By Alex Thomson
Probably the most influential philosophers and cultural theorists of the 20th century, Theodor Adorno poses a substantial problem to scholars. His works can frequently look vague and impenetrable, relatively for people with little wisdom of the philosophical traditions on which he attracts. Adorno: A consultant for the confused is a fascinating 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 along with his paintings - will locate this a useful source: basically written, entire and particularly excited by simply what makes Adorno tricky to learn and comprehend.
“'Alex Thompson's e-book not just illuminates Adorno's most crucial principles, it makes an unique contribution to modern social theory... The publication may be of serious clarificatory use for undergraduates, and may supply a lot stimulus to postgraduates and lecturers as well.' Darrow Schecter, collage of Sussex”
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Additional resources for Adorno: A Guide for the Perplexed (Guides for the Perplexed)
This tension is reversed in the thorny maze of Aesthetic Theory, which although incomplete at the time of his death, is the most intense expression of Adorno's own quest for form. The ambiguous title offers us both sides of Adorno's project: a theory of the aesthetic which must struggle to come to terms with the violence of arraigning the singularity of the art work under general categories, and a theory which itself aspires to the uniqueness and individuality of the art work. Part of the strangeness of Aesthetic Theory is that a work on the concept of art should make so little direct reference to specific works.
Alongside the critique of the culture industry which 'impedes the development of autonomous, independent individuals who judge and decide consciously for themselves' these 'would be the precondition of a democratic society which needs adults who have come of age in order to sustain itself and develop' (CI 106). Politically this means a commitment to 'democracy through representation, to which even the experts in the administration of cultural matters owe their legitimation' on the grounds that it 'permits a certain balance; it makes possible the hindrance of manoeuvres which serve barbarism through the corruption of the idea of objective quality by means of callous appeal to the common will' (CI 129).
Adorno wrote countless short essays and reviews for magazines and newspapers, testimonies to the occasional nature of criticism; other pieces, although collected in volumes of literary and musical writings, are equally addressed to a particular publication or event. Abstracted from their specific temporal and spatial occasion, a reader needs to expend considerable effort in reconstructing their context in order to get some sense of the specific force of each intervention. Part of the dialectical quality of Adorno's work is that it is very often a response - to what passes for common sense at the time of writing, to a specific claim made about a work, or to quite specific developments in particular artistic traditions - and so it helps to know something of the situation to appreciate Adorno's point.