Dennis R Redmond dredmond at OREGON.UOREGON.EDU
Thu Aug 12 04:34:50 PDT 1999

On Tue, 10 Aug 1999, Michael Pollak wrote:

> have different standards. Adorno's cultural theory is nothing more the
> reasseration of Deep Kultur versus Shallow Zivilization. There is nothing
> progressive about such elitism; it is diametically opposed to your own
> views on art or culture as you've expressed them in lbo-talk; and it's got
> nothing to do with the Left.

Pas du tout. Adorno is just asking, over and over again, what exactly *is* this progress which the total system keeps trying to sell us. The total system damages everyone, including you and me; none of us are what we could be, in a liberated society ("Human beings are, without exception, not yet themselves" -- Adorno in Negative Dialectics). Adorno's take on aesthetics can be roughly paraphrased as follows: we spend most of our time gunning for market share, fighting for scraps of the social surplus, hacking and slashing our way through the mediatic jungles of information capitalism, doing violence to others, ourselves and our history. Great works of art somehow manage to index these contradictions, drawing out unforeseen resistances to this state of affairs; they take the most ordinary materials, and tweak them ever so slightly -- but this tinest of tweaks is also a messianic transformation, which somehow changes everything. Surely this is the profoundest and most accurate intuition of the social revolution we so badly need: a revolution which has to begin with what exists, the damaged and distorted reality around us, but which doesn't abolish real things or people (or liquidate such as unprofitable, or herd them into gulags, or sacrifice them for shareholder value) but *completes* them, stopping the socialized slaughter we call global corporate competition and healing the wounds we blindly inflict on ourselves.

Teddy was on to something here, even if he didn't know zip about jazz or film.

-- Dennis

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