is the mythological form of thought” (Adorno 1997, 203). 184

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Thus, although he shared Blumenberg’s general defense of rhetoric against the reduction of philosophy to science, Adorno nonetheless could argue that “in dialectics, contrary to popular opinion, the rhetorical element is on the side of content,” not the constitutive subject (Adorno 1997, 203).26 For, as we have noted, even the subjects for Adorno had within them a residue of nonidentical otherness, a block to the constitutive power of the transcendental subject, epistemological, or practical, bequeathed to Idealism by Kant with his attempt to banish psychology from an account of the mind (See Adorno 2001, lecture 18).27 Thus, whereas Blumenberg argued that there is no substratum within man, no entirely inner experience that isn’t already a function of metaphorical “self‐externality,”28 Adorno remained, as we have seen, enough of a Freudian to accept the ineradicable presence of instinctively motivated drives in even the most culturally mediated of psyches. One could, in other words, exaggerate the “poverty of instincts” in the human condition, leading to the one‐dimensional conclusion that it was incorporated culture and subjective constitution all the way down. And so it is not surprising to find in Negative Dialectics Adorno explicitly protesting against Gehlen’s philosophical anthropology of utter deficiency: “that man is ‘open’ is an empty thesis, advanced – rarely without an invidious side glance at the animal  –  by an anthropology that has ‘arrived.’ It is a thesis that would pass  off its own indefiniteness, its fallissement, as its definite and positive side” (Adorno 1973b, 124).29 Perhaps the best way to summarize in conclusion the differences in their deployment of nonconceptuality is to foreground the critical potential in each. For Blumenberg, metaphor, and myth are expressions of the eternal and unrelenting struggle to orient ourselves in a world forever beyond our ken, a world in which the real, both outside us and in our own bodies, remains elusive and potentially dangerous. Nonconceptual efforts to familiarize the unfamiliar are cultural strategies that blunt the terror of the unknown and orient us in a world lacking in natural signposts. As such, they function in the service of self‐preservation, a claim that has allowed some critics to argue that Blumenberg’s metaphorology reintroduces precisely the reductive version of reason as instrumental that the Frankfurt School was at such pains to discredit (Recki 2011). Be that as it may, Blumenberg argued that when such strategies lose their magic and become useless, we invent new ones, which will themselves be replaced in turn. But never will there be an adequate fit between conceptual knowledge and the world concepts seek to describe. Never will that “longing” of the concepts themselves, understood in ontological rather than solely epistemological terms, to realize their potential in existence be satisfied. We should remain thankful instead for the insufficient reason of rhetoric and metaphor and myth and can never hope for a more satisfactory alternative. Perhaps, if we follow Robert Savage’s reading of Blumenberg, laughter, exemplified by the reaction of the Thracian maid to Thales’ famous tumble into the well as he looked up at the stars, may be the quintessential variant of nonconceptuality: “it acts as a reality check to theory whenever it loses sight of the lifeworld, which is to say, whenever it takes its claim to totality seriously” (Savage 2008, 127). If there is a politics in all this, it would be essentially one of small expectations and limited goals, a politics of accommodation to an unknowable reality that remains forever absolute and unforgiving. If it implies a critique of ideology, it is only directed at the problematic use of language and not the social conditions that might underpin it (see Tränkle 2016). Adorno in contrast doggedly maintained a utopian hope, despite the failure of all efforts to realize it, that the domination of the constitutive subject can be ended, allowing access to a reality that is no longer utterly impenetrable and requiring the flawed and temporary 185

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compensations of cultural invention. By eschewing the comforting stratagems of ­metaphoric familiarization and mythic consolation, we can gesture toward a nonconceptuality that points in this direction, thus preparing the appearance of “things beyond resemblance.” Against the familiarizing function of metaphor assumed by Blumenberg’s metaphorology, Adorno expressed a tacit solidarity with the defamiliarization techniques of modern art, as famously described by the Viktor Shklovsky and the Russian Formalists, and Brecht’s alienation effect.30 Rather than a nonconceptuality of mirth, which can draw on laughter to mock the ­foibles of theoretical over‐reaching, Adorno’s variant is grounded in a self‐denying ascesis that refuses to see the joke. However sardonic his irony in such works as Minima Moralia or playful he might have been in his private relations with, for example, his parents, Adorno’s “science” remained resolutely “melancholy.” Robert Savage is right to compare our two protagonists on precisely this issue, when he notes that “Plutarch reports that even, as a child, Cato the Younger never laughed and was rarely seen to smile. Among Blumenberg’s contemporaries, the theorist who came closest to matching this antique standard of humourlessness, at least in his ex cathedra pronouncements, was Adorno” (Savage 2008, 130). Like Thales, he was intent on keeping his gaze fixed on the stars, oblivious to the mockery of those who focus only on the abyss into which we can so easily fall. Whether or not this was a privilege of living above the fray in a Grand Hotel, as Lukács famously sneered, or an attitude that allowed Adorno to fill his mind with ever new and increasing awe and admiration for the stars the more frequently and continuously he reflected on them, to paraphrase Kant’s famous conclusion to the Critique of Practical Reason, is not for us to decide now. What is clear is that along with Blumenberg, he allowed us to appreciate the value of Unbegrifflichkeit in all of its motley variety, indeed precisely because of it, as a vital star in the constellation of any critical theory worthy of that name.

References Adams, D. (1991). Metaphors for mankind: the development of Hans Blumenberg’s anthropological metaphorology. Journal of the History of Ideas 52 (1): 152–166. Adorno, T.W. (1973a). The Jargon of Authenticity (trans. K. Tarnowski and F. Will). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Adorno, T.W. (1973b). Negative Dialectics (trans. E.B. Ashton). New York: Seabury. Adorno, T.W. (1988). Something’s missing: a discussion between Ernst Bloch and Theodor W. Adorno on the contradictions of Utopian longing. In: The Utopian Function of Art and Literature: Selected Essays (trans. J. Zipes and F. Mecklenburg) (ed. E. Bloch), 1–17. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Adorno, T.W. (1991). The essay as form. In: Notes to Literature, vol. 1, 3–23. (ed. R. Tiedemann; trans. S.W. Nicholsen). New York: Columbia University Press. Adorno, T.W. (1993). Hegel: Three Studies (trans. S. W. Nicholsen). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Adorno, T.W. (1997). Aesthetic theory (ed. G. Adorno and R. Tiedemann; trans. R. Hullot‐Kentor). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Adorno, T.W. (1998). Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords (trans. Henry W. Pickford). Pickford New York: Columbia University Press. Adorno, T.W. (2000). Metaphysics: Concept and Problems (ed. R. Tiedemann; trans. E. Jephcott). Stanford: Stanford University Press. Adorno, T.W. (2001). Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (ed. R. Tiedemann; trans. R. Livingstone). Stanford: Stanford University Press. Adorno, T.W. (2002). On the contemporary relationship of philosophy and music. In: Essays on Music (ed. R. Leppert; trans. S.H. Gillespie). Berkeley: University of California Press.

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Adorno, T.W. and Scholem, G. (2015). Briefwechsel, 1939–1969 (ed. A. Angermann). Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Alloa, E. (2015). The most sublime of all laws: the strange resurgence of a Kantian motif in contemporary image politics. Critical Inquiry 41 (2): 367–389. Anon. n.d. “Nonconceptual Mental Content,” in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (http://plato. stanford.edu/entries/content‐nonconceptual). Bajohr, H. (2015). The Unity of the world: Arendt and Blumenberg on the anthropology of metaphor. The Germanic Review: Literature, Culture, Theory 90 (1): 42–59. Blumenberg, H. (1950). Die ontologische Distanz: Eine Untersuchung über die Krisis der Phänomenologie Husserls. Habilitationsschrift: University of Kiel. Blumenberg, H. (1983). The Legitimacy of the Modern Age (trans. R.M. Wallace). Cambridge, MA: MIT. Blumenberg, H. (1985). Work on Myth (trans. R.M. Wallace). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Blumenberg, H. (1987). An anthropological approach to the contemporary significance of rhetoric. In: After Philosophy: End or Transformation? (eds. K. Baynes, J. Bohman and T. McCarthy), 429– 458. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Blumenberg, H. (1988). Matthäuspassion. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Blumenberg, H. (1991). Being – a MacGuffin: How to preserve the desire to think. Salmagundi 90–91 (Spring–Summer, 1991). Blumenberg, H. (1993). Light as metaphor for truth: at the preliminary stage of philosophical concept formation. In: Modernity and the Hegemony of Vision (ed. D.M. Levin; trans. J. Anderson). Berkeley: University of California. Blumenberg, H. (1997). Shipwreck with Spectator: Paradigm for a Metaphor for Existence (trans. S. Rendall). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Blumenberg, H. (2007). Theorie der Unbegrifflichkeit (ed. A. Haverkamp). Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Blumenberg, H. (2010a). Paradigms for a Metaphorology (trans. R. Savage). Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Blumenberg, H. (2010b). Care Crosses the River (trans. P. Fleming). Stanford: Stanford University Press. De Vries, H. (2005). Minimal Theologies: Critiques of Secular Reason in Adorno and Levinas. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Derrida, J. (1982). White mythology: metaphor in the text of philosophy. In: Margins of Philosophy (trans. A. Bass). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Gehlen, A. (1940). Der Mensch. Seine Natur und seine Stellung in der Welt. Berlin: Junker und Dünnhaupt. Gordon, P.E. (2010). Continental Divide: Heidegger, Cassirer, Davos. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Haverkamp, A. (2012). The scandal of metaphorology. Telos: 158. Heidenreich, F. (2009). Porträtsammlung und Bilderverbot, Hans Blumenberg (1920–1996). In: Ideengeschichte der Bildwissenschaft (eds. J. Probst and J.P. Klenner). Frankfurt: Suhrkamp: 10–32. Helmling, S. (2009). Adorno’s Poetics of Critique. London: Continuum. Hohendahl, P.U. (1995). Prismatic Thought. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. Horkheimer, M. and Adorno, T.W. (2002). Dialectic of Enlightenment (ed. G.S. Noerr; trans. E. Jephcott). Stanford: Stanford University Press. Hullot‐Kentor, R. (2006). Things Beyond Resemblance: Collected Essays on Theodor W. Adorno. New York: Columbia University Press. Ifergan, P. (2015). Hans Blumenberg’s philosophical project: metaphorology as anthropology. Continental Philosophy Review 48: 359–377. Jay, M. (1993). Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth‐Century French Thought. Berkeley: University of California Press. Jay, M. (1998). Mimesis and mimetology: Adorno and Lacoue‐Labarthe. In: Cultural Semantics: Keywords of Our Time. Amherst, MA: University Mass Press: 120–137. Jay, M. (2016). Adorno’s musical nominalism. New German Critique 43 (3): 5–26. Johannßen, D. (2013). Toward a negative anthropology: critical theory’s altercations with philosophical anthropology. Anthropology and Materialism 1: 2–12.

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Kaufmann, D. (1996). Adorno and the Name of God. Flashpoint I,1. Müller, O. (2005). Sorge um die Vernunft: Hans Blumenbergs phänomenologische Anthropologie. Paderborn: Mentis. Müller‐Doohm, S. (2005). Adorno: A Biography (trans. R. Livingstone). Cambridge: Polity. Nicholls, A. (2015). Myth and the Human Sciences: Hans Blumenberg’s Theory of Myth. New York: Routledge. Nietzsche, F. (1989). Genealogy of Morals (ed. W. Kaufman; trans. W. Kaufman and R.J. Hollingdale). New York: Vintage. Nordhofen, E.E. (2001). Bilderverbot: die Sichtbarkeit des Unsichtbaren. Paderborn: Schöningh. O’Connor, B. (2004). Adorno’s Negative Dialectic: Philosophy and the Possibility of Critical Rationality. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. Pavesich, V. (2008). Hans Blumenberg’s philosophical anthropology: after Heidegger and Cassirer. Journal of the History of Philosophy 46 (3), 421–448. Recki, B. (2011). Auch eine Rehabilitierung der instrumentellen Vernunft. Blumenberg überTechnik und die kulturellen Natur des Menschen. In: Erinnerung an das Humane. Beiträge zur phänomenologische Anthropologie Hans Blumenbergs (ed. M. Moxter). Tübingen: Mohr‐Siebeck: 39–61. Reynolds, A. (2000). Unfamiliar methods: Blumenberg and Rorty on metaphor. Qui Parle 12 (1), 77–103. Richter, G. (2010). Aesthetic theory and non‐propositional truth content in Adorno. In: Language without Soil: Adorno and Late Philosophical Modernity (ed. G. Richter). New York: Fordham University Press: 131–146. Richter, G. (2011). Afterness: Figures of Following in Modern Thought and Aesthetics. New York: Columbia University Press. Savage, R. (2008). Laughter from the Lifeworld: Hans Blumenberg’s theory of nonconceptuality. Thesis Eleven 94 (1): 119–131. Tränkle, S. (2015). Die Vernunft und ihre umwege. Zur rettung der rhetorik bei Hans Blumenberg und Theodor W. Adorno. In: Permanentes Provosorium: Hans Blumenbergs Umwege (eds. M. Heidgen, M. Koch and C. Köhler). Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink: 123–144. Tränkle, S. (2016). Ideologiekritik und Metaphorologie. Elemente einer philosophischen Sprachkritik bei Adorno und Blumenberg. In: Sprache und Kritische Theorie (eds. P. Hogh and S. Deines). Frankfurt: Campus Verlag: 101–132. Voller, C. (2013). Kommunikation verweigert. Schwierige Beziehungen zwischen Blumenberg und Adorno. Zeitschrift für Kulturphilosophie 2: 381–405. Wetz, F.J. (2009). The phenomenological anthropology of Hans Blumenberg. Iris 1 (2): 389–414. Wetz, F.J. and Timm, H. (eds.) (1999). Die Kunst des Überlebens: Nachdenken über Hans Blumenberg. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Notes   1 Blumenberg had been alerted to the work by Jacob Taubes, who noted similarities in their philosophies. The first edition of Die Legitimität der Neuzeit was published by Suhrkamp, Adorno’s publisher, in 1966. Its English version (Blumenberg 1983) was a translation of the second edition, which appeared in 1973 and contains a passing, obliquely critical reference to Adorno’s reliance in Negative Dialectics on the concept of a “societal delusional system.” Blumenberg lumped it with other overly general explanations of contemporary problems, which included the secularization thesis his book sought to debunk. For an analysis of their undeveloped relationship, see Voller (2013).   2 To be precise, although “das Unbegriffliche” or “unbegrifflich” does appear in Negative Dialectics, more often Adorno uses “das Nichtbegriffliche” or “nichtbegrifflich.” It might be possible to discern the distinction addressed later in this paper between his position and Blumenberg’s in this terminological slippage, but it is not explicitly developed by either author. I am indebted to Sebastian Tränkle for alerting me to this ambiguity.

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  3 Adorno to Blumenberg, September 25, 1967, in the Blumenberg archive, Schiller Nationalmuseum, Marbach am Neckar. I am grateful to Ari Edmundson for drawing my attention to this letter, which read as follows: Vielleicht wissen Sie, daß ich zu dem unter den Namen “Soziologie und Philosophie” bei Suhrkamp in der Reihe Theorie erscheinenden Band von Durkheim eine längere Einleitung geschrieben habe. Diese Vorrede enthält eine Theorie der Pedanterie. Als ich das Korrektur las, wurde ich von einer Mitarbeiterin darauf aufmerksam gemacht, daß Ihr Buch an einer Stelle etwas Verwandtes enthält. Ich habe es mir deshalb gestattet, noch nachträglich eine Fußnote einzufügen, die auf die Beziehung hinweist, und habe Unseld gebeten, daß diese Fußnote, obwohl sie den heiligen Umbruch in Unordnung bringt, noch aufgenommen wird. Er hat mir das auch zugesagt. Einen Durchschlag der Fußnote füge ich Ihnen bei. Es ist wirklich eine höchst merkwürdige Koinzidenz. Die Sache hatte ihr Gutes, insofern, als ich mich nun endlich daraufhin, mit Ihrem Buch ein wenig näher befaßt habe. Daß das nicht schon vorher geschah, hat lediglich den Grund, daß ich, im Bestreben, meine großen Entwürfe noch einigermaßen unter Dach und Fach zu bringen, solange ich mir die Kraft zutraue (die “Negative Dialektik” ist das erste Produkt dieser Anstrengungen), wirklich das Lesen über dem Schreiben verlerne, und ich möchte Sie um Verständnis dafür bitten und um Geduld. Aber nach dem Eindruck, den ich nun immerhin von Ihrem Buch gewonnen habe, das ja fast gleichseitig mit meinem erschien, glaube ich doch mir gestatten zu dürfen, diesem Buch eine wahrhaft bedeutende Zukunft zu prophezien.   4 In addition to metaphor and myth, rhetoric in general and laughter were examples of nonconceptuality. For a discussion of the last of these, see Savage (2008).   5 Blumenberg’s struggle to deal with this challenge is discussed in Adams (1991).   6 Derrida (1982, 219) writes: “metaphor remains, in all its characteristics, a classical philosopheme, a metaphysical concept. It is therefore enveloped in the field that a general metaphorology of philosophy would seek to dominate.”   7 For accounts of what is sometimes called Blumenberg’s “negative anthropology,” see Adams (1991), Savage (2008), Haverkamp (2012), Ifergan (2015), Wetz and Timm (1999), Müller (2005), Pavesich (2008), Wetz (2009), and Bajohr (2015). Blumenberg’s debt to Gehlen seems, however, to have been tempered by his greater appreciation of the positive as well as compensatory character of cultural creation, as well as his wariness about the conservative implications of Gehlen’s faith in institutions.   8 Another example would be the anecdote that Blumenberg often used in his reconstructing of philosophical issues, a resource on which Adorno rarely drew.   9 Blumenberg (2010b, 96) defended the value of detours: “Culture consists in detours – finding and cultivating them, describing and recommending them, revaluing and bestowing them. Culture therefore seems inadequately rational, because strictly speaking only the shortest route receives reason’s seal of approval. Everything right and left along the way is superfluous and can justify its existence only with difficulty. It is, however, the detours that give culture the function of humanizing life.” For a discussion of the importance of detour in his work, see Tränkle (2015). 10 In Dialectic of Enlightenment (Horkheimer and Adorno 2002), Horkheimer and Adorno had a less benign reading of sacrifice as a primitive version of the exchange principle, but they too acknowledged its importance as a human way to enable self‐preservation in a hostile world. 11 For accounts, see Nicholls (2015, 93–103), and Gordon (2010, 349–351). In Legitimacy of the Modern Age, Blumenberg explicitly took exception to Heidegger’s “negative idealization of the modern age in the ‘history of Being’” (Blumenberg 1983, 192). 12 Derrida also noted Heidegger’s hostility to metaphor, because he saw it as expressing a perniciously metaphysical separation of sensory and the nonsensory, the physical and the nonphysical. See Derrida (1982, 226).

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Blumenberg, it should be noted, analyzed the way meaning worked metaphorically, suggesting several major models: simultaneity, in which meaning was derived from another event happening at the same time; meaning as the revelation of a latent identity; meaning as the temporal return of the same, and meaning as a spatial home‐coming. See the discussion in Heidenreich (2009, 18). 13 For a discussion of Adorno’s critique of the sufficiency of propositional thought, see Richter (2010). 14 For a recent overview, see Alloa (2015). See also Nordhofen (2001). For a discussion of its importance for Blumenberg, see Heidenreich (2009). He ponders the importance of Blumenberg’s own collection of portraits of various thinkers, concluding that it was consonant with his skepticism about the use of images to illustrate concepts and metaphors. 15 For a discussion of its role in the larger context of the twentieth‐century suspicion of the primacy of vision, see Jay (1993). 16 All forms of positive revelation, Adorno argued, must be rejected. As he put it in the final sentence of “Reason and Revelation,” “I see no other possibility than an extreme ascesis toward any type of revealed faith, an extreme loyalty to the prohibition of images far beyond what this once originally meant” (Adorno 1998, 142). 17 The motif of the resurrection of the flesh is, of course, a powerful image in Christianity, but is also present in Jewish lore as well. See in particular the “Valley of Dry Bones” prophecy in Ezekiel 37. 18 For a comparison of Adorno and Levinas, see de Vries (2005). 19 According to Adorno, it was Aristotle who first taught “the immanence of the concept in the object, by which he appears to dissolve the abstractness of the concept in relation to what it subsumes, for him this immanence of the concept is ontological; that is, the concept is in itself in the object, without reference to the abstracting subject.” But then he added: “True, it is connected to the nonconceptual element within the object in a matter which Aristotle never clearly elaborated; and I would even say that it is inseparable from that element.” (Adorno 2000, 56). 20 Adorno’s extended critique of reification as a fundamental category of Marxist humanism is developed in Adorno (1973b, 189–192). 21 For a discussion of the role of mimesis in Adorno, see Jay (1998). It might also be noted that Adorno’s attribution of the human emotion of “longing” [Sehnsucht] to a concept shows how persistent the metaphoric moment in conceptualization can be. 22 For a thorough analysis, see O’Connor (2004), chapter 2. 23 Adorno, to be sure, was not himself averse to drawing on its rhetorical power in his own writing. For insightful discussions of Adorno’s views of language, see Hohendahl (1995), chapter 9; and Helmling (2009). 24 In Negative Dialectics, he acknowledges the impossibility of getting beyond the conceptual moment in language and chastises Benjamin’s own concepts for “an authoritarian concealment of their conceptuality.” But the only way to approach the name, he concedes, is indirectly through a constellation of concepts: “the determinable flaw in every concept makes it necessary to cite others; this is the font of the only constellations which inherited some of the hope of the name. The language of philosophy approaches that name by denying it” (Adorno 1973b, 53). The Jewish prohibition on the name of God, a variation on the Bilderverbot, is the model for this idea. See Kaufmann (1996). 25 It should be noted, however, that the claim that music tends toward pure naming is itself very much of a metaphor. It would be highly instructive to contrast Adorno’s writings on music with Blumenberg’s, most notably Blumenberg (1988), but that is a task for another day. 26 See also his linkage of the non‐scientific essay to rhetoric in Adorno (1991, 20). 27 For an analysis of Adorno’s critique of Kant, see O’Connor (2004, chapter 4). 28 Blumenberg (1987, 456) argues that “man comprehends himself only by way of what he is not. It is not only his situation that is potentially metaphorical; his constitution already is.” 29 The Frankfurt School was wary of Gehlen in part because of his prior Nazi sympathies. For a discussion of Adorno’s attempt to block his appointment to a chair in Heidelberg in 1958 and

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their subsequent public debates on German television, see Müller‐Doohm (2005, 378–379). Apparently, they remained on personally cordial terms despite their political differences. Jürgen Habermas also criticized Gehlen’s philosophical anthropology. See the discussion in Nicholls (2015, 190–194). It should be noted that a primary source of the critical theorists’ distance from Gehlen was his authoritarian institutionalism, which Blumenberg also rejected. The Frankfurt School, to be sure, also favored a negative over a positive philosophical anthropology. See Johannßen (2013). 30 There are, to be sure, ways to mobilize metaphor for more critical, de‐familiarizing purposes, as Richard Rorty has argued in distinguishing between hermeneutic and poetic uses. See the discussion in Reynolds (2000). In fact it could be argued that whereas metaphor may have familiarized, metaphorology, as a self‐conscious reflection on that function, was inherently defamiliarizing, and thus potentially critical.

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1.  Liberation and Its Caricatures Adorno mentions a satirical sketch by Gustave Doré dating from the time of the Paris Commune. It depicts a conservative member of the French National Assembly smugly asking his fellow deputies for their honesty and good faith in acknowledging Louis XVI as the real author of the French Revolution and the freedoms that were established in its wake (Doré 1907, 44). In one of his references to the sketch, Adorno acknowledges its cutting humor, suggesting that its true value lies in the light that the fictional figure sheds on the philosophy of history: “there might be more truth in [the deputy’s] unintentional joke than sound common sense admits; Hegel’s philosophy of history would have a lot to say in his defense” (Adorno 1991, 42). Adorno no doubt has in mind the way in which individuals are said by Hegel to serve reason in history, often unwittingly and at the cost of their lives. But this aspect, to which we shall return, represents only one side of the issue. In another reference to the sketch, Adorno adds something to his claim: Dialectical thought includes not only the Marxian doctrine that the proletariat, as the absolute object of history, should be capable of becoming its first social subject – thereby realizing the conscious self‐determination of humanity – but also the joke that Gustave Doré attributes to a parliamentary representative of the Ancien Régime: that without Louis XVI there would never have been a revolution, and so he is to be thanked for the Rights of Man. Negative philosophy, dissolving everything, dissolves even the dissolvent. (Adorno 1978, 245)

Adorno does not mean this as praise for “negative philosophy” – Hegel and Marx – and its understanding of history. He is rather calling attention to a problem with how it was practiced in the past. Thus, while Marx announces in 1843 that the proletariat is “the de facto dissolution of the existing order of things” (Marx 1970, 142), Adorno reminds us that the critical, dissolving power of Marx’s materialist philosophy of history dissolved even itself insofar as it led to totalitarian socialism, whose irrationality included self‐invalidating tyranny and an effective prohibition on any renewal of theory, often on penalty of censure, exile, or death. In other words, negative philosophy – as represented by Marxism in this example – miscarried, not because its hopes for humanity were unfounded, but because its A Companion to Adorno, First Edition. Edited by Peter E. Gordon, Espen Hammer, and Max Pensky. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2020 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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totalitarian form deprived it of the very dissolving power that once rightly informed its attempt to actualize a non‐illusory, true, and universal happiness. This failure was no accidental turn of events, according to Adorno. The restoration of domination is a danger inherent to liberation. Accordingly, his philosophy of history includes the demand that history liberate itself from forms of liberation that allow for – or indeed depend upon – the restoration of domination. The role of the philosophy of history in this process is thereby twofold: to understand liberation in relation to this inherent defect and to attempt to correct it. Its true starting point is the realization that we will continue to fail in our attempts at founding a better society so long as we remain indebted to an Ancien Régime (whatever its historically specific referent) for the idea of some final victory over it. As Walter Benjamin puts it in a text that Adorno cites approvingly: “To this very day, all those who emerge victorious participate in the triumphal procession in which the rulers of the day step over those who are lying prostrate” (Benjamin 2003, 391). In other words, so long as the guillotine – or its surrogates – is the condition of freedom from domination, then we have not yet freed ourselves from the yoke of domination, even in cases where some form of tyranny has been successfully challenged. The cycle of apparent liberation and the restoration of domination must be broken. But history seems constantly to remind us: “everything you are, everything you have, you owe, we owe to this odious totality, even though we cannot deny that it is an odious and abhorrent totality” (Adorno 2006a, 47). Viewed from this perspective, the joke at the heart of Doré’s caricature is in fact the faithful portrait of the historical dynamic. To the extent that history’s victors continue to participate in this triumphal procession, they acknowledge the debt owed to the odious totality: “all rulers are the heirs of prior conquerors” (Benjamin 2003, 391). By contrast, for a rightly conceived negative philosophy, true freedom would consist in the renewable negation of unfreedom, not in the victory of some new idea or purported ultimate incarnation of freedom over its competitors. Moreover, it is also a question of freedom understood independently of the various forms of “reason” that have attempted to justify suffering and unhappiness as the inevitable cost of freedom. In this regard, Adorno is as indebted to Marx as he is critical of “the dreadful state of affairs … that passes for communism in the East,” as he says in 1958 (Schopf 2003, 297– 298). On the one hand, like Marx, Adorno wants to break free of the “prehistory” of partial liberation and renewed domination. But on the other hand, this break must not be understood as a final victory. These two currents, which must be separated, are present, for example, in Marx’s well‐known remark that bourgeois relations of production are the last antagonistic form of the social process of production – antagonistic not in the sense of individual antagonism but in the sense of an antagonism that emanates from the individuals’ social conditions of existence. However, at the same time, the forces of production developing within bourgeois society itself create the material conditions for the solution to this antagonism. The prehistory of human society accordingly comes to an end with this social formation. (Marx 1987, 263–264)

We shall see how Adorno understands such statements, and how he attempts to break free of prehistory by separating liberation and finality. But one thing at least should be underscored from the outset: Marx was no doubt too quick to announce the end of social antagonism. In view of these concerns, Adorno’s philosophy of history involves criticisms of Hegel’s and Marx’s versions of negative philosophy, which provide only partial solutions to the 194

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problem of the entwinement of liberation and domination. One might say that until we can resolve the tension between Marx and Doré, between liberation and the restoration of domination that it cannot avoid so long as it remains in debt to the triumphal procession of history, negative philosophy and the liberation it promises will come to naught. Adorno calls for negative philosophy to live up to its promise of dissolving social antagonism. To do so, however, means dissolving its own limitations.

