key chapter from Herbert Marcuse's influential One Dimensional Man. Whether in titles or text, the great majority of the allusions in Minima Moralia, as will be seen, involve irony or inversion. All actual quotations - for example, from. P M L A Adorno's Advice: Minima Moralia and the Critique of Liberalism jakob norberg T HEODOR W. ADORNO'S MINIMA MORALIA, COMPOSED IN THE.
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Translator's notes: The existing English translation of Minima Moralia, by E.P. Thus argued Hegel, whose method schooled that of Minima Moralia, against the . AXI. M. ALEZ. mo. " Translated from the German by E. F. N. Jephcott. Reflections from Damaged Life. Minima Moralia. DYNAWAONYWAY. I': . R2B. - Teren-. Adorno-T-W-Minima-moraliapdf (file size: MB, MIME type: application/pdf). Expand view. THEODOR W. ADORNO, MINIMA.
T form, a. Where reasonable people are in agreement over the unreasonable be- haviour of others, we can always be sure to find something un- resolved that has been deferred, painful scars. It is of the same kind as the frozen likeness between all family members in the flashlight photographs of nineteenth-century albums. The ephe- meral image of harmony in which goodness basks only emphasizes more cruelly the pain of irreconcilability that it foolishly denies. The decision when to insen them has often proved difficult. If critical theory lingers there, it is not only with a bad conscience. The latter, as a result of social exchange, has been increased, but with a proviso dimly present to every bourgeois.
An uncompromising mind is the very opposite of primi- tivism, neophytism, or the 'non-capitalist world'. It presupposes experience, a historical memory, a fastidious intellect and above all an ample measure of satiety. It has been observed time and again how those recruited young and innocent to radical groupS have defected once they felt the force of tradition.
One must have tradition in oneself, to hate it properly. That snobs- show more aptitude than proletarians for avant-gartle movements in art throws light on politics too. Late-comers and newcomers have an alarming affinity to positivism, from Camap-worshippers in India to the stalwart defenders of the German masters Matthias Grunewald and Heinrich Schiitz.
Rudolf Camap Matthias Grunewald c.
Socialism is in general no more: It can happen easily enough that in the Far East Marx is put in the place vacated by Driesch and Rickert. Instead of expecting miracles of the pre-capitalist peoples, older nations should be on their guard against their un- imaginative, indolent taste for everything proven, and for the successes of the West. Focke-Wulff, Heinkel, Lancaster feature where once the talk was of cuirassiers, lancers and hussars. The mechanism for reproducing life, for dom..
The old exagger- ation of sceptical Liberals, that war was a business, has come true: State pOwer has shed even the appearance of independence from particular interests in profit; always in their service really, it now also places itself there ideologically..
Like the Thiny Years' War, this too - a war whose beginning no-one will remember when it comes to an end - falls into dis.. Its rhythm, the alternation of jerky action and total standstill for lack of geographically attainable enemies, has the same mechanical quality which characterizes individual military instruments and which too is doubtless what has resurrected the pre-Liberal fonn of the campaign.
But this mechanical rhythm completely deter- mines the human relation to the war, not only in the disproportion between individual bodily strength and the energy of machines, but in the most hidden cells of experience. Even in the previous con- flict the body's incongruity with mechanical warfare made real experience impossible. No-one could have recounted it as even the Anillery-Genend Napoleon'S battles could be recalled. The long interval between the war memoirs and the conclusion of peace is not fortuitous: But the Second War is as totally divorced from experience as is the functioning of a machine from the movements of the body, which only begins to resemble it in pathological states.
Just as the war lacks continuity, history, an 'epic' element, but seems rather to start anew from the beginning in each phase, so it will leave behind no permanent, unconSCiously preserved image in the memory- Everywhere, with each explosion, it has breached the barrier against stimuli beneath which experience, the lag between healing oblivion and healing recollection, forms.
Life has changed into a timeless succession of shocks, interspaced with empty, paralysed intervals. It is as if the reified, hardened faIte, Ir cast of events takes the place of events themselves. Men are paste -. It is just this aspect that underhes the much-mahgned deslgnanon 'phoney war'. But like all Fascist tendencies, this toO has its source in elements of reality, which assert themselves only by virtUe of the Fascist attitude malignantly insinuating them.
The war is really phoney, but with a phoneyness more horrifying than all the horrors, and those who mock at it are principal con- tributors to disaster. Had Hegers philosophy of history embraced this age, Hitler's robot-bombs would have found their place beside the early death of Alexander and similar images, as one of the selected empirical facts by which the state of the world-spirit manifests itself direcdy in symbols.
Like Fascism itself, the robots career without a subject. Like it they combine utmost technical perfection with total blind- ness. And like it they arouse mortal terror and are wholly futile. The idea that after this war life will continue 'normally' or even that CUlture might be 'rebuilt' - as if the rebuilding of culture were not already its negation - is idiotic.
Millions of Jews have been murdered, and this is to be seen as an interlude and not the catas- trophe itself. What more is this culture waiting for? As long as blow is followed by counter-blow,: If, however, the dead are not avenged and mercy is exercised, Fasci! The logic of history is as destructive as the people that it brings to prominence: Normality is death.
To the question what is to be done with defeated Germany, I could say only two things in reply. I should not wish, least of all with legal machinery, to stay the hand of anyone who was avenging past misdeeds. This is a thoroughly unsatisfactory, contradictory an- swer, one that makes a mockery of both principle and practice. But perhaps the fault lies in the question and not only in me. Cinema newsreel: The impression is not of battles, but of civil engineering and blast- ing operations undertaken with immeasurably intensified vehemence, also of 'fumigation', insect-extermination on a terrestrial scale.
