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Theodor Adorno (1903 – 1969)


German sociologist, philosopher, musicologist and composer.
Theodor Adorno
A thinking that approaches it objects openly, rigorously ... is also free toward its objects in the sense that it refuses to have rules prescribed to it by organized knowledge. It ... rends the veil with which society conceals them, and perceives them anew.
Adorno quotes
Die traurige Wissenschaft, aus der ich meinem Freunde einiges darbiete, bezieht sich auf einen Bereich, der für undenkliche Zeiten als der eigentliche der Philosophie galt, seit deren Verwandlung in Methode aber der intellektuellen Nichtachtung, der sententiösen Willkür und am Ende der Vergessenheit verfiel: die Lehre vom richtigen Leben. Was einmal den Philosophen Leben hieß, ist zur Sphäre des Privaten und dann bloß noch des Konsums geworden, die als Anhang des materiellen Produktionsprozesses, ohne Autonomie und ohne eigene Substanz, mit geschleift wird.
Adorno
In the general tendency toward specialization, philosophy too has established itself as a specialized discipline, one purified of all specific content. In so doing, philosophy has denied its own constitutive concept: the intellectual freedom that does not obey the dictates of specialized knowledge.




Adorno Theodor quotes
... to promote precisely that manner of intellectual freedom that has no place in the regnant philosophical movements
Adorno Theodor
The power of the culture industry's ideology is such that conformity has replaced consciousness. The order that springs from it is never confronted with what it claims to be or with the real interests of human beings. Order, however, is not good in itself. It would be so only as a good order. The fact that the culture industry is oblivious to this and extols order in abstracto, bears witness to the impotence and untruth of the messages it conveys. While it claims to lead the perplexed, it deludes them with false conflicts which they are to exchange for their own. It solves conflicts for them only in appearance, in a way that they can hardly be solved in their real lives.
Theodor Adorno quotes
If one is to take Lulu's twelve-tone chord as the integral totality of complementary harmony, then Berg's allegorical genius proves itself within a historical perspective which makes the brain reel: just as Lulu in the world of total illusion longs for nothing but her murderer and finally finds him in that sound, so does all harmony of unrequited happiness long for its fatal chord as the cipher of fulfillment — twelve-tone music is not to be separated from dissonance. Fatal: because all dynamics come to a standstill within it wihout finding release. The law of complementary harmony already implies the end of the musical experience of time, as this was heralded in the dissociation of time according to Expressionistic extremes.
Theodor Adorno
When I made my theoretical model, I could not have guessed that people would try to realise it with Molotov cocktails.
Adorno Theodor quotes
Philosophy ... should not imagine that specialized work in epistemological theory, or whatever else prides itself on being research, is actually philosophy. Yet a philosophy forswearing all of that must in the end be irreconcilably at odds with the dominant consciousness. Nothing else raises it above the suspicion of apologetics. Philosophy that satisfies its own intention, and does not childishly skip behind its own history and the real one, has its lifeblood in the resistance against the common practices of today and what they serve, against the justification of what happens to be the case.
Adorno
Philosophy ... must not bargain away anything of the emphatic concept of truth.
Adorno Theodor
The almost insoluble task is to let neither the power of others, nor our own powerlessness, stupefy us.
Theodor Adorno
The importance of the culture industry in the spiritual constitution of the masses is no dispensation for reflection on its objective legitimation, its essential being, least of all by a science which thinks itself pragmatic.