2.  Kant: Antagonism and Peace The reference to antagonistic society is frequent in Adorno, involving a number of philosophical, social, and anthropological considerations. However, in relation to negative philosophies of history, one of the most important lines of approach is to be found in Adorno’s reading of Kant on history and progress. Kant himself was of course not a negative philosopher in the Hegelian‐Marxian sense of dialectical negation, but his philosophy of history nevertheless introduces many of the themes and problems that will be important for subsequent philosophical treatments of history. Kant’s theory of history is fundamentally idealist and progressive, turning on the necessary presupposition of an idea of humanity that, while never yet realized in history, nevertheless informs the unfolding of our natural capacities “until they are developed completely and in conformity with their end” (Kant 1970a, 42). More specifically, the general movement of history is from a limited and self‐serving “brutish freedom” toward the full self‐actualization of a socially mediated freedom. This takes the form of a republican constitution and ultimately a “universal cosmopolitan state of affairs … as the matrix within which all the original capacities of the human species may develop” (Kant 1970a, 47–48, 51; 1979, 153). This progression, in all its guises, is considered to be the expression of “nature’s highest purpose” (Kant 1970a, 51). The motor of this development is what Kant calls antagonism, that is, the “unsocial sociability of human beings” (Kant 1970a, 44–45). Social conflict and mutual resistance are the very means by which humanity and society move toward their natural end or to what Kant also calls “perpetual peace” (Kant 1970b). This may strike us as an odd thing to say. However, the apparent paradox between antagonism and peace is removed, according to Kant, insofar as the self‐serving “desire for honor, power, or property” is merely the transient, subjective side of the species’ drive to actualize a latent objective freedom, which corresponds, in history, to the establishment of a just civil constitution. As such, nature should be thanked for fostering social incompatibility, enviously competitive vanity, and insatiable desires for possession or even domination. Without these desires, all of humanity’s excellent natural capacities would remain undeveloped in eternal slumber. (Kant 1970a, 45)

One might think that Adorno would simply refer us here to Doré’s deputy. Is Kant not merely praising social antagonism and even domination as the conditions of their opposites? Is war to be thanked for peace? Adorno’s answer to these questions, which underscores a crucial nuance within the notion of antagonism, is twofold. On the one hand, he refuses to describe social antagonism as inherent to nature’s design or purpose, as though conflict were part of humanity’s irreducible and eternal essence. 195

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To  do so would be to freeze historical conditions into place, while simultaneously and unconvincingly assuring us that nature will nevertheless guide us toward perpetual peace: To respond to today’s torn, antagonistic society by way of social struggle does not authorize us to posit, in the absolute, conflict itself as a constant of human nature. I find that such anthropological games come at all too high a price. (Adorno 1970–1986, 8:584)

On the other hand, Adorno does not deny that liberation can only take root in “social struggle” or antagonism. On the contrary, he asserts that Kant’s doctrine of antagonism is “the most sublime passage in his philosophy of history” insofar as it means nothing less than that the conditions of possibility of reconciliation inhere in its contradiction, that the condition of freedom is the unfreedom that precedes it. Kant’s doctrine stands at a watershed. It conceptualizes the idea of reconciliation as immanent to antagonistic “development.” (Adorno 1998a, 149; 2006a, 150)

There is no tension between these two approaches to antagonism in Kant – at least not if we take up the right perspective on them. What Adorno rejects is Kant’s view of social antagonism as natural and as the very principle of humanity’s gradual and unstoppable ascent to peace and freedom. In fact we have every reason to believe that this notion of gradual ascent or progress as underpinned by nature is entirely fictitious, yet another instance of the reversion of reason to myth (Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, xviii). More concretely, Adorno sees no reason for Kant’s optimistic dismissal of “barbaric devastation” as a possible end of social antagonism, as though nature could guarantee that things will end well for humanity (Kant 1970a, 48). Indeed, for Adorno, the reference to antagonism as the means by which nature will come to fulfill its “highest purpose” of achieving universal peace becomes absurd in an era in which the consequences of this so‐called natural antagonism make a mockery of progress: The forms of conflict that are real and actually relevant are precisely those which quite literally threaten to snuff out human life … In view of the destructive potential of contemporary technology  –  but also in view of a foreseeable, radically peaceful state of affairs  –  I do not believe that this notion of the inspiring power of [social] conflict has any validity at all. (Adorno 1970–1986, 8:584–585)

It should be emphasized that Adorno here retains the reference to a possible peaceful state of affairs. But this clearly rests upon the separation of antagonism from “nature’s highest purpose.” As we shall now see, it is the dialectical transience of social conflict that interests Adorno, not its naturality.

3.  Hegel: Determinate Negation and World History If Adorno rejects social antagonism as natural or essential to human existence, how then does it contribute to progress in history? His view, as it has been presented thus far, is that the persistence of antagonism is a threat to humanity, not its salvation. It has historically and concretely become a condition of impossibility of peace. Yet he does not thereby place us in a historical impasse. He clearly sees antagonism as part of the riddle of ­history – a riddle that must be solved if we are to make good on the sublimity of Kant’s idea of a 196

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peaceful humanity that has never yet existed. The key to seeing antagonism as such a condition of possibility (rather than impossibility) of peace lies with Adorno’s reading of Hegel. Here again, as with Kant, it is a question of retaining something from Hegel’s thought while discarding its more problematic aspects. Dialectically understood, freedom from social antagonism does not depend upon any intrinsic positive quality of human nature, but upon a socially mediated capacity to experience, diagnose, and surmount particular contradictions and conflicts. This is what Hegel calls determinate negation, which Adorno takes over from him and develops on the basis of targetted criticism. The basic outline of determinate negation is sketched by Hegel in the introduction to  the  Phenomenology of Spirit. It consists in an archetypal tension that characterizes ­consciousness – one might call it a productive inward antagonism that may or may not take the form of an outward social antagonism. What Hegel has in mind is the possibility of consciousness undergoing the shock of learning that what it took to be true (i.e. “in itself ”) it had only taken to be true (i.e. “for itself ”). As a result, it must alter not only its defective knowledge of its object, but the object itself insofar as consciousness, admittedly fallible in the formulation of its judgments, is nevertheless responsible for saying what the object is, in truth. Knowledge thereby comes to depend upon self‐correction understood as the diagnosis of error: the “new [true] object contains the invalidity of the first, it is what experience has made of it” (Hegel 1977, 55). In other words, progress within knowledge is made possible by making the shock or negativity of error (in the sense of “things are not what they appeared to be”) determinate. Making explicit precisely why a given claim is false is already to give content to what must be true. The sweetness of what I took to be salt is not just proof that it was not salt that I tasted, it is also a positive indication that it was rather sugar. Hegel then goes on, in the Phenomenology and elsewhere, to show how the basic form of determinate negation plays itself out on all levels of human development, including world history. We everywhere encounter the same inner tension that animates the progression of spirit toward not just truth in the sphere of knowledge, but also freedom in the sphere of history. In history too, then, “spirit is opposed to itself; it has to overcome itself as a truly hostile obstacle to the actualization of its end” (Hegel 1975, 126–127). This self‐opposition animates “the transition from one shape of spirit to another [but only] insofar as an earlier universal is sublated and recognized in its particularity through the activity of thinking” (Hegel 1975, 82). For example: “Caesar knew that the republic was a lie and that Cicero’s words were empty” (Hegel 1975, 89). It was Caesar’s ability to determine this lie concretely that gave substance and content to his actions. Alternatively, in literary form, Antigone’s death in Sophocles’ tragedy is for Hegel not just the result of a latent contradiction within Greek society, it is also the expression of a specific social lack (i.e. the possibility of forgiveness) to which other, later social forms positively respond, whether or not they explicitly refer to the fate of Antigone. This is determinate negation at work in social and intellectual – that is, spiritual – history. Adorno’s recovery of Hegelian determinate negation is made clear in any number of passages, for example, “it is only in the determinacy and concreteness of [knowing that something is wrong] that something other, something positive opens up to us” (Adorno 1970–1986, 8:456). Nevertheless, Adorno refuses to frame determinate negation exactly as Hegel does – that is, as participating in the claim that “reason governs the world [and] world history unfolds rationally” (Hegel 1975, 27). There are essentially two related reasons for this refusal. First, Adorno denies the rational teleology that Hegel ascribes to history or  –  what amounts to the same – the idealist form taken by determinate negation in history. Hegel’s view is that in spite of undeniable moments of loss and destruction in history, there is a 197

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necessary, unifying script that it follows in its progressive unfolding: “philosophy is convinced that the events will adapt themselves to the concept” (Hegel 1975, 30). As such, Hegel affirms that a “single spirit” guides history, forming it into a “single enterprise,” leading up to the modern state as the guarantor of the reality of freedom (Hegel 1964, 145; 1975, 33, 93). For Adorno, however, these are the hallmarks of a “mythical totality” (Adorno 2006a, 158) and the vestiges of the rational‐providential view that held sway in Kant. The problem is thus essentially that Hegel thinks that all individual instances of determinate negation are subordinated to the progressive process that binds them together teleologically into a unified system and self‐actualization of spirit. To this, Adorno will say that “Hegel was not dialectical enough” insofar as “negativity does not have the last word” (Adorno 2003, 12; 2008, 14). We shall return to the question of giving negativity the last word below. The second, more practical reason that Adorno refuses Hegel’s idealist version of determinate negation is that its unified, teleological structure involves a problematic indifference to lived suffering – and not merely to contingent individual suffering (e.g. a stubbed toe), but to the endemic suffering caused by the structural social tensions and contradictions of spiritual life. For example, Antigone’s suffering is seen as inevitable to the extent that she is in the wrong in relation to the self‐development of spirit. In fact her suffering serves spirit by unintentionally exposing a fundamental contradiction that will later fuel its own determinate negation. Spirit is therefore characterized by its “sovereign ingratitude” (Hegel 1971, 14). That is, suffering is simply the individual symptom of the necessary expression of a legitimate universal principle, under which the particular vainly resists being subsumed. Its service to spirit is suffering’s justification, the allegory of a victory of spirit that first appears in the form of a defeat. As Hegel puts it: “the individual may well be treated unjustly, but this is a matter of indifference to world history, which uses individuals only as instruments to further its own progress” (Hegel 1975, 65). It is the so‐called “cunning of reason that it sets the passions to work in its service, so that the agents by which it gives itself existence must pay the penalty and suffer the loss” (Hegel 1975, 89).We see here the sense of Adorno’s remark about Hegel’s philosophy of history having a lot to say in defense of Doré’s reactionary deputy: individuals serve reason in history, whether they are in the right or in the wrong – and perhaps especially those who must go to their deaths in order for spiritual progress to happen. Yet one may wonder whether such progress has to come at the cost of a philosophical indifference to suffering.

4.  Marx: Misery and Happiness The trouble with the philosophy of history as it was developed by Hegel is that it regards suffering as metaphysically justified in the context of the progressive historical actualization of freedom (although it may, of course, be entirely unjustifiable in other ways). The individual’s participation in historical progress toward the universal or concept that ultimately defines their situation is what matters. In Hegel’s case, Adorno has the ­following to say: Objectively, Hegel takes over [from Kant] the idea of working one’s way forward through conflict but, by adding the idea of the cunning of reason, he intensifies it into a metaphysics, a doctrine of progress in the consciousness of freedom. History becomes a radical movement in the direction of freedom. “Consciousness of freedom” does not refer to individual, subjective consciousness, but to spirit that objectively actualizes itself through history – and freedom thereby. This doctrine of progress, as a progress of freedom, is highly vulnerable. (Adorno 2006a, 5)

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This vulnerability can be expressed in various ways, but perhaps most succinctly in the claim that freedom is merely posited as the end of history, while its actualization is in reality deferred or rendered impossible by the very social structures and institutions that are meant to serve as its guarantee. The template for this very Adornian criticism is to be found in Marxian materialism, as Adorno himself acknowledges: “Hegel himself had conceptualized universal history as unified merely by virtue of its contradictions. The materialist reversal of dialectic put the weightiest accent on insight into the discontinuity of what is not comfortingly held together by any unity of spirit and concept” (Adorno 1973, 319). Or to phrase the issue in simpler terms, the events have not adapted themselves to the concept (of freedom) and this non‐adaptation – this material and social negativity – is what should concern us. This is the theoretical point of departure for Marx’s philosophy of history. Rather than fully participating in the modern state, which is supposed to guarantee their freedom, “workers become all the poorer the more wealth they produce, the more production increases in power and size” (Marx 1988, 71). In respect of this fact, it will simply not do to affirm, as Hegel does, that “the state is the actuality within which the individual has and enjoys their freedom, but only in so far as they know, believe in, and will the universal” (Hegel 1975, 93). In this regard, according to Marx, Hegel’s philosophy of history fails to meet its own criterion. It culminates not in universal freedom, but in a state‐sanctioned economic system that perpetuates needless suffering. As the young Marx puts it: since even the wealthiest state of society leads to [the] suffering of the majority – and since the national economic system (and in general a society based on private interest) leads to this wealthiest condition, it follows that the goal of the economic system is the unhappiness of society. (Marx 1988, 24–25)

Elsewhere, this unhappiness is explained by way of an “antagonism between modern industry and science, on the one hand, and modern misery and decay, on the other hand. This antagonism between the forces of production and the social relations of our epoch is a fact, palpable, overwhelming, and incontrovertible” (Marx 1980, 655–656). Against the background of this factual  –  rather than natural or metaphysical – ­antagonism, Marx’s philosophy of history makes a first stand against Hegel’s vision of contemporary society. In essence, Marx thinks that the suffering and unhappiness of capitalist society are socially mediated in such a way as to cover up their non‐inevitability. And the spell of this “socially necessary semblance,” of this false inevitability, will remain unbroken so long as the Hegelian idea of justified suffering holds sway (Adorno 1973, 323). Nevertheless, Hegel was correct in holding that the only way forward in history is through society’s contradictions, which must be determinately negated (Marx 1976, 102–103, 929). Adorno acknowledges the dialectical character of Marx’s attempt to resuscitate negativity beyond the confines of Hegel’s vision of history. Indeed, he thinks that Marx pinpoints the critical truth of Hegel’s thought. It contains a fundamentally paradoxical claim: it provides us with the means by which social progress can be generated – that is determinate negation – but then deprives us of this progress by identifying the latter with a society in which antagonistic powers and institutions are shockingly “left standing” in the name of an “imaginary organic unity” (Marx 1970, 59; 1988, 160). Consequently, “Hegel does not achieve what he wants, i.e., the ‘actuality of [social] agreement’ and the ‘impossibility of hostile opposition’; rather, the whole thing remains at the level of the ‘[mere] possibility of agreement’” (Hegel 1991, 344; Marx 1970, 93). In other words, Hegel’s philosophy of 199

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history ends precisely where it should begin – namely, with the persistent social antagonism inherent to nineteenth‐century society. Moreover, the presumed victory of the proletariat is to be seen as the overcoming, at long last, of the end stage of the prehistory of social antagonism. There is, however, a pressing problem with Marx’s corrective, according to Adorno. In spite of its legitimate dialectical criticism of the closed character of the Hegelian system, “the historical writings of Marx and Engels and their successors, [are] very much within the tradition of universal history that descends from Hegel” (Adorno 2006a, 90). This is so because, in spite of certain precautions, Marx still ascribes to historical existence an end to which it must ultimately conform. He thereby perpetuates an all too Hegelian “single‐ stranded view” of history as informed by a single spirit informing a single enterprise (Adorno 2006a, 67). This becomes especially clear in later developments in Marxism, in which universal history takes on the status of a dogma asserting “the unilinear, necessary, uninterrupted, and progressive development of a macro‐subject” (Habermas 1979, 139). Needless to say, for Adorno any such simultaneously schematic and necessary identification of existence and essence constitutes an “idealist moment” that burdens Marx’s otherwise monumental dialectical achievement of giving suffering and happiness their philosophical due (Adorno 2006a, 49). Thus, while Marx himself was right to envision the abolition of social antagonism at the level of the species (because the proletariat was supposed to be the representative of a universal human emancipation), totalitarian Marxism came to fetishize the purported path to victory, in spite of emergent contradictions and continued – indeed, increasing – suffering. For Adorno, however, the dream of emerging victorious at the end of a rationally unfolding history is simply a return to the central myth of universal history: that history culminates in the full actualization of some latent essence, whether the latter is understood as belonging to nature’s design (as in Kant), to an all‐encompassing world spirit (as in Hegel), or to society (as in Marx).

5.  History, Possibility, and Nonidentity So long as we remain caught within the view of history as single‐stranded, that is, as progressing rationally and linearly toward peace and reconciliation standing at the end of history (albeit not without detours), we will forever fall into the idealist trap. And for Adorno, even Marxism, with its redemptive vision of breaking definitively with the prehistory of antagonism, is still at risk of stumbling back into the idealism it had fought so hard to overcome. The point, however, is not to criticize Marx’s hope of leaving this prehistory behind. The point is rather that the relation of liberation to suffering should in no way rely upon the latter’s justification by way of reference to a singular animating vision of history. In this respect, Marx’s philosophy of history still exacts too high a price from past generations: “even the representation of a completely classless society [is no consolation] for the fate of all those who suffered to no purpose and fell by the wayside” (Adorno 2006a, 44). The problem is that Marxism too believes that once the idea, the essence, is actualized, then all will be well: “The driving motif of the socialist way of thinking about history was the idea that the revolution is just around the corner, that it can break out at any moment and that therefore everything, the entire construction of history included, should be interpreted retrospectively in terms of the requirements of the impending revolutionary situation” (Adorno 2006a, 54). 200

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Thus, the notion that social progress in history is developmental and guided by a logic of culmination and increasing actualization and freedom is idealistic and risible. The contrary would be rather more true, as Adorno sometimes remarks: “no universal history leads from savagery to true humanity, but there is one leading from the slingshot to the megaton bomb” (Adorno 1973, 320; 1998a, 153; 2006a, 12). But from such observations he does not draw the conclusion that real progress – breaking free of the prehistory of antagonism  –  is metaphysically impossible. Rather, “universal history must be constructed and denied” (Adorno 1973, 320; 2006a, 93). That is, reading against the grain of the myth of constant progress toward a point of culmination, there is nevertheless something about universal history’s forward‐looking respect for human potentialities that must be retained, while yet jettisoning the subordination of these potentialities to a singular idea of their full and complete actualization. In other words, history should rather be viewed from the standpoint of its multiple “surplus” possibilities – that is, those possibilities of eliminating senseless suffering that have been glimpsed and lost in the process of the expression of a “single spirit” and “singular enterprise.” If we put the emphasis on such possibilities, then we need not trust that any one idea (or “truth” or “culture,” for that matter) will save us – and therefore need not run the risk of disappointment and disarray when that idea fails to come about, backfires, or becomes obsolete. This provides a bulwark against any “defeatism of reason” that might result after the miscarriage of attempts to change the world (Adorno 1973, 3). In spite of Marxism’s theoretical tendency to fall back on the trope of unilinear progress and its practical failure to change the world, it nevertheless provides the template for what Adorno has in mind. What Marx correctly grasps is the problem of the fettering of the forces of production or – what amounts to the same for Adorno – the fact that society contains real possibilities of social transformation for the better that are structurally suppressed by the way it is currently organized. As Adorno puts it: “The forces of production, the material forces of production, have been developed to such a point today that in a rationally organized society material need would no longer be necessary” – and yet it is socially perpetuated (Adorno 1970–1986, 5:85). It is such suppressed real possibilities of change that should be the focus of the philosophy of history, wherever and whenever they become legible in events, not the single‐stranded dream of proceeding stepwise toward the final actualization of freedom. The alternative to the single‐stranded view is thus to release redemptive social possibilities from their enthrallment to an idea of actualized freedom standing at the end of history. Adorno articulates this in a number of different ways, perhaps most vividly in the following passage: Emancipation from this single‐stranded view will only come when we refuse to accept the dictum that [universal human emancipation from ancestral antagonisms] has only now become possible … The critical yardstick that allows reason, and indeed compels and obliges reason, to oppose the superior strength of the course of the world is always the fact that in every situation there is a concrete possibility of doing things differently. This possibility is present and sufficiently developed and does not need to be inflated into an abstract utopia that can be instantly scotched by the automatic retort that it will not work, it will never work. What one can see here is one of the most disastrous consequences of idealist historical constructions. By identifying all actuality and spirit, one conflates possibility and actuality. Not only is actuality identified with spirit, but spirit is identified with actuality; the tension between the two is eliminated, thus quashing the function of spirit as a critical authority. (Adorno 2006a, 67–68)

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At least two aspects of this claim should be underscored. In the first instance, Adorno clearly does not think that the Industrial Revolution, for example, as Engels explicitly claims, was the singular sine qua non for breaking out of the continuum of social antagonism (Engels 1988, 324–325). It was not the highest rung on a ladder leading to freedom. On the contrary, once we free ourselves from the unilinear view of history, we can see that the fettered emancipatory potential of the forces of production is merely one example – no matter how exemplary it may remain – of the blocked possibilities on which the philosophy of history should concentrate its efforts. (This is a point that was also made by Walter Benjamin, to whom Adorno refers in this context.) It is thereby not the forward march of the dialectic toward its presumed end that matters, but rather those moments in history when the historical dialectic suddenly comes to a standstill (Benjamin 1999, 462–463, 475) because the “moment of its actualization was missed” (Adorno 1973, 3). Examples of such turning points in which such possibilities were objectively present but remained unactualized might include the first secessio plebis, peasant uprisings, Lutheran melancholy, the Reign of Terror, nineteenth‐century technological advancements, and historical Marxism, among many others, as well as literary representations of repressed possibilities of reconciliation, such as Sophocles’ Antigone. A second, more general point concerns the relation of these moments of tension to the individual who registers them, not on their own behalf but on behalf of a peaceful humanity to come. So while Adorno, once again recalling Benjamin, asks us to consider the moments in history when a different way of doing things was blocked, the more important aspect lies with our ability to perceive and conceptualize, here and now, the discovery or invention of possibilities of doing things differently. The point is therefore not merely to think of past examples of blocked possibilities of doing things differently, but to understand that if we want things to change, then we must ask to what extent we respect the individuals who register and express such moments of resistance to the practical or theoretical status quo and to the single‐stranded theory of history and its consequences (e.g. disappointment, disarray, defeatism, dogmatism). Generically speaking, this resistance is that of the “nonidentical,” as Adorno often puts it, that is, the expression of that which does not fit into the concept that is otherwise meant to incorporate it. By calling attention to such an unacknowledged surplus content, the nonidentical invalidates its concept and, correspondingly, expresses a real need: to understand and interpret actuality differently. In the present context, the nonidentical resides within that which does not readily adapt itself to the fixed rational ideas and ends that we project onto history. Or to put it the other way around, what has to be criticized and overcome is, first, the notion of the reductive identification of what is possible with what happens to be actual and, second, the subordination of possibility to a presumed emergent actuality that anticipatorily encompasses and justifies all of history. Orthodox Marxism was capable of making the first of these anti‐Hegelian gestures, but not the second. Its subordination of the promise of ending social antagonism to its single‐stranded view of history is its moment of nonidentity. What concrete, historical form does this nonidentity take?

6.  Suffering and Expression In one of his pedagogical plays, Brecht writes that while “the individual has two eyes, the Party has a thousand” (Brecht 1997, 83). These words come as part of the legal ratification of a decision taken by militants to execute a young comrade for being too sensitive to 202

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cases of individual suffering, which they see as a refusal to bow to the Communist Party as the true arbiter of actuality and human suffering. But for Adorno, it is precisely the individual, not the Party, who is best placed to express that suffering. However, the expression at issue is not that of the individual qua individual, but qua subject of a shared, socially unnecessary suffering that, demonstrably, has not been given an adequate hearing by the powers that be. For it is only the individual who, having a voice, can lend a voice to the pain that belies received opinion, custom, party discipline, or the law, that is, the social institutions that incarnate the so‐called universal in which the individual is purported to be at home. If it were otherwise, the individual who speaks truth to power would no doubt be at home in society, but only under conditions of house arrest – as in fact often happens in such cases. Solidarity should bind us to those who fall under the wheels of history, not to those who ask of them this sacrifice (Adorno 1978, 51–52). The social nonidentity of particular and universal, then, is what the suffering individual registers when the shared quality of the suffering is extenuated, dismissed, justified, or indeed exacerbated in the name of existing practices and institutions. Freedom, for Adorno, does not depend upon the progressive actualization of its idea. Rather, it follows the subject’s urge to express itself. The need to lend a voice to suffering is a condition of all truth. For suffering is objectivity that weighs upon the subject; what is experienced by the subject as its most subjective moment, its expression, is mediated objectively. (Adorno 1973, 17–18)

Or as Adorno also puts it, referring directly to Brecht: In the face of the collective powers that are at present usurping world spirit, the universal and the rational can better hibernate in the isolated individual than in the “big guns” [e.g., political parties] that have abandoned the universality of the rational. The claim that a thousand eyes see better than two is both a lie and the precise expression of the fetishization of collectivity and organization. It is the highest obligation of social cognition today to break through this fetishization. (Adorno 1970–1986, 8:455)

Or, finally, to phrase the issue in more general terms: However isolated an individual may be, if they criticize a historical trend which they are factually powerless to change, this cannot simply be dismissed as the grumbling of the disaffected or the irrational protest of someone who feels pangs of emotion. The protest, if it has any substance at all, will contain an element of reason. (Adorno 2006a, 63)

This “element of reason” resides, ultimately, in the fact that the protest in question calls attention to the fettering of real emancipatory possibilities in the name of social arrangements that deny these possibilities. Or more concretely, the protest is a plea for the abolition of shared suffering to the highest degree currently possible. This abolition is the only valid response to this protest, but it is a response “which no theory can anticipate, and on which theory can set no limit” (Adorno 1973, 203). This is because the true lesson of dialectical thinking, beyond Hegel’s initial formulation of it, is that “there is no category, no concept, no theory even, however true, that is immune to the danger of becoming false and even ideological in the constellation that it enters into in practice” (Adorno 2006a, 57). Thus, it is not the universal or the idea but the negativity of the nonidentical that must be given the last word in the historical process. It is this nonidentity, the expression of 203

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socially unnecessary suffering, that fuels a renewed form of determinate negation, freed from serving a single‐stranded view of history. Of course, Hegelians – and Marxists for that matter – may simply retort that there is, in any event, only one world, only one totality of actualized and actualizable possibilities. But to this Adorno replies that the possibility of happiness, and indeed even the possibility of a differently constituted world, would be inconceivable without all the things that can be urged by way of objection to [the world as it currently exists] – its insufficiency in relation to the fate of individual, and all its senseless suffering and cruelty. (Adorno 2006a, 47–48)

To summarize, “freedom can only be grasped in determinate negation, as corresponding to the concrete shape taken by unfreedom” (Adorno 1973, 231; 2006a, 243), which may well take the form of what we took to be the animating idea of this one world. It is this thought that provides us with the key to understanding the substantive social content of Doré’s satirical sketch, with which we began. If, as Benjamin says, “all rulers are the heirs of prior conquerors” (as quoted above), then Robespierre indeed owed a shameful debt to Louis XVI, and such debts will keep us bound to the “odious totality” so long as the present is seen as the inalienable legacy of past suffering. Doré’s deputy is in the right, so long as all that matters is the idea under which antagonism and suffering is subsumed and rationalized. However, freedom lies not in the actualization of such apologetic ideas, but in the rational refusal of any final actuality. As such, what we owe to the odious totality is not a debt of thanks but an ongoing obligation to redeem its wrongs, to give negativity the last word, rather than rallying ourselves around some new positivity or principle of the whole. The truth of the social totality lies not in its continuity as viewed from the standpoint of any principle, but in the possibility it contains, in spite of itself, of convicting such principles of untruth. In other words, we owe something not to the odious totality itself but to that which it cannot think without collapsing from within, although its violence may stay its fall.