Works are put in hand, until no grass grows. The enemy acts as patient and corpse. Satanically, indeed, more initiative is in a sense demanded here than in old-style war: Consummate in- humanity is the realization of Edward Grey's humane dream, war without hatred. Much knowledge, if out of pro- ponion to the disposition of forces, is invalid, however formally correct it may be. If an emigre doctor says: People thinking in the forms of free,: The almost insoluble task is to let neither the power of others, nor our own powerlessness, stupefy us.
Back to culture. Such art and thought as were exterminated by Hitler had long been leading a severed and apo- cryphal existence, whose last hideouts Fascism swept out. Anyone who did not play the game was forced into inner emigration years before the Third Reich broke out: The whole span of German culture was languishing, precisely where it was most liberal, for its Hitler, and it is an injustice to the editors of Masse and Ullstein 1 or to the reorganizers of the Franlc- fu.
This has led 10 fatal confusion. He is indeed. Both were taken over by the Nazis. TAe Health unto Death.
The libidinal achievements demanded of an individual behaving as healthy in body and mind, are such as can be performed only at the cost of the profoundest mutilation, of internalized castration in extroverts, beside which the old renunciation of identification with the father is the child's play as which it was first rehearsed. The regular guy, the popular girl, have to repress not only their desires and insights, but even the symptoms that in bourgeois times resulted from repression.
Just as the old injustice is not changed by a lavish display of light, air and hygiene, but is in fact con4ealed by the gleaming transparency of rationalized big business, the inner health of our time has been secured by blocking flight into illness without in the slightest altering its aetiology.
The dark closets have been abolished as a troublesome waste of space, and incorporated in the bathroom. What psycho-analysis suspected, before it became itself a part of I.
Inversion of the title of Kierkegaard's work Tia. The verses: Unruffied calm, already a prerequisite for applicants receiving highly-paid posts, is an image of the stifled silence that the employers of the personnel manager only later impose politically. The only ob;ective way of diagnosing the sickness of the healthy is by the incongruity between their rational existence and the possible course their lives might be given by reason.
All the same, the traces of illness give them away: The very people who burst with proofs of exuberant vitality could easily he taken for prepared corpses, from whom the news of their not-quite-successful decease has heen withheld for reasons of population policy.
Underlying the prevalent health is death. All the movements of health resemble the reflex-movements of beings whose heans have stopped beating. Y 37 TJUs sidB of the pleasure principle. Professional warmth, for the sake of profit, fabricates closeness and immediacy where people are worlds apart. It deceives its victim by affirming in his weakness the way of the world which made him so, and it wrongs him in the degree that it deviates from truth.
If Freud was deficient in such human sympathy, he would in this at least be in the company of the critics of political economy, which is better than that of Tagore or Werfe1.
As a specialist in psychology, he takes over the antithesis of social and egoistic, statically, without testing it. He no more discerns in it the work of repressive society than the trace of the disastrous mechan- isms that he has himself described. Or rather, he vacillates, devoid of theory and swaying with prejudice, between negating the renun- ciation of instinct as repression contrary to reality, and applauding it as sublimation beneficial to culrure.
In this contradiction some- thing of the Janus-character of culture exists objectively, and no amount of praise for healthy sensuality can wish it away. In Freud, however, it leads to a devaluation of the critical standard that decides the goal of analysis.
Freud's unenlightened enlightenment plays into the hands of bourgeois disillusion. As a late opponent of I. Rabindranath Tagore Bengali poet and philosopher of mystical populist inclinations. Franz Werfel 18 9O- 1 f: Austrian writer of religious-humani tarian pathos. Truth IS abandoned to relatiVIty and people to power.
He alone who could situate utopia in blind somatic pleasure, which, satisfying the ultimate intention, is intentionless, has a stable and valid idea of truth. In Freud's work, however, the dual hostility towards mind and pleasure, whose common root psycho-analysis has given us the means for discovering, is unintentionally repro- duced.
Those who feel equal revulsion for pleasure and paradise are indeed best suited to serve as objects: The thera- peUtically much-lauded transference, the breaking of which is not f? Ein Wint,rmarcA,n, see TAe 1. As if a happiness gained through speculation on happiness were not the opposite, a fUnher enroachment of institutionally planned behaviour-patterns on the ever-diminishing sphere of experience.
What a state the dominant consciousness must have reached, when the resolute proclamation of compulsive extravagance and champagne jollity, formerly re.. Prescribed happiness looks exactly what it is; to have a part in it, the neurotic thus made happy must forfeit the last vestige of reason left to him by repression and regression, and to oblige the analyst, display indiscriminate enthu- siasm for the trashy film, the expensive but bad meal in the French restaurant, the serious drink and the love-making taken like medi- cine as 'sex'.
As people have altogether too few inhibitions and not too many, without being a whit the healthier for it, a cathartic method with a standard other than successful adaptation and economic success would have to aim at bringing people to a consciousness of un- happiness both general and - inseparable from it - personal, and at depriving them of the illusory gratifications by which the abominable order keeps a second hold on life inside them, as if it did not already have them firmly enough in its power from outside.
Only when sated with false pleasure, disgusted with the goods offered, dimly aware of the inadequacy of happiness even when it is that - to say nothing of cases where it is bought by abandoning allegedly morbid resistance to its positive surrogate - can men gain an idea of what experience might be. The admonitions to be happy, voiced in concen by the scientifically epicurean sanatorium-director and the highly-strung propaganda chiefs of the entertainment- I.
Auffo,JerunB rum T an. That is the. J9 Ego is IJ. This ought not to obscure the contrary tendency also common to psychology and the bour- geois class, and which today has developed to the point of excluding all others: If all psychology since that of Protagoras has elevated man by conceiving him as the measure of all things, it has thereby also treated him from the first as an object, as material for analysis, and transferred to him, once he was included among them, the nullity of things.
The denial of objective truth by recourse to the subject implies the negation of the latter: But this points back to the real life-process of society. In appealing to the fact that in an exchange SOciety the subject was not one, but in fact a social object, psycho- logy provided society with weapons for ensuring that this was and remained the case.
