Adorno’s Marxism

University of Chicago PhD dissertation

Chris Cutrone

Adorno’s Marxism was successfully defended on November 12, 2012 and officially submitted on March 4, 2013 구름빵 동영상 다운로드. Chris Cutrone graduated from the University of Chicago, receiving the PhD in the Committee on the History of Culture, on March 22, 2013.

Theodor W blitz 프로그램 다운로드. Adorno’s writings comprise an attempted recovery of Marx for a dialectic of 20th century social and cultural forms. Through immanent critique of modern aesthetic, philosophical, political and psychological forms of social subjectivity and its antinomies, contradictions and discontents, including those of ostensible Marxism, the thought figures of Adorno’s essays are modeled after and attempt to elaborate Marx’s self-reflexive critique of the subjectivity of the commodity form visual studio 2010 ultimate 다운로드. Adorno’s critical theory considers modern aesthetic form as social form. Following Marx, Adorno’s critique of modern social forms is concerned with their potential for emancipation as well as domination: the term “culture industry,” for instance, is meant to grasp comprehensively the context for the critical social object and form of aesthetic subjectivity in common for practices of both “hermetic” art and “popular” culture, and is meant to characterize the condition and possibility for critical subjectivity itself, including Adorno’s own 12 albums of aninodating. In Adorno’s essays, objects of cultural criticism become “prismatic,” illuminating the formation of subjectivity and providing moments for critical reflection and recognition 연구일지 양식. However, Adorno’s works faced and sought to provoke recognition of the possibility and reality of social regression as well as regression in thinking getting over it apk. Coming after the collapse of 2nd International Social Democracy in 1914 and the failure of world revolution 1917-19, and inspired by Georg Lukács and Karl Korsch’s thought from this period, Adorno developed a critique of 20th Century society that sustained awareness of the problematic of Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky’s Marxism 탭 소닉 버그 판. The coincidence of the later reception of Adorno’s works with the emergence of social discontents, oppositions and transformations of the 1960s New Left and its aftermath, however, obscured Adorno’s thought during two decades of “postmodernism,” whose exhaustion opens possibilities for reconstruction of and development upon the coherence of Adorno’s dialectic, as expression of the extended tasks and project of Marxism bequeathed by history to the present Spring s3 file. [PDF March 2013]

Chris Cutrone

Chris Cutrone is a college educator, writer, and media artist, committed to critical thinking and artistic practice and the politics of social emancipation. ( . . . )

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Beyond history? Nietzsche, Benjamin and Adorno

Historical specificity, the temporality of capital, and the supra-historical

Chris Cutrone

Presented on a panel with Fabian Arzuaga, Bo-Mi Choi and G. S. Sahota at the Critical Historical Studies conference, Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory (3CT), University of Chicago, December 3, 2011.

History is a way the present relates to itself. History mediates the present, and anticipates the future. The relation of past and present in history is a social relation, a relation of society with itself, as a function of change. The proper object of the present is history: the present is historical; it is constituted by history. The present is history; history is the present. As Hegel put it, the “philosophical” approach to history is concerned with the “eternally present:” what in the past was always present. This is a function of modernity. What is at issue is the form of the present in history, or, the form of history in the present.

Three writings, by Nietzsche, Benjamin and Adorno, respectively, reflect upon the specific form of history in capital, and on the possibility of transcending the historicism that emerged in the 19th century, as it continued to inform the 20th: Nietzsche’s 1873 “On the Use and Abuse of History for Life;” Benjamin’s 1940 “Theses on the Philosophy of History;” and Adorno’s 1942 “Reflections on Class Theory.” Nietzsche’s essay inspired Benjamin’s; Adorno’s followed directly upon Benjamin’s.

Nietzsche and the genesis of history

Nietzsche’s second “untimely meditation” (or “unfashionable observation”), “On the Use and Abuse of History for Life,” critiqued what translator and Nietzsche scholar Peter Preuss called the 19th century “discovery” of history. Nietzsche regarded history specifically as a symptomatic expression of the genuine needs of the time. For Nietzsche, the symptom of history is expression of an illness, but Nietzsche’s approach to such illness is as to “pregnancy:” not to be cured in the sense that it is eliminated, but rather undergone successfully to bring forth new life.

19th century historicism was, for Nietzsche, the hallmark of a historically peculiar form of life: modern humanity. Modern humanity is historical in a precise sense: “history” is historical foobar 다운로드. For Nietzsche, the question is what the symptom of history indicates about the need for humanity to overcome itself in present form. Nietzsche’s expression for this potential self-overcoming of historical humanity is the “supra-historical.” It points beyond history, towards a new form of life that is possible in history.

For Nietzsche, there are three forms of the historical: the “monumental;” the “antiquarian;” and the “critical.” Nietzsche addressed these different phases of the historical as expressing different “uses” or needs for the historical in the “life” of humanity. In each of them the past figures differently. The forms of the historical are distinguished from the greater three categories with which Nietzsche’s essay is concerned: the “unhistorical;” the “historical;” and the “supra-historical.” The latter three categories refer, respectively, to the pre-human, the human, and the supra-human. Humanity becomes itself through history; and it potentially overcomes or transforms itself in transcending itself as historical. As Preuss pointed out, history is the record of the “self-production” of humanity. Therefore, the transformation of humanity, the changes in its self-production, changes history, and changes what the past is for humanity. In this respect, it is possible to address Nietzsche’s essay as indicating the possibility for going beyond the historical, or overcoming the present relation humanity has to itself, in and through history.

Benjamin and Adorno on Nietzsche and Marxism

Benjamin, and Adorno following him, appropriated Nietzsche’s account of history for their Marxist critical theory of the “philosophy of history,” specifying Nietzsche’s symptomology of history as symptomatic of capital. For Benjamin and Adorno, Nietzsche’s account of history was historically specific to its moment of capital, the late 19th century, with further implication for the 20th century.

What would it mean to get “beyond history?” First, it is necessary to identify, as Adorno put it, “what history is:” its possibility and necessity. For Benjamin, history originates in the demand for redemption. Following Benjamin’s “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” and responding to Marx and Engels’s Communist Manifesto, in “Reflections on Class Theory” Adorno wrote that,

According to [Marxian] theory, history is the history of class struggles 가디언즈 오브 갤럭시1 다운로드. But the concept of class is bound up with the emergence of the proletariat. . . . By exposing the historical necessity that had brought capitalism into being, political economy became the critique of history as a whole. . . . All history is the history of class struggles because it was always the same thing, namely, prehistory. This gives us a pointer as to how we can recognize what history is. From the most recent form of injustice, a steady light reflects back on history as a whole. Only in this way can theory enable us to use the full weight of history to gain an insight into the present without succumbing in resignation to the burden of the past.

This relation of pre-history, history, and a potential post-historical condition was, for Adorno, the relation of the present to the “burden of the past:” can it be redeemed?

Adorno addressed a certain problem in Marxism’s so-called “dialectical” approach to history, in that it tended to be, paradoxically, one-sided:

[Marxism has been praised] on account of its dynamism. . . . Dynamism is merely one side of dialectic: it is the side preferred by the belief in practicality. . . . The other, less popular aspect of dialectic is its static side. . . . The law that, according to the Hegelian dialectic, governs the restlessly destructive unfolding of the ever-new consists in the fact that at every moment the ever-new is also the old lying close at hand. The new does not add itself to the old but is the old in distress.

This was Adorno’s interpretation and attempted further elaboration of Benjamin’s injunction to read history “against the grain” (Thesis VII). But what did Adorno mean by “the new?”

Potential futures are generated out of the relation of past and present, out of the relation of the present to itself through history 지메일 메일. The dynamic of history is inherent in the self-contradiction of the present: history is a projection of it. What is the “practicality” of history? The emergence or departure of the new is the self-overcoming of the present, or the self-overcoming of history: its immanent transcendence. Nietzsche’s phrase, “self-overcoming” is, literally, the “Selbstaufhebung:” self-fulfillment and self-negation. The present provides an opportunity for the self-overcoming of history.

The “new is the old in distress” because it is the present in tension with itself: is the present merely the ever-same? The “static side of the dialectic,” in which the “ever-new is the old lying close at hand,” means that, as Benjamin put it, “every second is the strait gate through which the Messiah [redemption] might enter” (Addendum B). The “homogeneous” and “empty” time of the ever-same is also, potentially, the “full” time-of-the-now (Jetztzeit). History is dialectical, but it is a “negative” dialectic of the present: the present, in its potential for self-overcoming, disintegrates as history disintegrates into the mere facticity of the past. Historicism is a symptom of failed self-overcoming. For Benjamin, the task was to “construct” history, rather than to merely “add” the new to the old (Thesis XVII). This is the contrast Adorno found between the new as “the old lying close at hand” and the “restlessly destructive unfolding of the ever-new” that is “always the same thing, namely, prehistory.” The “static side” of the dialectic of history is thus a resource. The question is whether it is a resource for the emergence of the new or the perpetuation of the old: either, or both.

Nietzsche’s “untimeliness”

The discontent of history is the source of Nietzsche’s “untimely thought.” What potential critique of the present does history offer? Nietzsche recognized himself as a product of 19th century historicism. Nietzsche characterized as “antiquarian” the deadly transformation of history into the mere facticity of the past 제이쿼리 이미지. As a Classical philologist, Nietzsche was well prepared to address the melancholy of modernity expressed in historicism. As Benjamin put it, quoting Flaubert, “Few people can guess how despondent one has to be in order to resuscitate Carthage” (Thesis VII). (The reference to Carthage echoes that with which Nietzsche began his essay, the Ceterum censeo [“I judge otherwise”] of Cato the Elder: “Carthago delenda est [Carthage must be destroyed].” As Nietzsche put it, this was the spirit with which his “consideration of the worth and the worthlessness of history” began.) In response to such threatening acedia, Nietzsche contrasted his “critical” approach to history.