References Adorno, T.W. (1970–1986). Gesammelte Schriften, 20 vols. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag. Adorno, T.W. (1973). Negative Dialectics (trans. E.B. Ashton). London: Routledge. Adorno, T.W. (1978). Minima Moralia: Reflections on a Damaged Life (trans. E.F.N. Jephcott). London: Verso. Adorno, T.W. (1991). On lyric poetry and society. In: Notes to Literature, vol. 1. (trans. S. Weber Nicholsen). New York: Columbia University Press. Adorno, T.W. (1998a). Progress. In: Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords (trans. H.W. Pickford), 143–160. New York: Columbia University Press. Adorno, T.W. (1998b). The meaning of working through the past. In: Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords (trans. H.W. Pickford), 89–103. New York: Columbia University Press. Adorno, T.W. (2003). Graeculus (II): Notizen zu Philosophie und Gesellschaft, 1943–1969. In: Frankfurter Adorno Blätter, vol. VIII (ed. R. Tiedemann), 9–41. München: edition text + kritik. Adorno, T.W. (2006a). History and Freedom (trans. R. Livingstone). Cambridge: Polity Press. Adorno, T.W. (2006b). The idea of natural‐history. In: Things Beyond Resemblance: Collected Essays on Theodor W. Adorno (ed. R. Hullot‐Kentor; trans. R. Hullot‐Kentor), 252–269. New York: Columbia University Press. Adorno, T.W. (2008). Lectures on Negative Dialectics (trans. R. Livingstone). Cambridge: Polity Press. Benjamin, W. (1999). The Arcades Project (trans. H. Eiland and K. McLaughlin). Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

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Benjamin, W. (2003). On the concept of history. In: Selected Writings, vol. 4. (trans H. Zohn). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Brecht, B. (1997). The decision. In: Collected Plays, vol. 3.2, 61–91. (trans. J. Willett). London: Methuen. Doré, G. (1907). Versailles et Paris en 1871, d’après les dessins originaux de Gustave Doré. Paris: Plon. Engels, F. (1988). The housing question. In: Marx–Engels Collected Works, vol. 23 (ed. L. Golman), 317–391. London: Lawrence and Wishart. Habermas, J. (1979). Toward a reconstruction of historical materalism. In: Communication and the Evolution of Society, 130–177. Boston: Beacon Press. Hegel, G.W.F. (1964). The German constitution. In: Hegel’s Political Writings (trans. T.M. Knox), 143– 242. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hegel, G.W.F. (1971). Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind (trans. W. Wallace and A.V. Miller). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hegel, G.W.F. (1975). Lectures on the Philosophy of World History: Introduction (trans. H.B. Nisbet). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hegel, G.W.F. (1977). Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit (trans. A.V. Miller). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hegel, G.W.F. (1991). Elements of the Philosophy of Right (trans. H.B. Nisbet). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Horkheimer, M. and Adorno, T.W. (2002). Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments (trans. E. Jephcott). Stanford: Stanford University Press. Kant, I. (1970a). Idea for a universal history with a cosmopolitan purpose. In: Kant’s Political Writings (ed. H. Reiss; trans. H.B. Nisbet). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kant, I. (1970b). Perpetual peace: a philosophical sketch. In: Kant’s Political Writings. (ed. H. Reiss; trans. H.B. Nisbet), 93–130. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kant, I. (1979). The Conflict of the Faculties (trans. M.J. Gregor). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Marx, K. (1970). Critique of Hegel’s “Philosophy of Right” (ed. J. O’Malley; trans. A. Jolin and J. O’Malley). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Marx, K. (1976). Capital: Volume 1 (trans. B. Fowkes). Harmondsworth: Penguin in association with New Left Review. Marx, K. (1980). Speech at the Anniversary of the People’s Paper. In: Marx–Engels Collected Works, vol. 14 (ed. L. Golamn), 655–656. London: Lawrence and Wishart. Marx, K. (1987). A contribution to the critique of political economy, part one. In: Marx–Engels Collected Works, vol. 29 (ed. L. Golman; trans. V. Schnittke), 257–417. London: Lawrence and Wishart. Marx, K. (1988). Economic and philosophic manuscripts of 1844. In: Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 and the Communist Manifesto (trans. M. Milligan), 13–168. Amherst: Prometheus Books. Schopf, W. (ed.) (2003). So müßte ich ein Engel und kein Autor sein: Adorno und seine Frankurter Verleger. Der Briefwechsel mit Peter Suhrkamp und Siegfried Unseld. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag.

Further Reading Geulen, E. (1997). Theodor Adorno on tradition. In: The Actuality of Adorno: Critical Essays on Adorno and the Postmodern (ed. M. Pensky), 182–193. Albany: State University of New York Press. On history, modernity, tradition, and dialectic. Hohendahl, P.U. (2013). Progress revisited: Adorno’s dialogue with Augustine, Kant, and Benjamin. Critical Inquiry 40 (1): 242–260. On the context and evolution of Adorno’s concept of progress in history.

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O’Connor, B. (2010). Adorno on the destruction of memory. In: Memory: Histories, Theories, Debates (eds. S. Radstone and B. Schwarz), 136–149. New York: Fordham University Press. On memory, forgetting, and the idea of working through the past. Pickford, H.W. (2002). The dialectic of theory and praxis: on late Adorno. In: Adorno: A Critical Reader (eds. N. Gibson and A. Rubin), 312–340. Oxford: Blackwell. On Adorno’s critical philosophy in the shifting historical context of the twentieth century. Sandkaulen, B. (2006). Modell 2: Weltgeist und Naturgeschichte. Exkurs zu Hegel. Adornos Geschichtsphilosophie mit und gegen Hegel. In: Theodor W. Adorno, Negative Dialektik (eds. A. Honneth and C. Menke), 169–177. Berlin: Akademie Verlag. On Adorno’s philosophy of history in the context of Negative Dialectics. Schnädelbach, H. (2004). Adorno und die Geschichte. In: Analytische und postanalytische Philosophie, 150–178. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag. A critical reading of Adorno’s understanding of history.

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13 The Anthropology in Dialectic of Enlightenment PIERRE‐FRANÇOIS NOPPEN

The question of whether and to what extent Horkheimer and Adorno rely on a philosophical anthropology has long been a source of worry and puzzlement in the scholarship. In this regard, three aspects of the book seem of particular concern. The first one is what appears to be their stress on origins. In the foreword, they introduce the text at the focus of the first excursus, Homer’s Odyssey, “as one of the earliest representative attestations [Zeugnisse] of bourgeois Western civilization” (Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, xviii, amended). As we soon discover, the unusual sort of scrutiny they submit Homer’s work to tracks the “protohistory of subjectivity [Urgeschichte der Subjektivität]” (2002, 43, amended). In this instance, two worrisome features of their exposé are closely connected: what we take their findings to mean directly relies on the type of critical investigation we take them to engage in. In other words, what their investigation means to reveal about the bourgeois subject relies on how they mean to take Odysseus, a mythical hero, as the prototype (Urbild) of the bourgeois individual in the first place. So the question boils down to: what exactly do they refer to as a protohistory of subjectivity (see Brunkhorst 2000)? The second troubling aspect of the book is what has often been referred to as Horkheimer and Adorno’s negativism. In the book, they insist that rationality’s regressive tendencies, which, as they see it, are present “from the first” (2002, xix), reach their full expression in late modernity, following a logic they outline. Now the obvious question is: if the tendency to regress is constitutive of enlightenment itself as “thought in progress,” how, if at all, can we hope to escape it? What can be viewed as a way out of the regression depends on what we take the logic they make explicit to mean and, in particular, on what we take to be inescapable about this logic, in their view. The fact that they mobilize Nietzsche and de Sade, in particular, only seems to aggravate things (see Habermas 1982). So the real question concerns the point of their critical approach: why put such emphasis on the negative? In other words, how is that supposed to help correct the course of the enlightenment? Finally, their stress on anthropology, albeit on a critical one, has itself been viewed as a source of concern. The concern has been raised from two sides. On the one hand, their criticism of enlightenment would appeal to a view on the history of the species that sets clear and unsurmountable limits to the emancipatory potential of reason. This interpretative line assimilates their critical enterprise to certain forms of conservatism – Freud who

A Companion to Adorno, First Edition. Edited by Peter E. Gordon, Espen Hammer, and Max Pensky. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2020 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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traces the malaise of western civilization back to the economy of the human psyche (see Freud 2010) or Gehlen who views in the dispositions that make human sociality possible the very factors that limits social progress (see Adorno and Gehlen 1974). On the other hand, they would seek resources to counter rationality’s regressive tendencies in our mimetic capacity, that is, a capacity of the human mind that is shielded from regression because it isn’t itself rational – a piece of human nature unaffected by civilization, or what Habermas calls “uncomprehended nature” (Habermas 1984, 382). So the real issue concerns the specific kind of treatment Horkheimer and Adorno reserve to anthropological views. The question is: How can their critical anthropology avoid the pitfalls of a philosophical anthropology? More specifically, how can it avoid either relying on a view of human nature that acts as a sort of overarching principle commanding the history of the human species – human nature as defining civilization – or on a view of human nature as what is unaffected by civilization and what by definition only a metaphysical theory can claim to rely on – untapped or untouched human nature? Simply put, how can a critical anthropology be critical at all? In what follows, I will address these three sets of concern through a close examination of the first excursus of the book, on Homer’s Odyssey. Before I do so, I want to clarify a few points concerning, first, what anthropological views they are targeting and, second, the type of critical examination they wish to submit these views to.

1.  The Point of Their Critical Anthropology In a basic sense, to say that philosophical views (critical or otherwise) rely on a specific view of what human beings are doesn’t need to mean anything more than that to work out any view whatsoever pertaining to human affairs, one ought to take humans to be beings of some sort rather than of another. So the very fact that a view or project would rely on such anthropological views isn’t problematic in the least. Rather, it is a precondition for any such investigation whatsoever. What these views might be is an entirely different story altogether. One could be completely wrong about the extent of human capacities and not wrong at all in assuming that humans have capacities and that short of taking this fact into consideration, one can’t make any sense of human practices and institutions. It is one thing to rely on anthropological views, another thing entirely to work out a philosophical anthropology whose aim is to lay out something like the essence of human nature. Moreover, it makes sense that, as we work out the bulk of a philosophical views about any aspect of the social and political landscape, a large portion of whatever anthropological views we rely on would remain implicit, that is, that they wouldn’t themselves be thematized in any thorough way. In a trivial sense, there is no need for them to be explicitly formulated to be effective as assumptions, that is, as what one must rely on to carry out a specific investigation into human affairs. So it isn’t either the fact that a set of assumptions would be left unexamined as such that poses problem for Horkheimer and Adorno. The anthropological views they are targeting in Dialectic of Enlightenment are problematic in another sense. Insofar as their critical anthropology serves the dual purpose of making sense of enlightenment’s self‐destruction and of “prepar[ing] a positive concept of  enlightenment that liberates it from its entanglement in blind domination” (2002, xviii), whatever views they target must at the very least, on their account, have played an 208

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i­ mportant, if not decisive, role in the elaboration of key features of enlightenment thinking. This holds true whether or not the views in question have been explicitly worked out to play this role. Moreover, as Horkheimer and Adorno see it, the main hurdle they face is precisely the prima facie inability to account for the self‐destruction of the enlightenment given what enlightenment has been taken to mean; that is, to make sense not only of the fact that enlightenment as the advance of thought could regress, but also, and more importantly, of how it would be responsible for its own regression. The question, then, is this: what anthropological views have shaped the way the enlightenment has been understood such that in holding to this understanding, we have somehow strayed off course? So while we are committed to these views, we are oblivious to their full meaning. This means that while the meaning of these views might be explicitly tied to the prevailing views about modern enlightenment, their full meaning isn’t explicit, that is, it isn’t part of the explicit self‐ understanding of modern enlightenment. Instead, their full meaning lies somewhere in the gap between the views modern enlightenment entertains about itself and what in holding to these views it proves to have been committed to. So the question is: what drives the advance of thought, according to modern enlightenment thinking? Horkheimer and Adorno’s long answer to this question is “the unfettering of forces, universal freedom, self‐determination” (2002, 73). Their short answer is: the rational self. As they put it: “The self which after the methodological extirpation of all natural traces as mythological, was no longer supposed to be either a body or blood or a soul or even a natural ego but was sublimated into a transcendental or logical subject, formed the reference point of reason, the legislating authority of action” (2002, 22). In their view, the self‐determining self is something like the purified conceptual expression of the drive for mastery over nature (within and without) and drive for the liquidation of myth, which they view as the two keys to the modern project of emancipation. This seems like a straightforward condemnation of the whole enlightenment project, unless one takes a closer look at why they stress the negative in this way and how exactly they mean to critically examine the makeup of the modern self. If we tie this to Kant’s take on anthropology, we can perhaps start seeing what Horkheimer and Adorno have in view. Kant famously proposes a distinction between an investigation into “what nature makes of the human being,” and an investigation into “what he as free‐acting being makes of himself ” (Kant 2006, 3). The latter sort of investigation is what Kant refers to as an anthropology from a pragmatic point of view. Imagine that Horkheimer and Adorno are implicitly asking Kant the following question: is there any real way of (and sense to) separating the two kinds of anthropological investigations? In other words, how can we inquire into what humans can make of themselves without asking the question of what nature enables them to make of themselves or, more precisely, of how in making something of themselves they relate to the way nature has made them? The point of such questions might be to point out that the stress on self‐determination and on how we make something of ourselves risks making us oblivious, first, to the way rationality is embodied and, second, to how the exercise of our self‐determining capacities (and therefore the understanding we have of what these capacities are) is tied to the broad social context in which we evolve. The book, I take it, tirelessly asks this one question: what exactly in the prevailing picture of the enlightened self might be responsible for enlightenment’s self‐destructive tendencies? The bulk of their answer, I argue, is that the prevailing picture of the self induces blindness as regards decisive aspects of what it means to be a rational being, an agent capable of self‐determination. So the paradox that they track throughout the book is that this picture of self makes us, humans, into beings, subjects, rational selves, who control 209

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nature and yet who aren’t defined by nature. In doing so, it conceals the way we, humans, and so human rationality itself, are inextricably tied to nature. In short, the point of their critical anthropology is to make us “mindful of the nature in the subject [Eingedenken der Natur im Subjekt]” (2002, 32, amended), that is, to make us aware of how in denying our ties to nature, we have grown oblivious to the way these ties intimately define us.

2.  Investigating the Prototype of the Self A good deal of confusion still surrounds Horkheimer and Adorno’s sketch of a protohistory of subjectivity. Although the various renderings of the term Urgeschichte – “prehistory” (2002, 60), “earliest prehistory” (2002, 50), “earliest history” (2002, 43), “primal age” (2002, 50) – are in part responsible for this confusion, the main issue lies with the subject matter itself. No doubt, the concept of protohistory belongs to a set of opaque concepts that Adorno in particular appropriates from Benjamin, who coins the term to characterize the singular enterprise of his Arcades Project. Taking a cue from Jules Michelet’s phrase: “each epoch dreams the one to follow” (“chaque époque rêve la suivante”; Benjamin 1999, 893), Benjamin proposes, in a characteristically paradoxical way, to track how the nineteenth century dreamt up the following century. So Benjamin isn’t merely proposing a history of the nineteenth century of a certain kind. His aim rather is to trace the outlines of the “dream” (or dream‐like image) formed in the nineteenth century and from which his contemporaries have yet to wake up. So the point of his endeavor is to access some of the deeper recesses of the collective imaginary that defines for his contemporaries the horizon of meaning. (One can appreciate the complexity of Benjamin’s insight through three sets of question: First, how do such dreams or visions of the future form? What stuff are they made of exactly [intuitions, images, concepts, etc.]? What motivates them? Second, how do they materialize, if unlike any rational plan? How do the visions of one epoch affect the next epoch? Third, how can we assess all of this?) This supposes a sophisticated view on image, meaning, and history that I can’t detail here. Instead, my focus will be on how Horkheimer and Adorno use the concept of Urgeschichte. In keeping with the translation of Urbild as prototype (or model), I have translated Urgeschichte as protohistory, which I view as an investigation into such prototypes. Now, the kind of prototypes, or models, that Horkheimer and Adorno have in view aren’t, however, like the more familiar nomological models, that is, they aren’t models formed of an explicitly articulated set of rules. What they have in view might be best understood as more or less tightly‐threaded, mimetically generated patterns of meaning. The view is complex and would require a treatment that far exceeds what I can provide here. Fortunately, a host of recent works have shed considerable light on the matter (see, in particular, Bellah 2011; Donald 1991, 2001; Schaeffer 2010). For the sake of brevity, I will focus here on the work of Merlin Donald, who develops a comprehensive account of the origin of the modern (theoretical) mind from an evolutionary standpoint, which, I believe, can provide a simple access to some of Horkheimer and Adorno’s core insights. The key to Donald’s account is a “culture‐first approach to language evolution” (2001, 279). On this view, what we call meaning in the broad sense – Sinn as German philosophers would put it  –  first emerges with the “ability to produce conscious, self‐­ initiated representational acts that are intentional but not linguistic,” or the “mimetic 210

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ability” (1991, 168). Mimesis differs from imitation in that it adds a representational dimension to straightforward imitative processes. For example, one can imitate any gesture involved in the making of a tool yet be incapable of making a tool on one’s own. The reason for this is that to learn a tool‐making skill one needs to form a representation of the sequence of gestures involved in that skill. This representation is what Donald refers to as a mimetic model. The same ability can be used to model all kinds of behaviors, skills, events, and so on. It thus enables the creation of complex social patterns (games, rituals, learning practices). There results what Donald refers to as a mimetic culture. The point is of significance since, from an evolutionary perspective, the mimetically generated layer of meaning that shapes behaviors and attitudes provides the condition for the emergence of language. Simply put: without mimetic culture, Donald claims, the ability to speak (or “modern rapid language”) wouldn’t be evolutionarily motivated. His rationale is threefold. First, the development of the modern vocal apparatus wouldn’t be motivated if the new ability did not provide obvious fitness benefits, that is, if the new representational ability didn’t confer an undeniable advantage on whoever possessed them in a primitive context. Short of there being a need to express only what language can express, the modern vocal apparatus is useless. Second, as he puts it, “[s]ymbolic invention is a creative act,” which “requires a capacity for thought” (1991, 219). It is the emergence of new representational capacity and of a new kind of representational model that “cries out for the perfect symbol, the appropriate device” (1991, 219), to express it. Third, if it is true that evolution is a tinkerer and not a creator, then this new modeling ability must itself be motivated. Here, Donald proposes mimetic culture as the missing link. The development of the symbolic modeling capacity solves a representational problem that can only arise when already dealing with representations. Although our mimetic abilities already provide what is necessary to elaborate complex social patterns, the greater this complexity becomes, the harder it is to track. What Donald proposes is simply that symbolic modeling brings mimetic models under symbolic control. In so doing, it extends our ability to map out an environment already shaped by the mimetic models that tie together a cultural setting. For my purpose, the point here is twofold. First, on this account, purely mimetic models aren’t yet linguistically structured, or explicitly articulated. This doesn’t mean that they can’t be made explicit in one way or another. It simply means that to work as cohesive, meaningful representational models, they don’t need to be explicitly articulated. Second, as Donald points out, referring back to Auerbach’s now classic Mimesis (1953), words are also used mimetically, in the broad sense of formulating the shape of a myth or story or its attitude. In such cases, it is as though the mythic theme was, at a deeper level, driven not strictly by verbal rules and ideas but rather by an underlying mimetic form in which language in embedded. (Donald 1991, 170)

This is the nuance that I want to exploit to unpack Horkheimer and Adorno’s take on Odysseus as the prototype of the modern self. Here’s how I see it: On Donald’s account, it makes sense that in a primitive environment an individual’s most basic sense of self would be built out of a set of densely‐threaded mimetic models (comprising cognitive maps of their body, their skills and abilities, their environment, events forming a timeline, etc.). Our culture, however, is no longer a mimetic one. It has long been shaped, and is constantly being reshaped, by highly sophisticated conceptual models. This doesn’t mean, in Donald’s view, that we no longer rely on mimetic 211

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modeling to navigate the world and to maintain our sense of self. It rather means that even our most intimate sense of self isn’t purely shaped by mimetic models, as it keeps being informed by the myriad discourses that define the ever‐increasingly complex social landscape in which we evolve. As regards Odysseus, I propose to distinguish three levels of mimetic modeling. Odysseus isn’t a first‐degree, purely mimetic model. If I understand Horkheimer and Adorno correctly, their claim rather is that Odysseus is something like a narratively‐threaded mimetic model. His identity is shaped by his travels through the mythical universe of Ancient Greece: “At the Homeric stage, the identity of the self is so much a function of the nonidentical, of dissociated, unarticulated myths, that it must derive from them” (2002, 39). There is a third level. The Homeric tale itself works like a narrative articulation of a linguistically‐threaded mimetic model. Of course, the distinction between the second and third levels is a purely rhetorical one, insofar as Odysseus is, as this unified mimetic model, a Homeric creation. But my point here is that the reason Horkheimer and Adorno focus on The Odyssey is precisely because Homer’s narrative articulation of the mimetic model that Odysseus is has a way of making available for scrutiny what might otherwise remain locked in the deepest recesses of our self‐understanding – precisely the part of this self‐understanding that is mimetically threaded. So more than a straightforward break from the modern ethos of the blank slate (and of the rational instauration of the self), I want to argue that we can see in this excursus Horkheimer and Adorno’s attempt at unlocking the mimetic underpinnings of the self‐ understanding that defines modern selfhood. On this interpretation, Horkheimer and Adorno’s point isn’t to rehearse the trope on how the classics have informed modern western culture, although there is something to be said about the singular place that the Greek hero has occupied in the western imaginary. More important still is the story line itself: Homer’s story is about is an individual confronted with the natural powers, which has been and remains one of the most dominant narratives of the modern world – all the way from Bacon’s vision of a humanity liberated from fear through its mastery of nature (both within and without), to Kant’s view about self‐determining subjects, who act out of purely rational grounds (moral law) and not natural ones (inclinations).

3.  The Logic of Sacrifice I now to turn to Horkheimer and Adorno’s take on the logic of sacrifice, as they work it out in the first excursus. The point of this examination is that Horkheimer and Adorno’s characterization of reason as cunning, which is key to their understanding of Odysseus, relies on their interpretation of the logic of the mythical universe and, more specifically, of the practice of sacrifice, which exploits this logic. As we saw, meaning in the broad sense (Sinn) is first tied to mimetic modeling. At this level, the boundaries of meaning are still more or less unstable and porous. Mythical invention gives definition and consistency to meaning: as the symbolic articulation of meaning opens a whole new horizon for meaning it also sets clearer bounds for it. It creates what in later works Adorno refers to as a context of immanence (Immanenzzusammenhang). Horkheimer and Adorno insist on the idea that the principle of immanence defines the universe of myth. One can understand the creation of immanence in the following way: as the mythical expansion of meaning (Sinn) creates a context of immanence defined by meaning‐bounds, it also creates the need to keep this  ­context meaning‐tight, as it were, that is, to preserve the bounds of this context of 212

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immanence. This means that any disruption to the universe of myth  –  any tear in the bounds of meaning  –  compels attempts at restoring the equilibrium of this universe – attempts at patching up the tears. Sacrifice exploits this need for equilibrium in that it institutes a process of substitution aimed at patching up the tears in the meaning‐bounds and restoring the balance after significant disruptions. In Horkheimer and Adorno’s view, this substitution is made possible by one simple feature of language: the difference between word and thing. In the case of the mimetic modeling, the individual creates the model through immersion into whatever is to be modeled. So the resulting model stands in a relation of more or less seamless adherence to whatever is modeled. For example, the successful mimetic modeling of a tool‐making practice implies that the individual makes themselves into a tool‐maker. Of course, deficiency or failure in the model might prompt the individual to refine their model (or to create a new one), but this new model would be characterized by the same adherence. By contrast, linguistic meaning introduces a distance between linguistic symbols and whatever they represent. This distance can be understood in terms of the articulation of two components of linguistic meaning: intentionality and symbolic creation. On the one hand, the intentionality that structures the relation of word to thing is what binds the word to the thing. On the other hand, the symbolic articulation of this relation of intentionality creates a distance between word and thing. As a result, even if under certain rhetorical conditions the experience of symbolic meaning can be one of immersion (as when reading a novel), it doesn’t need to be. And while the word stands for the thing, it is not that thing itself. As a consequence, “an identical word can mean different things” (Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, 47), much like two words can mean the same thing. For my purpose, what matters is that this basic feature of language is what provides the condition for sacrificial practices to emerge: out of the differentiation of the word’s standing‐in‐for‐the-thing emerges a possible (but in no way necessary) equivalence between word and thing. In other words, for there to be a possible equivalence, there first needs to be a difference. It is this possible equivalence that makes substitution (Stellvertretung) possible. The point matters, since, to anticipate, one can read Horkheimer and Adorno’s examination of sacrifice as carefully tracking the progressive differentiation of the elements of linguistic meaning that make sacrifice possible and provide the conditions for Odysseus’ cunning. As they put it, “cunning lives from the process governing the relation between word and thing [von jenem zwischen Wort und Sache waltenden Prozeß]” (2002, 47, amended; GS 3, 79). On their account, sacrifice involves a twofold deception. First deception: they hold that “all sacrificial acts, deliberately planned by humans, deceive the god for whom they are performed” (2002, 40). The victim stands in for the community, what should befall the community befalls the victim, and the community is saved. From this vantage point, the substitution works and the god is tricked. As this process enables humans to impose their will on gods, it frees them from their yoke. But a second, deeper deception is involved: the divine power is neither convened nor appeased. Indeed, Horkheimer and Adorno suggest that participants to sacrificial practices must have been aware of the fact that “symbolic communication” “does not reinstate immediate communication” (2002, 41) from the earliest point on. This is why, on their account, the institutionalization of sacrifice might be best understood in terms of a coping mechanism. While at the symbolic level the sacrifice is instituted to cope with the initial disruption in the bounds of the mythical universe, the failure of the sacrificial act itself (and the self‐inflicted loss it constitutes) is what truly compels the repetition of the sacrifice over and again. For if the sacrificial act succeeded, the 213

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equilibrium would be restored and the repetition of this act wouldn’t be motivated. On this logic, since the initial sacrificial act is prompted by a disruption – a traumatic event such as natural catastrophe – the institution of ritual sacrifice amounts to replacing an accidental trauma by a trauma that humans have control over and that, for this reason, can be integrated into the order of things. At the cognitive level, the practice thus becomes a means of regulating the balance of the mythical universe. At the social level, it becomes a mechanism of control. Whoever controls the ritual controls those subjected to it. The paradox here is that Horkheimer and Adorno see in this the blueprint for the cognitive economy of the hero, insofar as he is the cunning one. They express this in the following string of claims: first, “the moment of deception in sacrifice is the prototype of Odyssean cunning” (2002, 40); second, cunning is Odysseus’ “organ [Organ]” (2002, 39); third, Odysseus is the “prototype of the bourgeois individual” (2002, 35). One should not fail to notice that, on their reading, cunning expresses both rationality’s emancipatory potential and its regressive tendencies. This tension is captured in the claim that “Odysseus himself acts as both victim and priest” (2002, 40). This combination of priesthood and victimhood, of subjugator and subjugated, raises two concerns. First, modeling rationality on cunning, understood as a capacity to deceive, seems to limit dramatically the scope of its emancipatory promise. It makes enlightenment into an ambivalent process, now emancipating, now deceiving – or worse: doing both at the same time. From this vantage point, the tension between emancipation and domination appears to be what drives enlightenment forward. The second point is more troubling still: this reading casts Odysseus as the agent of his own deception. If emancipation is always paid for with some level of self‐deception, aren’t enlightenment’s ideals doomed, because unachievable? This is perhaps, more than anything else, what has left many a reader deeply perplexed by Horkheimer and Adorno’s account (compare Raulet 2017). I will now examine each of the two concerns in turn to see how Horkheimer and Adorno deal with this tension.