But its removal also makes the residue all the easier to dOminate. This is flagrantly apparent in psycho-analysis. It incorporates personality as a lie needed for living, as the supreme rationalization holding together the innumerable rationalizations by which the individual achieves his instinctual renunciation, and accommodates himself to the reality principle.
But precisely in demonstrating this, it confirms man's non-being. Alienating him from himself, de- nouncing his autonomy with his unity, psycho-analysis subjugates him totally to the mechanism of rationalization, of adaptation. The ego's unflinching self-criticism gives way to the demand that the ego of the other capitulate. The psycho-analyst's wisdom finally becomes what the Fascist unconscious of the horror magazines takes it for: Suggestion and hypnosis, rejected by psycho-analysis as apocryphal, the charlatan magician masquerading before a fairground bdoth, reappear within its grandiose system as the silent film does in the Hollywood epic.
What was formerly help through greater knowledge has become the humiliation of others by dogmatic privilege. All that remains of the criticism of bourgeois consciousness is the shrug with which doctors have always Signalled their secret complicity with death. The latter, as a result of social exchange, has been increased, but with a proviso dimly present to every bourgeois.
The individual has been, as it were, merely invested with property by the class, and those in control are ready to take it back as soon as universalization of property seemS likely to endanger irs principle, which is precisely that of with- holding. It expropriates the individual by allocating Will its happiness. Ready-made enlightenment as s not only spontaneous reflection but also analytical insights - turn pov. Dispelling rationalizations becomes itself rationalization. Instead of working to gain self-awareness, the initiates become adept at subsuming all instinctual conflicts under such concepts as inferiority complex, mother-fixation, extroversion and introversion, to which they are in reality inaccessible.
Terror before the abyss of the self is removed by the consciousness of being concerned with nothing so very different from arthritis or sinus trouble. Thus conflicts lose their menace. They are accepted, but by no means cured, being merely fitted as an unavoidable component into the surface of standardized life. At the same time they are absorbed, as a general evil, by the mechanism directly identifying the individual with social authority, which has long since encompassed all supposedly normal modes of behaviour.
Catharsis, unsure of success in any case, is supplanted by pleasure at being, in one's own weakness, a specimen of the majority; and rather than gaining, like inmates of a sanatorium in fonner days, the prestige of an interesting pathological case, one proves on the strength of one's very defects that one belongs, t?
The latter becomes the reflex of stereotyped atoms to stereo- typed stimuli, switched on or off at will. Moreover, psycho-analYSis itself is castrated by its conventionalization: With the fear they instil vanishes the joy they might procure.
Thus psycho-analysis falls victim to the very replacement of the appropriate super-ego by a stubbornly adopted unrelated, external one, that it taught us itself to understand. Those who throw in their lot with salaried profundity are compelled, as a hundred years ago, to be at each moment as naive as the colleagues on whom their careers depend.
But extra-academic thinking, which seeks to escape such compulsion, with its contradiction between high-flown subject matter and petty-minded treatment, faces a scarcely lesser threat: The philosopher who wishes to earn his living as a writer is obliged at each moment to have some- thing choice, ultra-select to offer, and to counter the monopoly of office with that of rarity.
The repulsive notion of the intelleCtUal titbit, conceived by pedants, finally proves humiliatingly applicab! The hack journalist groaning under his editOr s demands for continuous brilliance,!
Journalisce1l The life-style of belated of e, nl'5m forced on the non-academic philosopher is itself b henlla. If the academics uphold the principle of sum ergo cogito and fall victim, in the open system, to agoraphobia, and in the existential exposure of Being-in-the world, to the racial community, their opponents stray, unless exceptionally vigilant, into the region of graphology and rhythmic gymnastics.
Ardent opposition to factual investigations, and a legiti- mate consciousness that scientism overlooks what is most valuable, aggravates by its naivety the split from which it suffers.
Instead of comprehending the facts behind which the others are entrenched, it snatches those it can reach in its haste and makes off to play so uncritically with apocryphal knowledge, with a few isolated and hypo stasi zed categories, and with itself, that simple reference to unyielding facts is enough to defeat it. It is precisely the critical element that is wanting in ostensibly independent thought. Between doehght in enlptiness and the lie of fullness, the prevailing intelleCb.
Ludwig Klages OSure , and to Klages's ventures into graphology and eurhythmics Yom by e. In an intellectual hiet'arc: He who offers for sale somethin unique that no-one wants to buy, represents, even against his freedom from exchange.
The land of truth is handed over in dis- illusion to reflection, and speculation is tolerated ungraciously within it merely for the purpose of formulating hypotheses, which must be conceived outside working hours and yield results as quickly as possible.
To believe, however, that the speculative realm has been preserved unscathed in its extra-scientific form, left in peace by the bustle of universal statistics, would be to err grievously.
First, severance from reflection costs speculation itself dear enough. It is either degraded to a docile echo of traditional philosophical schemes, or, in its aloofness from blinded facts, perverted to the non-committal chatter of a private WeltansChauung. Not satisfied with this, however, science assimilates speculation to its own operations.
Among the public functions of psycho-analysis, this is not the least. Its medium is free association. We are presented on I. Georg Groddeck: Thanks to the diminished responsibility that lies in its severance from reflection, from rational control, speculation is itself handed over as an object to science, whose subjectivity is extinguished with it.
Thought, in allowing itself to be reminded of its unconscious origins by the administrative strucwre of analysis, forgets to be thought.
From true judgement it becomes neutral sruff. Instead of mastering itself by performing the task of conceptualization, it entrusts itself impotently to processing by the doctor, who in any case knows everything beforehand. Thus speculation is definitively crushed, becoming itself a fact to be included in one of the depan- ments of classification as proof that nothing changes.