Here it becomes clear how badly man needs, often enough, in addition to the monumental and antiquarian ways of seeing the past, a third kind, the critical: and this again in the service of life as well. He must have the strength, and use it from time to time, to shatter and dissolve something to enable him to live: this he achieves by dragging it to the bar of judgment, interrogating it meticulously and finally condemning it; every past, however, is worth condemning.

This approach, Nietzsche pointed out, was counter to the historicist passion of his time, the prevalent “consumptive historical fever.” Nevertheless, Nietzsche found his own philological concerns to motivate a certain dissatisfaction with the ethos inherent in “the powerful historical tendency of the times, as it has been, by common knowledge, observed for the past two generations, particularly among the Germans” since the early 19th  century.

I must be allowed to ascribe this much to myself on account of my profession as a classical philologist, for I would not know what sense classical philology would have in our age unless it is to be effective by its inappropriateness for the times, that is, in opposition to the age, thus working on the age, and, we hope, for the benefit of a coming time.

The consummation and self-destruction of 19th century historicism in Nietzsche presented the demand for the “supra-historical,” for getting beyond the historical comportment that had produced Nietzsche, a self-overcoming of history.

Beyond history?

The question of getting beyond history relates to Nietzsche’s characterization of “critical history,” that is, the possibility and necessity of “condemning a past” in creating what he called a “new nature.” This is the need to forget. This is not the forgetting that might be taken to characterize the unhistorical, animal condition (according to Nietzsche, the unhistorical condition is that of the grazing animal, which does not speak because it immediately forgets what it was going to say) fm2019 무료 다운로드. “Forgetting,” in Nietzsche’s sense, is an activity in service of life: it can only be considered, not unhistorical, but post- or supra-historical, that is, a form of historical forgetting that overcomes a form of remembering. There is a human need to forget that is not natural but develops: it is a new need.

For Benjamin, the need to “forget” is related to the need to “redeem” history. “Redeemed” history could not only be potentially “cited” in “all its moments,” but also, more importantly, forgotten. The need to remember is matched by the need to forget. So, the question turns on the necessity for remembering that would need to be overcome in order to make forgetting, in a transcendent sense, possible and desirable.

Benjamin’s concept of historical redemption in the “Theses on the Philosophy of History” was informed by the correspondence he conducted with Horkheimer on the Arcades Project (for which the “Theses” were drafted as an introduction), specifically concerning redemption. Horkheimer pointed out that any redemption must be qualified: the dead remained dead; their sacrifice could not be redeemed in certain respects. For Benjamin, this affected the quality of history: it became the record of wasted potential, or “barbarism.” This was history’s standing reproach to the present.

If, for Nietzsche, “critical history” means standing in judgment over history, by contrast, for Benjamin, the critical value of history was in its judgment over the present: history was an effect of the present’s judgment of itself. What does the present need to remember; what to forget? What does it need to judge? If Nietzsche called for the historian to be “man enough” to judge the past, for Benjamin, the required “strength” was to receive history’s judgment and not be devastated by it: the memory of “enslaved ancestors” (Thesis XII). For the nature and character of both the ancestry and the enslavement were precisely the matters to be judged, remembered and forgotten. From what are we descended, and from what must we free ourselves 밤토끼 다운로드? How do we judge this?

Capital as form of history to be redeemed

Adorno identifies “how we can recognize what history is” by the “steady light” reflecting “from the most recent form of injustice.” The theory that is thus enabled, without succumbing to the past, must be able to distinguish the potential for the present to depart from the “ever-same.” For Benjamin, this “Messianic” potential for redemption available in every present moment is the product of two opposed vectors: regression and stasis. The “static side” of the historical dialectic that Adorno identified was, for Benjamin, the potential “exploding” of the “continuum of history” (Thesis XVI), a “standstill” (Thesis XVI), or “activating the emergency brake on the locomotive of history” (Paralipomena Thesis XVIIa). The motivation for this was the “regression of society” (Thesis XI). Otherwise, one might “succumb,” “in resignation to the burden of the past.”

Capital presents an apparently unredeemable history, at least in any traditional (theological) sense of redemption. Benjamin was no melancholic but rather sought to diagnose and potentially overcome the melancholy of modernity. But this could only be achieved immanently, from within modernity’s “dialectic” of history. This dialectic had, for Adorno, two sides: dynamic and static. The dialectic of history in capital is one of constantly generated but wasted new potentials. This is its “injustice,” what gives modernity its peculiar, specific melancholy, affecting its demand for redemption. While all of human history may have been characterized by the Messianic demand for redemption, modern history’s demand for redemption is specific and peculiar. Modern history liquidates all prior history, however rendering it, according to Benjamin, more as “rubble” (Thesis IX) than as resource.

Modern history ruins prior forms of redemption, in favor of what is, for Benjamin, a specious form of remembering: history as the accumulation of mere facts. What would be its “opposite?” The traditional Messianic eschatological “end of time” is matched by the modern “monstrous abbreviation” that summarizes the entire history of humanity (Thesis XVIII) in capital: an appropriation of all of history that threatens to become its barbarization. For Benjamin, this must be countered by a constructed “constellation,” in which the demand for the redemption of history transforms the time of the present into one of potential secular redemption: not the negation of time as in the coming of the Messiah, but the redemption of time, in time (Addendum A) 윈도우 프리셀. This would amount to the effective transformation of history, a “fulfillment” of the “here-and-now” appearing as a “charged past” that has the ability to “leap into the open sky of history” (Thesis XIV) as opposed to subordination to a “chain of events” (Thesis IX) or “causal nexus” (Addendum A). Neither celestial redemption outside of time nor secular time without redemption, Benjamin’s philosophy of history seeks the relation of modern temporality to the transformed demand for redemption.

The question is how to overcome the ideological abuse of history to which it is subject in modernity. This abuse is due to the form of temporality in capital. For Benjamin, this concerns the “citability” of the moments of the past, which modern society makes possible — and necessary. This is no mere addition to knowledge of the past, a quantitative increase, but rather the fundamental qualitative transformation of what counts as historical knowledge, the self-knowledge of humanity as a function of time. Is the self-production and self-transformation of humanity a function of time? In capital, this is the case, but in a certain sense, producing what Benjamin called a “causal chain” of events “anterior” to the present. However, such spatialization of time, once, historically, did not, and so, potentially, would no longer, pertain in a “supra-historical” condition for humanity, as prognosed by Nietzsche.

The temporality of capital

From the transformation of time in time, it becomes possible to turn the “abbreviation” of time in capital into the potential supersession of the form of change as a function of time. From Nietzsche’s “critical” approach to history, as an active appropriation of the present, Benjamin turned to the reception of history as critical to the present: the present as crisis of history. Where, for Nietzsche, the culmination of history was the crisis of the historical, and the possibility for a supra-historical form of humanity, for Benjamin, the culmination of the peculiar historical comportment of modern humanity is the crisis of history, the crisis of humanity Download Magic Arena. All of history becomes citable, but as amalgamation. Where, for Nietzsche, a future changed condition “must come” if humanity is to survive, for Benjamin, if history is to be redeemed, humanity must be transformed. (Benjamin: “Humanity is preparing to outlive culture, if need be;” this is Nietzsche’s “strange goal.”)

As Adorno concluded his “Reflections on Class Theory,” “This means, however, that dehumanization is also its opposite. . . . Even if the dynamic at work was always the same, its end today is not the end.” The transformation of humanity envisioned by Benjamin and Adorno, appropriating Nietzsche’s discontent in history, was one that would transcend all historical culture “hitherto.” Benjamin and Adorno matched Nietzsche’s “rumination” with Marx and Engels’s Manifesto. The self-overcoming of the entire history of civilization and of its “process of transmission” (which cannot be avoided but only “reversed,” pointing not to the future but the past) would be “against the grain” of the historical progress that can only be regarded as “regression:” the inversion of the meaning of history; the end of history as the end of pre-history in the present, or, the potential redemption of the history of civilization that capital makes possible of itself.

The dialectic of memory and forgetting involves changes in both the forms of remembering and the process of forgetting. A form of remembrance is a way of forgetting. It serves a certain way of life. To remember is to forget in a certain way; to forget is to overcome a certain need to remember, and to overcome the past in a certain way. If the present is an effect of history, then it is in the way the past causes the present.