4.  Cunning as Protoreflexivity As they see it, the earliest myths already “sought to report, to name, to tell of origins – but therefore also to narrate, record, explain” (2002, 5). They were stories that reported unusual natural events (meteor showers, red moons, solar eclipses, etc.), explained catastrophic natural events (volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, droughts, storms of all sorts), narrated the natural cycles (the passing of seasons, animal migrations, celestial cycles, etc.), or mapped out the natural environment (sea routes, hunting grounds, the night sky). As they were recorded and collected, “they soon became a teaching [Lehre]” (2002, 5). For my purpose, the point is that this teaching evolves into a set of institutionalized and codified practices for the transmission of symbolic culture, or as they put it, a “mythically objectifying tradition [mytisch vergegenstandliche Übertragung]” (2002, 45, amended), which progressively consolidates the mythical imaginary into an ever‐tighter context of immanence. Horkheimer and Adorno articulate the consequences of this process in two claims, which I want to use to unpack their understanding of cunning. The first claim is that the mythical figures depicted in myths “become figures of abstract fate, of a necessity remote from the senses [sinnfernen Notwendigkeit]” (2002, 45, amended). This is particularly important to understand how the immersion in the universe of myth provides the epistemic conditions for the success of Odysseus’ cunning. Recall that, as 214

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Donald explains, from the beginning, language piggybacks on mimetic culture. For this reason, it makes sense, in his view, that early storytelling would be experienced as expanding the horizon of meaning first shot open by mimetic representation. In a similar vein, Horkheimer and Adorno propose that words must have first worked as symbolic imitations of things (see 2002, 47). So whereas, as we have seen, symbolic meaning introduces a distance between word and thing, the experience of symbolic meaning must have first been one of immersion. But there is more: as myths are passed down from one generation to the next and are increasingly objectified, the storytelling is formalized and the stories lose their vividness. So their claim that mythical figures become expressions of abstract fate is a claim about the way in which, with passing generations, the content of the stories grows unavailable. One can summarize the logic of this process in the following way: The more the stories that thread the mythical context of immanence are objectified, the more they consolidate this context of immanence, the more they become an expression of the way things are, the more their meaning is experienced as “remote from the senses,” unavailable and abstract. As the hero navigates through a world made intelligible by myth, the words he uses capture seamlessly what they mean, while their meaning is marked by opacity. In short, to Odysseus and his companions, things are, as it were, merely what words have made them into – their understanding is like spellbound by mythical meaning. At face value, Horkheimer and Adorno’s claim that Odysseus discovers and exploits the difference between the word and the thing appears simplistic or trivial, as though it had all along been lying in plain sight. So their claim takes on an altogether different sense when we appreciate how he and his companions are spellbound. What breaking the spell in fact amounts to is nothing short of rewriting the mythical stories. To succeed, Odysseus must first access the meaning of those stories, that is, he must pierce through the layers of tradition that make up the hard shell of words. The key, I propose, is this: Odysseus is the one who lingers just a little too long on the meaning of words. Under his insistent gaze, the abstract fate, the opacity of meaning becomes a puzzle. He asks a simple question: what could this word, that story really mean? Who is Scylla exactly? What makes up the elusive, but irresistible appeal of the Sirens’ song? This sends Odysseus down the unexplored threads of the mythical web in search for answers. What he discovers is a gap. On this reading, it’s not that Odysseus sees the gap, then exploits it. Instead, he discovers the gap as he puzzles over the meaning of the stories, and tries to understand them, their implication, the extent of the law, what awaits him and his companions. And what triggers the puzzle is the opacity of the stories. This is where the process of substitution becomes relevant: the fact that words and meaning are different implies that words perhaps don’t fully capture what the thing is. Seeing the gap stirs the hero’s imaginative play and sends him searching for possible equivalences. As they put it: “in this way arises the consciousness of intention [so entspringt das Bewußtsein der Intention]” (2002, 47) – the very consciousness that forms the basis of our reflective ability: “By inserting his own intention into the name, Odysseus has withdrawn it from the magical sphere” (2002, 53). The hero’s cunning introduces reflectivity in the universe of myth. This leads me to their second claim regarding the consequences of the objectifying process of tradition: the natural relationship between the powerless humans and the natural powers embodied as mythical figures takes on the “character of a legal relationship” (2002, 45). As “[u]nchangeable words remain the formulae for the implacable continuities of nature” (2002, 47), Odysseus and his companions are bound by the laws of the mythical universe as so many contracts tying them to mythical powers. As mentioned, on Horkheimer and Adorno’s account, the characterization of reason as cunning arises out 215

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of the differentiation of the moment of deceit in sacrifice. More precisely, the substitution that takes place in sacrifice – which the individual was a witness to (and at the same time the object of) – is appropriated by the hero as a capacity for substitution. Odysseus relies on his reflective abilities to find possible equivalences between the symbolic elements that thread the mythical web  –  possible substitutes, broadly speaking, for the terms of the contract. As they put it, he combs through these contracts so as to find “loopholes in the agreement,” through which he can elude the agreement “while fulfilling its terms” (2002, 46). So his success depends on his ability to find those substitutes, and thus to deceive the mythical powers to which he is bound. Key to Odysseus’ deception is the semblance of identity in the substitution process. As we have seen, the “objective untruth of sacrifice” (or its inherent moment of deception) lies in the way the victim is made to stand in for the community. Here the claim that Odysseus “supersedes” the objective untruth of sacrifice (2002, 41) paradoxically means that, as he deceives mythical powers, Odysseus reveals the truth about the contract that binds him to them. So what from the vantage point of immanence appears as the organ of deception – cunning  –  is from Odysseus’ own vantage point rather the organ of truth: it enables Odysseus to think through the limitations of mythical law. As he reflects on the legal agreement, Odysseus discovers that the letter of the law is false and uses this discovery to his advantage; he reveals this untruth in the moment he cheats the gods. So understood, cunning is the organ of truth  –  or the model of reflective rationality  –  and truth is, as Adorno puts it in a discussion with Horkheimer, the “quintessence of the dissolution of what is false” (Horkheimer 1988, 490). Whoever remains spellbound by myth is deceived; whoever follows the thread of Odysseus’ reflective breakthrough sees the spell lifted. What’s more, from the vantage of mythical immanence, Odysseus’ cunning, so understood, enables him to do what is, strictly speaking, impossible: “It is impossible to hear the Sirens and not to succumb to them” (2002, 46). Cunning then is a force of disruption. It first disrupts the balance of the mythical universe itself. As Horkheimer and Adorno note, the story doesn’t say “what happens to the singers once the ship has passed” (2002, 47). However, as they suggest, “the right of the mythical figures, being that of the stronger, purely depends on the impossibility of fulfilling their ordinance. If it is fulfilled, then the myths are finished, down to their most distant successor” (2002, 47, amended; Adorno 1986, 79). Once the mythical figures have been cheated, their power is neutralized. Sirens to which sailors don’t succumb aren’t Sirens any longer; they belong to an already bygone, enchanted world. By the same token, the disruption directly affects Odysseus himself. They insist that he “throws himself away, so to speak, in order to win himself ” (2002, 38; see also 39). This statement first means, of course, that by defying mythical powers he risks his life – no one has lived to tell of the Sirens’ song. That said, the point really is that as his cunning disrupts the mythical universe, and strips the mythical figures of their power, it disrupts his own identity. We move from myth being the subject to the cunning one being so; from Odysseus obeying the will of gods (as per mythical law) to him bending them to his will; from Odysseus being a character in a mythical story to him being the narrator of new kind of story. This is, I take it, a decisive take away from Horkheimer and Adorno’s analysis: by dismantling the universe of myth in this way, cunning is a force of emancipation. Cunning opens a still mythical, yet irremediably new world defined by a new power and a new relationship to mythical powers. It opens a new perspective, new possibles. Which possibles exactly stand open as result of Odysseus’ actions? That is a question that remains to be 216

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answered. But if Odysseus’ character gives any indication on this matter, it would be a world in which individuals – at least so far as they are, like Odysseus, reflective – endeavor to act in accordance with their own will.

5.  Cunning as Self‐Deception The trouble is, this is not the whole story, far from it. We still need to account for how, in Horkheimer and Adorno’s view, Odysseus deceives himself and explain why they take this self‐deception to be a constitutive feature of the prototypical self. The question is: how is cunning a sacrifice exactly and what must Odysseus sacrifice? On the face of it, what he sacrifices are the impulses, drives, passions that animate him. The way the sacrifice operates is slightly more complicated. This is a sacrifice unlike any other in that what Odysseus does is to bargain his way out of sacrifice. He throws himself away, sacrifices himself, that is, what he sacrifices, specifically, is what the Greek myths make him into, that is, a being who is animated by impulses and so on, and who for this reason is under the spell of mythical figures. How does the bargain work more specifically? Quite simply: in satisfying the terms of the agreement, he does what is impossible, reveals the deception inherent in the communication with the gods, and neutralizes the myths themselves, thus finding a way out of the sacrificial practice altogether. In a more prosaic sense, Odysseus, as the prototypical subject, acknowledges the hold his passions have over him, but he does so in order to make himself into what isn’t controlled by his passions. That is, simply put: by renouncing his drives, impulses, and passions, he makes himself into a being that is no longer dominated by them, that is no longer defined by this domination. He makes himself into a being that is, instead, defined by the fact the he pursues his own goals – in this case, the return to Ithaca and the enjoyment of life as master. So he is not merely denying his inclinations; instead, he renounces them to achieve a greater satisfaction. Deferment of satisfaction is what the bargain is about. As they put it, the sacrifice is “of the present moment to the future” (2002, 40). This is how, in their view, the sacrificial victim transforms itself, by way of cunning, into subjectivity. So far, so good. A shadow remains: so how does the deception work exactly? If the practice of sacrifice provides the blueprint of Odysseus’ cunning, then perhaps it can guide us here to understand this point as well. In the case of the ritual of sacrifice, the deception, as we saw, is twofold: first, the gods are tricked by the substitution process; second, the gods don’t show at all. The sacrifice works and it really doesn’t. Undeniably, the second deception is the more troubling one. As we also saw, it is by a strange reversal that the sacrificial act derives its real efficiency precisely from the fact that its symbolic efficiency is deceptive. The question now is: is there an equivalent to this second deception in Odysseus’ cunning? In sacrificing his impulses, passions, and so on, the hero claims that they don’t define him. Of course, the problem is that the sacrifice doesn’t work in the sense that the hero’s impulses aren’t really sacrificed at all. The fact that the hero feels compelled to renounce them in order to impose his will rather means that he acknowledges the claim they have on him. Engaging in the sacrifice is only possible for him if he acknowledges this claim in the first place. The episode of the Sirens – Odysseus begs and pleads his companions to unbind him, to no avail  –  provides the clearest indication of this. The episode where Odysseus reclaims his identity only to unleash a blind and terrifying vengeance on all of Penelope’s suitors (see Homer 1967, 328–329) is also revealing in that regard. 217

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Two consequences follow. First, on this reading, the sacrifice doesn’t work and that is why the subject feels compelled to repeat it over and again. Because it doesn’t work, the sacrifice of his impulses and so on is instituted as practice. It becomes a sort of ­coping mechanism through which the subject maintains the bounds of its symbolic integrity. This echoes, of course, a host a modern proverbial wisdoms stressing how our sacrifices will not have been in vain. At the subjective level, renunciation is the mechanism through which the subject symbolically achieves a satisfying self‐relation. At the social level, the constitution of the self (achieved through renunciation) appears as a kind of ritual, practiced in the bourgeois world – the cornerstone of the bourgeois world – whose entire point is to preserve the bourgeois order. A sacrifice practiced by each and all – a very specific type of social institution. This institution conceals, in their view, a painful truth: “All who renounce give away more of their life than is given back to them, more than the life they preserve” (2002, 43) through the sacrifice, that is, their life as subjects. The perversity of it is that the institution works because it really doesn’t, as a mechanism that enables subjects to cope with the fact that they are likely to lose at the  very moment they enter the bargain, that nothing in the bargain guarantees a favorable outcome. The second consequence is where the real puzzle lies: for the subject, the trouble is that this sacrifice is something that no subject, qua subject, can believe in. As they phrase it: “The formation of the self severs the fluctuating connection with nature which the sacrifice of the self is supposed to establish” (2002, 41). The self constitutes itself into that being which isn’t defined by its inclinations; but to renounce its inclinations, the self has to acknowledge their claim on it. So the sacrifice through which the subject wrests itself from blind nature asserts what the subject denies, namely that it “remains trapped in the context of the natural” (2002, 42).

6.  Concluding Remarks On the reading I propose, the self‐deceptive nature of Odysseus’ cunning remains puzzling as long as one doesn’t see what role mimetic modeling plays in their account of the formation of the self. But I believe we can begin to unpack what is at issue here when we take seriously Horkheimer and Adorno’s claim that what underlies and structures the formation of the modern self at its core is a mimesis “of what is dead [ans Tote]” (2002, 44, amended). Here’s, in rough outlines, how I read this claim (compare Noppen 2017a, b): As the individual renounces their drives, they have to make themselves into what they aren’t and for what no model is provided: no human subject exists in the natural continuum prior to its institution. Since individuals do have drives, and experience themselves as such, what it would mean for them not to have such drives can only be a puzzle for them. What Horkheimer and Adorno mean by a mimesis of what is dead is simply that instead of mimetically threading a representation of one’s impulses, body, abilities, and so on into a coherent model – as individuals in a more primitive setting might be led to do –the protoself cannot but be the mimetic model of a negative: of what wouldn’t have any of that (impulses, etc.), but would solely be defined by the ability to determine oneself, to set goals for oneself. That is, it would be defined by this sort of cognitive process. As we saw, Horkheimer and Adorno claim that at the Homeric stage the identity of the self is still defined by the myths that provide the frame of intelligibility in which Odysseus’ bargains can unfold. But once this protoself is achieved and a new sense of self emerges, one can 218

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begin to consolidate it. A narrative articulation like the Homeric tale offers one way of doing this; a conceptual articulation offers another way. That said, what Donald’s distinction between mimetic model and symbolic or conceptual model suggests is that the latter is no substitute for the former, as they simply don’t mobilize the same representational abilities and, more importantly, they don’t operate in the same way. As I have insisted, the former is immersive, while the latter institutes a symbolic distance vis‐à‐vis its object. To make a long story short, on my reading, the reason why, in Horkheimer and Adorno’s view, it is possible for the subject to engage in renunciation without sacrificing its conceptually worked out self‐understanding is because the sacrifice unfolds at the underlying, immersive, and conceptually never‐quite‐explicit, level of the mimetic modeling of the self. Since mimetic modeling is, once more, immersive and not symbolic, the resulting model never challenges the symbolic, or conceptual, articulation of selfhood. The real cunning, perhaps, is this: the self preserves the integrity of its identity as a rational self by relying, for its very self‐constitution, on a mimetic type of modeling that, as a rational self that understands itself exclusively as such, it for the most part remains oblivious to and that it otherwise never needs to acknowledge as such. This explains how, in their view, the self can constantly reassert its dependency on the context of the natural while overtly denying any significant tie to it. Horkheimer and Adorno’s insistence that we should strive to become mindful of nature in the subject isn’t some clever way of reintroducing a metaphysical view of human nature. It is in fact nothing else than their way of promoting a greater self‐awareness of how our very constitution as rational selves invariably ties us to the nature we strive, with such energy, ingenuity, and fervor, to bring under our control. Now the stress on the negative (our blindness) isn’t meant to fill us with despair. It might instead be best understood as their forceful and rhetorically‐loaded way of making us aware of the blind spots that distort our self‐understanding. It might also lead us to not settle so easily for the promise of an ever‐deferred satisfaction, however great the promise might seem, and to start actively and consciously looking for ways of reaching real and sustainable forms of satisfaction – in this world. So while it is difficult to deny that Horkheimer and Adorno’s book invites the kinds of concern that I have outlined at the beginning, it should be clear that, on my reading, these concerns, at least as I have outlined them, prove, for the most part, ill‐founded.

References Adorno, T.W. (1986). Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 3 (ed. R. Tiedemann), with the collaboration of Gretel Adorno, Susan Buck‐Morss and Klaus Schultz. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp. Adorno, T.W. and Gehlen, A. (1974). Ist die Soziologie eine Wissenschaft vom Menschen? Ein Streitgespräch. In: Adornos Philosophie in Grundbegriffen: Auflösung einiger Deutungsprobleme (ed. F. Grenz)), 225–261. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp. Auerbach, E. (2013). Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, New and Expanded Edition (trans. Willard R. Trask). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Bellah, R. (2011). Religion in Human Evolution: From the Neolithic to the Axial Age. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Benjamin, W. (1999). The Arcades Project (trans. H. Eiland and K. McLaughlin). Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press. Brunkhorst, H. (2000). The enlightenment of rationality: remarks on Horkheimer and Adorno’s dialectic of enlightenment. Constellations 7 (1): 133–139.

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Donald, M. (1991). Origins of the Modern Mind: Three Stages in the Evolution of Culture and Cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Donald, M. (2001). A Mind So Rare: The Evolution of Consciousness. New York: W. W. Norton. Freud, S. (2010). Civilization and Its Discontents (trans. J. Strachey). New York: W.W. Norton & Cie. Habermas, J. (1982). The entwinement of myth and enlightenment: Re‐reading dialectic of enlightenment. New German Critique (26): 13–30. Habermas, J. (1984). Theory of Communicative Action, Vol. 1: The Critique of Instrumental Reason (trans. T. McCarthy). Boston: Beacon Press. Homer (1967). The Odyssey of Homer (trans. R. Lattimore). New York: Harper & Row. Horkheimer, M. (1988). Gesammelte Schriften, Vol. 12: Nachgelassene Schriften: 1931–1949 (ed. A. Schmidt). Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp. Horkheimer, M. and Adorno, T.W. (2002). Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments (trans. E. Jephcott). Stanford: Stanford University Press. Kant, I. (2006). Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View (trans. R.B. Louden). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Noppen, P.‐F. (2017a). Adorno on mimetic rationality: three puzzles. Adorno Studies 1 (1): 79–100. Noppen, P.‐F. (2017b). L’idée d’une rationalité mimétique. L’argument de dialectique de la raison. In: Dialectique de la raison: sous bénéfice d’inventaire (ed. K. Genel), 227–248. Paris: Éditions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme. Raulet, G. (2017). Ulysse, victime ou prêtre? La part de duperie inhérente au sacrifice. In: Dialectique de la raison: sous bénéfice d’inventaire (ed. K. Genel), 153–170. Paris: Éditions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme. Schaeffer, J.‐M. (2010). Why Fiction? (trans. D. Cohn). Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

Further Reading Bernstein, J. (2001). Adorno: Disenchantment and Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Freyenhagen, F. (2013). Living Less Wrongly: Adorno’s Practical Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hulatt, O. (2016). Reason, mimesis, and self‐preservation in Adorno. The Journal of the History of Philosophy 54 (1): 135–151. Shuster, M. (2014). Autonomy After Auschwitz: Adorno, German Idealism, and Modernity. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

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14 Adorno’s Reception of Weber and Lukács MICHAEL J. THOMPSON

1. Introduction One of the most distinctive problems to be investigated by the Frankfurt School was the way that modern forms of reason and rationality had been transformed into vehicles for a highly efficient and totalizing form of social domination. What they saw as particularly important was the different ways that modern rationality was braided with new institutional forms of life that had come to pervade mass society. Capitalism was shifting from a social form that emphasized a crude, nineteenth‐century form of industrial production to one of relative affluence based on mass consumption. Even more, as bureaucratic forms of control and efficiency began to spread, so too did the consciousness of subjects begin to reify and new forms of detachment from ethical agency rooted in the eighteenth‐century model of rational self‐reflection and autonomy were taking root. There is perhaps little question that today we can only see this problem increasing in its effects and consequences. The extent to which mass, consumer society is capable of inflicting a moral atrophy on its members is stunning. The collapse of critical autonomy as a fulcrum for critical democratic politics is a central pathology of such societies, and because of this, Adorno’s diagnosis of this problem remains salient for us as well. For Adorno, the task of addressing this problem of the total reification of self and society would be one of the most persistent themes in his development as a critical theorist. Perhaps one of the richest strains of Adorno’s thought concerns the relationship between rationality, consciousness, and power. He reworked in creative and important ways the problematic of rationalization and social power that was laid out by Max Weber and Georg Lukács, both of whom were deeply influential on him in his youth. He advanced the thesis that the only real way to escape the iron cage of modernity and the reificatory powers of capitalism is through a new style of cognition that will be able to resist the pressures and absorption of the individual and consciousness into the false forms of thought and reality that capitalism exudes. I think what makes Adorno’s ideas distinctive can be explained by  the way that he reworks the powerful theoretical ideas of both Weber and Lukács  – ­specifically their theories of the rationalization of society and the ways that this shapes and

A Companion to Adorno, First Edition. Edited by Peter E. Gordon, Espen Hammer, and Max Pensky. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2020 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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affects individual consciousness. Adorno’s solution to this problem is unique, even as it operates within the Hegelian–Marxist framework that makes Critical Theory distinctive. What I would like to do in this essay is trace Adorno’s reception of these ideas about modern rationality as they were impressed on him by the work of Weber and Lukács. Adorno develops his own distinctive understanding of western rationalism and reification – the two core ideas that those two thinkers developed respectively. But in so doing, he also shaped a diagnostic theory about the nature of late capitalist society as well as the kinds of resistance that were necessary to contest it. The thesis I will present here is that Adorno is able to provide a sophisticated diagnosis of the effects of administrative, consumer capitalism on the practical rationality of modern subjects. Adorno is right to point to the ways that capitalist modernity fragments, alienates, and reifies modern subjectivity and co‐opts agency for broader systemic imperatives. But even though this is the case, his own solution lies in a new theory of critical subjectivity that undermines the social and praxiological dimensions of political action and reflection. Adorno’s latent Kantianism ends up returning to structure his ideas despite his deep commitment to Hegelianism. In the end, although Adorno’s ideas are deeply informed by the problematic of subjective practical agency that Weber and Lukács saw as definitive of the modern age, his response is closer to Weber than Lukács.

2.  Weber and Lukács on Instrumental Rationality and Reification Both Weber and Lukács share a sense that modern rationality has deformative effects on the personality of subjects as well as their capacities for moral reflection and agency. For Weber, modernity contained within it the potential for the emergence of an authentic kind of modernity where each individual would be able to articulate their own sense of meaning. In this sense, the self‐reliant ethical personality (Persönlichkeit) was “an individual who acted on purely individual values transcending sensuous existence” (Liebersohn 1988, 79). This was occurring within the context of a distinctive shift in western rationalism that Weber saw as effecting change in three different spheres of rationality. First was the emergence of “formal rationality,” which was a move away from substantive communal values and toward a system of rules and law that was impersonal. Law, economy, and state now operated under conditions that that were based on universally applicable rules, irrespective of the person concerned. Next was “practical rationality” where individuals now bring to bear forms of means‐ends rationality to solve the problems they face in the modern world. Last is “theoretical rationality” based on a move in modern science toward rigorous experiment, the search for explanatory mechanisms, and an exclusive focus on empirical reality for evidence. All three of these ideal types of modern western rationalism identify a shift away from substantive values and toward a more formalized conception of reason. Modernity was therefore also evincing a series of developmental trends toward a new form of social cohesion that was based on an increasingly rationalized form of power and legitimacy. Modern forms of power were no longer based on force or coercion (Macht) but on the premise of legal‐rational forms of authority or domination (Herrschaft) where members of a “structure of domination” or legal order see its validity as a means to fostering expedient means to achieve some end. Hence, we see the emergence of what critical theorists would term instrumental rationality (instrumentelle Vernunft), or what Weber called “goal‐oriented rationality” (Zweckrationalität), where attempts by individuals to utilize their own forms of 222

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rational reflection that do not incorporate the system of legal‐rational rules become ­marginalized. As Darrow Schecter has argued, Weber “suggests that the rationalization process in the West culminates in strategically rational religion, contractually rational exchange and hierarchically rational command. It is a form of rationalization that manages to decouple reason from critique to such an extent that the ideal of substantively rational legitimacy becomes increasingly chimerical” (Schecter 2010, 31). Modern forms of law therefore constitute a nexus of rules and regulations that are abstract and established intentionally by persons (cf. Weber 1972a [1922], 122ff). But this system of abstract rules is in tension with the individual’s search for substantive values that can ground their autonomy as the system becomes increasingly permeated by strategic rationality (see Schluchter 1981, 107ff). An “iron cage” of modern society begins to emerge when, although liberated from the traditional forms of belief, morality, and political domination, individuals are thrown into a heteronomous sphere of action and rules toward which rational obedience is expected and is in many ways internalized as legitimate in nature. Weber’s view is ultimately tragic in that his own ethical aspirations for an authentic modernity wither as the narrowing of the individual’s powers of practical reason and a new form of conformism – of what he refers to as “stereotyping” – sets in. As a result, the scope of the subject’s powers to shape its own life diminishes as the social nexus of formal rules and norms increases in its formal‐rational powers (cf. Weber 1972a [1922], 439ff). Weber’s tragic vision of the “iron cage” of modernity is itself reflected in the concern that critical theorists had in the problem of the “administered world” of modern capitalism (see Greisman and Ritzer 1981 as well as Mitzman 1984). The young Lukács was also deeply impacted by this tragic vision of modernity. As a student of both Weber and Georg Simmel, his youthful writings are replete with a tragic vision of modern culture where the individual confronts a world that has lost cohesive forms of meaning and purpose. After his turn to Marxism, Lukács takes the problem of instrumental reason and the deformation of individual consciousness to a different level in his theory of reification. Weber had recognized the problem of the spread of formal rationality throughout modern society and its negative effects on the individual’s practical reason. Simmel, too, had seen the impact of the separation between what he termed “subjective” and “objective” culture. Where the former represented the capacities and products that any given individual possessed or could cultivate, the latter concept referred to the shared communal products of the society as a whole. As societies modernized, however, objective culture begins to expand and to overwhelm the individual. Objective culture now begins to grow at the expense of subjective culture and the result is a kind of alienation of the modern self from its own powers. Lukács’ thesis is that the commodity form under capitalism needs to be seen as the central concept that both Weber and Simmel had missed. For Lukács, the commodity form begins to shape the consciousness of individuals and they begin to take on thing‐like characteristics. This he derives from Marx’s theory of the commodity form and its capacity to impinge its logic onto human activities. For Marx, the commodity form under capitalism hides from consciousness the practical activities and relations that constitute it from consciousness. Lukács took from Weber, even after his turn to Marxism, the idea that a formal rationality was being imposed on subjects (see Dannemann 1987, 83ff). But he sees it historically as the product of a totalizing system of commodity production and consumption, as situated by the logic of the productive forces of capitalist society. The problem that reification diagnoses is a defective form of consciousness and cognition that is unable to reconcile subject and object. It is a mode of consciousness that is blocked from conceiving the 223

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true nature of the social world: one where collective human praxis (labor) is the fundamentally constitutive process of all social life. Reification hides this from view by saturating consciousness with the fetish character of the commodity form. We see the social world in immediate terms – in terms based on means‐ends rationality rather than in terms of the totality. Reification renders the object of consciousness as a mere “thing” (Ding), which in Kantian terms implies that consciousness is no longer able to render it as a proper object of cognition. Instrumental reason, quantification of the lifeworld through regimentation of time structured by the work day, and the fetish character of the world of commodity production all have the collective impact of reifying consciousness and undermining the potential for radical political agency. Unlike Weber and Simmel, however, the Lukács of (1923) argues that the problem of reification can be overcome. Indeed, for Lukács, the central problem for Weber and Simmel, what disabled them from being able to solve the problem of the tragic vision of modernity, was that they were unable to locate an agent of transformation. For Lukács, this falls to the proletariat: that force within modern society that remains the creative, reproductive energy that creates and maintains the modern world. Once workers were able to grasp their historical role in consciousness, then they would see themselves as the “subject‐object of history”; they would, in short, come to see themselves as the active agents of society and of history and leave behind their defective view of themselves as mere aspects of the system of the capitalist production process. The social whole would thereby be un‐inverted, and a new sociality established. Reification therefore undermines the capacity of participants within the capitalist system to know the system of which they are constitutive ­members. Reification was therefore a product of the kind of formal rationality that was impressed on subjective consciousness, but a formal rationality that was embedded in the nature of commodity production. The quantification of time, the rational mechanization, the isolation of workers from their product, and so on, all entail a reflex in consciousness that turns our self‐understanding from being active, cooperative social beings, to atomized, reified beings: “This atomization of the individual is therefore only the reflex of ­consciousness of this: that the ‘natural laws’ of capitalist production have been extended to cover every manifestation of life in society” (Lukács 1923, 103). Reification therefore emerges, for Lukács, as a critical category insofar as it “becomes the basis for a critique of capitalist rationality as a worldview and a system logic threatened by its inability to grasp the material substratum of its own formalistic categories and institutional structures” (Feenberg 2014, 69). The formal rationality of Weber is now turned into the “rational objectification” (rationell Objektivierung) of all things. The commodity form therefore hides the use‐value of things beneath the cover of exchange‐value  – ­commodities therefore acquire a “new objectivity” (cf. Lukács 1923, 104ff). Lukács’ thesis is therefore that the commodity form not only hides its practical constitution from view, it also generates false categories for the apprehension of society and social phenomena as a whole. In this sense, the radicalness of his thesis of reification is that it shows itself to be the result of a conceptual scheme that is generated by the commodity form and its power to subjugate use‐values by exchange‐values and thereby push the cognition of subjects from a dialectical to an analytical mode of thought and consciousness. Capitalism therefore generates categories that allow it to persist as an objective entity or “thing” that operates external to its participants. In many ways, Adorno’s most provocative ideas really stem from a reaction to both of these ideas by Weber and Lukács. From Weber, he holds to the thesis of rationalization of society and the permeation of all domains of life by a means‐ends rationality. From Lukács, 224

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he takes the thesis of reification seriously, but departs significantly from Lukács’ own argument by seeing the process of reification as too totalizing to allow for a collective subject to emerge to overcome capitalism (cf. Dahms 1997). For Adorno, the process of reification is far too extensive and far too embracing to be overcome through an “expressive totality.” A new, more pernicious theory about the totality now emerges as one that is an almost total process. The only way out will become a reconstruction of critical subjectivity, and this will require a critical rethinking of the properties and powers of reason itself.