To this end criteria are used that at first sight seem convincing. One of the most dependable is the reproach that a statement is 'too subjective'.
If this is brought to bear, with an indignation in which rings the furious harmony of all rea. J how vacuous the formal objection to subjective relativity is, can': This is doubly true in the era of positivism and the culmre industry, where objectivity is calculated by the subjects managing it.
In face of this, reason has retreated entirely behind a windowless wall of idiosyn- crasies, which the holders of power arbitrarily reproach with arbitrariness, since they want sub;ects impotent, for fear of the objectivity that is preserved in these subjects alone. The very wish to be right, down to its subtlest form of logical reflection, is an expression of that spirit of self-preservation which philosophy is precisely concerned to break down.
I knew someone who invited all the celebrities in epistemology, science and the humanities one after the other, discussed his own system with each of them from first to last, and when none of them dared raise any further arguments against its formalism, believed his position totally impregnable.
These are founded on the presupposition of a universztas literaru. All bridging concepts, all links and logical auxiliary operations that are not a part of the matter itself, all secondary developments not saturated with the experience of the object; should be discarded. In a philosophical text all the propositions ought to be equally close to the centre.
Without Hegel's ever having said so explicitly, his whole procedure bears witness to such an intention. Because it acknowledges no first principle, it ought, strictly speaking, to know of nothing secondary or deduced; and it transfers the concept of mediation from formal connections to the substance of the object itself, thereby attempting to overcome the difference between the latter and an external thought that mediates it.
The limits to the success of such an intention in Hegelian philosophy are also those of its truth, that is to say, the remnants of prima philosophia, the supposition of the subject as something which is, in spite of everything, 'primary'. One of the tasks of dialectical logic is to eliminate the last traces of a deductive system, together with the last advocatory gestures of thought.
Thus it acts as a corrective both to. But the dialectic is not for this reason what it became in the English Hegelian school and, still more I. If Hegel seemed himself, in his COlira venation with Goethe, to come close to such a view, when: Common sense, the correct assessment of situ- ations, the worldly eye schooled by the market, shares with the dialectic a freedom from dogma, narrow-mindedness and prejudice. Its sobriety undeniably constitutes a moment of critical thinking.
But its lack of passionate commitment makes it, all the same, the sworn enemy of such thinking. For opinion in its generality, accepted directly as that of society as it is, necessarily has agreement as its concrete content.
It is no coincidence that in the nineteenth century it was stale dogmatism, given a bad conscience by the Enlightenment, that appealed to common sense, so that an arch- positivist like Mill had to inveigh against the latter.
The sense of proportion entails a total obligation to think in terms of the estab- lished measures and values. One need only have once heard a die- hard representative ofa ruling clique say: GO'''''' London , p.
I I this mode does it become itself reasonable. Was it not Did not Nietzsche an ha cart before all the horses on which he rode his charges? The dialectician's duty is thus to help this foors truth to attain its own reasons, without which it will certainly succumb to the abyss of the sickness implac- ably dictated by the healthy common sense of the rest.
On the morality of tkinlcin. The defence of the ingenuous, as practised by irrationalists and intellectual-baiters of all kinds, is ignoble. Reflection that takes sides with naivety condemns itself: This perversion serves all bad purposes, from the pnvate pigheadedness of 'life's-like-that' to the justification of SOcial injUstice as a law of nature. However, to wish on these: It is not only that sophistication, in the sense of: Knowledge can only widen horizons by abiding so insistently with the particular that its isolation is dispelled.
This admittedly pre.. Dialectical mediation is not a recourse to the more abstract, hut a process of resolution of the concrete in itself. Nietzsche, who too often thought in over-wide horizons himself, was nevertheless aware of this: The double-edged method which has earned Hegel's Pnenom,nology the reputation among reasonable people of unfathomable difficulty, that is, its simul- taneous demands that phenomena be allowed to speak as such - in a 'pure looking-on' - and yet that their relation to consciousness as the subject, reflection, be at every moment maintained, expresses this morality most direcdy and in all its depth of contradiction.
But how much more difficult has it become to conform to such morality now that it is no longer possible to convince oneself of the identity of subject and object, the ultimate assumption of which still enabled Hegel to conceal the antagonistic demands of obser..
Nothing less is asked of the thinker today than that he should be at every moment both within things and outside them - Miinchhausen pulling himself out of the bog by his pig-tail becomes the pattern of knowledge which wishes to be more than either verification or speculation.
And then the salaried J. Nietzsche, ". II, pp. If repeatedly involved In debates where works of art, and preasely: The objection that such con- siderations, which come about in a peculiarly compulsive way, have their source in mercenary instincts that would measure every- thing by the ell, usually signifies no more than that solid citizens, for whom art can never be irrational enough, want to keep serious reflection and the claims of truth far from the works.
This com- pulsion to evaluate is located, however, in the works of art them- selves. So much is true: They want to annihilate one another.
Not without cause did the ancients reserve the pantheon of the compatible to Gods or Ideas, but obliged works of art to enter the agon, each the mortal enemy of each. The notion of a 'pantheon of classicity', as still entertained by Kierkegaard, is a fiction of neutralized culture.
For if the Idea of Beauty appears only in dispersed form among many works, each one nevertheless aims u.
This downfall is the goal of every work of art, In that it seeks to bring death to all others. It is this impulse to se f-destruction inherent in works of an, their innermost striving toward.
While Sels. For Anatole France. Once, in the age of overflowing subjective abundance, aesthetic indifference to the choice of object, together with the power to derive meaning from all experience, expressed a relatedness to the objective world, which even in its fragments confronted the subject, antagonistically it is true, yet immediately and significantly.
In a phase when the subject is capi- tulating before the alienated predominance of things, his readiness to discover value or beauty everywhere shows the resignation both of his critical faculties and of the interpreting imagination insepar- able from them.
