By Alex Thomson
Some of the most influential philosophers and cultural theorists of the 20 th century, Theodor Adorno poses a substantial problem to scholars. His works can usually look vague and impenetrable, fairly for people with little wisdom of the philosophical traditions on which he attracts. Adorno: A advisor for the at a loss for words is an interesting and obtainable account of his inspiration that doesn't patronise or short-change the reader. these new to Adorno - and those that have struggled to make headway together with his paintings - will locate this a useful source: sincerely written, finished and in particular thinking about simply what makes Adorno tough to learn and comprehend.
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Extra resources for Adorno: a guide for the perplexed
Finally I conclude by arguing for the continued relevance of this account of art and culture, distinguishing Adorno's historical approach from that of more recent historicist criticism. ADORNO AND POPULAR MUSIC Adorno often remarks on the shock of Schoenberg's work for its first audiences, and the same problem seems to accompany his own writing. 3 What is remarkable is not the vehemence of this response, but how typical it remains of many readers' reactions. Adorno is best known in the English-speaking world for his writing on popular culture, mostly produced in the years of exile in the United States, despite the fact that it is a very small part of his philosophical and critical achievement.
His liberation from a 'naive belief in culture' and gaining 'the ability to see culture from the outside' means that Adorno can achieve two otherwise incompatible projects at once. He can criticize American life from the point of view of European culture; but he can also appreciate the challenge to culture represented by the example of American bourgeois democracy. From the perspective of the Weimar prophets of crisis, without culture there must be either unending disaster or apocalyptic reinvention.
It is often hard to locate Adorno's argument because he does not take a single position but juxtaposes two or more. The essay titled simply 'Cultural Criticism and Society', which stands at the beginning of his collection Prisms, suggesting that it might serve as a manifesto for the essays on particular topics within the book, is typically ambiguous. Adorno does not declare himself for or against cultural criticism; in fact one might say that no single statement or argument in the essay is itself a summation of his position.
Adorno: a guide for the perplexed by Alex Thomson
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