3.  Adorno’s Critique of the Enlightenment As I have said, many of Adorno’s critical ideas about modernity and the regress of modern culture develop within the context of the theories put forward by Weber and Lukács. He sees as one of the great pathologies of the modern age the dilemma of the individual. Adorno shares a similar concern with the problem of instrumental reason with Weber and Lukács, but his differences with both thinkers makes his own ideas distinct. For Adorno, the problem with modern forms of rationality was their embeddedness in the social formation of capitalism, which consists of the emergence of false forms of life generated by the production of exchange‐value. This is an important point since, for Adorno, the origins of his critique of Enlightenment reason should be read in the context of his reading of Marx’s critical theory of society more generally and his theory of value more specifically. Marx’s theory of value holds that under capitalism, the use‐values of objects take on a new form, that of exchange‐value generated by the logic of market exchange. As capitalism as a mode of production widens its influence, people come to see the world around them constituted by exchange‐values, by the quantified values that market exchanges place on them rather than their use for human life. In this sense, Adorno sees a crucial overlap between Weber’s thesis about the rationalization of society, on the one hand, and the spread of exchange‐value on the other. Both are two faces of the self‐same process of Enlightenment rationalization. Adorno and Horkheimer therefore seek, as Weber had before them, an enlightened, rational confrontation with this kind of modernity. But what they insightfully point to – and what Adorno will continue to develop as one of his core critiques of modernity – is the way that modern reason has taken the form of a technical, instrumental kind of rationality. What the Enlightenment sought and was successful in providing was a form of knowledge where “technology” (Technik) is central. This has roots in Adorno’s own reading of Weberian and Marxian ideas. From Weber the idea of a formal rationality that emphasized goal‐oriented activity or goal‐oriented rationality (Zweckrationalität) is turned into a more insidious form of social rationality that serves increasingly as the basis of all other forms of social rationality. One reason for this is the spread of technology, but also the displacement of use‐value by that of exchange‐value and its capacity to radiate a “means‐ ends rationality” (Zweck‐Mittel‐Denken) that permeates all aspects of society, culture, and the self. From Marx’s distinction between use‐value and exchange‐value Adorno and Horkheimer take up the thesis that all forms of value – not only economic, but aesthetic, moral, and so on – embody the logic of exchange‐value. The idea here is that all that was once substantive, qualitative, different, and human is becoming formal, quantitative, standardized, and inhumane. Enlightenment reason was responsible for a shift in reason itself, and the standardization of instrumental reason (instrumentelle Vernunft) enables a new form of administrative society where power over nature and objects is equally power over 225

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people. In this sense, “technology is equally available, useful, and manipulable by businessmen and politicians, by all those in positions of power” (Kracauer 1998, 21 and passim). In this sense, Adorno and Horkheimer are extending the ideas of Weber into a much broader domain than Marx or Lukács. They posit that this form of rationality is such that it is not only formal and not only used for the purposes of economic exploitation. It is a form of rationality that penetrates all forms of life, that reorders the social totality into a totally administered world. They do not therefore cynically fold enlightened reason into instrumental reason, as Jürgen Habermas has suggested (Habermas 1987). Rather, the project now becomes, for Adorno particularly, to chart a form of critical consciousness that will negate the formal rationality of this world. A form of critical reason that will enable the subject to dissolve the universalizing rationality of technical reason is now the aim of critical subjectivity. An emphasis on the qualitative over the quantitative; of the dissonant over the harmonious; of what is different as opposed to that which conforms – all of this will now become the field for Adorno’s critical theory. This attempt to construct a theory of subjectivity that will be resistant to the totalizing forces of the administered society represents a different response than Lukács insofar as it is circumscribed by subjectivity itself. For Adorno, there is no praxiological way out of this dilemma, what must serve as the prius to any such political consideration is the formulation of a resistant subjectivity that can stave off the condition of total reification.

4.  Consciousness and Reification: The Negative Dialectic Dialectic of Enlightenment is a dramatic expression of a more totalizing, administered form of society, culture, and consciousness that Adorno would seek to confront both in terms of a negative form of cognition as well as a new theory of aesthetics and aesthetic experience. Adorno seems to have had a penchant for Kant and his emphasis on the subject’s capacity to critique and in many ways, to resist metaphysical ideas. Kant’s project was, in large part, a critical response to the weighty tradition of western metaphysics and its attempts to serve as a foundation for knowledge. Kant’s essential move toward epistemic concerns and the nature of subjectivity serves as a kind of distant mirror for Adorno’s twentieth‐century philosophical project. As Hauke Brunkhorst points out: “Adorno’s step away from Hegel’s speculative understanding of dialectics is a step back to Kant; just a step, not a return to some sort of neo‐Kantianism” (Brunkhorst 1999, 23). Essentially, Adorno is convinced that reification has penetrated so deeply into the structures of capitalist society that the culture and the framework for modern forms of agency have been corrupted. The fear now is not a theory of reification as Lukács had theorized. Whereas for Lukács reification was a kind of blockage that could be removed by an actual historical agent (the proletariat) once the subject and object of class struggle had been reconciled, Adorno’s view of reification is much more extensive and totalizing. For him, reification is not something we can overcome via proletarian agency, but had to be combated from within – from within the consciousness and cognition of the subject itself. Indeed, the basic idea that Adorno shares with Weber is this antithesis between the modern subject and the “administered world” of late capitalism. Whereas Weber saw the problem of an “iron cage” and a withering of the individual, Adorno, too, sees that the administered world absorbs the subject into its conceptual schemes, thereby colonizing critical reflection and reason. This begins with the impact that administered forms of 226

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r­ ationalism have had on consciousness. The central principle here seems to be Kantian rather than Hegelian: that a kind of heteronomous relation exists between the administered world and subjective consciousness. This cannot be overcome through a reconciliation of subject and object, but rather can only be combated by a new way of relating subject and object. Since the subject is so deeply socialized by the formal rationality of the administered world, any attempt to cognize that world by using the conceptual schemes of that world will necessarily lead us to reaffirm it rather than critique it. For Adorno, reification is more total than it is for Lukács – it is perhaps as total as formal rationality was for Weber. Adorno sticks to a Marxian understanding of this totalization as the all-encompassing force of exchange and the commodity form. This has the effect, in modern society, of serving as the foundation for our self‐ and other‐conceptions. It has the power to constitute the very form and content of all thought as he argues in his essay “On Subject and Object”: “Since the prevailing structure of society is the exchange‐form, its rationality constitutes people; what they are for themselves, what they seem to be to themselves, is secondary. They are transformed by a mechanism that has been philosophically transformed as transcendental” (Adorno 1997a, 745). Here Adorno brings his concern with the dominance of formal rationality and its capacity to conform consciousness to its own logic to the front of his concern. The philosophical dilemma is that – as Lukács had pointed out in the second section of his essay on reification – the very categories generated by bourgeois philosophy are the categories that merely reflect back to consciousness the logic of the prevailing reality. Consciousness is therefore reified in Adorno’s sense once the system of the administered world has been able to restructure itself as the categorial reflex of consciousness. Hence, as Gillian Rose has observed: “To say that consciousness is ‘completely reified’ is to say that it is capable only of knowing the appearance of society, of describing institutions and behavior as if their current mode of functioning were an inherent and invariant characteristic or property, as if they, as objects, ‘fulfill their concepts’” (Rose 1978, 48). Indeed, Adorno makes this clear in Prisms when he writes: “Absolute reification which presupposed intellectual progress as one of its elements, is now preparing to absorb the mind entirely. Critical intelligence cannot be equal to this challenge as long as it confines itself to self‐satisfied contemplation” (Adorno 1997b, 30). What is crucial here is that we see Adorno moving beyond Weber and Lukács even as he is using their root ideas. What now becomes the central project is the rejection of the “false totality” that is increasingly consuming the subject and its powers of resistance. Hegel’s thesis about the dialectic of universal and particular now needs to be rethought. This is because the totality of a modernity shaped by instrumental reason and exchange relations is decidedly irrational, repressive and “evil” and, as a result Hegel’s philosophy of the universal cannot work in such a context. As Adorno insightfully quips in his Three Studies on Hegel: “Totality becomes radical evil in the total society” (Adorno 1971, 303). Adorno therefore seeks to outline a new role for dialectics. At the core of this argument is the thesis that the relation between subject and object must be recast as one where the subject resists cognition from being absorbed by its reconciliation with the object. For Hegel, this was the final phase of his basic theory of cognition. Dialectical thinking, for Hegel, was supposed to end up with the “negation of the negation,” of the realization on behalf of consciousness that what was true and rational was system, process. This was the speculative dimension of the concept where thought would be able to participate in the rational structure that was constitutive of reality. But Adorno’s thesis is that the social totality, the totality of the administered world, is a false truth that poses as truth as well as 227

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generates its own categories for its own justification. The key problem here is more social‐ theoretical than philosophical. In fact philosophy – as it has come down to us at least – is unable to take into consideration this false totality; it even has the penchant toward giving itself over to this false totality: “Philosophy retains so much respect for systems that even that which confronts it does so as a system. The administered world moves in this way. System is negative objectivity, not the positive subject” (Adorno 1966, 29). Rather than allow cognition to move to its speculative phase, pace Hegel, and thereby become folded into the false universal of the instrumentalized world, consciousness must stay suspended in the negative and resist the temptation toward reconciling thought with reality or the identity of the concept with the object. To think in terms of negation entails that we resist the totalizing forces that the administered, instrumentally rational world impinges on us and our thinking. Philosophy is not immune to such forces: “In its inalienably general elements all philosophy carries, even that which intends freedom, the unfreedom in which society sustains itself ” (Adorno 1966, 54). Again, it is important to keep in mind that Adorno’s thesis is just as much sociological as it is philosophical: he is arguing, as Lukács had before him, that the conceptual schemes that we use are themselves produced by the social system itself. Hence, Adorno urges, at the beginning of his Negative Dialectics, for us to see through the falseness of the social reality present to us: “The power of the existing reality erects façades off of which consciousness bounces. It must strive to beat its way through them. This alone would liberate the postulate of depth from ideology” (Adorno 1966, 27). But what would this look like, this kind of thinking that would enable us to crack through the edifice or façade of total reification? Adorno proposes that negative dialectics will allow us to free concepts from the reified manifold of the administered totality. This must be done not via a retreat into metaphysics, but a synthesis of metaphysics and materialism (cf. Bozzetti 2002; Bronner 1994). What is required is a confrontation with the object‐domain that can grant us some metaphysical experience of that domain that is not already determined by the prevailing conceptual manifold of a defective social totality. What is required is immanent critique. We can overcome the totality of reification only by asking how the relation between particular and universal do not fit together, how neither does justice to the other. To resist identity‐thinking is therefore the key. This means exploding the quantifying tendency of formal rationality that has the capacity to cover all particulars with a false universal: “The opposition of thought to what is heterogeneous reproduces itself in thought as its immanent contradiction. Reciprocal critique of universal and particular, identifying acts, judging them as to whether the concept does justice to what it deals with, and whether the particular fulfills its concept, are the media of thinking about the non‐identity of particular and concept” (Adorno 1966, 147). What needs to be looked for is not an attack on reason, but rather a conception of rationality that brings into view what the quantifying force of scientific reason has hidden. The qualitative therefore emerges as a layer of our concepts that needs to be retrieved. As he argues in Negative Dialectics: “To give oneself over to the object (Objekt) means to do justice to its qualitative moments. Scientific objectification tends, at one with the quantifying ­tendency of all science since Descartes, to negate qualities and to transform them into measureable determinations” (Adorno 1966, 51). The qualitative, which has been robbed from the world by formal rationality and become reified, can only be emancipated from those reifying powers by retrieving those aspects of the object that escape the formal ­universalizing of the socially‐generated concept. But this does not mean doing away with concepts, it means to do away with the kind of concepts that are embedded in the formal 228

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rationality that pervades the administered world. Since this world also administers to us the conceptual manifold within which we experience and “cognize” objects, it essentially fools us into thinking that what is particular is universal. Hence, the concepts we use are really not rational in the proper sense, they instead express and justify the particular interests of those in power, those that regulate and administer the world (cf. Cook 2007, 163ff). Now Adorno’s project for a negative dialectics can be seen as an original solution to the problems posed by Weber and Lukács. For now, Adorno proposes a dual solution both to Weber’s dilemma of the loss of Persönlichkeit, or the possibility for autonomy within the “iron cage” of modernity as well as an alternative to Lukács’ thesis of the expressive totality of the collective agency of the proletariat. A new, critical form of agency is therefore retrieved to satisfy the Weberian challenge, and reification can be countered without the need for a collective subject. Adorno’s solution is therefore to employ the negative dialectic to negate the capacity of formalized concepts to cover what should otherwise be seen correctly as a world of difference, quality, and use‐value, a world that is essentially human, produced and valued by us. “Adornian critical theory,” writes Espen Hammer, “seeks to criticize claims to immediacy or objectivity that in effect screen their actual social and historical mediation” (Hammer 2006, 36). The negative dialectic poses for us the capacity to peer into the intrinsic potential within objects that is ignored or concealed from view by the prevailing conceptual field. Reified objects can disclose their potential for us once we adopt “an orientation towards the unrealized, emphatic possibilities that inhere in damaged life” (Cook 2007, 171). The negative is therefore related to the potential for emancipation. Hegel is seen as the thinker who begins philosophy’s capacity to turn against the bias of the Enlightenment, but not as an anti‐Enlightenment thinker, but rather as professing a form of reason that is critical of reason’s own cooptation by formal, quantifying, dominating reason. With Hegel, Adorno argues: philosophy turns with its whole armature of self‐reflection on the theory of science, to the task of giving cogent expression to something that is perceived as central in reality but slips through the meshes of the individual disciplines …[R]ather than restrict himself to a propaedeutic examination of the possibilities of epistemology, he led philosophy to essential insights through critical self‐reflection of critical‐Enlightenment philosophy and the scientific method. Trained in science and using its methods, Hegel went beyond the limits of a science that merely discovered an arranged data, a science that aimed at the processing of materials, the kind of science that predominated before Hegel and then again after him, when thought lost the inordinate span of its self‐reflection. His philosophy is at the same time a philosophy of reason and an antipositivist philosophy. (Adorno 1971, 305)

Adorno now shows that he is not railing against reason per se, but rather the form of reason that Weber had feared was conquering western thought: formal, instrumental rationality. Critical reason now must engender the ability to undermine the conceptual manifold generated by the false totality, that is, by the administered world that reifies the subject and the concepts used by that subject to move through the world. Cognition must be empowered by the dialectic, but not to undermine reason itself. The true aim is to enable a critical reason that can erode the powers of the false forms of reason that allows for the domination of man and of nature. In this sense Adorno’s differences with Weber and Lukács seem to fade for a moment, and he is in line with a general project to ward off the defective forms of rationality that sanction social domination. 229

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5.  Aesthetic Experience as Subjective Force‐Field The negative dialectic is therefore one means by which a critical form of subjectivity can be cultivated and maintained. The danger, again, was that the totalizing forces of modernity would be able to absorb and control the individual; that reification would become total and suppress any capacity for emancipation. But a critical subjectivity can be shaped that is oriented against this administered world. Adorno employs the concept of the “force‐field” (Kraftfeld) in order to express this idea where the formalism of the quantified ratio is resisted from absorbing consciousness and its experience of the object‐domain. In critical cognition, by following the negative dialectic, one would be able to critique and resist the tendency of being reconciled to the formal rationality of the administered world (Tar 1977, 153ff). But Adorno also argues that aesthetic experience is one place where the relation of the concept, of the universal to the particular, that is to be staved off in negative dialectical thinking can be maintained: If anywhere Hegel’s theory of the movement of the concept is correct, it is in aesthetics; it has to do with the reciprocal relation of universal and particular, which does not impute the universal to the particular externally but seeks it in the force fields (Kraftzentren) of the particular itself. (Adorno 1972, 521)

Adorno, not unlike Weber and Lukács as well, saw aesthetic experience as one of the core means by which the rationalizing pressures of modernity could be resisted. Adorno is much more in agreement with Weber’s views on aesthetics, however, than those of Lukács. Where Lukács saw realism as the antidote to reification through its capacity to allow the subject to perceive the mechanisms of capitalist exploitation, thereby shattering the illusions of bourgeois culture (cf. Thompson 2014), Adorno saw aesthetic experience as an expression of the spontaneous subject. “Indifference to shaping one’s life aesthetically,” Gerhard Schweppenhäuser writes, “indicates only an inability to grasp things with libidinal spontaneity” (Schweppenhäuser 2009, 69). This shares more with the concerns of Weber than those of Lukács. For Lukács, the aesthetic of realism was to serve as a means by which a political aesthetics could inform social cognition about the mechanisms behind the reified world of capitalist social forms. The thesis was that nonrealist art would only push aesthetic experience away from where the subject’s attention ought to be focused: on the social forms that hide from view the causes and processes of reified life. Weber, on the other hand, saw the power of aesthetic experience as having the capacity to link with the ecstatic feelings of love, of eros, which could thereby serve to undermine the preponderance of formal rationality. What Weber calls the “dullness of routine” (Stumpfheit des Alltags) that emerges from the rationalized society could be combated with the power of the erotic and its irrational and ecstatic tendencies (Weber 1972b [1920], 536ff). This implies a correlative argument to what Adorno would later come to see as the standardization of the experience of the administered world. What Weber and Adorno have in common here is a belief in the capacity of aesthetic experience to undermine the cohesiveness of exchange relations and to put the subject back into connection with aspects of his nature that have been repressed (cf. Müller‐Jentsch 2017). But even more, for Adorno it must serve a function that is more Marxian: it must reveal the social processes that generate art’s experience; it must, in other words, possess “social content” and undermine the fetish character of a commodified world that conceals its human content (Hohendahl 1995, 149ff). Both Weber and Adorno saw that the production of artworks 230

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was becoming increasingly shaped by the impulse of rationalization, particularly in musical production (Paddison 1993, 135ff). Hence Adorno’s insistence that the culture industry can steal from us one of the last vestiges of the capacity of art to mediate the social world since it replaces true art’s function of mediation with an immediate experience of the standardized and commodified world. Hence Adorno’s insistence on his critique of jazz, which he sees as a highly standardized form of musical production masking as spontaneous expression (Thompson 2010). What ultimately matters here is that, in the end, Adorno sees art as possessing a cognitive function: its capacity to mediate reality is contained in its formal structure, and this formal structure determines its status as either critical or affirmative of the prevailing social reality. True art, good art, has, as Kurt Lenk has argued, a “capacity to generate experiences not yet regulated by the system of the administered world and to give them language. Art’s task, as it were, is to rescue once again what is totally lacking in the standardizing, conceptually fixed social thinking that endlessly reproduces things as they are” (Lenk 1978, 64). But what is lost here is a link between the aesthetic and the practical. Indeed, Adorno’s Hegelianism notwithstanding, there is a strong Kantian remnant in his thinking and orientation. Lukács’ insistence on an aesthetic of realism was never meant as an advocacy of some crude socialist realism, despite Adorno’s own criticism to that effect (Adorno 1997c). Rather, it was meant to highlight a political‐educative function of art. Lukács’ difference with Adorno is a crucial one since it brings to the fore the question of the purpose of Critical Theory more generally. Lukács argues that the purpose of art is to serve a moral‐ and politically‐educative function by showing how the mechanisms of society function. The more realist a work of art is, the more it is able to possess a cognitive function in terms of its capacity to elucidate for the subject a rational comprehension of the forces operating behind the reified world of appearance. Realism achieves this aim because of its ability to force the subject out of its own experience, which has been racked by reification, and into an objective domain where judgment can be presented. This is because Lukács’ theory of reification possesses within it the possibility for a situated form of knowledge to shatter it given its latent phenomenological dimensions (cf. Westerman 2010). For Lukács this is a form of judgment that is ultimately political in that it constantly seeks to bring us to some political consciousness, some form of cognitive awareness that can generate political agency (Thompson 2014). Since Adorno, as we have seen, believes that the problem of reification is more generalized that Lukács does, he insists that it is only aesthetics that can highlight the purposelessness of art that a critical subjectivity can be shaped and sustained. The more it can shatter the means‐ends form of rationality – the very substance of reification itself – the more it will be able to provide “truth‐content” (Warheitsgehalt) that is socially relevant. Beauty is now seen as the ability of the artwork to counter the world of function: “Beauty is the exodus of what has objectified itself in the instrumentalized world (Reich der Zwecke) … Speaking dialectically, the purposefulness of artworks is a critique of the practical positing of ends” (Adorno 1972, 428). It holds out for us not an anticipatory experience that prefigures a free world, as it does for Ernst Bloch, but rather an exercise of that capacity that stands outside the exchange‐form as well as instrumentality: “Artworks are the placeholders of things no longer disfigured by the barter process, of that which is not injured by the profit motive and the false needs of a devalued humanity” (Adorno 1972, 338). But the artwork retains its political potential only if it is able to organize its content in a form that is able to withstand and especially transgress formalism and instrumentality: “An emancipated society would be beyond the irrationality of its faux frais and beyond the 231

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means‐ends rationality of usefulness. That is encoded in art and is its social warhead” (Adorno 1972, 338). Hence, the question raised in Negative Dialectics as to whether an experience outside of instrumental rationality is still possible is given its definitive answer in Adorno’s aesthetics (cf. Bronner 1994, 180ff).

6.  The Transformation of Critique But is the answer at which Adorno arrives a sufficient one? The relevant question that must now be posed is how successful Adorno’s critical project actually has been or can be to reconstitute a critical‐political subjectivity. There is little doubt that Adorno’s ideas possess deep power in cognitive and aesthetic terms. But the fear remains, when we step back just for a moment, that we may be recreating the very kind of solipsism that Weber feared and that Lukács so passionately resisted. In many ways, Martin Jay’s summary view of Adorno’s mature philosophical position is a good starting point: “Because Adorno so fundamentally opposed the apotheosis of labor and so persistently questioned a hypostatized collective subjectivity, his notorious inability to find a real link between theory and practice must be understood as more than merely a reflection of historical failures; it was, rather, built into his negative dialectics at its most fundamental level” (Jay 1984, 271). I think this indicates a real problem for Adorno’s transformation of critique since it provides us with a path to a contemplative rather than praxis‐oriented critical theory. In short, I want to suggest that Adorno’s philosophical project can be made salient only if it is in fact merged with what he opposed: with the kind of practical‐ontological dialectic that Lukács espoused. Adorno’s contribution toward a theory of critical subjectivity is powerful insofar as we consider it from a contemplative point of view. That is to say, his theory lacks a core feature that Lukács is able to retain: namely that the overcoming of reification is not merely cognitive, but is embedded in practices themselves. The theory of reification and the solution that Lukács gives in 1923 is not the same theory he holds to in his later work. Indeed, he says this explicitly in his 1967 preface. But what is shared by the young and old Lukács alike is that the status of the object‐domain is a function of human praxis. That is to say, it is not only a cognitive constitution of the object that is at issue, but a social‐ontological constitution of the object‐domain that requires our attention. Adorno’s limit here, as I see it, is his collapse into a cognitive and aesthetic solipsism, one where one may indeed rage against the reified world, but without a reach mechanism for social transformation. Only by merging Adorno’s and Lukács ideas about “beating through” the horizon of reification can we glimpse a more praxis‐oriented form of critique. What Lukács offers in his social‐ontological thesis  –  one that is inherent even in 1923 – is the Hegelian–Marxist idea that idealism and materialism must be sublated into a critical social‐ontology. But from Adorno, we must also take the thesis that the aesthetic contemplation of objects as well as an immanent critique of the object‐domain that seeks metaphysical dimensions of objects that are repressed by reified cognition serves as the moment where consciousness itself becomes an act – but an act that is fleeting. This must not, however, stop at the negation, it must proceed to what Lukács later sees as the social‐ ontological potential of human praxis to mediate and alter the status of the object‐domain. This cannot be done only contemplatively. The realization must also be there that any  qualitative meaning that the object possesses and that is lost by the process of ­reification – something we can discern via the negative dialectic – is only retrievable 232

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through a transformation of our practices. These practices, in turn, can themselves only be transformed once the social‐relational form that constitutes and orders those practices are themselves transformed and altered (cf. my argument here with Feenberg 2014, 203ff). Linking the cognitive‐aesthetic with the practical and then the social‐ontological levels of social reality therefore can provide us with a critical theory that can link an immanent critique of consciousness with a critique of the social forms that generate the damaged life of capitalist modernity. Both Lukács and Adorno therefore possess elements of a critical theory of society that can diagnose and overcome the pathologies of culture that Weber had pointed to and was himself, ultimately, unable to solve. Adorno is right to emphasize the subject’s immanent critique of received concepts as well as the power of art to encode within it the capacity to experience the non‐reified, alienated world. Adorno’s Hegelianism remains curiously contemplative. But from Lukács we have the more Hegelian idea of a social metaphysics that seeks to root both the diagnosis and overcoming of reified society with the need to transform the social‐relational nexus that constitutes social being. If we hold on too closely to Adorno’s position we run the risk of falling into a passive, even inert form of negative thinking. But once the negative dialectic that Adorno espouses comes to its moment of opening up new dimensions of the object, then where are we? It seems to me that Lukács’ emphasis on a critical social‐ontology is one place to begin. The reason for this is that the kind of opening that negative thinking creates can be supplemented with a form of praxis that sees the social‐relational organization of social life as the only means by which reality can be transformed. The social‐ontological moment unites the agentic and structural domains once it is grasped that the social‐ structural reality that generates the defective conceptual manifold that negative thinking needs to explode is only maintained and granted its ontological weight (i.e. its existence) by the preponderance of that very conceptual manifold. Once we seek to reorganize the ontology of social relations, we can begin to grasp the field of practice necessary for self‐ and social transformation. Indeed, what Andrew Feenberg has insightfully called “transforming practice” (Feenberg 2014) can now be seen in a more textured and political register: only subjects that have been able to dislodge themselves from the powerful apparatus of the totally administered society can make the first step toward a transformation of self and society that is, in the end, the ultimate aim of Critical Theory.

References Adorno, T. (1966). Negative Dialektik. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Adorno, T. (1971). Drei studien zu Hegel. In: Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 5, 247–382. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Adorno, T. (1972). Ästhetische Theorie. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Adorno, T. (1997a). Kritische modelle. In: Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 10.2, 741–763. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Adorno, T. (1997b). Prismen. In: Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 10.1, 251–280. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Adorno, T. (1997c). Erspreßte Versöhnung. In: Noten zur Literatur, Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 11. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Bozzetti, M. (2002). Hegel on trial: Adorno’s critique of philosophical systems. In: Adorno: A Critical Reader (eds. N. Gibson and A. Rubin), 292–311. Oxford: Blackwell.