Those who find everything beautiful are now in danger of finding nothing beautiful. The universality of beauty can communicate itself to the subject in no other way than in obsession with the particular. No gaze attains beauty that is not accompanied by indifference, indeed almost by contempt, for all that lies outside the object contemplated.
And it is only infatuation, the unjust dis- regard for the claims of every existing thing, that does justice to what exists. In so far as the existent is accepted, in its one-sidedness, for what it is, its one-sidedness is comprehended as its being, and reconciled. The eyes that lose themselves to the one and only beauty are sabbath eyes.
They save in their object something of the calm of its day of creation. One might almost say that truth itself depends on the objects. Indiscriminate kindness towards all carries the constant threat of indifference and remoteness to each, attitudes communicated in their turn to the whole. Injustice is the medium of true justice. Unrestricted benevolence becomes affir- mation of all the bad that exists, in that it minimizes its difference fronl the traces of good and levels it to that generality which prompts the hopeless conclusion of bourgeois-mephistophelian wisdom, that all that sees the light of day deserves to go the selfsame way.
Such argument is countered by pointing to the holiness of life that shines forth precisely in what is ugliest and most distoned. However, this light does not come to us directly, but only refracted: The concept of life in its abstraction, that is resoned to here, is inseparable from what is repressive and ruthless, truly deadly and destructive.
The cult of life for its own sake always boiled down to the cult of these powers. It arrests life, and therefore hYp ecay. To hate destructiveness, one must hate life as well: Only death is an image of undistorted life. Berge ret, 1 'I would rather think that organic life is an illness peculiar to our unlovely planet. It is the phenomenon of prior engagement: Abstract temporal sequence plays in reality the part one would like to ascribe to the hierarchy of feelings.
In being previously engaged there is, apart from the freedom of choice and decision, also an accidental element that seems in flat contradiction to the claims of freedom.
Even, and precisely, in a society cured of the anarchy of commodity pro- duction, there could scarcely be rules governing the order in which one met people. Such an arrangement would amount to the most intolerable interference with freedom. Thus the priority of the fortuitous has powerful arguments on its side: The irreversibility of time constitutes an objective moral criterion.
But it is one intimately related to myth, like abstract time itself. The exclusiveness implicit in time giVes rise, by its inherent law, to the exclusive domination ofhennetically sealed groups, finally to that of big business. Nothing is more touching than a loving woman's anxiety lest love and tendemess, her best possession just because they cannot be possessed, be stolen I.
Hero of Anatole France's four-volume novel cycle Histoir. But from this touching feel-. Not only were all good things, as Nietzsche knew, once bad things: It would serve no purpose to try to point to a way out of this entanglement.
Yet it is undoubtedly possible to name the fatal moment that brings the whole dialectic into play. It lies in the exclusive character of what comes first. The original relationship, in its mere immediacy, already presupposes abstract temporal sequence. Historically, the notion of time is itself formed on the basis of the order of ownership.
But the desire to possess reflects time as a fear of losing, of the irrecoverable. Whatever is, is ex- perienced in relation to its possible non-being.
This alone makes it fully a possession and, thus petrified, something functional that can be exchanged for other, equivalent possessions. Once wholly a possession, the loved person is no longer really looked at. Abstrac- tion in love is the complement of exclusiveness" which manifests itself deceptively as the opposite of abstract, a clinging to this one unique being.
But such possessiveness loses its hold on its object preCisely through turning it into an object, and forfeits the person whom it debases to 'mine'. If people were no longer possessions, they could no longer be exchanged.
The specific is not exclusive: But in another sense it is exclusive, nevenheless: The protection o hanyclting quite definite is that it cannot be repeated, which is just '" Y It tolerates what is different.
Affection which knows nothing of such wisdom need not fear infidelity, since it is proof against faithlessness. The writer is urged to show explicitly all the steps that have led him to his conclusion, so en- abling every reader to follow the process through and, where possible - in the academic industry - to duplicate it.
This demand not only invokes the liberal fiction of the universal communicability of each and every thought and so inhibits their objectively appro- priate expression, but is also wrong in itself as a principle of repre- sentation. For the value of a thought is measured by its distance from the continuity of the familiar.
It is objectively devalued as this distance is reduced; the more it approximates to the pre- existing standard, the further its antithetical function is diminished, and only in this, in its manifest relation to its opposite, not in its isolated existence, are the claims of thought founded. Texts which anxiously undertake to record every step without omission in- evitably succumb to banality, and to a monotony related not only to the tension induced in the reader, but to their own substance.
Simmeltls writings, for example, are all vitiated by the incompati- biUty of their out-of-the-ordinary subject matter with its painfully lucid treatment.
But quite apart from this, the demand for intellectual honesty is itself dishonest. Even if we were for once to comply with the questionable directive that the exposition should exactly reproduce the process of thought, this process would be no more a discursive progression from stage to stage than, conversely, knowledge falls from Heaven.
Rather, knowledge comes to us through a network of prejudices, opinions, innervations, self-corrections, presup- positions and exaggerations, in shott through the dense, firmly- founded but by no means uniformly transparent medium of experience.
Of this the Cartesian rule that we must address ourselves only to objects, 'to gain clear and indubitable knowledge of which I. Georg Simmel: But in this lies also an admission of profound inadequacy. For if honest ideas un- failingly boil down to mere repetition, whether of what was there beforehand or of categorical forms, then the thought which, for the sake of the relation to its object, forgoes the full transparency of its logical genesis, will always incur a certain guilt.
It breaks the promise presupposed by the very form of judgement. This inade- quacy resembles that of life, which describes a wavering, deviating line, disappointing by comparison with its premisses, and yet which only in this actual course, always less than it should be, is able, under given conditions of existence, to represent an unregimented one. If a life fulfilled its vocation directly, it would miss it. Anyone who died old and in the consciousness of seemingly blameless success, would secretly be the model schoolboy who reels off aU life's stages without gaps or omissions, an invisible satchel on his back.
