Dennis R Redmond dredmond at OREGON.UOREGON.EDU
Tue Aug 10 03:00:00 PDT 1999

On Mon, 9 Aug 1999, Michael Pollak wrote:

> So there you have it. In an art form that he has devoted more passion to
> praising than any other, and which he knows more about than any other, he
> thinks that 99% of the people that listen to it are unable to get the
> liberatory potential from it.

But Adorno is exactly right, isn't he? The total system is just that -- total. It prevents people from understanding and comprehending great works of art, and fills up their time (and worse, their minds) with shopping malls and televised garbage. Only a few lucky individuals could possibly understand what the atonalists were doing at the time; but that doesn't mean that the 99% who didn't get it were right, any more than the LBOers on this list are wrong to believe that capitalism sucks and socialism would be a vast improvement, just because 75% of Americans still believe the Cold War fairytales about them thar Redz. It also doesn't mean that people can't learn their history and heritage, just that it won't happen by itself.

> listened to by a minority of the population to start with. And this from
> a man who thinks that in this degraded age liberatory potential is *only*
> to be found in great art, properly understood.

Not true. Quite the reverse: Adorno is critical of radical modern art, too, and insists that it alone cannot change things, it can only yield insights into the possibility that things might, someday, change. It opens the doors through which the subject must itself, in some form of free, creative praxis, walk through; no work of art, ideology, ukase or categorical imperative can substitute for that. But it *can* paint a huge, glowing arrow sign: "This Way to Utopia".

-- Dennis

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