Why is the past, in modernity (according to Benjamin, following Nietzsche), “citable” in all of its moments? Because all of history is (potentially) negated by capital — just as it is (potentially) fulfilled by it. The question is the possibility and necessity of the appropriation of all of history in capital. The mode of appropriation of the past in capital, its “process of transmission,” is the society prevailing throughout “all of history:” “barbarism.” This means that all moments of the past potentially become culpable in capital, by becoming the endless resource of the present: history Download Lee Ae-ran's hundred-year-old mp3. Capital is the literal “Aufhebung” of history. But can capital become the Selbst-aufhebung of history? Or does modern history exhibit, rather, a dynamic that is alien to all of history, as it was practiced hitherto (prior to the challenge of modernity)? Is capital the potential for redemption in history, or its ultimate denial, its final liquidation? The fundamental ambivalence of history in capital is the key to what it is: an injustice to be made good. This is what capital has promised humanity at the end of history. Can it be fulfilled? Will it? (( This link between redemption and forgetting has its utopic as well as dystopic valences. As Kafka wrote in conclusion of his last published story, “Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk” (in The Complete Stories, trans. Willa and Edwin Muir [New York: Schocken, 1995], 360–376), in a decidedly non-human, zoomorphic parable:
“Josephine’s road, however, must go downhill. The time will soon come when her last notes sound and die into silence. She is a small episode in the eternal history of our people, and the people will get over the loss of her. Not that it will be easy for us; how can our gatherings take place in utter silence? Still, were they not silent even when Josephine was present? Was her actual piping notably louder and more alive than the memory of it will be? Was it even in her lifetime more than a simple memory? Was it not rather because Josephine’s singing was already past losing in this way that our people in their wisdom prized it so highly?
“So perhaps we shall not miss so very much after all, while Josephine, redeemed from the earthly sorrows which to her thinking lay in wait for all chosen spirits, will happily lose herself in the numberless throng of the heroes of our people, and soon, since we are no historians, will rise to the heights of redemption and be forgotten like all her brothers.” (376) )) | §


Bibliography

Adorno, Theodor W., “Reflections on Class Theory,” trans. Rodney Livingstone, Can One Live after Auschwitz? A Philosophical Reader, ed. Rolf Tiedemann (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003), 93–110 Download it for free in 2010.

Benjamin, Walter, “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” trans. Harry Zohn, Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt (New York: Schocken, 1968), 255–266; “On the Concept of History,” trans. Dennis Redmond (2005), available on-line at: <http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/benjamin/1940/history.htm>; “Paralipomena to ‘On the Concept of History’,” Selected Writings vol. 4 1938–40 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 2006), 401–11.

Nietzsche, Friedrich, “On the Use and Abuse of History for Life,” trans. Ian Johnston (2010), available on-line at: <http://records.viu.ca/~johnstoi/nietzsche/history.htm>; On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life, trans. Peter Preuss (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 1980).


Note

Philosophy of history of the Left and Marxism: “authoritarianism” and “imperialism” — response to Mike Macnair

Chris Cutrone

Mike Macnair’s critique of Platypus in “The study of history and the Left’s decline” (Weekly Worker 868, June 2, 2011) takes issue on the philosophy of history of Marxism. I would like to clarify this, and the senses in which I used the terms “authoritarianism” and “imperialism” in my letters of May 19, 2011 (Weekly Worker 866) and May 26, 2011 (Weekly Worker 867), in response to Macnair’s two articles written after his attendance at the Platypus 2011 convention in Chicago, “No need for party?” (Weekly Worker 865, May 12, 2011), and “Theoretical dead end” (Weekly Worker 866, May 19, 2011).

Historiography of Marxism

First, however, I would like to address the issue of historiography with respect to the SPD in the 2nd International era. Carl E. Schorske (in German Social Democracy 1905–17: The Development of the Great Schism, 1955), and James Joll (in The Second International 1889–1914, 1974) are, among others, important historical sources for my and other Platypus members’ views. But I don’t think that what Macnair calls a “source-critical” approach to history should be attempted with reference to historians’ biographies, which does not clarify but potentially compounds the problem of philosophy of history calibre.

On J.P. Nettl, I would point to his substantial essay on “Ideas, intellectuals, and Structures of Dissent,” collected in Philip Rieff, ed., On Intellectuals: Theoretical Studies, Case Studies (1969). I dispute Macnair’s characterization of Nettl’s concerns. I think Nettl’s biography of Luxemburg was his life-work and not ancillary. As a liberal/non-Marxist, there are perhaps some issues to be taken with Nettl’s work on Luxemburg, but Nettl’s views as a political scientist were drawn from his long and close study of Luxemburg and her relation to Marxism, not applied by Nettl to Luxemburg from elsewhere. For Nettl, the history of Marxism raised questions about the possibilities of politics per se. Hence, the importance of Nettl’s argument.

Thus, Nettl’s article on “The German Social-Democratic Party 1890–1914 as Political Model” (Past and Present 30, April 1965) argued that Luxemburg’s views, as expressed in Reform or Revolution application/json? and The Mass Strike, among other writings, were not actionist but concerned with the transformation of the SPD in which the Marxist Left had a stake. Luxemburg and Lenin were not opposed to the formation of workers’ political parties as necessary instruments of emancipation, but they were aware of the dangers inherent in this, from a Marxist perspective on the historical development of capital, in which such workers’ organizations (including labor unions) were inevitably bound up. In other words, how, e.g., the SPD was a phenomenon of the history of capital, or, more precisely, how the workers’ movement for socialism was part of the historical development of capital, and did not somehow oppose it from outside. In this sense, there was an affinity of Eduard Bernstein’s views on “evolutionary socialism” with Luxemburg’s, but they drew the opposite political conclusions: where Bernstein found the transformation of capital through reforms to be ameliorative, Luxemburg found a deepening crisis. This was Luxemburg’s thesis in Reform or Revolution?, that only reformists separated social reform from political revolution, because Marxism recognized that reforms deepened the crisis of capital and made revolution not less but more necessary vray for sketchup 다운로드.

Benjamin and Adorno

I dispute Macnair’s characterization of Benjamin and Adorno’s philosophy of history as attempting to generate “useful myths.” Rhetorical and literary style aside, Benjamin and especially Adorno were rigorous Marxists and Hegelians who engaged the issues of “historical materialism” as manifested after the failure of Marxism. Benjamin and Adorno were not postmodernists avant la lettre, despite their spurious late pomo popularity. Rather, Benjamin and Adorno, like Lukács and Korsch (from whom they took direct inspiration), followed Luxemburg and Lenin’s judgments about the crisis of Marxism as the crisis of bourgeois society that Marxism itself, as part of the ideology and practical political leadership of the international social-democratic workers’ movement, had brought about.

Benjamin and Adorno challenged the linear-progressive conception of history, recovering from the history of Marxism what might appear to be an obscure point, but one addressed, for example, by Plekhanov as history moving in a “knotted line,” and by Lenin as history moving in “spirals” of repetition and crisis (see Lenin’s 1915 Granat Encyclopedia entry on “Karl Marx”). This Hegelian-Marxist approach to the dialectics of history was digested usefully by Lukács, as a discussion of historical “moment” and “process” in “Tailism and the Dialectic” (Lukács’s unpublished 1925 defense of History and Class Consciousness).

Hegel and Kant

The Hegelian — and Kantian — point is that the relation between theory and practice is not one of empirical deduction from trial and error in which an always imperfect theory is corrected, but “inductive,” in that the concrete “material” object of practice is the concretization of abstractions, and, furthermore, the object of practice is indeed first and foremost the human subject, i.e., the “subject-object” of transformation Download mp4 converter. The question is the adequacy of the relation of theory and practice. Metaphysical (“theoretical”) categories refer not to a world extrinsic to human subjectivity, but to the world constituted socially in and through such categories, which are always eminently practical as well as theoretical. So, in the most pertinent example, the “commodity form” is, for Marxists, a category of social relations, which gives it an effective social reality, different from physical nature. Macnair seems not to have attended to the Kantian revolution in philosophy from which Hegel, Marx, Lukács, Benjamin and Adorno followed.

How this matters for the philosophy of history is that history is not a compendium of past facts but a social relation of the “present” with itself. The past is not “past” but present, and present “historically.” So, for Benjamin and Adorno (following Lukács and Korsch, who followed Lenin, Luxemburg, and Marx and Engels on this point), the question was how to reckon the history of Marxism and the greater socialist workers’ movement as symptomatic expression of the history of capital, or, how the “proletariat” was and could become the transformed “subject-object of history.” Lukács’s term for the self-alienated character of this “subject-object” condition of the working class in capital was “reification.” “Reification” referred not to the workers’ quotidian consciousness in capitalism, but to the “class consciousness” of the workers, as expressed by Social Democracy (and “Marxism”) at its height. For Lukács and those who followed, “reification” meant Kautsky.

Abuse of theory

Nettl has a great line about how Kautsky attempted “to invest certain observed phenomena with the normative sanction of Marxist theory.” Nettl cited Parvus against Kautsky: “All the guts knocked out of [Marxism] 고등래퍼2 다운로드. Out of Marx’s good raw dough Kautsky made Matzes” (82). Kautsky abused theory, making it serve as justification or rationalization — as most “Marxists” do — rather than as a provocation to the self-reflection of consciousness, in the Hegelian sense.

While it may be tempting to oppose such apparent static/immobilized (or “contemplative”) consciousness with action(ism), Lukács knew well that the opposition of static and dynamic was an antinomy of capital itself, that capital moved through a dialectic of the antinomy of the dynamic and the static in history. This is where the recovery of the Hegelian dimension of Marxism was critical: Marxism itself had become “vulgarized” in its self-understanding, and had failed in taking a dialectical approach to itself as a historical phenomenon, as a symptom of the history of capital. Marxism had succumbed to the “bourgeois” (pre-Kantian) view of (linear) progress through trial-and-error, the asymptotic view of knowledge, in which, as Benjamin put it, mordantly citing, in his “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” Dietzgen as pathological example of Social Democratic progressivism, “Every day our cause becomes clearer and people get smarter.” History has proved otherwise.

Philosophy of history

Benjamin and Adorno’s challenge to such a “progressive” view of history, which they thought was ideologically blinding, was not irrationalism any more than Hegel was 산돌 고딕 m. It does not call for “myth,” but a different philosophy of history than the empiricist-deductive one. Dialectics is not a matter of estimating probability, but grasping inherent possibility in history.

Paul Klee's 1920 painting, "Angelus Novus" ("The New Angel") was not the traditional votive guardian, but, according to Benjamin, looked upon the historical unfolding of humanity with horror at the mounting catastrophe.