Every thought which is not idle, however, bears branded on it the impossibility of its full legitimation, as we know in dreams that there are mathematics lessons, missed for the sake of a blissful morning in bed, which can never be made up. Thought waits to be Woken one day by the memory of what has been missed, and to be transformed into teaching.
Anyone wishing to express something is so carried away by it that he ceases to reflect on it. Too close to his intention, 'in his thoughts', he forgets to say what he wants to say. No improvement is too small or trivial to be wonhwhile.
Of a hundred alterations each may seem trifling or pedantic by itself; together they can raise the text to a new level. One should never begrudge deletions. The length of a work is irrelevant, and the fear that not enough is on paper, childish. Nothing should be thought worthy to exist simply because it exists, has been written down. When several sentences seem like variations on the same idea, they often only represent different attempts to grasp something the author has not yet mastered. Then the best formulation should be chosen and developed further.
It is part of the technique of writing to be able to discard ideas, even fertile ones, if the construction demands it. Their richness and vigour will benefit other ideas at present repressed. Just as, at table, one ought not eat the last crumbs, drink the lees. Otherwise, one is suspected of poverty. The desire to avoid cliches should not, on pain of falling into vulgar coquetry, be confined to single words. The great French prose of the nineteenth century was particularly sensitive to such vulgarity.
A word is seldom banal on its own: The most abominable cliches are combinations of words, such as Karl Kraus skewered for in- spection: For in them the brackish stream of stale language swills aimlessly, instead of being dammed up, thrown into relief, by the precision of the writer's expressions.
There is a duty to clarify all difficulties that result merely from esoteric complacency. Precisely the writer most unwilling to make concessions to drab common sense must guard against draping ideas, in them- selves banal, in the appurtenances of style.
Locke's platitudes are no justification for Hamann's obscurities. Should the finished text, no matter of what length, arouse even the slightest misgivings, these should be taken inordinately seri- ously, to a degree out of all proportion to their apparent importance. Affective involvement in the text, and vanity, tend to diminish all scruples.
What is let pass as a minute doubt may indicate the objective worthlessness of the whole. The Echtemach dancing procession is not the march of the World Spirit;l limitation and reservation are no way to represent the dialectic.
Rather, the dialectic advances by way of extremes, driving thoughts with the utmost consequentiality to the point where they tum hack on themselves, instead of qualifying them. The prudence that restrains us from venturing too far ahead in a sentence, is usually only an agent of social control, and so of stu pefaction.
Scepticism is called for in face of the frequently raised objection that a text, a formulation, are 'too beautiful'. Respect for the matter expressed, or even for suffering, can easily rationalize mere resent- ment against a writer unable to bear the traces, in the reified form of language, of the degradation inflicted on humanity.
The dream of an existence without shame, which the passion for language clings to even though forbidden to depict it as content, is to be maliciously strangled. The writer ought not acknowledge any distinction between beautiful and adequate expression. He should neither suppose such a distinction in the solicitous mind of the critic, nor tolerate it in his own. If he succeeds in saying entirely what he means, it is beautiful.
Beauty of expression for its own sake is not at all 'too beautiful', but ornamental, arty-crafry, ugly. But he I. Echtemach is a town in Luxemburg, whose dance procession at Whitsun advances in a movement of three steps forward, and two steps backward.
Properly written texts are like spiders' webs: They draw into themselves all the crearures of the air. Metaphors flitting hastily through them become their nourishing prey. Subject matter comes winging towards them.
The soundness of a conception can be judged by whether it causes one quotation to summon another. Where thought has opened up one cell of reality, it should, without violence by the subject, penetrate the next. It proves its relation to the object as soon as other objects crystallize around it. In the light that it casts on its chosen substance, others begin to glow. In his text, the writer sets up house.
Just as he trundles papers, books, pencils, documents untidily from room to room, he creates the same disorder in his thoughts. They become pieces of furniture that he sinks into, content or irritable. He strokes them affection- ately, wears them out, mixes them up, re-arranges, ruins them. For a man who no longer has a homeland, writing becomes a place to live. In it he inevitably produces, as his family once did, refuse and lumber. But now he lacks a store-room, and it is hard in any case to part from left-overs.
So he pushes them along in front of him, in danger finally of filling his pages with them. The demand that one harden oneself against self-pity implies the technical necessity to counter any slackening of intellectual tension with the utmost alertness, and to eliminate anything that has begun to encrust the work or to drift along idly, which may at an earlier stage have served, as gossip, to generate the warm annosphere conducive to growth, but is now left behind, flat and stale.
In the end, the writer is not even allowed to live in his writing. A beauty asks the mirror whether she is the fairest of all, like the Queen in Snow-White. The successive allusions below are all to figures from Grimms' Fairy Tales. A girl braves the wilderness of the city like Little Red Riding Hood to bring her grandmother a piece of cake and a bottle of wine, yet another undresses for love-making with the same childlike immodesty as the girl with the starry silver pieces.
The clever man finds out he has a strong animal spirit, dis- likes the idea of meeting a bad end with his friends, forms the group of Bremen city musicians, leads them to the robbers' cave, outwits the swindlers there, but then wants to go back home. With yearning eyes the Frog King, an incorrigible snob, looks up to the Princess and cannot leave off hoping that she will set him free. German tirading and sententiousness are modelled on the French, but rehearsed in the beer-hall.
In his limitless and implacable demands the petty-bourgeois sticks his chest out, identifying him- self with a power that he does not have, outdoing it in his arrogance to the point of absolute spirit and absolute horror. Between the grandiose sublimity embracing the whole of humanity that all idealists have in common - a sublimity ever ready to trample in- humanly on anything small as mere existence - and the coarse ostentation of bourgeois men of violence, there is an intimate collusion.
