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By Steven Helmling

Adorno's Poetics of Critique is a severe learn of the Marxist culture-critic Theodor W. Adorno, a founding member of the Frankfurt institution and greatly appeared this day as its such a lot impressive exponent.
Steven Helmling is centrally fascinated by Adorno's notoriously tough writing, a function so much commentators recognize purely to set it apart so that it will an expository account of 'what Adorno is saying'. in contrast, Adorno's complicated writing is the crucial concentration of this examine, which include particular research of Adorno's most intricate texts, specifically his most famed and complex paintings, co-authored with Max Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment.
Helmling argues that Adorno's key motifs - dialectic, suggestion, negation, immanent critique, constellation - are prescriptions no longer simply for severe considering, but additionally for serious writing. For Adorno the efficacy of critique is conditioned on how the writing of critique is written. either in concept and in perform, Adorno urges a 'poetics of critique' that's each piece as severe as anything in his 'critical theory.

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The Cross first, then the Resurrection: this Christian ur-narrativization of the evil/good, damned/saved binary makes bold to reverse that of Genesis 3; and it reenacts itself in Hegel’s paradigmatic assumption that happy consciousness can only be—eventually will be—wrested from the unhappy kind. This is the ordeal Hegel calls ‘the labor and the suffering of the negative’, an ordeal he pictures, indeed, as Spirit’s harrowing descent into hell, to own or become death itself, to risk its ‘utter dismemberment’ as the necessary condition of ‘finding itself’: .

By contrast, Adorno, especially in Dialectic of Enlightenment, means to frighten us into new awareness: not only of our very real peril, in the age of industrialized total war, but of the numbness and despair with which we have so far confronted it—or rather, contrived not to confront it. What Hegel satirizes as failures specific to the philosophic guild, Adorno diagnoses as a culture-wide pathology, with lethal consequences all too evident in the age of Auschwitz and Hiroshima. , to repress. To lift or undo that repression, to raise our culture’s numbed fear to consciousness, is among the ambitions of Dialectic of Enlightenment.

Only as projected in human form, and as ‘master’ in dyadic relation to abjected humankind, can God, or Reason, incite the kind of misery that 30 Adorno’s Poetics of Critique becomes consciousness in the first place. To say that in Hegel’s phenomenology, it is Reason that incarnates itself in human form, is to indicate Hegel’s most fundamental reinscription of Christianity. ‘Reason is the slave of the passions’: Hume’s aphorism, read Hegel-wise, may illuminate the point here, stipulating of course that ‘the passions’ are the unhappy ones, the implacable thanatoid superego passions mobilized in the moralizing monotheisms, given their definitive modern theorization by Freud, and, mediated by Lacan, ingeniously put to the uses of Ideologiekritik by Slavoj Zizek.

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