As Adorno put it, in his 1942 essay “Reflections on Class Theory,” in response to both Benjamin’s “Theses” and Marx and Engels’s Communist Manifesto, “According to [Marxian] theory, history is the history of class struggles. But the concept of class is bound up with the emergence of the proletariat. . . . By exposing the historical necessity that had brought capitalism into being, political economy became the critique of history as a whole. . . . All history is the history of class struggles because it was always the same thing, namely, prehistory. This gives us a pointer as to how we can recognize what history is. From the most recent form of injustice, a steady light reflects back on history as a whole. Only in this way can theory enable us to use the full weight of history to gain an insight into the present without succumbing in resignation to the burden of the past 구글 사전 다운로드. [Marxism has been praised] on account of its dynamism. . . . Dynamism is merely one side of dialectic: it is the side preferred by the belief in practicality. . . . The other, less popular aspect of dialectic is its static side. . . . The law that, according to the Hegelian dialectic, governs the restlessly destructive unfolding of the ever-new consists in the fact that at every moment the ever-new is also the old lying close at hand. The new does not add itself to the old but is the old in distress” (Adorno, Can One Live after Auschwitz? A Philosophical Reader, 2003, 93–95).

Authoritarianism

This brings me around to the issues of “authoritarianism” and “imperialism,” which have different usage for me than the colloquial ones. Adorno co-authored the famous study on The Authoritarian Personality. This followed from the earlier Frankfurt School Studies on Authority and the Family n Trip. A commonplace misunderstanding of Frankfurt School Critical Theory is that it attempted to synthesize Marxist and Freudian psychoanalytic approaches, but this view is mistaken. Rather, Freudian psychoanalysis was itself taken by Adorno et al. to be a symptom of the historical development of capital. Freud’s categories were taken to be descriptive, and then resituated, critically, in a Marxian view of historical development of society. In this view, Marx was not ignorant of Freudian insights, but rather it was only as a function of the later social-historical development of capital that human “psychology” appeared as it did to Freud. A contemporary of Benjamin and Adorno, Wilhelm Reich, in his early work on “Ideology as a Material Force” published later in his book The Mass Psychology of Fascism, pointed to how Marxism had failed to apprehend the “progressive” character of fascism; in other words, how fascism had expressed, however pathologically, the social-historical transformation of capital in the early 20th century better than “vulgar,” economic-determinist Marxism had been able to do. Hence, fascism’s ideological and political victory over Marxism. For Reich, (the failure of) Marxism was responsible for fascism. Fascism expressed the workers’ “fear of freedom,” which Marxism, in its false rationalism of “economic interest,” had failed to overcome Download the subtitle font. Workers had a subjective, “psychological” interest in unfreedom that Marxism needed to address.

What this meant to Benjamin and Adorno, following Lukács’s view on “reification,” was that Marxism had failed to address “authoritarianism” dialectically, as a function of the transformation of capital. In the Marxian view, the workers’ movement for socialism is itself the most important “self-contradictory” and self-alienated phenomenon of the history of capital. This is why Marx began with the critique of socialism, or, why the “critique of political economy” is the critique of the necessary and symptomatic consciousness of the socialist workers’ movement.

Imperialism

What I raised in my letter (published in The Weekly Worker 867, May 26, 2011) concerning the changed “organic composition of capital” is this: that the “mass” proletarianization of the core capitalist countries was the result, as Marx discussed in Capital vol. I on “the working day,” of politically variable social conditions of wage labor that, with increased worker empowerment, cause a shift from variable to constant capital, or, from labor-time intensive sweatshop to automated machine production, requiring ever less labor-input and resulting in ever greater value-crises Download Hancom Taza Practice.

This, in turn, affected the conditions of “colonialism.” Whereas colonies in the classical bourgeois era of the emergence of modern capital were sites of market expansion, in the late era of “imperialism” or “monopoly capital,” colonies become raw material resource-extraction zones feeding metropolitan industry. The humanity of not only those who were thus “colonized” but also of the metropolitan proletariat hence became superfluous, not even a “reserve army of unemployed” but a fascist rabble, subject to more or less desperate authoritarian politics. This was already true of the post-1848 world Marx addressed in Bonapartism (also evinced contemporaneously by Bismarck and Disraeli), but became even more so subsequently. The question is why the workers supported authoritarian politics, and how the workers’ movement for socialism was not free of this effect. (In this sense, Hayek’s critique of socialism in The Road to Serfdom is apposite.)

This is the world in which we continue to live today, but without the proximal history of the late 19th–early 20th century social-democratic workers’ movement and its Marxist political leadership that, in a “dialectical” (self-contradictory) way, participated in the history that brought these conditions into being — producing the need for world revolution that is Marxism’s legacy. | §

Originally published in The Weekly Worker 869 (June 9, 2011) [PDF].


Egypt, or, history’s invidious comparisons

1979, 1789, and 1848

Chris Cutrone

THE UPRISING IN EGYPT, which followed soon after the toppling of the old regime in Tunisia, succeeded in bringing down Hosni Mubarak on February 11, the 32nd anniversary to the day of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.  Already, before this timely coincidence, comparisons between the Iranian Revolution and the revolts gripping the Arab world had started to be made.  But other historical similarities offered themselves: the various “color revolutions” in Eastern Europe and former Soviet Central Asian states and Lebanon in recent years; and the collapse of Communism in the Soviet bloc and beyond (the former Yugoslavia) starting with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  Behind these revolutions on the pattern of 1989 stood the event of which 1989 itself had been the bicentennial, the Great French Revolution of 1789.  The Bastille is to be stormed again, anew.  Who would not welcome this?

A more pessimistic, if no less invidious comparison offered itself, especially prior to Mubarak’s ouster: the equally dramatic but failed Green Movement in the election crisis in Iran that marked 30 years of the Islamic Revolution in 2009 Metal slug complete.[1] Just as the Green Movement posed the question of reforming the Islamic Republic, events in Egypt have raised the specter of authoritarianism continuing, despite everything, albeit without Mubarak as tyrant.  Indeed, comparisons of Egypt with Iran, both in 1979 and 2009, are telling in several different respects.  To be sure, the emancipatory prospects in Egypt today are even more remote than in Iran in either 1979 or 2009.  If there is a more fruitful comparison to be made it is with Iran not in 1979 but 2009.

The destruction of the Left, historically, has been naturalized more completely in present-day Egypt than it had been in Iran by 1979.  Going back to the 1950s, because of Nasserism’s subordination and suppression of the Left, the strongest opposition movement in Egypt today is the Muslim Brotherhood, which has a longer history and is much stronger than Khomeini-style Islamism had been in Iran on the eve of the Islamic Revolution.  While the Khomeiniite Islamic Republic has destroyed the Left more completely in Iran since 1979, it is also the case that the reform movement in the Islamic Republic has had a longer history of organization — for almost 20 years, now — than the opposition in Egypt has at present.  The prospects for organized reform, in other words, ran deeper in Iran at the moment of the Green Movement election crisis in 2009 than is the case in Egypt today.  This poses both more radical possibilities and dangers for Egypt than in Iran two years ago.  The Green Movement could beat a retreat in the face of defeat in ways that the unfolding crisis in Egypt might not be so controlled.  But this spiraling out of control that has raised much greater radical prospects in Egypt, as opposed to Iran in 2009, may prove to be the case at least as much for ill as for good.  The military has been able to come to the rescue of the state in Egypt, and this has been met with joy not angry disappointment.  What links both eruptions of democratic discontent, in Iran and Egypt, then, is their authoritarian outcome 문명4 무설치.

Putting aside the rather superficial narratives that emphasize how events in Egypt and Tunisia disprove the supposed intractability and lack of “democratic” spirit in the Arab or Muslim world — as if this needed proving — we must nevertheless ask about the legacy of the history of the Left — its defeats and failures — that condition present possibilities.  The history of the Left, both locally and globally, and reaching back for generations, is important, perhaps not so much for the obvious reasons — a relative lack of “democratic institutions” in one or another part of the world, or, indeed, globally, today, by contrast with the past — as that it raises the question of history per se.  What resources does history provide to the present?  For the comparisons — however invidious — with the situation in and for Egypt are all historical in nature.  So the question of history and its effects presses for consideration.  Whether one approaches the matter of historical precedence with hope or anxiety, still, there is the question of how appropriate to the present any reach for such precedence may truly be.  Like any event, the massive popular uprising in Egypt is in important ways unprecedented and new.  This is its power.  It demands its moment in the sun and refuses all comparisons, insisting upon its sui generis character, which it cannot be denied, even if it is not yet fully revealed.[2] What impresses itself is how much this moment will be allowed to realize itself — to make its departure from previous history.  Or, conversely, how it will be drawn back into and subsumed by history’s ineluctable force.  Why should we care about history, when emancipation makes its attempt at escaping its dead hand 찬송가? — How is the unfolding present already history?

Gamal Abdel Nasser during the 1956 Suez Crisis.

Beneath the elation — if not euphoria — of the international Left at the popular overthrow of Mubarak is the fundamental ambiguity and so radical ambivalence of democratic revolution in our time. But this has been so not only since 1979 or 1989 but 1789.  However, unlike the French Revolution of 1789, whatever its tortured career and the opposed judgments about it, democratic revolutions since then have been dogged by the specter of failure.  One thing that cannot be said of 1789 is that it failed, however ambiguous was its success.  Yet a repressed, largely unknown, and importantly failed moment has haunted the history of modern revolutions, the event that prompted Marx’s famous phrase about history “weighing like a nightmare on the brains of the living”: 1848.  “The Spring of the Nations” in 1848, the revolutions in France, Germany and beyond, has completely escaped the imagination of present considerations of the moment of democratic revolution.  This present absence is itself quite revealing, and needs to be addressed.  For it may be that comparison with 1848 is the most obscure but important of all 팟인코더 구버전.