The dignity of spiritual giants is prone to hollow boom- ing laughter, exploding, smashing. When they say Creation, they mean the compulsive will-power with which they puff themselves up and intimidate all questions: Such a dynamic inheres in all idealistic movement of thought: The rose-scents of Elysium, much toO voluble to be credited with the experience of a single rose, smell of the tobacco-smoke in a magistrate's office, and the soulful moon on the backdrop was fashioned after the miserable oil-lamp by whose meagre light the student swots for his, exam.
Weakness posing as strength betrayed the thought of the allegedly rising bourgeoisie to ideology, even when the class was thundering against tyranny.
In the innermost recesses of humanism, as its very soul, there rages a frantic prisoner who, as a Fascist, turns the world into a prison. The Rohhers. Sex, as an immediate craving, makes every- thing an object of action and therewith equal. Something of this sexual crudity, this inability to make distinctions, animates the great speculative systems of Idealism, defying all the imperatives and yoking German mind to German barbarism.
The pure unreflective act Z is violation projected on to the starry sky above. But in the long, contemplative look that fully discloses people and things, 'the urge towards the object is always deflected, reftected. Contemplation without violence, the source of all the m Sc l: Arnalia and Louise are, respectively, the leading female characters in lIer's plays Di. D;, ,eiN TatlaanJlung: Only because Tasso, whom psycho-analysts would call a destructive character, is afraid of the princess, and falls a civilized victim to the impos..
The absolute opposite, symbolizing the unity of sensuality and abstraction, is Don Juan. When Kierkegaard says d1at in him sensuality is comprehended as a principle, he touches on the secret of sensuality itself. In the fixity of its gaze, until self-reflection dawlls, is the very anonymity, the unhappy generality, that is fatefully reproduced in its negative, the unfettered sovereignty of thought.
Her impulse goes deeper than conventional or psychological prohibi- tions. It voices an archaic frigidity, the female animal's fear of copulation, which brings her nothing but pain.
Pleasure is a late acquisition, scarcely older than consciousness. Observing how compulsively, as if spell-bound, animals couple, one recognizes the saying that 'bliss was given to the wonn' as a piece of idealistic lying, at least as regards the females, who undergo love in unfree- dom, as objects of violence.
Women have retained a consciousness of this, particularly among the petty bourgeoisie, down to the late industrial era. The memory of the old injury persists, though dIe physical pain and the immediate fear have been removed by civiliz- ation. Society constantly casts woman's self-abandon back into the sacrificial situation from which it freed her.
No man, cajoling some I. Artur Schnitzler Austrian playwright and novelist, con- cerned with erotic themes in the setting of Viennese upper-bourgeois society. She knows that, as the giver, she has from time immemorial also been the dupe. But if she begrudges herself, she is only duped the n'lore.
This can be seen in the advice to a novice that w-edekind puts into the mouth of a brothel-keeper: Not merely the objective possibility, but also the subjective capacity for happiness, can only be achieved in freedom. It is of the same kind as the frozen likeness between all family members in the flashlight photographs of nineteenth-century albums.
What can be the cause of Augustus's wasting disease, if not the sins of his fathers and the inherited memory of guilt? Furious Frederick is prescribed bitter but effective medicine by the enemy of the people, that Dr Stock- man who in return lets the dog have his liver-sausage. Little dancing Harriet with the matches is a touched-up photo of little lIilde Wangel from the time when her mother, the lady of the sea, left her alone in the house, and Flying Robert, high over the church steeple, is her master-builder in person.
The I. Frank Wedekind GJaosts, JoAn. Gahriel Borlc: Sixty years ago the same voices were raised in indignation against the modernistic decadence and immoral extravagance of the Doll's Hous, and GAostS.
Ibsen, the truculent bourgeois, vented his spleen on the society from whose very principle his implacability and his ideals were derived. He portrayed in a declamatory but durable monument, a deputation of the solid majority shouting down the enemy of the people, and they still do not find the portrayal flatter..
And so they pass on to the pressing business of the day. Where reasonable people are in agreement over the unreasonable be- haviour of others, we can always be sure to find something un- resolved that has been deferred, painful scars.
This is how things stand with the question of the condition of women. Through the distortion of the 'masculine- liberal competitive economy, through the participation of women in salaried employment, where they have as much or as little independence as men, through the strip- ping away of the magic aura of the family and the relaxation of sexual taboos, this problem is indeed, on the surface, no longer 'acute'.
Yet, equally the continued existence of traditional society has warped the emancipation of women. Few things are as sympto- matic of the decay of the workers' movement as its failure to notice this.
The admittance of women to every conceivable supervised activity conceals continuing dehumanization. In big business they remain what they were in the family, objects. We should think not only of their miserable working-day, and of their home-life sense- lessly clinging to self-contained conditions of domestic labour in the midst of an industrial world, but also of themselves.
Willingly, without any countervailing impulse, they reflect and identify them- selves with domination. Instead of solving the question of women's oppression, male society has so extended its own principle that the victims are no longer able even to pose the question.
The defects with which they pay for it, neurotic stupidity heading the list, help to per- petuate this state of affairs. Even in Ibsen's time most of the women who had gained some standing in bourgeois society were ready to turn and rend their hysterical sisters who undenook, in their stead, the hopeless attempt to break out of the social prison which so emphatically turned its four walls to them all.
Their grand-daugh- ters, however, would smile indulgently over these hysterics, with- out even feeling implicated, and hand them over to the benevolent treatment of social welfare. The hysteric who wanted the miraculous has thus given way to the furiously efficient imbecile who cannot wait for the triumph of doom. It is to be explained not only by mere temporal distance, but by the verdict of history. Its expression in things is the shame that overcomes the descendant in face of an earlier possibility that he has neglected to bring to fruition.
What was accomplished can be forgotten, and preserved in the present. Only what failed is outdated, the broken promise of a new beginning. It is not without reason that Ibsen's women are called Imodem'. Hatred of modernity and of outdatedness are identical.