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Bronner, S.E. (1994). Of Critical Theory and its Theorists. Oxford: Blackwell. Brunkhorst, H. (1999). Adorno and Critical Theory. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. Cook, D. (2007). From the actual to the possible: non‐identity thinking. In: Adorno and the Need in Thinking: New Critical Essays (eds. D. Burke, C. Campbell, K. Kiloh, et  al.), 167–180. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Dahms, H. (1997). Theory in Weberian Marxism: patterns of critical theory in Lukács and Habermas. Sociological Theory 15 (3): 181–214. Dannemann, R. (1987). Das Prinzip Verdinglichung. Studie zur Philosophie Georg Lukács. Frankfurt: Sendler Verlag. Feenberg, A. (2014). The Philosophy of Praxis: Marx, Lukács and the Frankfurt School. London: Verso. Greisman, H.C. and Ritzer, G. (1981). Max Weber, critical theory and the administered world. Qualitative Sociology 4 (1): 34–55. Habermas, J. (1987). The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. Hammer, E. (2006). Adorno and the Political. New York: Routledge. Hohendahl, P. (1995). Prismatic Thought. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. Jay, M. (1984). Marxism and Totality: The Adventure of a Concept from Lukács to Habermas. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Kracauer, E.L. (1998). The Disposition of the Subject: Reading Adorno’s Dialectic of Technology. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. Lenk, K. (1978). Zur methodik der Kunstsoziologie. In: Seminar: Literatur‐ und Kunstsoziologie (ed. P. Bürger), 55–71. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Liebersohn, H. (1988). Fate and Utopia in German Sociology: 1870–1923. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. Lukács, G. (1923). Geschichte und Klassenbewusstsein. Studien über Marxistische Dialektik. Berlin: Der Malik Verlag. Mitzman, A. (1984). The Iron Cage: Historical Interpretation of Max Weber. New York: Routledge. Müller‐Jentsch, W. (2017). Eine bemerkenswerte übereinstimmung: Max Weber und Theodor W. Adorno zu gesellchaftlicher vs. ästhetischer Rationalität. Berliner Journal für Soziologie 27 (2): 293–301. Paddison, M. (1993). Adorno’s Aesthetics of Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rose, G. (1978). The Melancholy Science: An Introduction to the Thought of Theodor W. Adorno. New York: Columbia University Press. Schecter, D. (2010). The Critique of Instrumental Reason from Weber to Habermas. London: Continuum. Schluchter, W. (1981). The Rise of Western Rationalism: Max Weber’s Developmental History. Berkeley: University of California Press. Schweppenhäuser, G. (2009). Theodor W. Adorno: An Introduction. Durham: Duke University Press. Tar, Z. (1977). The Frankfurt School: The Critical Theories of Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno. New York: Schocken Books. Thompson, M.J. (2010). T.W. Adorno defended against his critics, and admirers: a defense of the critique of jazz. International Journal of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music 41 (1): 37–49. Thompson, M.J. (2014). Realism as anti‐reification: a defense of Lukács’ aesthetic of realism. Jahrbuch der Internationalen Georg‐Lukács‐Geselleschaft 14: 177–196. Weber, M. (1972a [1922]). Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft. Grundriss der verstehenden Soziologie. Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck). Weber, M. (1972b [1920]). Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Religionssoziologie, vol. 1. Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck). Westerman, R. (2010). The reification of consciousness: Husserl’s phenomenology in Lukács’s identical subject‐object. New German Critique 37 (3): 97–130.

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Further Reading Benzer, M. (2011). The Sociology of Theodor Adorno. New York: Cambridge University Press. Bernstein, J.M. (2001). Adorno: Disenchantment and Ethics. New York: Cambridge University Press. Buck‐Morss, S. (1979). The Origins of Negative Dialectics. New York: The Free Press. Cook, D. (1996). The Culture Industry Revisited. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield. Foster, R. (2007). Adorno: The Recovery of Experience. Albany, NY: SUNY Press. Hullot‐Kentor, R. (2008). Things Beyond Resemblance: Collected Essays on Theodor W. Adorno. New York: Columbia University Press. O’Connor, B. (2012). Adorno. New York: Routledge. O’Connor, B. (2005). Adorno’s Negative Dialectic: Philosophy and the Possibilty of Critical Rationality. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Sherrat, Y. (2002). Adorno’s Positive Dialectic. New York: Cambridge University Press. Thomson, A. (2006). Adorno: A Guide for the Perplexed. New York: Continuum. Witkin, R. (2003). Adorno on Popular Culture. New York: Routledge. Zuidervaart, L. (2007). Social Philosophy After Adorno. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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15 Adorno’s Aesthetic Model of Social Critique ANDREW HUDDLESTON

1. Introduction Aesthetics, in many ways, is at the center of Adorno’s philosophical enterprise. He devotes monographs to Mahler, Berg, and Wagner, and he writes a multitude of essays on literature and especially music, with his coverage ranging from high modernism to mass market Hollywood cinema. Politics and social critique are, in turn, very much at the fore in his aesthetics. Through his close readings of canonical as well as newer works, Adorno analyzes the way society and its ideologies are – so he takes it – in evidence in the works he discusses. His art criticism is thereby bound up with cultural criticism. That much is of course a truism about Adorno. In this essay, I shall suggest that Adorno’s social criticism (in one of its main manifestations) is related to his art criticism in another interesting way as well. Specifically, their form is similar. The familiar dichotomy in Marxist‐inspired work in social critique is between “theory” and “praxis,” with Adorno typically classified as someone suspicious about overtly (and, in his view, overhasty) revolutionary attempts to turn theory into praxis – and sometimes (often unfairly) classified as someone who repairs to the ivory tower of theory, with strains of high modernist music playing in the background. The centrality of aesthetics to Adorno’s philosophical concerns has further entrenched this impression. My claim that Adorno has an “aesthetic” model of social critique may seem to play right into this caricature. But I intend for it instead to show how Adorno is using this aesthetic approach, not simply to retreat to art, but instead to expand and enrich the resources available for the critique of society. To this end, I want to explore a divide that is, as it were, within the theory side of theory versus praxis, but ultimately with implications for what the route to praxis might be. If praxis is about what we do practically once we uncover an ideology in order to make the world better and escape its grip, theory, by contrast, concerns an account of that ideology itself. Our question in the present chapter will primarily be at the meta‐level of that theory: What is the nature and method of such a critical account, and of the ideology it purports to uncover? What mode of diagnostic analysis is necessary to identify the ideology in the first place? On these issues, I suggest, Adorno offers a distinctive philosophical perspective.

A Companion to Adorno, First Edition. Edited by Peter E. Gordon, Espen Hammer, and Max Pensky. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2020 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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I develop and contrast two modes of cultural critique  –  causal critique and intrinsic ­critique – and go on to classify much of what Adorno is doing in the latter camp. Criticism, for him, is not just a matter of charting something’s bad social effects and leveling criticism on account of these. Criticism is instead about what close “micrological” analysis reveals about the ideology manifested in these phenomena themselves. It thus involves the hermeneutical unraveling of something, where the goal is to uncover, and then to criticize, these pernicious ideologies. The object of analysis, whether an artwork or other social phenomenon, is thus objectionable not (simply or mainly) because it causally promotes or fosters problematic things  –  authoritarianism, anti‐Semitism, and the like. Rather, it is objectionable because it contains  –  often in a way difficult immediately to detect – such problematic ideologies covertly embedded within it. In this respect, I suggest, Adorno’s model of social critique is in debt to his aesthetics, not because it reposes its hopes in the aesthetic sphere alone but, rather, because it employs a hermeneutical, non‐causal, non‐reductive model of ideology critique familiar from art criticism and extends this model to social and cultural criticism more broadly. After describing these two forms of cultural critique, I will go through some key manifestations in Adorno’s work. I will begin with his application of it in conventionally “high” aesthetic domains, and then look at how he applies this model to thinking about the culture industry and popular culture. Finally, I will discuss his treatment of a broader range of social phenomena in Minima Moralia in particular. My goal here is both exegetical and philosophical: I want to understand what Adorno is up to in his critical enterprise, as well as what its philosophical import is. But I am not aiming to vindicate Adorno’s particular interpretations, accusations, and the like. These are contentious at best, often highly one‐sided. I do, however, want to explore the method of cultural critique he uses and its ongoing applicability in social and political philosophy.

2.  Causal Critique and Intrinsic Critique Before I turn to the exegesis of Adorno, I would like to set out and illustrate these two broad styles of criticism in more general terms. One style of cultural critique, as already mentioned, takes a broadly causal form. We look to some cultural phenomenon and then we see what effects it has in relation to some ethical, social, or political good (e.g. individual flourishing, freedom, and the like). Insofar as the phenomenon in question negatively affects some things we care about, we then criticize it. We might thus, for example, criticize “fake news” propagated by social media, insofar it leads to a poorly informed citizenry. This causal critique is a central and indispensable kind of social critique. Another style of critique looks not to what objectionable things a cultural phenomenon causes, but to the intrinsically objectionable nature of the ideological content it contains. Let us call this intrinsic critique. One interprets the phenomenon in question, and gives a “reading” of the ideology embedded in it, and then critiques the phenomenon on account of this embedded ideology. This approach takes a page from the way in which one might interpret and criticize a work of art on ethical or political grounds. In doing so in the art case, one needn’t be concerned with the artwork’s ethical or political effects, or likely effects, but rather with, for example, its viewpoint and the ideological content thereof. That viewpoint needn’t be the viewpoint of its creator necessarily (Adorno 1991 [1954], 168), and needn’t (and typically won’t) be explicitly stated. It can, for Adorno, instead be borne out in other, more subtle ways, such as the relation between its formal elements and what 238

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this relation analogically suggests. Adorno, I maintain, interprets not just art but also other social phenomena in this art‐inflected, hermeneutical way. The comparison to art interpretation can be misleading, however. It might make us think that it is just a narrowly aesthetic complaint being made, that the target of criticism is simply aesthetically defective (e.g. disordered, inharmonious, hackneyed, etc.). But that is not in general true with this sort of art criticism, and certainly not true of Adorno’s art criticism or his social criticism. Often, it is at core an ethical or political and not a (purely) aesthetic charge that’s being leveled. By way of example: Adorno purports to uncover authoritarianism and other noxious content in the music of Stravinsky. This is a controversial interpretation on his part, which we will turn to shortly, but its particular merits needn’t be our concern. Notice, irrespective of whether this is a fair criticism of Stravinsky, that this is not just an aesthetic objection, in any narrow sense; although Adorno has aesthetic complaints about the music, he is also finding this music objectionable on ethical and political grounds. Admittedly, these kinds of charges (aesthetic–ethical–political) are very difficult, maybe impossible, to disentangle, but the point is the continual foregrounding of ethical and political concerns, not a sidelining of them for the sake of an allegedly “pure” aesthetic criticism. Something further is important to see, in order to get this style of criticism into view: Adorno’s charge isn’t grounded in a causal sociological claim that this music has the social effect of propagating or promoting authoritarianism or other social deformations. It may, but Adorno is not (here, at least) making the kind of charge that would be settled by, for example, an empirical study. His claim is also not the intentionalist one that Stravinsky deliberately composed his music to give voice to this ideology. Nor is it grounded in a psychological claim that the music gives voice to Stravinsky’s own unconscious attitudes, though Adorno may well think there is an affinity there. Adorno’s charge isn’t even – straightforwardly anyway – the claim that the music inherits this ideological content directly from the social world in which it is produced, if that is meant to be a reductive justification of why it should be seen as having this tainted content (i.e. the facts about the social world become our evidence for holding that the music is thereby thus‐and‐so). It is rather that, in its immanent musical materials, the music is, as we might say, “expressive” of authoritarianism (and other such things) and is problematic on this account as well. This intrinsic criticism is of course compatible with thinking it is also problematic in downstream causal ways. The point is that those downstream causal effects do not exhaust the respects in which it is problematic, and they do not serve as the sole grounds for potential criticism. In light of the above, I use the word “expressive” with a caveat, familiar from aesthetics. When we say something is “expressive,” we needn’t construe that reductively either: that is, we shouldn’t think something has its expressive properties simply in virtue of being in a relationship to the correlative mental or psychological states of individuals or groups (however, exactly those are understood). To use the stock example from aesthetics: The sonata could be “expressive” of sadness, even if it’s not the composer’s or performer’s sadness, and the novel can be expressive of misogyny, even if the author has no such attitudes, even unconsciously. That sadness is a property of the music, and the misogyny of the novel. Now, there may well often be a genetic story, including for the cultural phenomena of interest to Adorno. The point is that there needn’t be, and that the interpretive justification needn’t look to such a story. In this discussion, I use various terms, including “express,” in order to pick out the embeddedness of these ideologies, present in a work of art or social phenomenon, that stand in need of being uncovered and criticized. Determining what something is expressive of will be a matter of interpreting it, not of what genetically ­precipitates it or otherwise underlies it. 239

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This independence is reflected in the wonderful image, to which Adorno repeatedly returns, of the “windowless monad.” The whole point of the monad is its causal and epistemic isolation from other things.1 Now this, in Adorno’s case, is a metaphor, certainly not literal metaphysics, and not a denial of actual causal interconnectedness. But one of the key points of this metaphor is to signal resistance to a kind of crude view – cartoon Marxism, we might say – about the relation between so‐called “superstructure” and so‐ called “base,” maintaining that facts about the base determine facts about the superstructure. There is, for Adorno, no doubt a sense in which everything, including art, bears indelibly the mark of the social world around it. But there is also a sense in which these kinds of things have a measure of autonomy, at least in the sense that the methods of the hermeneutical Geisteswissenschaften will be essential for unearthing their content and serving as the tribunal of justification relating to possession of such content. The recognition of this degree of autonomy is in keeping with Adorno’s praise for the “non‐identical” and rejection of identity thinking, in its resistance to reductive social analyses, in which the phenomenon (whether social or artistic) simply becomes a cipher of various outside forces. My contention in this chapter is that this outlook, and the approach it informs, permeates Adorno’s social critique as well as his aesthetics. Adorno’s adoption of this style of social critique is part and parcel of his more general complaints about such things as identity thinking, instrumentalist rationality, and positivism. When it comes to social critique, the instrumentalist will be keen to evaluate social phenomena in terms of downstream effects. The only way, he or she says, something can be bad is if it has instrumental effects that are bad. This is typically allied with a kind of positivism, which will hold that these effects need somehow to be quantifiable and subject to empirical validation of some kind. To think everything is to be measured and criticized in terms of its effects is to capitulate to the hegemony of “exchange” value over “use” value (in the extremely broad way Adorno allies the latter notion with that which resists “identity” thinking). Adorno’s recurring theme is that these narrow and blinkered ways of thinking have blinded us to the possibility of a genuinely “reflective” critical rationality that will be hermeneutically sophisticated, normatively committal, and untethered to these positivistic‐instrumentalist assumptions. Yet – of course – one of the main ambitions of the Frankfurt School was to marry social critique with empirical sociology. Many of Adorno’s reflections, for example, on music‐listening habits, are undergirded by careful research. His doesn’t reject criticism grounded in such results; far from it. The point is that this is not, for Adorno, all social critique can be. To get a grip on the structure of causal versus intrinsic critique as applied to social institutions, consider the charges one might level against, say, the Nuremberg race laws, instituted under the National Socialists in Germany. These without a doubt have tremendously bad effects on the overall flourishing of those stigmatized by them. Those targeted by these laws get stripped of fundamental rights, deprived of social goods, and barred access to jobs and opportunities. The laws serve to solidify and perpetuate nefarious anti‐Semitic attitudes in the populace – attitudes that in turn have further terrible effects. But these laws are also objectionable because they (and the social formations in which they operate) express a certain offensive idea about Aryan superiority and Semitic inferiority. In addition to objecting to their manifold bad effects, we can object to things of this sort too. Now, this is, as it were, an “easy” case, since this ideological content is virtually on the face of the laws themselves. As we shall see, Adorno’s distinctive philosophical move will be to locate ideology in far less obvious places, by looking to relatively unnoticed and seemingly ­innocuous phenomena as the bearers of such ideology as well. 240

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Casual critique and intrinsic critique are both important kinds of social criticism. But there is a danger, by Adorno’s lights, that causal criticism will, aided by positivistic sociology, arrogate for itself the claim of being the only legitimate or respectable form of social criticism. Although Adorno doesn’t use this particular terminology of “intrinsic” versus “causal,” or explicitly reflect on his critical methodology of social critique in the way I am doing here, these distinctions help us to see what is going on in his work. I’d now like to turn to see how he puts this sort of intrinsic critique into practice.

3.  Aesthetic Applications: “High” Art I shall begin by looking at how Adorno applies this critical method to unearthing the ideological content of artworks. Such ideological criticism is a staple of his approach. Of course, moral and political approaches to aesthetic criticism have been around since at least Plato’s Republic. Certain types of poetry and certain musical modes get banned, on account of the alleged danger they pose to the citizenry. This type of critique is causal in form, as is much that follows in its wake. But many other types of art criticism, Adorno’s being a prime example, follow what I am calling the more intrinsic route. This involves showing that the work of art is somehow approvingly giving voice to a viewpoint that is morally or politically suspect. The classic example used in this domain is Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will. The objection to this film is based not just on what the film causes, socially or politically speaking (no doubt bad!) but also on the content it itself expresses, a stance glorifying National Socialism. Such approaches to moral and political criticism of artworks are familiar from elsewhere in aesthetics from outside Adorno’s work, including in Anglophone aesthetics and in artistic criticism of different stripes.2 Adorno’s critique is in this style. He offers interpretations of works that seek to locate problematic ideologies within the immanent content of these works themselves. Few could seriously dispute the attribution of a National Socialist ideology to Triumph of the Will, since that work wears its ideology on its sleeve. Adorno wants to probe artworks that do not wear their ideology so clearly on their sleeve, and his claims are thus more interpretively controversial. Wagner and Stravinsky are two central targets of his criticism. Independently of Adorno’s criticisms, Wagner of course often appears in a suspect light, on account of his own repellent anti‐Semitic attitudes, and his later admiration by Hitler in particular. Adorno’s criticism will not focus on these dimensions primarily, however. It will instead aim to show us that the ideological content is already there, present in the musical form of Wagner’s works: Wagner’s music simulates the unity of the internal and external, of subject and object, instead of giving shape to the rupture between them. In this way the process of composition becomes the agent of ideology even before the latter is imported into the music dramas via literature. (Adorno 2005 [1952], 27–28)

The actual state of the world, Adorno holds, is one of a cleft between subject and object, internal and external. Serious art will “give shape” to this rupture in an analogical fashion, representing the state of the world through the state of the musical materials (Subotnik 1990; Paddison 1993; Geuss 2006). But Wagner’s music pretends that this gaping social and metaphysical rift does not exist, disguising it in an illusory sonic oneness. The interpretation is not about what Wagner’s music leads to downstream or causally promotes. 241

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The issue is with the musical content of his works themselves (at least as interpreted by Adorno, and against the backdrop of Adorno’s own theory, of the state of society and how works of art should respond to this). Adorno’s views about the way that the relations between individual and society, subject and object, and so on, can be presented analogically in music are extraordinarily complex. But one key issue for Adorno is the relation between part and whole in the musical composition: In Wagner’s case what predominates is already the totalitarian and seigneurial aspect of atomization; that devaluation of the individual vis‐à‐vis the totality, which excludes all authentic dialectical interaction … In Wagner’s music, we can catch a glimpse of that tendency of the late‐bourgeois consciousness under the compulsion of which the individual insists the more emphatically on his own importance, the more specious and impotent he has become in reality. (Adorno 2005 [1952], 40)

What we have in Wagner’s music is a symbolic mirroring of a more general social (indeed also metaphysical) pathology. Adorno continues in this register when he discusses the fate of subjectivity in Wagner’s music: The “subjectivization” of orchestral sound, the transformation of the unruly body of instruments to the docile palette of the composer, is at the same time a de‐subjectivization, since its tendency is to render inaudible whatever might give a clue to the origins of a particular sound. (Adorno 2005 [1952], 70)

Adorno here adds an interesting twist: What might seem like the emergence of subjectivity from Wagner’s music is actually not giving voice to it. Subjectivity gets effaced in being merged into the totality (Steinberg 2004). We may find Adorno’s interpretations rather far‐fetched and questionable. What, we might ask, licenses his particular interpretation over one that puts a more positive spin on the very same features of the music? It indeed might seem as though there is something worryingly ad hoc about Adorno’s entire approach, as if he is just itching to indict Wagner and to couch the music in such a light as to do that. Our focus is not on the merits of Adorno’s charges against Wagner, but on the style of ideological criticism he is employing. Let us now turn to Stravinsky, who, at first glance anyway, is a less suspect personality than Wagner. The central conceit of Adorno’s Philosophy of Modern Music is a contrast between Schoenberg the valorized progressive and Stravinsky the nefarious reactionary. Juxtaposing Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire with Stravinsky’s Petrouchka, Adorno writes: The texture of the composition designs the image of hope beyond hopelessness with the expression of shelter and security in desolation. Such pathos is totally alien to Stravinsky’s Petrouchka … the music tends to take the part of those who ridicule the maltreated hero, rather than come to his defense … In Stravinsky’s case, subjectivity assumes the character of sacrifice, but – and this is where he sneers at the tradition of humanistic art – the music does not identify with the victim but rather with the destructive element. (Adorno 2002 [1958], 142–143)

“Liquidation of the individual” is something “celebrated by Stravinsky’s music” (Adorno 2002 [1958], 190). Nothing in Adorno’s critique hangs on the claim that Stravinsky’s music promotes authoritarianism, as a downstream causal effect. The point instead is that this collectivist ideology is found in the work itself. 242

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Consider another remark of Adorno’s about the musical materials Stravinsky adopts. Adorno uses a Freudian vocabulary here. The musical elements are characterized by “infantilism” and “regression” in their archaism (Adorno 2002 [1958], 160–167). According to Adorno, they are thus lacking in “immanent musical validity”: “the [musical] structure,” he continues, “is externally superimposed by the composer’s will which determines the nature of his formulations” (Adorno 2002 [1958], 167). By Adorno’s lights, composers are faced with certain musical materials at their particular period in musical history. To turn one’s back on these is a kind of abnegation of responsibility: One should be working in such a way as to keep with the demands of these materials, but in Stravinsky’s case, we have a notable retreat to an earlier (and now no‐longer‐appropriate) musical vocabulary. On one level, this can seem as though it is a personal charge against Stravinsky’s exercise of compositional will. But Adorno’s point is also about the resultant music itself and what its lack of “immanent musical validity” ideologically reflects. Not just Stravinsky the man but Stravinsky’s music is reactionary in its musical vocabulary. This reactionary quality is something to be located on a symbolic level: that we get, for instance, a neo‐ classical idiom in place of a steely atonal one is an indication that the work is fleeing from an honest representation of reality rather than facing up to it. The basic model of Adorno’s art interpretation, illustrated through these brief examples, involves locating an embedded ideology through close reading of the formal texture of the work itself. This method is not confined to “high” art. The culture industry and popular culture, the topic of Section 15.4, often involve this method as well. Then we will move on to look at other social phenomena in Section 15.5 and see how Adorno extends the model of criticism to works outside the usual domain of art, broadly‐construed.

4.  The Culture Industry and Popular Culture Adorno’s approach to the culture industry is often empirical. Research of a psychological and sociological nature can tell us about the effects of culture on its consumers, and the mechanisms that explain its ongoing appeal and its design to ensure that appeal. For example, in his discussion of popular songs, Adorno sees their market appeal as relying on a balance of standardization and variation. This music needs to be as familiar as possible (so as to be reassuring and unchallenging) while nonetheless having some minimal differences (so one can justify selling the new song, album, etc.) (Adorno 2002 [1941]). Yet Adorno’s approach is not confined to this sort of explanatory model, illuminating though it is. As with his criticism of “high” art, he is also interested in an explanation of what is conveyed through the immanent content of these works, and he subjects them to close hermeneutical scrutiny to unveil this content. We get a programmatic statement of this approach in remarks on the (at the time) new medium of television. Adorno notes that the “treatment of the formal characteristics of television within the system of the culture industry should be supplemented by closer consideration of the specific contents of programs … Abstracting from the form would be philistine vis‐à‐vis any work of art; it would amount to measuring by its own standard a sphere that ignores aesthetic autonomy and replaces form with function and packaging” (Adorno 1998 [1963], 59). About the script of one now‐forgotten show, Adorno writes: “Within the psychological routine and the ‘psychodrama’ there still lurks the old pernicious idea of the taming of the shrew: that a sensitive and strong man overcomes the capricious unpredictability of an immature woman. The gesture toward psychological depth serves 243

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only to make stale patriarchal conceptions palatable to spectators” (Adorno 1998 [1963], 65). Now, this may have the effect of stabilizing the patriarchy. But there is an additional, intrinsic objection to the ideology present in show itself, and that ideology needs to be uncovered through close reading. A similar sort of approach is at work in Adorno’s treatment of popular music. Noting the tendency of popular music (evident in titles and lyrics of countless pieces) to regress into “baby talk,” Adorno traces this into the musical form as well: The music, as well as the lyrics, tends to affect such a children’s language. Some of its principal characteristics are: unabating repetition of some particular musical formula comparable to the attitude of the child incessantly uttering the same demand… the limitation of many melodies to very few tones, comparable to the way in which a small child speaks before he has a full alphabet at his disposal; purposely wrong harmonization resembling the way in which small children express themselves in incorrect grammar; also certain over‐sweet sound colors, functioning like musical cookies and candies. (Adorno 2002 [1941], 450)

The music may well cause people to be more infantilistic. But Adorno’s point does not rest just on this possible effect or related ones. It is that the objectionable infantilism is also in the music, analogically mirrored in its formal elements. So too with Adorno’s notorious remarks about jazz. (“On Jazz” is an essay from 1936, so Adorno’s point of reference is music in, for instance, Weimar Berlin, not American jazz of later decades.) As with his criticisms of Wagner and Stravinsky, the point is not to vindicate his controversial take. But I want to show that he uses the same kind of micrological analysis, looking to the musical character of the jazz piece itself, not to its effects on the social world. As with Adorno’s other sorts of remarks about art, his main point is  going to turn on analogies among the formal musical elements, on the one hand, and  individuals and society, on the other. Take, for example, what he says about jazz improvisation: Even the much‐invoked improvisations, the “hot” passages and breaks, are merely ornamental in their significance, and never part of the overall construction or determinant of the form. Not only is their placement, right down to the number of beats, assigned stereotypically; not only is their duration and harmonic structure as a dominant effect completely predetermined; even its melodic form and its potential for simultaneous combinations rely on a minimum number of basic forms. (Adorno 2002 [1936], 477)

The improvisation gives the impression of being free, but actually it is not. This mirrors the fate of the subject in the modern world, who isn’t truly free under the reigning ideology, but has the illusion of ostensible freedom. The line that Adorno is pressing, again, is not just about effects, but what we find when we do “close” readings of certain cultural phenomena. As we shall in the next section, Adorno applies this same approach to other social phenomena as well.

5.  Micrological Analysis in Minima Moralia We see this aesthetic form of social critique especially in evidence in Adorno’s Minima Moralia. The book comprises a collection of aphorisms, modeled after Nietzsche’s Gay Science. 244

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Yet, for Adorno, the relevant form of science will be a “melancholy” one, subtitled Reflections on a Damaged Life. Whereas Nietzsche will be a celebrant of vivacious life, Adorno will quip, quoting Ferdinand Kürnberger in the epigraph to the book, that “life does not live.” Adorno’s approach in this book is “micrological”: “He who wishes to know the truth about life in its immediacy must scrutinize its estranged form, the objective powers that determine individual existence even in its most hidden recesses” (Adorno 2005 [1951], 15). The point is to look closely at various social phenomenon, undertake a certain sort of hermeneutical unearthing, and reveal what these social phenomena indicate about the world around us. “The splinter in your eye,” he notes, “is the best magnifying glass” (Adorno 2005 [1951], 50). This is a rich metaphor, alluding to the famous dictum from the Gospels.3 The Biblical reference is about hypocrisy – criticizing others, without realizing that there are similar faults of one’s own. Ideology, it might be comfortable and reassuring to think, is not about nice, ordinary everyday life; it is about those nasty things that happen in the political sphere at the hands of other people, the nefarious malefactors. Yet Adorno wants to indicate that everyday life is also shot through with ideology as well. Adorno is going to be looking at small, familiar things, and uncovering the ideology embedded in them. He traverses an impressive range of phenomena, which might seem as though they are beyond suspicion. Take, for example, what he says about these mundane phenomena: What does it mean for the subject that there are no more casement windows to open, but only sliding frames to shove, no gentle latches but turnable handles, no forecourt, no doorstep before the street, no wall around the garden? And which driver is not tempted, merely by the power of his engine, to wipe out the vermin of the street, pedestrians, children, and cyclists? The movements machines demand of their users already have the violent, hard‐hitting, unresting jerkiness of Fascist maltreatment. (Adorno 2005 [1951], 40)

The point is analogical. It’s not that windows and cars encourage Fascism, as a political movement. It is that in this mode of interaction with the world, there is a kind of mirroring of such violence already. But this dimension would pass beneath regular notice. Ordinary life would seem all right. But, actually, something darker is present. Compare this with the aesthetic cases. Yes, Stravinsky’s music may sound lively and rich, the Hollywood movie may have a charming plot, and a sweepingly beautiful, lushly orchestrated score. But this can serve to mask worrying forms of ideology. So too in social life itself. Or consider his remarks on the dress of hotel doormen: The culture industry’s budget runs to the billions, but the formal law of its performances is that of the tip. The excessively glossy, hygienic quality of industrialized culture is the sole rudiment of primal shame, an exorcising image, comparable to the tail‐coats of the highest hotel managers, who, in their eagerness not to look like head‐waiters, outdo aristocrats in elegance, so thereby giving themselves away as headwaiters. (Adorno 2005 [1951], 196)

The seemingly innocuous gets interpreted in such a way that it no longer seems ideologically innocent. Note also what Adorno says about small talk: In the form of a few sentences about the health of one’s wife that prelude the business discussion over lunch, the utilitarian order has taken over and assimilated even its opposite. The taboo on talking shop and the inability to talk to each other are in reality the same thing. Because everything is business, the latter is unmentionable like rope in a hanged man’s home.