For Marxism, 1848 is the canon of failure.  What once made Marxism — whose founding political statement was 1848’s Communist Manifesto — such an important force in the world was its awareness of the problem of 1848, or, why 1789 has kept repeating itself over and over in modern history, but without success.  The converse of the Manifesto’s rousing call to action, to treat history as the “history of class struggles,” was Marx’s writing the history of his present moment, the culminating climax and failure of the 1848 Revolution in The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.[3] But these two of Marx’s most widely quoted writings were documents of both promise and defeat.

What made the 1848 Revolution so important to Marx and subsequent Marxism was the light that it shed on the history of the bourgeois revolution.  1848 was both the last of the classical bourgeois revolutions and the first of the socialist revolutions that have marked the modern, bourgeois era.  Henceforth, the fates of liberalism and socialism have been indissolubly tied — even if their connection has been extremely fraught.  Liberalism could not do without socialism, nor socialism without liberalism.  Every democratic revolution since 1848 has faced this two-fold task — and has, without exception, foundered on the shoals of its contradictions.  Marxism was the attempt to transcend the antinomy of individual and collective freedom — or of liberalism and socialism in “social democracy” — to realize both, by transcending both.  Marx and Engels emblazoned this demand in their Manifesto with the slogan of “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need!,” which was to be realized in the “freedom of each” as the “precondition for the freedom of all.” — Importantly, Marx and Engels were the originators of neither of these catchphrases for what “communism” meant Download men's qualifications.  The twin fates of liberalism and socialism after 1848 have shared in the failure of this Marxist vision for emancipation.[4]

What explains the undemocratic outcomes of democratic revolution in the modern era?  Certainly one can take only so much comfort in Thomas Jefferson’s saying that a revolution every generation or so is a good thing — as if frequent revolutions are necessary to restore democracy.  Or, if so, the reasons for this must still be explained, beyond “corruption,” the perennial complaint of the subaltern.  Whence does this recurrent “corruption” of the democratic moment spring?  And why does it manifest itself so much more dramatically at some times than others?  Perhaps revolution is not always such an unambiguously good thing.  Especially if, as Marx put it, it threatens to be the “first time as tragedy” and the “second time as farce.”  What comes of revolution if it is taken to be fate?  There is nothing so “revolutionary” as capital itself.

The 1848 Revolution had secured universal suffrage and established the 2nd Republic in France, but at the price, wryly observed by Marx, of bringing an authoritarian demagogue, Louis Bonaparte (Napoleon’s nephew), to power — to the horror of liberal democratic sentiment at the time — as its first elected President, promising to “save society.”  It is because Bonaparte overthrew the 2nd Republic, and established a 20-year 2nd Empire that followed at the end of his term as President less than four years later, that the massacre of the workers in June 1848 did not become forgotten as a historical footnote and regarded as merely a bump in the road of democracy, for it came to presage the authoritarian repression of society that followed, in which members of the bourgeoisie became subject to the same treatment first meted out to the rebellious workers.  Marxists used the term “Bonapartism” to describe this phenomenon of suppression of democracy with popular assent, which has repeated itself so consistently in history after 1848 — for instance, in “Nasserism” in Egypt and other forms of Arab nationalism (the so-called “Arab Revolution”) in the 1950s–60s.  Such Orwellian reality of all subsequent history has its beginning, with Marx, in 1848.  The soldier held aloft triumphantly on the shoulders of democratic demonstrators in the streets of Cairo already wears the mask of Bonaparte — not the greater but the lesser.  For such turns of modern revolution, after 1848, do not vouchsafe progress, however dubiously, but rather wager its foolhardy chances, mocking them.  As Horkheimer put it in the 1920s, after the ebbing of the failed world revolutionary wave of 1917–19, “As long as it is not victorious, the revolution is no good.”[5] So, the question becomes, what would be the conditions for true victory?  What success can we aspire to win e-sys launcher pro?

Egyptian military officer cheered on by demonstrators in Cairo.

Marx attempted to capture this problem in his demand that the revolution “take its poetry from the future” rather than the past.  But if this is more than the banal statement it appears at first glance, then it raises a rather obscure difficulty: In what way can present revolution draw upon the emancipatory energy of the future? And Marx’s dedicated follower Walter Benjamin’s caveat echoes closely behind, that faith in the future sapped the strength of the revolution, which, Benjamin wrote, needed to be “nourished with the image of enslaved ancestors rather than liberated grandchildren.”[6] But we may need both imaginations — of emancipation and redemption — today.  The question is, how so Download Windows xp in English?

Marx and the history of Marxism still speak, even if their voices are drowned out in the clamoring din of the present.  In history after 1848, Marx understood a world — the present — caught between past and future.  Marx’s term for this historical world, “capital,” refers to the radical ambivalence of the present: its being already past, accumulating all of history and annexing the future, continually crowding the moment off stage; and its constant liquidation of that history, the incessant consumption of the moment in light of a future that never arrives.  Past and future seem to recede infinitely beyond the horizons of a present that is as perpetual as it is empty and futile, trapped, static but constantly in motion.  So we resign ourselves to the present’s eternal passing and recurrence, in which “everything changes” and yet “remains the same.”

Hosni Mubarak and son Gamal cast votes in the last election.

Egyptians may be driven today by the specter of enslaved ancestry, provoked by the force of what Benjamin described as the “hatred” and spirit of “self-sacrifice” necessary to make a bid for history.  But they are also certainly prompted, as Benjamin put it, to “activate the emergence brake” on the “locomotive” of history that would otherwise condemn posterity.[7] They may be motivated not only to redeem past sacrifice but to prevent future loss that could yet be rendered unnecessary.  It is not that Mubarak’s rule became too long or old, but that it threatened to become indefinite — the leering face of the son — that provoked the demand for its end, precisely at the risk of the present.  “I don’t care if I die,” the sentiment widely expressed around Tahrir Square, is the signal moment to which Benjamin’s philosophy of history attends: to bring time to a halt.  But such resolve expresses the will to live, although not merely to continue life unchanged 마크 쉐이더 다운로드.

Not only are we history, but the future will be.

The problem we must face is that the imagination of emancipation — which defines the “Left” as such[8] — is today divided, between the desperation of wishing for the unprecedented new, and desiring for return to the missed moments of opportunity, the potential embodied in past attempts, however failed — attempts at both the escape from and the redemption of history.  1789, 1848, 1871, 1917, 1979, 1989: they will not return — thank God!  But we mourn them nonetheless.  What was lost with them?  Perhaps nothing.  An emancipated future beckons; however, it eludes our grasp, outrunning us in the onrush of time.  “Time waits for no one.”  The future grants no refuge.  There is no peace, not even of the graveyard.  As Benjamin put it, “Even the dead are not safe.”  But history remains.  It may be unavoidable — as much as the future is.  So, the question is, what are we going to do with it?  If we are trapped between past and future, perhaps we will not be crushed but can bring them together and galvanize their force even more powerfully in the present: we are pulverized all the more surely for trying to slip the vise.  Past failures may dispirit, and bewildering, dystopic futures may threaten.  Or: History and utopia can both be enlisted to the aid of the present.  If only.

“What now?,” Egypt asks us. We do not ask it.  This question should be posed, not as it is wont, as a hope or a fear, but as a task, however exclaimed or whispered.  It is not to be answered with exuberance or resignation, but determination.  The resolution that not only are we, inevitably, history, but the future will be. | §

Originally published in The Platypus Review #33 (March 2011) 도라에몽 노비타의 바이오하자드.


1. See Danny Postel, Kaveh Ehsani, Maziar Behrooz and Chris Cutrone, “30 Years of the Islamic Revolution in Iran,” Platypus Review 20 (February 2010), available on-line at: <http://platypus1917.org/2010/02/18/30-years-of-the-islamic-revolution-in-iran/>.  See also my “Failure of the Islamic Revolution: The Nature of the Present Crisis in Iran,” Platypus Review 14 (August 2009), available on-line at: <http://platypus1917.org/2009/08/24/the-failure-of-the-islamic-revolution/>.

2. See Hamid Dabashi, “The False Anxiety of Influence,” Al Jazeera English, February 12, 2011 aomei. Available on-line at: <http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/02/201121215216318526.html>.  Undeniably, as Dabashi writes, “From Tehran to Tunis to Cairo and beyond, our innate cosmopolitan cultures are being retrieved, our hidden worlds discovered, above and beyond any anxiety of influence.”

3. Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. Originally published in 1852. Available on-line at: <http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1852/18th-brumaire/>.

4. See my “Marxist Hypothesis,” Platypus Review 29 (November 2010), available on-line at: <http://platypus1917.org/2010/11/06/the-marxist-hypothesis-a-response-to-alain-badous-communist-hypothesis/>.

5. Max Horkheimer, “A Discussion about Revolution,” Dawn & Decline: Notes 1926–31 & 1950–69 (New York: Seabury, 1978), 39.

6. Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” Illuminations (New York: Schocken, 1969), 260.

7. Benjamin, “Paralipomena to ‘On the Concept of History’,” Selected Writings vol. 4 1938–40 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003), 402.

8. See Leszek Kolakowski, “The Concept of the Left,” in Carl Oglesby, ed., The New Left Reader (New York: Grove, 1969), 144–158.