Theodor Adorno quotes
In organized groups such as the army or the Church there is either no mention of love whatsoever between the members, or it is expressed only in a sublimated and indirect way, through the mediation of some religious imagine in the love of whom the members unite and whose all-embracing love they are supposed to imitate in their attitude towards each other. ... It is one of the basic tenets of fascist leadership to keep primary libidinal energy on an unconscious level so as to divert its manifestations in a way suitable to political ends.
Theodor Adorno
Jazz is the false liquidation of art — instead of utopia becoming reality it disappears from the picture.
Adorno quotes
The phrase, the world wants to be deceived, has become truer than had ever been intended. People are not only, as the saying goes, falling for the swindle; if it guarantees them even the most fleeting gratification they desire a deception which is nonetheless transparent to them. They force their eyes shut and voice approval, in a kind of self-loathing, for what is meted out to them, knowing fully the purpose for which it is manufactured. Without admitting it they sense that their lives would be completely intolerable as soon as they no longer clung to satisfactions which are none at all.
Adorno Theodor
Wrong life cannot be lived rightly.
Adorno Theodor quotes
Tenderness between people is nothing other than awareness of the possibility of relations without purpose.
Theodor Adorno
By abstaining from all definite content, whether as formal logic and theory of science or as the legend of Being beyond all beings, philosophy declared its bankruptcy regarding concrete social goals.
Theodor Adorno quotes
In general they are intoxicated by the fame of mass culture, a fame which the latter knows how to manipulate; they could just as well get together in clubs for worshipping film stars or for collecting autographs. What is important to them is the sense of belonging as such, identification, without paying particular attention to its content. As girls, they have trained themselves to faint upon hearing the voice of a 'crooner'. Their applause, cued in by a light-signal, is transmitted directly on the popular radio programmes they are permitted to attend. They call themselves 'jitter-bugs', bugs which carry out reflex movements, performers of their own ecstasy. Merely to be carried away by anything at all, to have something of their own, compensates for their impoverished and barren existence. The gesture of adolescence, which raves for this or that on one day with the ever-present possibility of damning it as idiocy on the next, is now socialized.
Theodor Adorno
Für Marcel Proust.—Der Sohn wohlhabender Eltern, der, gleichgültig ob aus Talent oder Schwäche, einen sogenannten intellektuellen Beruf, als Künstler oder Gelehrter, ergreift, hat es unter denen, die den degoutanten Namen des Kollegen tragen, besonders schwer. Nicht bloß, daß ihm die Unabhängigkeit geneidet wird, daß man dem Ernst seiner Absicht mißtraut und in ihm einen heimlichen Abgesandten der etablierten Mächte vermutet. Solches Mißtrauen zeugt zwar von Ressentiment, würde aber meist seine Bestätigung finden. Jedoch die eigentlichen Widerstände liegen anderswo. Die Beschäftigung mit geistigen Dingen ist mittlerweile selber »praktisch«, zu einem Geschäft mit strenger Arbeitsteilung, mit Branchen und numerus clausus geworden. Der materiell Unabhängige, der sie aus Widerwillen gegen die Schmach des Geldverdienens wählt, wird nicht geneigt sein, das anzuerkennen. Dafür wird er bestraft. Er ist kein »professional«, rangiert in der Hierarchie der Konkurrenten als Dilettant, gleichgültig wieviel er sachlich versteht, und muß, wenn er Karriere machen will, den stursten Fachmann an entschlossener Borniertheit womöglich noch übertrumpfen. Die Suspension der Arbeitsteilung, zu der es ihn treibt, und die in einigen Grenzen seine ökonomische Lage zu verwirklichen ihn befähigt, gilt als besonders anrüchig: sie verrät die Abneigung, den von der Gesellschaft anbefohlenen Betrieb zu sanktionieren, und die auftrumpfende Kompetenz läßt solche Idiosynkrasien nicht zu. Die Departementalisierung des Geistes ist ein Mittel, diesen dort abzuschaffen, wo er nicht ex officio, im Auftrag betrieben wird. Es tut seine Dienste um so zuverlässiger, als stets derjenige, der die Arbeitsteilung kündigt—wäre es auch nur, indem seine Arbeit ihm Lust bereitet —, nach deren eigenem Maß Blößen sich gibt, die von den Momenten seiner Überlegenheit untrennbar sind. So ist für die Ordnung gesorgt: die einen müssen mitmachen, weil sie sonst nicht leben können, und die sonst leben könnten, werden draußen gehalten, weil sie nicht mitmachen wollen. Es ist, als rächte sich die Klasse, von der die unabhängigen Intellektuellen desertiert sind, indem zwangshaft ihre Forderungen dort sich durchsetzen, wo der Deserteur Zuflucht sucht.
Adorno Theodor
The bourgeois ... is tolerant. His love for people as they are stems from his hatred of what they might be.


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