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Behind the pseudo‐democratic dismantling of ceremony, of old‐fashioned courtesy, of the useless conversation suspected, not even unjustly, of being idle gossip, behind the seeming clarification and transparency of human relations that no longer admit anything undefined, naked brutality has been ushered in. The direct statement without divagations, hesitations, or reflections, that gives the other the full facts in the face, already has the full timbre of the command issued under Fascism by the dumb to the silent. Matter‐of‐factness between people, doing away with all ideological ornamentation between them, has already itself become an ideology for treating people as things. (Adorno 2005 [1951], 41–42)

Thanks to Adorno’s interpretation, we come to see something in this that might otherwise have been lost on us. The architecture of homes (Section  18), practices of gift‐giving (Section 21), and many more all fall under Adorno’s withering gaze. To many, Adorno’s interpretations will seem hyperbolic and paranoid. My point, as it was in my discussion of his aesthetics, is not to vindicate his interpretations, but rather to try to understand the nature of the charge. Now, in the case of all of these things, they are products of a certain ideological system. On some level then, they can be explained as arising due to this system. But Adorno doesn’t rest content with that sort of explanatory approach. As I’ve indicated already, he finds a kind of ideological content embedded, analogically or metaphorically, within these practices themselves, and he seeks to unpack that content for further investigation and criticism. What is important is that these phenomena somehow inscribe or mirror the ideology themselves. Once again, we return to that image of the monad. The point is not that there is literal causal isolation between the larger capitalist system and, say, small talk. Obviously, the interrelations are going to be rich. But it is rather that when we look to the practice and interpret it, we uncover the traces of the ideology lodged there.

6.  Pushing Back Against Adorno’s Methods Now that we’ve had an illustration of Adorno’s aesthetic mode of criticism, and its application to social phenomena, I would like to consider some philosophical issues about its merits as a method. As already suggested, there is a strong similarity to Adorno’s art criticism here. But might we accuse Adorno of relying too much on this analogy? Social phenomena are not works of art, after all. The latter are intentionally created by a person or relatively circumscribed group (as in the collective creation of a film). Because these are created through design, and bear a closer relation to the minds of their creators, it is easier to think of them as bearers of content that might be extracted through interpretation. But not so, it might seem, when it comes to social phenomena. How then can they have this sort of content in them to be unpacked? Is this any more intellectually legitimate than reading tea leaves? It might seem that it is easier to locate these kinds of “meanings” in works of art. But notice that even when it comes to art, these meanings are not explicitly stated, not even in a work involving language. Such content will have to be recovered through interpretation. So, there is actually less of a disanalogy here, by Adorno’s lights, than it first seems. As we have seen, having the content in question is a matter of a structural analogy between the formal artistic materials and the individual and society. The sort of mirroring in question happens in a variety of different phenomena, not simply in those 246

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that are conventionally mimetic. Here the monad metaphor again proves useful. A Leibnizian monad will contain within it a representation of the whole world. Adorno of course does not accept that metaphysics, but the point of the metaphor is that a social phenomenon is monadic insofar as it inscribes the character the society around it. Adorno doesn’t think this mirroring is limited to art, but that it is a feature of other sorts of social phenomena as well. Suppose we agree on the broadly speaking metaphysical point that there can, in principle anyway, be content of this sort. An epistemic worry still lurks in the vicinity: Who’s to say that the content is really there? When Adorno makes charges against Stravinsky’s music, what is to say he’s right? What justification can he have for this interpretation? One answer here – a somewhat unsatisfying one – is that the justification is of the same form as it is for interpretations in general. Do they weave together sufficient features of the thing in a persuasive way? Do they shed useful light on the thing being interpreted? Such is the test of an interpretive account. There will not be hard‐and‐fast rules, nor, when it comes to anything reasonably complex, will there be interpretations brooking no debate. Even if we think these interpretations of social phenomena will be the site of continual contestation, it does not follow that any interpretation is as good as any other. Ultimately, these kinds of epistemic worries cannot be fully allayed, but their force can at least be somewhat lessened. Another final kind of objection I want to consider is a more political objection. It is that Adorno’s focus on these sorts of things is ultimately frivolous and insufficiently revolutionary. It is the reaction of an aesthete at core. It is, the objection continues, the least of our problems what cultural phenomena express. In the face of actual murder, and other grave harms, who could possibly care about this sort of thing? These may of course be correlated with bad effects. But the effects are ultimately what matter. Focus on this sort of seemingly irrelevant content might give further sustenance to the charge that Adorno is an out‐of‐touch aesthete mandarin, resident of the “Grand Hotel Abyss” (Lukács 1971; cf. Geuss 2006). Yet Adorno could reply that his sort of approach is not as pointless as it may seem. This remark from Minima Moralia serves as a methodological statement of sorts: Perspectives must be fashioned that displace and estrange the world, reveal it to be, with its rifts and crevices, as indigent and distorted as it will one day appear in the messianic light. To gain such perspectives without velleity or violence, entirely from felt contact with objects – this alone is the task of thought. It is the simplest of all things, because the situation calls out imperatively for such knowledge, indeed because consummate negativity, once squarely faced, delineates the mirror‐image of its opposite. (Adorno 2005 [1951], 247.)

Criticism can give us this, even when it cannot give us a well‐worked out plan for ameliorating the status quo. Social criticism is similar to aesthetic criticism in this way. Adorno is opposed to art with its eye always on praxis (such as that of Brecht), which he thinks risks degenerating into crass propaganda. From one way of looking at things, the charge that social criticism is insufficiently effective is virtually a backhanded compliment. For him, one of the great potential merits of art is its autonomy, which means also its autonomy from immediate praxis. So too with social criticism. Of course, this defense may just serve to further confirm the charge. In any event, we needn’t think that there is a kind of either/ or in operation here: Intrinsic critique can coexist alongside causal critique. As we see, Adorno himself engages in both. 247

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7. Conclusion In this chapter, I have outlined a certain form of social and cultural criticism that we get in Adorno’s work. While it is not the exclusive form of critique in Adorno’s oeuvre, it is particularly notable there. Since it is philosophically distinctive and interesting, it bears further methodological scrutiny. As a form of criticism, it is not unique to Adorno. It has important anticipations in Nietzsche (see Huddleston (2019)) and arguably in Hegel as well, in his analyses of Geist’s self‐understandings and misunderstandings in various of its forms of life. With Nietzsche, we begin to see more of the turn to a hermeneutics of the covert, finding hidden meanings beneath the apparently simple surface: what seems like a worldview of love is actually one of hate, one of ascetic renunciation actually one of world‐ hatred, and so forth. With Adorno, this probing interpretation of cultural phenomena reaches a particularly rich and sophisticated expression. It is a familiar idea in Anglophone social and political philosophy that practices or institutions might express ideals or values (e.g. equality) in their organizing principles (e.g. Anderson 1999). The issue then is not just whether the institution causally promotes a good outcome, but rather what it expresses. In the terms I have used in this chapter so far, a critique organized along these lines would be an intrinsic critique as opposed to a causal critique. As employed by Adorno, the style of critique is different in two main ways from what we typically see in analytic work today. First, for him, it is not just large‐scale political institutions (e.g. democratic government) that have such expressive content, but rather the mundanities of everyday life, which are not sealed off from the influence of ideology. “Es gibt kein richtiges Leben im falschen” [There is no right living/ genuine life in the false] (Adorno 2005 [1951], 39). Second, interpretation becomes a considerably more contentious matter. The ideological content allegedly located in a social phenomenon will prove far more controversial. This, again, is in keeping with the aesthetic analogy, with the idea being that the same work of art can be interpreted in a multiplicity of ways. This doesn’t necessarily collapse into the idea that “anything goes.” So too with social phenomena. Adorno is sometimes accused of abandoning actual politics for art. But this analogy between aesthetic criticism and social criticism should serve to remind us that art, society, and politics prove impossible to disentangle. This lesson, I have suggested, informs not just Adorno’s aesthetics, but his social criticism as well. His model of social criticism is not a way of giving up real social critique for occupation with purely aesthetic matters, but rather a way of rethinking what social critique might amount to.

References Adorno, T.W. (1991 [1954]). How to look at television. In: The Culture Industry (ed. J.M. Bernstein), 155–177. London: Routledge. Adorno, T.W. (1997 [1970]). Aesthetic Theory (trans. R. Hullot‐Kentor). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Adorno, T.W. (1998 [1963]). Television as ideology. In: Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords (trans. H. Pickford). New York: Columbia University Press. Adorno, T.W. (2002 [1958]). Philosophy of Modern Music (trans. A.G. Mitchell and W.V. Blomster). New York: Continuum. Adorno, T.W. (2002 [1936]). On jazz. In: Essays of Music (ed. R. Leppert; trans. S. Gillespie), 470– 495. Berkeley: University of California Press.

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Adorno, T.W. (2002 [1941]). Popular music. In: Essays of Music (ed. Richard Leppert; trans. S. Gillespie), 237–469. Berkeley: University of California Press. Adorno, T.W. (2005 [1952]). In Search of Wagner (trans. R. Livingstone),. London: Verso. Adorno, T.W. (2005 [1951]). Minima Moralia: Reflections on a Damaged Life (trans. E.F.N. Jephcott). London: Verso. Anderson, E.S. (1999). What is the point of equality? Ethics 109 (2): 287–337. Gaut, B. (2007). Art, Emotion, and Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Geuss, R. (ed.) (2006). Adorno’s gaps. In: Outside Ethics, 234–248. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Huddleston, A. (2019). Nietzsche on the Decadence and Flourishing of Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lukács, G. (1971[1920, Rev. 1968]). The Theory of the Novel: A Historico‐Philosophical Essay on the Forms of Great Epic Literature (trans. Anna Bostock). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Paddison, M. (1993). Adorno’s Aesthetics of Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Steinberg, M. (2004). Listening to Subjectivity. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Subotnik, R.R. (1990). Developing Variations. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Further Reading Finlayson, J.G. (2002). Adorno on the ethical and the ineffable. European Journal of Philosophy 10 (1): 1–25. Freyenhagen, F. (2013). Adorno’s Practical Philosophy: Living Less Wrongly. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Geuss, R. (ed.) (2006). Art and criticism in Adorno’s aesthetics. In: Outside Ethics, 161–183. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Goehr, L. (2003). Art and politics. In: Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics (ed. J. Levinson), 471–488. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hammer, E. (2005). Adorno and the Political. London: Routledge. Kellner, D. (2002). Theodor W. Adorno and the dialectics of mass culture. In: Adorno: A Critical Reader (eds. N. Gibson and A. Rubin), 86–109. Oxford: Blackwell. Menke, C. (1998). The Sovereignty of Art: Aesthetic Negativity in Adorno and Derrida (trans. N. Solomon). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Rush, F. (2004). Conceptual foundations of early critical theory. In: Cambridge Companion to Critical Theory (ed. F. Rush), 6–39. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Witkin, R. (2003). Adorno on Popular Culture. London: Routledge.

Notes 1 Adorno (1997 [1970], 5): “That artworks as windowless monads ‘represent’ what they themselves are not can scarcely be understood except in that their own dynamic, their immanent historicity as a dialectic of nature and its domination, not only is of the same essence as the dialectic external to them but resembles it without imitating it.” 2 See, for example, the discussion in Gaut (2007) of “ethical” criticism. The problem for Gaut is with the attitude or stance put forward by the work, particularly if this is one where it invites our agreement. 3 Matthew 7, 3–5.

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16 The Critique of the Enlightenment MARTIN SHUSTER

1. Introduction This chapter is about Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno’s Dialectic of Enlight­ enment (Horkheimer and Adorno 2002), first published in 1944 and then revised in 1947.1 The book is a classic example of the Frankfurt School approach to Critical Theory, synthesizing radical social critique with a keen knowledge of philosophy, history, and culture. Its target is the enlightenment, and its chapters are oriented around elements of the modern world that Horkheimer and Adorno examine and critique in later works, notably society (capitalism, Nazism, fascism, anti‐Semitism, and so forth), morality (Kantian morality, instrumental thinking, sadism, and so forth), and culture (music, art, cinema, and so forth). My procedure in what follows will be to focus on the first essay, “The Concept of Enlightenment,” as it forms the basis of the rest of the book, and is thereby the most significant. I will first review the dominant strands of interpretation around the book’s alleged core insight(s), and then propose a new interpretation, one that especially orients itself around two recent arguments about the text (Hulatt 2016a; Shuster 2014a). Most prominently, I argue that the central aims of the book are not to present any sort of critique of any sort of historical account of a period called the “enlightenment” (regardless of how that term is understood). Instead, Horkheimer and Adorno’s aims are to comment on the structure of human agency, a structure that certainly reaches strong philosophical elaboration in the historical period of the enlightenment (especially the German – Kantian – enlightenment), but that nonetheless begins significantly before this period (this is one way to understand the breathtaking scope of the book, reaching as far back as the ancient world). In short, it is apt to call the text a sort of commentary on “the prehistory of subjectivity” (Thyen 1989, 109). To further signpost the structure of this chapter, let me note that my central argument will be that the chief interlocutor for Horkheimer and Adorno is Immanuel Kant, and that the chief issue for them is the same cluster of issues that animates Kantian and post‐Kantian philosophy more broadly: the parameters, operations, and limits of self‐consciousness. My  account concludes by suggesting that because of this stress, the emergence of

A Companion to Adorno, First Edition. Edited by Peter E. Gordon, Espen Hammer, and Max Pensky. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2020 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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self‐consciousness arises as a crucial issue, one that can be addressed by putting the entire argument into conversation with the work of Sigmund Freud in this area – a task I undertake in the chapter’s conclusion. The ontogenetic elements of Freud’s account have been almost entirely absent from the literature connecting Freud and Adorno, and I show that this is a mistake, as Freud offers an essential piece to the story that Horkheimer and Adorno presuppose in constructing the dialectic of enlightenment. Furthermore, Freud emerges as central in this context exactly because Freud himself is engaged in dialog with Kant on these issues.

2.  Dialectic of Enlightenment and History Jürgen Habermas has presented perhaps the most enduring reading of the text, arguing that “Horkheimer and Adorno play a variation on the well known theme of Max Weber” (Habermas 1991, 110), where a process of disenchantment leads to emergence of a modernity delineated chiefly by “intellectual and practical operations” oriented around “demytholigising, secularising, or disenchanting some mythical, religious or magical representation of the world” (Jarvis 1998, 24). In order to conquer and overcome fear, enlightenment uses its capacity for knowledge chiefly as a capacity for power (power over nature). As Horkheimer and Adorno put it, “the mind, conquering superstition, is to rule over disenchanted nature” (Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, 2). In overcoming mythology, though, enlightenment eventually also itself reverts into myth, in the form of a positivistic conception of the world, where  –  like the operations of fate in mythological ­worldviews  –  the world is now governed according to abstract forces, where “the pure immanence of positivism … is nothing other than a form of universal taboo. Nothing is allowed to remain outside, since the mere idea of the ‘outside’ is the real source of fear” (Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, 11; Josephson‐Storm 2017, 244). Everything boils down to power over nature (and thereby also to self‐preservation): myth attempts to master nature by means of its mythological worldview, while enlightenment does the same by means of a disenchantment process: each is equally instrumental, and “just as myths already entail enlightenment, with every step enlightenment entangles itself more deeply in mythology” (Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, 8). And this just is the famous “dialectic of enlightenment.” Habermas stresses two related aspects of this story. First, he highlights the extent to which the entire account – both myth and enlightenment – have their origins in power, in the desire to master nature. Second, Habermas stresses the extent to which everything – the entire process of myth or enlightenment  –  boils down to power relations, and that enlightenment reason just is another expression of power. Here are two representative passages: Reason itself destroys the humanity it first made possible – this far reaching thesis, as we have seen, is grounded in … the fact that from the very start the process of enlightenment is the result of a drive to self‐preservation that mutilates reason, because it lays claim to it only in the form of a purposive‐rational mastery of nature and instinct  –  precisely an instrumental reason. (Habermas 1983, 100) So what enlightenment has perpetrated on myth, they apply to the process of enlightenment as a whole. Inasmuch as it turns against reason as the foundation of its own validity, critique becomes total. (Habermas 1991, 118–119)

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The range of readings of Dialectic of Enlightenment that operate essentially according to this rubric are too vast to cite, but, in many ways, Habermas’ reading sets the standard. The point that Habermas and others agree on is the fact of a particular regressive understanding of history, a philosophy of history that is ultimately and entirely opposed to any progressive reading of the historical record (Brunkhorst 2000; Schnädelbach 1989; Schoolman 2001). Furthermore, it is a reading that stresses the origins of the enlightenment and its problems out of a basic natural fact about humans: that they pursue self‐­ preservation, that is, that “human beings have sought to control nature in the hope that this control will enhance their ability to preserve themselves. The whole enlightenment effort to distance human beings from nature is fueled by a natural desire for self‐preservation” (Stone 2008, 51). I will question elements of this reading shortly, but before that, let me finish Habermas’ story, all in order to set up an alternative reading. Habermas accuses Horkheimer and Adorno of presenting an account that is ultimately self‐defeating and self‐liquidating: if reason is merely instrumental, always somehow in the service of fear and self‐preservation, then it is difficult to see what possibilities reasoned critique offers (Vogel 1996, 66ff). As Habermas notes, Horkheimer and Adorno ultimately “surrendered themselves to an uninhibited scepticism regarding reason” (Habermas 1991, 129). This is problematic on its own terms, but also on the terms that Horkheimer and Adorno set for themselves when they stress in the preface to the book that their critique was “intended to prepare a positive concept of enlightenment which liberates it from its entanglement in blind domination” (Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, xviii). Habermas takes such a dead‐end exactly to point toward his own conception of communicative rationality, with its transformation – for the better – of the lifeworld (Habermas 1979, 1984). Of course, there are problems with Habermas’ theory, even for those sympathetic to it, chief among them that it too is unable to entirely do away with the residue of something beyond reason as somehow essential to it (de Vries 2005, 108–167). More pressingly, there is also the fact that framing this as a dead‐end or a performative contradiction is itself disputable. It may be the case that what we have here is instead an aporia (Allen 2014; Noppen 2015), and that what such an aporia suggests is not a “dead‐end,” but rather the opening for new conceptual moves that locate such an aporia as its origin, that is, one that aims to stress a distinct sort of reflection on the fact that such an aporia operates here, and thereby only to “prepare a positive concept of enlightenment and not to lay it all out” (Noppen 2015, 311), where ultimately we are “as mindful of the dangers of enlightenment rationality as we are of our commitment to it” (Allen 2014, 22).

3.  Dialectic of Enlightenment and Agency More pressing, there are two particular problems for this “standard” reading. The first problem is simply that the range of references within Dialectic of Enlightenment far exceeds anything like a historical allusion to the enlightenment (and this is true no matter how one casts “The Enlightenment,” or where one locates it origins). Strikingly, Horkheimer and Adorno refer back even to ancient Greece and Israel in elements of their account. This has led to claims that essentially suggest that Dialectic of Enlightenment “is not a historical treatise but a collection of haphazardly chosen and unexplained examples to illustrate various forms of the debasement of ‘enlightened’ ideals” (Kolakowski 1978, 3:373). A more charitable reading might suggest that these ought to be read as Weberian “ideal‐types,” but this then threatens to make the text too positivistic, eliding the way in which history – actual 253

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history – is invoked (Rose 1978, 103). The second problem is that it is hard how to understand the necessity involved: is it the case that whatever regression is happening according to the Dialectic of Enlightenment is merely historically contingent? That is, could things have possibly turned out differently if the enlightenment had unfolded differently? Say, if the Atlantic slave trade had never taken hold or if imperialism or colonialism had never taken off as a strategy within the West? Or is it the case that there is some stronger sense of necessity involved here? But if it is the latter, then how do we account for the allegedly historical nature of the account? This has led interpreters to recognize that one can – indeed ought to – give a different reading of the text, acknowledging that it is not a historical account of anything like a period known as the Enlightenment, but is instead an argument about “enlightening thought,” and indeed, this seems, in fact, to be exactly what Horkheimer and Adorno propose in the first line of the text, when they note that, “Enlightenment understood in the widest sense as the advance of thought, has always aimed at liberating human beings from fear and installing them as masters” (Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, 1). On such a view, the argument of the text is fundamentally about human agency, about what it means to make decisions and to enact them in the world. Adorno himself confirms such a view when he writes, years later, in Negative Dialectics that, “as far back as we can trace it, the history of thought has been a dialectic of enlightenment” (Adorno 1973, 118). While the parameters of how to unpack the view show some variance, a guiding thread seems to be that reason is somehow deformed, so that ultimately “our modern aspiration to eliminate all ‘myth’ from reason … to let reason rule autonomously, is what generates the antagonistic space of reason that is neutral, impersonal, without subjective accompaniment” (Bernstein 2001, 133). In other words, both “bureaucratic rationalization” and “the rationalization of reason” (felt most acutely as the skepticism that reason comes to feel even toward itself) leads to a reason that is fundamentally divorced from and, indeed, actively “disavows and destroys” something “intrinsic to it” (Bernstein 2001, 134, 135). The “intrinsic” element here is of course Adorno’s famous notion of the nonidentical, but  how to unpack that term has ranged from everything from an “embodied ‘thing‐­ experience’” (Finke 2008, 89) to “auratic particularity” (Bernstein 2001) to capturing “what is left out in the subsumption of the particular under a concept” (Freyenhagen 2013, 48) to “a logical space where there is nothing to be known” (Shuster 2015, 12) to “the particularity of the object that is not subjected to universalizing concepts or categorization” (O’Connor 2004, 48). What appears to hold these conceptions together is the idea that the dialectic of enlightenment somehow deforms reason because it forces reason to miss or to abandon something essential. We might call this an “objective” view of the ­dialectic of enlightenment, where this term signifies only the idea that the construction of an object of reason (whatever that object may be) leaves something out, in Adorno’s words, that “the name of dialectics says no more, to begin with, than that objects do not go into their concepts without leaving a remainder” (Adorno 1973, 5). It is important to note that while such a view avoids some of the pitfalls that the historical view raises about necessity and contingency, it raises other related issues. When the dialectic of enlightenment is tied strictly to an argument about agency, it is no longer possible to link the dialectic explicitly to the barbarism of Auschwitz, and what it signifies (Adorno 2000, 101; Freyenhagen 2013, 28–29), but rather only to stress that “nothing within instrumental reason provides rational resources to resist such atrocities” or that “more directly, [that] the atrocities themselves radically depended on rationalized social practices” (Bernstein 2017, 209). It is not thereby the case that “Auschwitz or its like … 254

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was, somehow … inevitable” (Bernstein 2017, 209), and that, ultimately, “the ‘problem’ of the dialectic of enlightenment is not reducible to worries” about such material conditions of suffering (Shuster 2014a, 34). To be sure, there is a link, but it is certainly not causal: the dialectic of enlightenment instead makes human agency such that agents become more susceptible to political and/or social deformities of the sort exemplified by Auschwitz. The analogy here is to someone like Hannah Arendt (Auer et al. 2003; Rensmann and Gandesha 2012; Villa 2007), who thinks that the creation of a certain sort of thoughtlessness, creates an agent who is essentially a “nobody” and that totalitarianism is a distinct evil that is orchestrated by a mass of such nobodies (Shuster 2018). I have wanted to stress this point in order to note that there is a way, proposed recently (Hulatt 2016a; Shuster 2014a), to understand the dialectic of enlightenment as an argument solely about agency or reason, as opposed to the object of reason; that is, that the dialectic of enlightenment is fundamentally an argument about human subjectivity as opposed to how such subjectivity constructs its objects. Such a view might be termed a “subjective” view of the dialectic of enlightenment. What is striking about both versions of this view is the extent to which they orient the dialectic of enlightenment around the thought of Immanuel Kant, with each view stressing an element of the basic Kantian picture in order to present a reading of Horkheimer and Adorno’s project. In what follows I sketch these two arguments, showing how they surprisingly rest on a common thread in Kant’s thought, but how they also thereby present a distinct problem that neither author has thus far recognized. I conclude by presenting a sketch of how this problem might be addressed by means of the work of Sigmund Freud. The remainder of this essay is thereby heavily invested in the thought of Kant and Freud (and, importantly, how the latter himself engages with the former), assuming that bringing to the fore core issues for each of these thinkers is the best way both to sharpen and understand Horkheimer and Adorno’s dialectic.