The relevance of critical theory to art today

J.M. Bernstein, Lydia Goehr, Gregg Horowitz, and Chris Cutrone

On Saturday, November 20, 2010, Platypus hosted a panel entitled “The Relevance of Critical Theory to Art Today” moderated by Chris Mansour at The New School for Social Research in New York. The panel consisted of Philosophy Professors J.M. Bernstein (The New School), Lydia Goehr (Columbia University), and Gregg Horowitz (Pratt Institute and Vanderbilt University), and Chris Cutrone (Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art History, Theory and Criticism, School of the Art Institute of Chicago), member of Platypus. What follows is an edited transcript of the event. Full video is available online at <http://newyork.platypus1917.org/what-is-critique-symposium-video-documents>.

Opening remarks

Chardin, The House of Cards (1735)

J.M. (Jay) Bernstein: Some 25 years ago, I asked Terry Eagleton and Fredric Jameson why two revolutionary Marxists spend so much time talking about Jane Austen. They replied, “Because that’s where the bourgeoisie have pitched their tent.” I felt that answer was true, but also insufficient. If the bourgeoisie have a stake in high culture, as one of the ways society reproduces itself, then it makes sense for Marxists to critique the practices that constitute high culture. But, beyond the issue of social integration, what stake do Marxists have in art?

The Marxist story runs something like this: By a certain moment, everyday life in modernity had become formed by the reduction of use-values to exchange-values, the fungibility and exchangeability of all material artifacts, the rule of technology, the rule of bureaucracy, the domination of capital markets, and the disenchantment of nature. Now, if you were Adorno, you would say that all of this amounts to the hegemony of instrumental reason over all forms of human reasoning. You would further say that art, in becoming purposeless, could become a refuge for another form of world address. Artworks are not fungible, not replaceable by one another, and not quantifiable. Rather, artworks make a claim on us simply by virtue of their material complexion, their ordering of sensual materials.

Modern art—I see modernism as the extension of modern art—is the attempt to think through this moment. First and foremost, the autonomy of art from politics, from science, from all the functions it might have in the world, was a world-historical calamity. Modern art begins as a kind of disaster. To understand the meaning of art is to understand the nature of that disaster. Art was taken out of the world and deposited in this realm where it has to make sense of its practice wholly in terms of itself. The puzzle of modern art is this functional emptiness that is nonetheless a form of content. First for Friedrich von Schiller, then for Adorno, the autonomy of art became a sort of opportunity. I think you can read all of modern art, right through high modernism into certain versions of postmodernism, as having embarked on the same project.

Caravaggio, Conversion on the Way to Damascus (1601)

Yves-Alain Bois, along with all the writers who are part of what I will call “the aesthetic,” agree in one way or another that the primary gesture of modern art is the tearing away from materials, ideologies, and formalisms. At first—that is, with Dutch Realism in the 17th century, as with Caravaggio and, later, Chardin—this tearing away is emancipatory. It frees art from religious and related forms of reference, allowing representations to become immanent in gesture, rather than exemplifying some presumptively eternal idea. It is here that we see art becoming autonomous. In this respect, modern art was part of the secularizing of the world, but with this secularization came the idea that a wholly secular world could be infinitely valuable. Thus, with secularization came the project of sacralizing the everyday, but in a wholly secular way.

However, this project became increasingly harassed and defensive as modernity itself became an ideology, a series of forms of closure and domination. At that moment modernity ceased to be the emancipator, and became a problem. I would place that moment somewhere around 1848, with the failure of the bourgeois revolutions, though of course for some, notably Rousseau and Schiller, modernity had become a significant problem much earlier.

The notion of decoding, for Yves-Alain Bois, is broadly what Jacques Rancière means by the shift from the representational regime to the aesthetic regime. It is what Adorno means by the retreat of form in the face of materials that are in-formed, and what Gilles Deleuze means by the shift from representation to sensation. All of these I take to be riffs on the notion of purposefulness without purpose, which has this thought behind it: What painting provides is an account of our conviction in, and connection to, the world through visual experience. With modern art it became natural to find the authority of painting in its capacity to demonstrate how objects have a more than instrumental call on our capacity to live with them. That thought is fully there, for example, in Dutch Realism and in the tradition of the still life. By placing physical things in the visual environment and purifying them of any uplifting or instrumental features, by just letting them be there for our visual inspection, art returns us to this world. It allows us to be present to ourselves and for the world to be present to us.

Van Gogh, Chair (1888)

This is both enthralling and a disaster, because it means that everyday life has begun to disintegrate. I think of Van Gogh’s Chair (1888) as an eloquent moment connecting the dignity of the mere thing with the dignity of paint on canvas. Van Gogh’s moment is just that, a moment in which object and canvas speak to one another, each lending the other its authority Download iPod video. In the very moments of art’s so-called existential emptiness, of its not being about the world, there is the appearance of the world. This is art’s power.

Philistines hate art for that moment of emptiness. This moment, at one level, is irredeemable. But this moment of emptiness is art’s moment of fullness. Modern art imbricates and provides a refuge for a disenchanted but affirmative materialism in which objects could be meaningful in themselves, and not just in what they are useful for. These objects are sources of compelling experience amidst a world of sensory bombardment. They are a promise of happiness.

Though this promise is wildly different from Benjamin to Adorno to Rancière, these thinkers all avow some version of it. The promise is often taken to be insufficient as, after all, artworks are not life. What they promise is a different future, and in so doing artworks threaten to leave our present evacuated. This is the central difficulty of all modern art practices: If art has no other power than its mere presence, the attempt to provide it with political significance from the outside is always bound to fail. Art can only have what it offers, namely the salience of visual experience, by embracing the difficulty of that moment of protest by allowing for visual fullness.

Having said that, I need to return to where I began. This moment of protest in art only has cultural significance if the world cares about culture. I take the problem of the present not to be that art has gone awry, but that culture has gone awry. The bourgeoisie has discovered that capital can reproduce itself without social integration. Capital can get on very well with a dispersed, fragmented, wholly disarticulated cultural domain. The difficulty of modern art, in my judgement, is this: How can art address the problem of cultural weight when the bourgeoisie has disavowed it altogether?

Lydia Goehr: To Adorno critique is not the promise of happiness, nor the promise of freedom. It is always immanent critique, the turning of thought back upon itself. Asking the question, “What is critique?” might indicate that we have raised the very notion of critique to a concept. In that respect we fetishize the concept of critique, just as we have fetishized the concepts of “happiness,” “life,” “history,” and so on. Critical theory is about the immanent critique of our language, which is to say, the language of our thought and the language of our concepts. Language is our concepts, our concepts are our social logics. The way in which we think through thought is by producing a challenge to that which has authority over us, namely our concepts, like “personality,” “narrative,” and “subject.” The paradox, or the extreme difficulty, of doing immanent critique is that we have to use the tools that are the subject of our critique, so the critique always has to turn back on itself as an ongoing process. In that sense it has no external objects, although it is constantly mediated by the objects that are antithetical to our thinking—namely, things like works of art.

The real difficulty is that you can never break out of the thinking about thinking. You are constantly confronted by the things that have most authority over you, namely the concepts you are actually implying. I want to illustrate this by one example I like to use from the field of music. When we perform a musical work there’s this idea of Werktreue, of being true to the work. We know that the work has authority over our performance insofar as we are performing a work, but Adorno suggests that the way we are true to a work is precisely by being untrue to it. What he meant was that, insofar as we perform the work against its grain, by not just trying to replicate it, but by playing with it, we challenge the authority that the work-concept has over us. To be true to the work ends up being untrue to the concept of the work. Performance of music, then, becomes a way to redeem something about the musical work, if the musical work is resisting the concept under which it falls, namely the concept of “a musical work.”

This is the way that some of the so-called “social truth content” comes out of critique: It exposes the authority that concepts have over us. My suggestion is that one way to think about critique is in terms of looking for ways in our thinking to break the authority our thinking has over us. In that sense, there is nowhere to go outside of our own capacity to think.

Gregg Horowitz: I started really thinking about this panel around ten days ago. At the end of every day, it was almost tomorrow, which meant that the thoughts were already too late. I only found my way out of this conundrum through this extraordinary document that has been published in a recent issue of the New Left Review, of a discussion between Adorno and Horkheimer in 1956, which Gretel Adorno recorded. [1] They discussed what it would mean to rewrite the Communist Manifesto. And I thought—that’s a thought about today zo 1. It is visibly a thought about today. For such a project, you would think the main themes in connecting up the past, the present, and the future, would be something like this: The past was the revolution, the present is actually existing socialism, and the future depends on whether actually existing socialism points in a meaningful way to a socialism worth endorsing. But that’s not what they talk about. Rather, the past is the party, understood as an audience whom a writer interested in socialism might address. Marx, after all, begins the Communist Manifesto with an address to the party. The future, then, is a question of who would care about the writing. And the present, it turns out, is largely a matter of motorbikes. This is Europe in 1956, and youths are riding on motorbikes all over, making pestiferous noise. The question kept occuring to Horkheimer and Adorno, “Why does everybody love motorbikes?” Now this seems to be what it means to think about the present: thinking about the sound of motorbikes roaring in your ears as you think through the party, on the one hand, and whom to address, on the other.

If our future is anywhere, the thought usually goes, it will be in the present. No other future can matter other than the future that is here in the present. This self-conscious entrenchment in the present reminds us that critical theory, both as it was articulated but also, more importantly, as we have to receive it, was not simply a response to social regression, but a symptom of social regression. As Adorno said, philosophy carries on because its moment of realization was missed. For philosophy, as for critical theory, something has migrated into the realm of thought that is somehow not at home in the realm of thought. In this sense philosophy is struck by the same regression that critical theory takes itself to be reflecting on.