Underlying amorality was a bad conscience. Critics confronted bourgeois society not only economically but morally with its own nOrms. This left the ruling stratum, in so far as it was unwilling simply to lapse into apologetic and impotent lying like the court poets and the novelist upholders of the state, with no other defence than to reject the very principle by which society was judged, its OWn morality. The uprising of beauty against bourgeois good was an uprising against 'good- ness'.
Goodness is itself a deformation of good. By severing the moral principle from the social and displacing it into the realm of private conscience, goodness limits it in two senses.
It dispenses with the realization of a condition worthy of men that is implicit in the principle of morality. It does so by first presenting If, however, he has no truck with it, he hypos- situations that seem to demand an appro- tasizes as an absolute his intellect, which has priate response and then subverting various only formed through contact with economic alternative answers until the reader stands reality and abstract exchange relations, and before an irresolvable task.
Adorno provides which can become intellect solely by reflect- lists of practices and positions to be avoided ing on its own conditions. Intellectual without supplementing them with positive business is helped, by the isolation of intellect advice in order to bring out the discrepancy from business, to become a comfortable ideol- between socially generated problems and the ogy. This dilemma is communicated to intel- lectual behavior even in its subtler reactions.
The picture of the current state of to triumph not merely externally, but in his alienation, which puts everyone at the mercy innermost thoughts. Yet the point Leere. There is no. His a paralyzing book of advice must ultimately bleak vision of society, or rather his bleak vi- be placed in the frame of his scrutiny of lib- sion of society coupled with his continued ap- eral thought.
What such critical voices neglect is that and explore the precise moment of insight. The gesture concentration and understanding, which of Minima Moralia becomes visible against is being overwhelmed. More gen- bourgeois values and then pushing that genre erally, the attraction of books that promise to the point where its premises become un- greater agency and inf luence lies not only tenable. He not only speaks about the con- in the hope for future accomplishments but ception of the robust individual subject able perhaps also in the power rush that the mere to turn advice into real action; he appeals consumption of them provides.
This notion to the reader as such an individual subject may account for the current popularity of while simultaneously revealing this concep- management books such as Influencer: The tion to be an impossible, superseded position. Rimke 64 , Adorno delivers a book of disem- The devastating and disempowering effect of powerment.
It feeds aspirations, recoil from the recognition of their power- but only to prolong the moment of tension lessness. The book does not deny or re- tween system and remainder can assume the move powerlessness but does fight the onset form of discordant experience.
When confronting readers with philosophy and technologies of modern gov- helplessness without letting them withdraw ernance, maintains an indifference toward again into comfortable ignorance, Adorno the particular individual that is simply the must overcome two related problems or lines other side of its focus on complex, aggregate of defense. As discussed above, individuals phenomena such as institutions and markets.
Adorno therefore does not everyone they meet says no. Re- Minima Moralia hurts, by which I mean sistance to repression thus lies in the way that the manipulated generic status of this in which we break away, through genuine volume and the rhetorical relentlessness that thought, from the compulsive erasure of par- its manipulation releases are meant to ex- ticulars that has become institutional reality plore society as experience.
Writing fifty years after its publication, Ulrich passage of time. The texts in Minima Moralia fit a number of genres: He is, or he and meditation, to name a few Richter 2—7; Bernstein, is also, an author who combines the discrep- Adorno The standard term is probably Denkbild, or thought image.
In his study from , Gerhard Richter ant approaches of critical social philosophy defines the Denkbild in the following way: Thinking alone may seem a feeble, ence for the Denkbild belongs to a particular generation even disappointing, response to intensified and cohort of writers who all developed or at least indi- repression, and yet it goes against the mold- cated philosophical arguments for this form Moretti 20— 22 , such as the abandonment of the will to a system and ing of subjects to fit the organizational needs of the procedures of conventional theoretical and logical of society.
For Adorno, thinking takes place analysis. German quota- the logic of the extant social world. Axel Honneth has demonstrated how Adorno and 4. Such rhetorical juxtapositions, for the last four decades that he covers are the following: The recipient of advice is imagined to be sufficiently resourceful to achieve goals independently, provided that he or she follows the counsel made available.
Advice thus Works Cited differs from education: Critical Models: Interventions and the subject from a state of immaturity and dependence Catchwords. Henry W. New York: Einleitung in die Soziologie. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, The advisee is never simply a vessel, and asking ———. Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life. New Left, Rolf Tiedemann. In this context, Freudian psy- ———. The psychoanalyst must as schaft. New Left Review 47 The Stars down to Earth: The Los Angeles Times therapy hopes to address Freud One should not give Astrology Column: A Study in Secondary Superstition.
Frank- to discard it—that is, to people who cannot distinguish furt am Main: MIT P, Between Past and Future: Penguin, to an institutional reality and escape into the compro- Bergsma, Ad. Bernard, Andreas. Bernard and Ulrich Raulff. Disenchantment and Ethics. Cambridge UP, The Fate of Art: Polity, You get ahead by getting along McGee Bobbio, Norberto. Liberalism and Democracy. Mar- Plans for individual achievement are at one with a world tin Ryle and Kate Soper.
Verso, Dorothy Carnegie. Westdeutscher, Casnocha, Ben. Makeover Culture in Ben Casnocha: Oxford UP, Current Affairs, and Intellectual Life. Moretti, Franco. Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for Web. Literary History. Demirovic, Alex. Der nonkonformistische Intellektuelle: Patterson, Kerry, et al. McGraw, Pfau, Thomas. Freedom as the Print. Problem of Modernity. Acts of Literature. Derek Attridge.
Pippin, Robert B. The Persistence of Subjectivity: Elster, Jon. Terry Postone, Moshie. Time, Labor, and Social Domination: A Eagleton. Longman, Freud, Sigmund.