4.  Dialectic of Enlightenment and Kant There are many interlocutors for Dialectic of Enlightenment and increasingly even obscure ones such as James Frazer (Hulatt 2016a, 7ff) and Roger Callois (Hammer 2015, 59; Hulatt 2016b) are being recognized. The evidence for Kant being a central interlocutor – at least for the first essay of Dialectic of Enlightenment – is initially circumstantial. Note, for example, the references to Francis Bacon in the opening pages of the Dialectic of Enlightenment and to the B edition of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Similarly, in a May 23, 1942 letter to Leo Löwenthal, Horkheimer explains the Dialectic of Enlightenment as follows: “Enlightenment here is identical with bourgeois thought, nay, thought in general” (Wiggerhaus 1994, 314).2 Framing the project as applying to “thought in general” should immediately call to mind Kant’s stress, in his famous letter to Marcus Herz of 1772, on delineating “what is the ground of the relation of that in us which we call ‘representation’ to the object” (Kant 1999, 71), that is, that we need to explore “the synthesis of conditions of a thought in general” (Kant 1998, A397). Linking Kant’s project and bourgeois thought is a move that can readily be understood in the context of György Lukács’ procedure in History and Class Consciousness, where Lukács sees Kant’s thought essentially as an expression of bourgeois alienation (Lukács 1972, 110ff). My aims are not to validate this picture, or even to claim that Horkheimer and Adorno take it up wholesale in Dialectic of Enlightenment (it is obvious, for example, from, say, both Adorno’s writings on Kant and on 255

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Lukács, that his views of Kant are somewhat more nuanced). My aim instead is only to make more plausible the idea that Dialectic of Enlightenment is, at bottom, fundamentally engaged with Kant. To bring this claim into sharper focus, let me rehearse one way in which this has been unpacked in my Autonomy after Auschwitz, and in subsequent responses to engagements with the book (Shuster 2017). Early in the first – and most important essay – of Dialectic of Enlightenment, Horkheimer and Adorno claim that: “the teachings of the priests were symbolic in the sense that in them sign (Zeichen) and image (Bild) coincide” (Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, 12). This line unlocks the door to Horkheimer and Adorno’s text. According to their story, “signs” calculate and categorize the world, while “images” resemble it; each orients a different possibility of relation to the world, for parsing the fundamental relationship between subject and object. In relating to the world by means of  signs, one gives up the possibility of being akin to it  –  one solely classifies objects in the  world, allowing such classifications, themselves always general, to “stand for” the particular. In relating to the world by means of images, one becomes like the world and thereby gives up the possibility of knowing it on such general terms – one “knows” it solely through imitation (a knowledge, thereby, that is really no knowledge because it cannot be generalized beyond this relation). Broadly speaking, these two orientations toward the world share formal features with the two worldviews that have been recognized to be at the center of Dialectic of Enlightenment, namely the mythological and enlightening. Horkheimer and Adorno stress, however, that at some point – which they designate as “magical” – these two coincided. In short, and crucially, there is in Dialectic of Enlightenment a tripartite periodization (Shuster 2014a, 18–20, Vogel 1996, 52–53). The significance to this tripartite periodization is that this magical period is allegedly prior to both the mythological and the enlightening worldview, and it is also entirely unconsciously mimetic (Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, 12–13). As Horkheimer and Adorno put it, “neither the unity of nature nor the unity of the subject was presupposed by magical incantation” (Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, 6). When a mythological orientation to the world enters the scene, it is a fundamentally conscious orientation between a subject and an object, and even though it operates symbolically  –  in other words, mimetically  –  it does so in order for a subject to consciously do something to nature as an object for consciousness (Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, 12). I take all of this to suggest that the story that Horkheimer and Adorno are really concerned with is a story about self‐consciousness – apperception – about what it means to be a cognitive and practical agent. If this is the case, then Dialectic of Enlightenment fits squarely into a distinct German philosophical tradition that finds its sharpest expression initially in Kant and culminates in German Idealism. This is one way to understand Horkheimer and Adorno’s claim that “the separation of sign and image is inevitable” (Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, 13). In other words, once self‐consciousness is on the scene, then such a separation is unavoidable, that is, inevitable – a requirement of and for self‐consciousness. Again, as Horkheimer and Adorno themselves put it, “philosophy has perceived the abyss opened by this separation as the relationship between intuition and concept and ever vainly tries to close it; indeed, philosophy is defined by this attempt” (Horkheimer 1987, 5:40; Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, 13, translation modified). Horkheimer and Adorno are themselves stressing this Kantian pedigree, arguing that the core philosophical issue is how we ought to understand self‐conscious activity, and thereby the relationship between subject and object. This issue underwrites whatever else is going on in Dialectic of Enlightenment. 256

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Bringing this orientation into focus makes accessible certain cryptic remarks in the first essay of Dialectic of Enlightenment. For example, Horkheimer and Adorno write: [According to Kant,] there is no being in the world that knowledge cannot penetrate, but what can be penetrated by knowledge is not being. Philosophical judgment, after Kant, aims at the new yet recognizes nothing new, since it always merely repeats what reason has placed into objects beforehand … both subject and object are nullified. The abstract self, which alone confers the legal right to record and systematize, is confronted by nothing but abstract material, which has no other property than to be the substrate of that right. The equation of mind and world is finally resolved, but only in the sense that the two sides cancel out. (Horkheimer 1987, 5:48–49; Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, 19–20, translation modified)

There are two important claims here. The first claim is about the operations of consciousness and of what that means for the relationship between subject and object. The second claim is about what happens more broadly in light of this relationship. To get a grip on the first claim, let me sketch some of the Kantian background here, especially the way in which Kant conceives his project when developing the 1st Critique. In the aforementioned 1772 letter to Herz, where Kant initially outlines what he intends to pursue in the 1st Critique, he notes his guiding question as: “what is the ground of the relation of that in us which we call ‘representation’ to the object?” (Kant 1999, 71) The 1st Critique, then, is explicitly concerned with the problem of reference: how can there be an object for consciousness in the first place? One way to understand both the difficulty that Kant encounters (it is not by accident that there is a nine‐year gap between the Herz letter and the appearance of the 1st Critique) and the radical nature of his proposal is to acknowledge that Kant realizes that properly unpacking the role of self‐consciousness in the construction of representation and objectivity is key. Famously, in the A edition of the transcendental deduction of the 1st Critique, Kant introduces three synthetic acts (Kant 1998, A97; Longuenesse 1998, 35ff), which might be understood as follows. Every intuition contains a manifold (Kant 1998, A99), but such a manifold is possible only if at any particular moment there is synthetic activity that allows for such unity: the unity of the manifold requires that it have a spatiotemporal character, that is, the unity of space and time is what allows for the unity of a manifold, variations of which are always situated spatially and temporally (the synthesis of apprehension). Because of this spatiotemporal character and because the inputs that make up the manifold come in discretely, from moment to moment, an element from the last moment must be apprehended and then reproduced in order to be connected to the next apprehension (synthesis of reproduction). And all of this is possible only if the elements that make up a manifold are recognized in a concept that requires us to understand them as belonging to one manifold (synthesis of recognition in a concept). How is this possible? Only if there is one consciousness in and by which everything is unified: I could not even so much have the idea of a unified manifold if there was not synthetic activity, which itself presupposes apperceptive activity. As Kant notes, “for the mind could not possibly think of the identity of itself in the manifoldness of its representations, and indeed think this a priori, if it did not have before its eye the identity of its action, which subjects all synthesis of apprehension … to a transcendental unity, and first makes possible their connection in accordance with a priori rules” (Kant 1998, A108). Kant stresses, though, that because such experience is mine – unified, self‐conscious – then I also know, a priori, that my consciousness, for it to be mine, will always be unitary and numerical across time, even into the future (else it would not be mine). And this is only 257

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­ ossible through the categories of judgment, through the synthetic activity of self‐conp sciousness, and through the conceptualization of an “object in general,” which is the very thing that allows self‐consciousness to apperceptively stretch across time; that is, the manifold can only achieve unity with and through such a concept, which, in turn, requires the synthetic activity of consciousness (Kant 1998, A108ff). Kant’s descriptions of the innovations of his transcendental philosophy are striking: “Transcendental knowledge … is occupied not so much with objects as with our a priori concepts of objects in general” (Kant 1998, A11–12). Apperception, thereby, grounds both the experience of self‐consciousness and of objectivity. And Adorno himself is keenly aware of this point as he notes in his own commentary on the 1st Critique, apperception is “not just something in me, but is always and at the same time present in the experiences concerned, because the experiences, the appearances, are in truth always only mine, they are mediated through me” (Adorno 2001, 140). The omnipresence of apperceptive activity, however, is exactly the issue that animates the argument of the dialectic of enlightenment. When Horkheimer and Adorno claim that “there is no being in the world that knowledge cannot penetrate, but what can be penetrated by knowledge is not being” (Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, 19), they are commenting on this aspect: that seeing all of experience as conditioned by apperception is actually to make a problem of both objectivity (at bottom really only somehow subjectivity) and of subjectivity (itself only possible by means of objectivity, which has been undermined). I take Horkheimer and Adorno to be explicitly commenting on this state of affairs, when they note that the abstract self, which alone confers the legal right to record and systematize, is confronted by nothing but abstract material, which has no other property than to be the substrate of that right. The equation of mind and world is finally resolved, but only in the sense that the two sides cancel out. (Horkheimer 1987, 5:49, Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, 20, translation modified)

Similarly, when they claim that, “the identity of everything with everything is bought at the cost that nothing can be identical to itself ” (Horkheimer 1987, 5:35; Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, 8), I take them to be stressing that since apperceptive activity is “behind” the possibility of any objective experience, then apperceptive identity is itself ultimately compromised. The charge is that if the subject is active on both sides of the equation – in the construction of subjective experience and in the construction of the object of that experience – then everything is “reduced to a single common denominator … the subject” (Horkheimer 1987, 5:29; Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, 4).3 Horkheimer and Adorno stress the extent to which Kant’s procedure – with its stress on apperception – is exactly to understand the subject as perpetually (importantly, into every future moment as well as the present one) involved in the production of the object: in the origination of subjectivity as well as the production – construction – of objectivity. For Horkheimer and Adorno, such a procedure fundamentally reintroduces fate and myth, since the very objectivity that would lay claim to service as a counterbalance to human subjectivity, is itself only constructible by means of the activity of subjectivity. Furthermore, there emerges here an additional threat, which is that the subject itself tends toward rigidity, since its governing principle is always self‐identity. In the remainder of this section, I want to take up another recent argument, one proposed by Owen Hulatt in Adorno’s Theory of Philosophical and Aesthetic Truth (Hulatt 258

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2016a). Hulatt’s argument unfolds from a similar assumption about the alleged Kantian foundations of the dialectic of enlightenment, but reaches a quite different conclusion and attempts to countenance more of the traditional reading. Thus, he notes that, for Kant “(1) the application of concepts is necessary for continuous unified experience, and (2) experience of an object that is not conceptually mediated is impossible” (Hulatt 2016a, 5). Allegedly, “Adorno mirrors the general structure of Kant’s account” but ultimately jettisons “claim (2)” (Hulatt 2016a, 5). The basic idea driving the account is the thought that “conceptuality originated in a primal experience of terror, caused by mankind’s [sic] inability to comprehend its immediate surroundings” (Hulatt 2016a, 6). Concepts – and, it seems, thereby, self‐consciousness  –  originates fundamentally for pragmatic reasons: because early humans needed these to master nature and to deal with its threats (Hulatt 2016a, 7, 8, 19, 23ff), ultimately, “concepts are ‘tools’ that work in service of an extraconceptual project – namely, the project of mastering and manipulating the individual’s environment” (Hulatt 2016a, 8). In unpacking these claims, Hulatt also stresses a relatively uncited passage in the first essay of the Dialectic of Enlightenment: The split between animate and inanimate, the assigning of demons and deities to certain specific places, arises from [the] pre‐animism [inculcated by man’s [sic] original terror]. Even the division of subject and object is prefigured in it. If the tree is addressed no longer as simply a tree but as evidence of something else, a location of mana, language expresses the contradiction that it is at the same time itself and something other than itself, identical and not identical. Through the deity speech is transformed from tautology into language. The concept, usually defined as the unity of the features of what it subsumes, was rather, from the first, a product of dialectical thinking, in which each thing is what it is only by becoming what it is not. This was the primal form of the objectifying definition, in which concept and thing became separate, the same definition which was already far advanced in the Homeric epic and trips over its own excesses in modern positive science. But this dialectic remains powerless as long as it emerges from the cry of terror, which is the doubling, the mere tautology of terror itself. (Hulatt 2016a, 11; Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, 11)

The idea is that at some point, concept and object were unified, with each specific object having its own distinct concept (Hulatt 2016a, 11–12); the analogy might be to a proper name (Hulatt 2016a, 14). The “tautology” here just is the tautology of the proper name: any such “concept” is necessarily true. Of course, one may get the wrong name, but that is a categorically different mistake than applying the wrong concept, that is, we are dealing with a problem of reference, not description (Kripke 1980). In response, one might pursue two distinct stories here. One might claim that proper names eventually become available to language, something that admits of a publicity that permits manipulation by pragmatic interests, here exemplified best and most prominently by the possibility – and diversity – of the control sought by agents. Language, in fact, might be said to emerge from this state of affairs; there are interesting parallels here to Benjamin (2002b). With language are also born universals, and thereby all of the problems with respect to conceptualization that Adorno’s oeuvre is so adept at exhibiting (Bernstein 2001, 188–235). The cry of terror just is the recognition of the failure of control. Hulatt, however, does not pursue this story. Hulatt alternatively suggests that before the emergence of universals as a conceptual apparatus, there were “no generizable criteria that could be ground for a unifying judgment” and that thereby “experience at this stage was discontinuous” (Hulatt 2016a, 20). Hulatt’s claim is that “it is just this discontinuity that occasioned the ‘cry of terror’” (Hulatt 2016a, 20). 259

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This is a striking and innovative reading of Dialectic of Enlightenment, and surely its diagnosis of the Kantian roots to Horkheimer and Adorno’s approach profitably matches up to elements of the account sketched in Autonomy after Auschwitz. At the same time, there is here a conceptual problem that cuts to the heart of Kantian philosophy. Hulatt stresses that in the state of affairs he takes Horkheimer and Adorno to describe: “objects would have appeared as radically particular, completely unanalyzable into properties, parts, or relations. This implies that experience across time of these objects could not be synthesized into a continuous form” (Hulatt 2016a, 21). He claims that, “consciousness lived in a world entirely without an ontology of persistent objects” (Hulatt 2016a, 22). Such claims, however, are in tension with the very Kantian background that Hulatt is explicitly invoking: without persistent objects, there could be no self‐consciousness. As Kant himself notes: Substances (in appearance) are the substrata of all time‐determinations [and thereby essential for the achievement of self‐consciousness]. The arising of some of them and the perishing of others would itself remove the sole condition of the empirical unity of time, and the appearances would then be related to two different times, in which existence flowed side by side, which is absurd. (Kant 1998, B232, editorial gloss added, Shuster 2017)

The suggestion that there was a conscious but discontinuous experience of impermanent objects is impossible on Kantian grounds. Perhaps there are other ways of presenting an account of self‐consciousness, but given the argument of either Kant’s transcendental deduction or the Refutation of Idealism (Förster 1989; Shuster 2014b), as well as the 1st and 2nd analogies, I am unsure how such an account might operate. In this way, with reference to the neglected passage that Hulatt highlights, my suggestion would be instead to opt for the first reading suggested earlier.

5.  On the Importance of Freud Nonetheless, Hulatt’s account raises a crucial issue: how can we account for the emergence of self‐consciousness on the Kantian reading of Dialectic of Enlightenment? Importantly, this is not a question merely tacked on as a bit of philosophical curiosity, but is rather a question that cuts to the heart of what sort of account Horkheimer and Adorno propose with the dialectic of enlightenment, and of how exactly to frame and situate their larger aims and claims, and most importantly, of how to frame the relationship between the natural and the normative (Pippin 2009; Sellars 1963; Shuster 2014a). Freud is an important interlocutor for getting some traction on this question, and especially for how we might understand Horkheimer and Adorno’s implicit commitments. The influence of Freud on Dialectic of Enlightenment – especially on how mimesis (Rabinbach 2000, 55ff) and repression (Whitebook 2004, 77ff) are actualized in that text – has been well‐noted, as has the influence of Freud on the Frankfurt School more broadly (Allen 2015; Fong 2016; Jay 1973; Whitebook 1996), and on Adorno more specifically (Bloch 2019; Lee 2014; Sherratt 1999; Stone et al. 2012). The Freud that is most salient to this question, about the origins of consciousness, however, is a Freud relatively undiscussed by Adorno (or his interpreters), namely the Freud of Beyond the Pleasure Principle (a 1920 text that Adorno cites only sporadically). Yet, Horkheimer and Adorno do engage frequently with Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents (1930) and the way in which it deploys the 260

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notion of a “death instinct,” which has its origins in Beyond the Pleasure Principle. It should not be surprising, then, that elements of Beyond the Pleasure Principle might be taken to animate some of the core assumptions of the Dialectic of Enlightenment. Beyond the Pleasure Principle is a notoriously difficult and controversial text (Fong 2016, 28) that likely has its origins in a response to the work of Sabina Spielrein (Sells 2017, 119ff; Spielrein 1994). I mention this not because I can in the space here provide any comprehensive account of Freud’s relationship to Spielrein, but rather to highlight the sort of intellectual pursuit that orients these texts: following Spielrein, Freud attempts to understand death as a structural feature of life. All of this might sound, at best, peculiar, and at worst, ridiculous, but, I think if the speculative impulses of Freud’s text are highlighted, then such an approach becomes significantly less mysterious. Let me sketch how. Note that Freud himself is here concerned with certain Kantian themes  –  explicitly (Freud 2001, 18:28) and implicitly  –  as when he initiates the theoretical aspect of his discussion by noting that “becoming conscious and leaving behind a memory‐trace are processes incompatible with each other within one and the same system” (Freud 2001, 18:25). Freud is himself here stressing the significance of apperception, and distinguishing it fundamentally from mere sensory stimulation or impingement. More might be said about Freud’s relationship to Kant (Longuenesse 2017; Tauber 2009), but I instead want to focus on how Freud envisions the origins of consciousness. After speculating that within a living organism, the outer layer (the layer exposed to the world of external stimuli) would undergo some sort of change, in his words, would be so “baked through” (durchgebrannt), that it would admit of no further modification, achieving something that admits of no further modification (i.e. perceptive consciousness), Freud also stresses the extent to which such a layer is so saturated with perceptive capacities that it thereby presents the “most favourable possible conditions for the reception of stimuli.” Recognizing the speculative nature of such a train of thought, Freud notes that “none the less, this speculation will have enabled us to bring the origin of consciousness into some sort of connection with the situation of the system Cs. and with the peculiarities that must be ascribed to the excitatory processes taking place in it” (Freud 2001, 18:27). In “The Unconscious,” Freud conceives of “the system Cs.” as what he terms “preconscious,” which ought to be understood exactly as the (apperception‐laced) construction of a manifold in the Kantian sense (Freud 2001, 14:173), that is, something constructed by a subject and available for uptake into consciousness. Whatever it is may never consciously be taken up – as when I perceive the red light in front of me, but do not ever become conscious of having done so, even though I am capable of doing so (e.g. if someone were to say, “Did you see that red light?,” my response would be, “yes,” even if I may never explicitly and consciously concern myself with having seen it). Freud is thus suggesting that something about the workings of apperception and stimulation are important to the understanding the origins of consciousness. Of course, this is all still quite cryptic and mysterious. At this point Freud proceeds to tell a quite peculiar and speculative story about the origins of life and of the death instinct. It goes roughly as follows (Fong 2016, 29ff). First, allegedly “inanimate things existed before living ones” (Freud 2001, 18:38). At some point life arises – it is impossible to say how or why (Freud 2001, 18:38). With the emergence of life, there arises an initial tension, wherein “what had hitherto been an animate substance endeavoured to cancel itself out. In this way the first instinct came into being: the instinct to return to the inanimate state” (Freud 2001, 18:38). Thus, the introduction of the death instinct (Fong 2016, 30). During such an early stage, returning to an inanimate state 261

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must have been relatively simple, so the speculative puzzle that Freud is then led to is how this process might have become more complicated. He notes: For a long time, perhaps, living substance was thus being constantly created afresh and easily dying, till decisive external influences altered in such a way as to oblige the still surviving substance to diverse ever more widely from its original course of life and to make ever more complicated detours before reaching its aim of death. These circuitous paths to death, faithfully kept to by the conservative instincts, would thus present us to‐day with the picture of the phenomena of life. (Freud 2001, 18:38–39, emphasis added)

Yet, Freud also seems to claim that, trapped in “the middle of an external world charged with the most powerful energies” (Freud 2001, 18:27), such an organism developed a sort of protective, outer shield that prevents its complete destruction. Such a shield forms its “outermost surface” and “ceases to have the structure proper to living matter, becomes to some degree inorganic and thenceforward functions as a special envelope or membrane resistant to stimuli” (Freud 2001, 18:27). Even on this rubric, if the organism aims at death, it is not obvious why it would go through the trouble of forming such a protective shell in order to defend itself against overstimulation (Fong 2016, 31). We can begin to answer this question if we note how Freud himself continues the story. He writes: The organism acquires the shield in this way: its outermost surface ceases to have the structure proper to living matter, becomes to some degree inorganic and thenceforward functions as a special envelope or membrane resistant to stimuli. In consequence, the energies of the external world are able to pass into the next underlying layers, which have remained living, with only a fragment of their original intensity; and these layers can devote themselves, behind the protective shield, to the reception of the amounts of stimulus which have been allowed through it. By its death, the outer layer has saved all the deeper ones from a similar fate. (Freud 2001, 18:27)

Freud’s suggestion seems to be that the organism does seek death, but – once an organism gets organically sophisticated enough  –  it does so essentially piecemeal, where its outer layer radically changes and that this process of change is what inadvertently allows it to develop further. Life, paradoxically, may end up being preserved in an organism that actually is not aiming to prolong its life. Nonetheless, such an approach itself raises a fundamental question: why would an organism so much as be able to distinguish between inside and outside? Why wouldn’t the entire organism tend toward death? Here, again, Freud adds an interesting genetic speculation when he notes: First, the feelings of pleasure and unpleasure (which are an index to what is happening in the interior of the apparatus) predominate over all external stimuli. And secondly, a particular way is adopted of dealing with any internal excitations which produce too great an increase of unpleasure: there is a tendency to treat them as though they were acting, not from the inside, but from the outside, so that it may be possible to bring the shield against stimuli into operation as a means of defence against them. This is the origin of projection, which is destined to play such a large part in the causation of pathological processes. (Freud 2001, 18: 29)

Note that Freud makes sense of this suggestion by prefacing it with an invocation of Kant. Immediately prior to this paragraph, he claims that in light of certain psychoanalytic discoveries (presumably, the bit of abovementioned speculation), “we are today in a position 262

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to embark on a discussion of the Kantian theorem that time and space are ‘necessary forms of thought’” (ibid. 28). Freud continues noting that, “We have learnt that unconscious mental processes are in themselves ‘timeless’ … On the other hand, our abstract idea of time seems to be wholly derived from the method of working of the system Pcpt.‐Cs. and to correspond to a perception on its own part of that method of working” (ibid.). What Freud is signaling here is that he is himself engaged with the problem that governs Kant’s philosophy and the dialectic of enlightenment, namely, that all of Freud’s talk of “inside and outside” ties into how the poles of subjectivity and objectivity emerge and are established; in short, Freud is also a post‐Kantian philosopher. Importantly, though, Freud’s suggestion is entirely impossible on Kantian grounds. Instead, Freud is repeating the mistake that Kant diagnoses in John Locke and other empiricists. As Kant notes, already in the Inaugural Dissertation: Thus the concept of time (regarded as if it had been acquired through experience) is very badly defined, if defined in terms of the series of actual things existing one after the other. For I only understand the meaning of the little word after, by means of the antecedent concept of time. For those things come after one another which exist at different times, just as those things are simultaneous which exist at the same time. (Kant 1912, 2:399, 1929, 55, translation modified)

Nonetheless, Freud’s proposal is important for understanding the origins of self‐consciousness and elements of Kant’s own project. Kant stresses – in differing ways, both in the A edition of the 1st Critique and in the B edition’s Refutation of Idealism  –  that there can be no temporal determination without spatial determination (Förster 1983), that is, no self‐consciousness without a distinction between inside and outside. In a deep way, this is a problem that orients Kant’s thinking from the publication of the A edition of the 1st Critique (Förster 2012, 66ff). Without rehearsing the complex story that winds its way through the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science all the way to the so‐called Opus Postumum (Förster 2000; Shuster 2014b), I only want to note that, taken in this context, Freud can  be  understood to be making an argument that exactly aims also to explain the origin of the distinction between inside and outside, and thereby of temporal and spatial determination. I take a plausible reconstruction of Freud’s story to be as follows. An organism is such that it is naturally endowed with and capable of feelings of pleasure and unpleasure. Such an organism is confronted with a world full of stimulation. The organism is also naturally equipped with a storehouse of such impressions. Every stimulation leaves behind an impression that remains after the stimulation has passed (this need not imply that there is any awareness of such a fact – think of how the treads on a tire become worn down). In “A Note Upon the ‘Mystic Writing Pad’” (Freud 2001, 19:230), Freud compares the entire process to a device where a thin sheet of plastic is placed over a wax surface: one may write on the plastic and have it stick to the wax, leaving indentations there; yet one can always remove the plastic, essentially making the plastic blank (even as the impressions remain in the wax); thus, its “mystical” character. Freud seems to think that somehow the “discontinuous method of functioning” of this entire system lies at the “bottom of the origin of the concept of time” (Freud 2001, 19:231). His wording is interesting here, and perhaps this may be how the origin of the concept of time comes about, but it could not explain the origin of temporal determination (i.e. the synthetic activity required to have the formal determination of time and space). Yet Freud’s basic model can be useful here. If, for whatever reason, certain stimuli, whether 263

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immediate or housed in impression banks, are taken as pleasurable or unpleasurable, then  a nascent distinction between inside and outside might be understood simply as the distinction between pleasure and unpleasure: certain things are located as “outside” (as distinct from the inside, from the “real” organism) because they displease, while others are brought close – inside – because they please. When Freud speaks of an “outermost surface” ceasing “to have the structure proper to living matter,” he ought to be understood not as tendering some mysterious claim about the origins of matter, but rather simply a claim about the activity of positing and organizing one’s body, of taking something as fundamentally expressive of who or what one is (a thinking being, a subject) and of taking something as external or outside – albeit still necessary – to it. As Kant himself puts it in his last work, the so‐called Opus Postumum, “Space and time in intuition are not things but the acts of the power of representation positing itself, through which the subject makes itself into an object” (Kant 1993, 193). Compare that also to Kant’s suggestion that, “The subject which makes the sensible representation of space and time for itself, is likewise an object to itself in this act. Self‐intuition. For, without this, there would be no self‐consciousness of a substance” (Kant 1993, 163). The picture that is emerging here is one where the basic act of self‐consciousness is a fundamentally normative one (Pippin 2000, 2009): it just is the case that the distinction between inside/outside requires my activity (and this is another way to understand how such activity may take a variety of paths, including ones that Freud terms “pathological,” but which we might gloss less pejoratively as instead simply falling on a continuum of inside and outside, and of what, for any particular form of life, it “makes sense” to put where on such a continuum [Pinkard 2004]). At the same time, such activity is itself prompted by – and thereby made possible through – feelings of pleasure and unpleasure. But ultimately, subject and object emerge simultaneously. As Hans Loewald puts it, “the psychological constitution of ego and outer world go hand in hand” (Loewald 1989, 5). One might imagine such feelings as nudging the organism toward activity, in the same way, say, that waves might nudge a jellyfish in a direction.

6. Conclusion Much more might be said here (Fong 2016, 41–58; Loewald 1989, 3ff), but due to limitations of space, I want to turn instead to a different worry: we may seem to be quite far afield of the Dialectic of Enlightenment. Quite the contrary. Take the importance of mimesis to Horkheimer and Adorno’s story. There is a way in which we might understand mimesis as having a central role to play in the constitution of self‐consciousness. Horkheimer and Adorno gloss mimetic activity as “organic adaption to otherness” (Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, 148). Such a stance importantly maps onto the story told thus far. The nascent organism – by means of the pull of pleasure and unpleasure – adapts to otherness (here, primarily actualized by its caretaker and provider) through a sort of seesaw effect: first, by identification with this other and, second, by a concomitant reassertion of self, that is, through internalization of the other in the midst of the other’s disappearance (Loewald 1989, 83). Pleasure and displeasure allow the organism to identify with the pleasurable while excluding the unpleasurable, and such a movement establishes inside and outside  –  subjectivity and objectivity  –  in embryonic form. Any such establishment is immediately threated by dissolution through absolute identification with pleasure, until the organism realizes the possibility of internalizing such pleasure by means of the stored 264

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impressions. As Horkheimer and Adorno (and Freud) frame it, the self “hardens itself ” (Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, 148) in light of such movement. The formation of self and world proceeds along a mimetic register. Walter Benjamin proposes a wonderful thought to capture the process: “what the state of the stars – millennia ago, at the moment of their birth – wrought with one human existence was woven there on the basis of similarity” (Benjamin 2002a, 698). Everything potentially serves as fodder for self and world formation. Over time, however, “bodily adaption to nature is replaced by ‘recognition in a concept’, the subsuming of difference under sameness” (Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, 148). Note here again, the explicit reference to Kant’s 1st Critique: “recognition in a concept” (B103). Once self‐consciousness and full‐blown conceptual activity and practice emerges, then the dialectic of enlightenment threatens to destroy everything from the inside out. Nothing in this account is thereby meant to deny the standard account of reason and self‐preservation (found in one way or another in Habermas and Hulatt, and others, as mentioned earlier). Instead, this story of self‐preservation must be properly contextualized and understood as emerging in a distinct context, one that prioritizes human agency – self‐consciousness – as a distinct issue with its own series of philosophical problems. The only hope that the Dialectic of Enlightenment presents – aspirational in nature here, but that is developed by Adorno in more detail in his later work – is to critically approach and assess the contribution of the subject, which is, as noted earlier, total in nature, but need not thereby be totalizing, that is, the subject can nonetheless realize that what’s on the outside exceeds our conceptual capacities, even if what it is will only appear “in the materials and categories of [what is] inside” (Adorno 1973, 149 translation modified, 1984, 6:143). Or, in Adorno’s words, “the corrective to the subjective reduction” is not “the denial of subjective share” (Adorno 1998, 250). Importantly, then, at the heart of Horkheimer and Adorno’s account is a reprioritization of human subjectivity, albeit in an ethical register, one that acknowledges the contribution of the subject as well as its inherent limitations. Filling in, by means of Freud, a speculative story about the origins of consciousness allows us to both fill in the details of this story and to make plausible one of Horkheimer and Adorno’s deepest aspirations, which is to see the dialectic of enlightenment as a critique implying total  –  totalitarian  –  implications (Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, 3). It just is the case that, in the words of William James, “the trail of the human serpent is over everything” (James 1979, 37). Recognizing this point – that the dialectic of enlightenment is deployed to critique a particular, philosophical conceptualization of self‐consciousness – allows us in fact to put ourselves in a position to actualize Horkheimer and Adorno’s deepest desire, which is the construction of “a positive concept of enlightenment” (Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, xviii).

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