To put this point in a more general register, thinking is not self-determining, but is always shaped by the practices out of which it emerges and to which it instinctively tries to return. The more it is frustrated in this endeavor, the more insistent it is to return. The idea that thinking is not self-determining represents the decay of a certain image of philosophy. At that point one wants to assert that the whole project of spinning a system of thought out of concepts is now simply behind us. It is for this reason that we can say that Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud remain the central background figures, because they sought to think through, not the future completion, but the radical incompleteness of philosophy. That philosophy, of all disciplines, would be radically incomplete implies that all practices are radically incomplete. No thought, no practice, can cordon itself off from the social world of which it is a part. Critique wants to get behind the veil, to get to the bottom of things from which we can start over in the full light of truth. But precisely this impulse, this thought, has to be treated as symptomatic—it ends up inhibiting thought.

We always start exactly where we are. This is neither to say that nothing of the past is left, nor that everything is so thoroughly mediated that the origin has disappeared. Rather, there is no starting over because nothing of the past ever goes away. The urge to start over attests to a learned distrust in our capacity to remember, to sustain experience. Memory is weak, and in response to this weakness the feeling arises that things are going away, and we want to get back to the things themselves. This weakness is crucial to reflect on. For it is not in the strength, but in this moment of memory’s weakness that the past rises up in the light of that future which we cannot determine in the present.

All understanding of the present has to start with the acknowledgement that we are not the future the past had in mind and that, for this reason, in some sense we stand in the way of the future the past had in mind. I do not know how to sustain this thought for long—it hurts. One task that we can pose to critique, insofar as we turn against ourselves in this moment of weakness, is to unlock another future—perhaps another modernity.

I am putting to critique the task of understanding the present, but to understand the present is to grasp it as if it has already passed away. In the dialogue between Adorno and Horkheimer, Adorno makes the comment that the horror of the present is that we live in a world where we cannot imagine a better one. To say that we live in a world where we cannot imagine a better one is to say that we cannot see this world as one that has passed away. We cannot see the present in the light of a future that the present does not intend. The standard line is that, for critical theory, to grasp the world as past has meant totalizing the world, or seeing it from the point of view of its completeness, with nothing falling outside the totality. But this is a limited conception of totalization. It is not merely that nothing falls outside, but that anything that does fall outside of the totality is a harbinger or an ambassador of a different world. This thought has been susceptible to a religious interpretation that I am going to do everything I can to avoid. Totalization in this respect is the precondition for opening up the cracks through which the light of the future can shine, right now, on the past and the present Breathtaking. Horkheimer says in his dialogue with Adorno, “I don’t believe things will turn out well.” And by “things” he means everything. But the thought that things might turn out well is indispensable. Nothing falls outside but the thought that something in the present does shine a light on the past.

With regard to art, I agree with Jay that modernist art has been taken up as a kind of self-overcoming of the present. Modernist art is not the future—Heaven forbid—but, rather, it is the light that shines from the future onto the past, the light whose uselessness is what the present does not yet know how to make use of. Adorno only articulated this thought retrospectively. That is, Adorno felt that the moment of modernist art’s capacity to be this light had already passed. Modernist art had been absorbed by the culture industry.

The contrast between the culture industry and modernist art is often articulated so radically that absorption is thought of as cancellation. But absorption is not the same as negation. Rather, I think of absorption the way I think of how, when you wash your dishes, the sponge absorbs the odor of what is being discarded. It is retained in trace form. The inevitability of the absorption is clear once the demand for a different future has been articulated. Once made, that demand is already on the way to becoming a commodity. What we need is not a demand for another future, but for another past. We need the paradoxical demand of a past that will steer us toward a future that we cannot anticipate. From this it follows that no art practice can ever be “subversive.” Art practices can be subverted, but no art practice can ever be subversive. Art is, and should be, too much in love with experience in the present to ever be subversive. For any art that is worth taking seriously, absorption in the culture industry seems inevitable.

However controversial this statement may be, I believe critical theory has before it now the task of demolishing the false overvaluation of art, in order to save us from the idea that art will save us. Perhaps critical theory is tasked with helping us to expect less of art. At one point in this exchange between Horkheimer and Adorno, Horkheimer says, “The more eager one is to break the taboo, the more harmless it is…. One must be very down to earth, measured, and considered so that the impression that something or other is not possible does not arise.” [2] What Horkheimer calls for here is a toning down of the rhetoric, because with every moment of melodrama in the effort to cancel the present moment, we render the weight of the present moment insignificant. It becomes the occasion for a spectacular display of pathos, which Horkheimer is trying to resist. Perhaps what we should drive toward, critically, is lower expectations for art, so that we have an opportunity to experience, not our distance from, but our proximity to, what is better—though this proximity is also a kind of distance, and what is better remains obscure.

Chris Cutrone: The scholar of Benjamin’s and Adorno’s work, Susan Buck-Morss provided a pithy formulation for defining the tasks of both art and criticism in the modern era: “[Artists’] work is to sustain the critical moment of aesthetic experience; our job as critics is to recognize this.” [3] Two aspects of Buck-Morss’s formulation of the work of artists need to be emphasized—“sustaining the critical moment” and “aesthetic experience.” The subjective experience of the aesthetic is what artists work on, and they do so in order to capture and sustain, or make available, subjectivity’s “critical moment.”

Adorno, in his 1932 essay “The Social Situation of Music,” analogized the position of modern art to that of critical social theory: The role of both was to provoke recognition. Adorno further warned that there could be no progress in art without that of society. His posthumously published but unfinished monograph Aesthetic Theory can be considered to have at its center, organizing the entire discussion of the modern experience of art, the theme of the simultaneous necessity and impossibility of art. In this, Adorno was elaborating in the aesthetic realm his thesis in Negative Dialectics, that philosophy and critical theory were both necessary and impossible, simultaneously.

What does it mean to practice art in an epoch of its impossibility and continuing necessity? A clue can be found in Adorno’s claim in Negative Dialectics that “philosophy lives on because its moment of realization was missed.” [4] Adorno’s treatment of philosophy and art is modeled on Marx’s treatment of capital. The potential for a dialectical historical transformation, in which capital would be simultaneously realized and abolished, became for Adorno the question of what it would mean to simultaneously realize and overcome the aspirations of modern philosophy and art. What would it mean to overcome the necessity that is expressed in modern practices of art? The Hegelian thought figure of art’s attaining to its own concept, while transcending it through a qualitative transformation, was mobilized by Adorno to grasp both the history of modern art and the desire to overcome its practices.

The Hegel scholar Robert Pippin, in his response to the journal Critical Inquiry’s 2003 forum on the current state and potential future for critical theory, described postmodernism as a repetition of the “Romantic recoil” from modernity. [5] Specifically, Pippin pointed to modern literary and artistic forms as derived from such Romanticism, of which postmodernism was the mere continuation, but in denial of its repetition. And Pippin pointed out that such repetition is in fact a “regression,” because consciousness of the historical condition of the problem had grown worse.

Hegel posed the question of the “end” of art. He meant by this not the cessation of practices of art, but rather the ability of those practices to make the activity of “Spirit” appear in a self-contained and self-sufficient manner. While religion had been superseded by art, art had come to be superseded by “philosophy.” By this, Hegel meant that art needed philosophical interpretation to be able to mean what it meant 너목보 음원 다운로드. Art needed criticism in order to be itself. This was a specifically modern condition for art, which Hegel addressed in a rather optimistic manner, seeing art’s need for criticism as a hallmark of enlightenment rather than a disability or liability.

But Adorno took this Hegelianism with respect to art and turned it from an explanation of art’s historical condition to a critique of those historical conditions. Like Marx who had turned Hegel on his head, or put Hegel back on his feet, Adorno inverted the significance of Hegel’s philosophical observation. Where Hegel had, for instance, regarded modern politics as the realm of reflection on the state, and by extension the self-objectification of civil society in the state, Marx regarded the modern distinction between state and civil society as expressing the pathological necessity of capital, in which the self-contradiction of capital was projected. Adorno similarly addressed the complementary necessities of art and criticism as expressing a self-contradiction in (aesthetic) subjectivity.

As Adorno put it, however, this did not mean that one should aspire to any “reconciliation” of art and philosophy, nor of theory and practice. Just as Marx critiqued the Left Hegelians for their Romantic desire to merely dissolve the distinction between state and civil society, so too did Marx and Adorno alike regard this separation as the hallmark of freedom. In a late essay, “Marginalia to Theory and Practice” (1969), Adorno attacked “Romantic socialism” for wanting to dissolve the distinction and critical relationship between theory and practice, maintaining that, by contrast with traditional society, the modern separation of theory and practice was “progressive” and emancipatory. So too was the separation in meaning between art, as non-conceptual knowledge, and criticism, informed by theoretical concepts.

Adorno, like Marx, looks forward, not to a return to a pre-modern or pre-capitalist unity of theory and practice, nor to a reconciliation of form and content, as had been the case in traditional culture, but to a qualitative transformation of the modern division of meaning in art and criticism, in which each would be simultaneously realized and abolished as presently practiced. The problem is that, rather than being raised to ever more acute levels, there was already in Adorno’s lifetime a retreat from the productive antagonism, the dialectic of theory and practice, or in this case art and criticism.

Adorno drew upon and sought to further elaborate the approach of his friend and mentor Walter Benjamin, who argued in his 1934 essay “The Author as Producer” that no art could be of correct “political tendency” unless it was also of good aesthetic quality. [6] Furthermore, Benjamin argued that every great work of art “either founds or dissolves a genre.” [7] As Benjamin put it, the work of art that fails to teach artists teaches no one. Artists do not “distribute” aesthetic experience, but produce it. New art re-works and transforms, retrospectively, the history of art. Benjamin argued that there could be no progress in society without that of art, for necessarily involved in both is the transformation of subjectivity.

