By Alex Thomson
Essentially the most influential philosophers and cultural theorists of the 20th century, Theodor Adorno poses a substantial problem to scholars. His works can frequently appear vague and impenetrable, rather for people with little wisdom of the philosophical traditions on which he attracts. Adorno: A advisor for the at a loss for words is a fascinating and obtainable account of his idea that doesn't patronise or short-change the reader. these new to Adorno - and people who have struggled to make headway together with his paintings - will locate this a useful source: essentially written, finished and in particular keen on simply what makes Adorno tricky to learn and comprehend.
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Extra info for Adorno: a guide for the perplexed
P33) Important works of art are the ones that aim for an extreme; they are destroyed in the process and their broken outlines survive as the ciphers of a supreme, unnameable truth. (QF226) The close identification of a critic with a particular artist or movement can often be telling. In Adorno's case, a long association with the composer Arnold Schoenberg reveals a great deal about his approach not only to art and culture, but also to philosophy and criticism in general. Adorno first met Schoenberg through the latter's pupil Alban Berg, with whom he took composition lessons in 1925, and subsequently maintained contact until Berg's death ten years later.
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.
While Benjamin's work has been widely feted over the course of the last twenty years, Adorno remains misunderstood and maligned, in his own Germany as much as abroad. It is often claimed that to read German is a necessary condition for understanding Adorno. Even if that were true, the response in his homeland suggests that it can by no means be a sufficient one. Subsequent developments in European and American thought and society continue to show Adorno's work in an awkward light. e. his interest in the extent to which reality resists being understood or appropriated by conceptual thought, and his critique of the priority of the subject, prefigure similar concerns in the work of a younger generation of French thinkers, such as Derrida and Foucault, whose major works were beginning to be published in the last years of Adorno's life.
Adorno: a guide for the perplexed by Alex Thomson