The history of modern art, as Benjamin and Adorno recognized, presents a diverse multiplicity of practices, none of which has been able to come to full fruition. Benjamin described this poignantly in his Arcades Project as “living in hell.” [8] Benjamin and Adorno’s thought-figure for such historical consciousness of modern art comes from Trotsky, who pointed out, in a June 1938 letter to the editors of the American journal Partisan Review, that the modern capitalist epoch displayed the following phenomenon in its historical course:

[N]ew tendencies take on a more and more violent character, alternating between hope and despair. The artistic schools of the [first] few decades [of the 20th century]—cubism, futurism, dadaism, surrealism—follow each other without reaching a complete development. Art, which is the most complex part of culture, the most sensitive and at the same time the least protected, suffers most from the decline and decay of bourgeois society. [9]

This was because, as Trotsky put it,

The decline of bourgeois society means an intolerable exacerbation of social contradictions, which are transformed inevitably into personal contradictions, calling forth an ever more burning need for a liberating art. Furthermore, a declining capitalism already finds itself completely incapable of offering the minimum conditions for the development of tendencies in art which correspond, however little, to our epoch…. The oppressed masses live their own life. Bohemianism offers too limited a social base. [10]

Trotsky said of art that, “a protest against reality, either conscious or unconscious, active or passive, optimistic or pessimistic, always forms part of a really creative piece of work. Every new tendency in art has begun with rebellion.” [11] And not merely rebellion against existing conventions of art, but against the conditions of life in capitalism.

But what, then, would be a “liberating art?” Adorno addresses this in terms of the aspiration for “artistic autonomy,” or the self-justification of aesthetic experience. This is related to how Kant described the experience of the beautiful, in nature or art, as the sympathetic resonance the subject experiences of an object, which thus appears to embody “purposiveness without purpose,” or a telos—an end-in-itself. Except, for Adorno, this empathy between subject and object in Kant’s account of aesthetic experience is not affirmative, but critical. In Adorno’s account of the modern experience of art, the subject recognizes not the power of experiential capacities and the transformative freedom of the human faculties, but rather their constraint and unfreedom, their self-contradictory and self-undermining powers. The subject experiences not its freedom in self-transformation, but rather the need for transformation in freedom. Adorno emphasized that the autonomy of art, as of the subject, remains under capitalism an aspiration rather than an achieved state. Works of art embody the striving for autonomy that is denied the subject of the modern society of capital, and thus artworks also embody failure. Hence, the history of art furnishes a rich inventory of failed attempts 파일 쿠키. This is why this history remains unsettled and constantly returns. Modern works of art are necessarily failures, but are nonetheless valuable as embodiments of possibility, of unfulfilled potential.

The constrained possibilities embodied in modern art are, according to Benjamin’s formulation, approached by the subject with a combination of “desire and fear.” Modern artworks embody not only human but “inhuman” potentials—that is, the possibilities for the qualitative transformation of humanity, which we regard with desire and fear. They thus have simultaneously utopian and dystopian aspects. Modern artworks are as ambivalent as the historical conditions they refract in themselves, “prismatically.” But it is in such ambivalence that art instantiates freedom. It is the task of theory, or critique, to register the non-conceptual while attempting to bring it within the range of concepts. As Adorno put it, the aspiration of modern art is to “produce something without knowing what it is.” [12] In so doing, art acts not only on the future, but also on history.

Modern artworks find inspiration in art history. This is the potentially emancipatory character of repetition. Artists are motivated by art history to re-attain lost moments by achieving them again, but differently. Artists produce new works that, in their newness, unlock the potentials of past art, allowing us to re-experience history. But this work on history is not without its dangers. As Benjamin put it, “even the dead are not safe” from the ambivalent “progress” of history, because this history unfolds in capital as a “mounting catastrophe.” [13] The history of modern art, like that of capital more generally, furnishes a compendium of ruins. The simultaneously progressive and regressive dynamics of history find their purchase in this: that historical forms of experience and consciousness inform present practices, for better or worse. It is the work of critique to attempt to better inform, through greater consciousness, the inevitable repetition in the continuing practices of art, and thus attempt to overcome the worst effects of the regression involved in such practices.

In the Hegelian sense adopted by both Marx and Adorno, the greater consciousness of freedom is the only available path for freedom’s possible realization. Consciousness is tasked to recognize the potential that is its own condition of possibility. This is why Adorno and Benjamin addressed works of art as forms of consciousness. Art can be ideological or it can enlighten, provoking consciousness to push itself further.

The dialectic of art and criticism is necessary for the vitality of art. The self-abnegation of criticism, on the other hand—the disenchantment of consciousness that characterized “postmodernism”—has clearly demonstrated the barrenness of such abdication of responsibility on the part of critics and theorists more so than artists, who were thus left at the mercy of poor, unclarified concepts. The challenge posed by modern critical-theoretical approaches to art has been warded off rather than engaged and pushed further.

Artists’ work continues to demand critical recognition, whether the critics recognize this or not. What such critical recognition of the work of history taken up by art would mean is what Marxist aesthetic theorists like Adorno and Benjamin pursued, and from whose efforts we can and indeed must learn. For a new condition of art has not been attained, but only an old set of conditions repeated, without their repetition being properly recognized. The relation between art and social modernity, or capital, continues to task both art and theory. Art is not merely conditioned by, but is itself an instance of the modern society of capital. But, like society, for art to progress, theory must do its work.

Panelists’ responses

LG: Chris, you seemed to read Adorno’s distinction between regression and progression as if progress is simply the bit we want, but it seems to me that Adorno’s point was that the progressive and the regressive are two sides of the same coin, both of which lead to catastrophe.

CC: In Benjamin and Adorno’s philosophy of history, which they are deriving from Marx, capital is simultaneously progressive and regressive. Capital progresses through a kind of recursive movement, and so they understand overcoming capital as also completing capital. Benjamin and Adorno take up the concept of Aufhebung—the sublation, the realization through negation, or the self-overcoming—to articulate this “completion.” Art, far from being outside capital, is part and parcel of capital’s historical movement. Art moves historically through a “progress,” if you will, of progress and regress—like capital. Of course, this raises the question of emancipation. Colloquially, progress is usually thought of in these terms: “Are we making progress? Is progress progress? Or, is it actually progress in domination, in which case it is not progress?” I feel that an unfamiliar aspect of Benjamin and Adorno’s thought is an idea they take from Marx, which complicates the relationship between progress and regress: Capital moves through a process of the discontents capital itself produces. The opposition to capital that these discontents engender form the basis for the reconstitution of capital in a new form, though there are important differences in the form these discontents take. You can have a system of discontents that advances capital in one way, or in a completely different way.

Goebbels touring a Nazi exhibition of "degenerate" modernist art, Berlin, 1937

To take perhaps the most dramatic example, I’m sure we are familiar with the anti-totalitarian idea that communism and fascism are simply two sides of the same coin 윈도우 10 rtm. In a way, for Benjamin and Adorno, fascism was the necessary doppelgänger of communism, in that both communism and fascism had an ambivalent relationship to the progress and regress of capital. Nevertheless, one could distinguish between communism and fascism, as Benjamin and Adorno themselves did. One could distinguish between how the contradiction of capital is being pushed through communism versus the way it was being pushed, in a more obscure manner, through fascism. One salient point here would be Wilhelm Reich’s argument, in “Ideology as a Material Force” (1933), that Marxists had failed to recognize the progressive character of fascism, which of course did not mean that Reich found fascism “progressive.” Rather, Reich meant that fascists were more in tune with the ambivalent progress and regress of capital than the Marxists were. The Marxists, in a sense, were helpless in the face of the progress of capital—therefore, the ambivalent progress of capital took the form of fascism rather than communism in Germany.

GH: Of course, after 1848, modernity becomes not the solution, but the problem. However, I resist a certain version of the argument which posits that, since modernity is the problem, there must be something which is not modernity that provides, if not the solution, at least the answer. The full secularization of history entails that there is nothing outside history. So I think modernity has to be the answer to the problem it raises. In my remarks I held up what I am calling “another modernity,” which I acknowledge to be only a sort of marker. It is possible we may have to make out this other modernity by figuring out, again, the difference between communism and fascism, though I find this possibility a bit dreadful. However, this would mean withdrawing from the language of disaster and catastrophe—a withdrawal I would justify on the basis of Adorno’s resistance to pessimism. Pessimism is the conviction that things will inevitably get worse. But, for Adorno, it is the dark gift of history that this is false. The only gift of having survived 1945 is the dead certainty that things cannot get any worse. From this anti-pessimistic thought, I think there must emerge something like an anti-catastrophic line of thinking.

JB: You would have to think past Adorno to do that, though. I keep pointing back to early modern art, and to what I have called the “secular sacralization” of the everyday. I do this because one of the things Adorno thematized, but did not see in the art he loved, was the burden of giving everyday life the intensity and fullness of satisfactions once found in religious forms of life. Adorno and Benjamin were overly impressed by the sacred, or the messianic, and this was their worst temptation. If they were alive now, I fear they would be doing political theology, which is the worst thing to happen in political thought since Carl Schmitt. As I see it, Adorno’s anti-representationalism ultimately led him to think of what was utopian in distorted ways.

Bartolomeo Manfredi, Cupid Chastised (1613)

CC: Your critique of Benjamin and Adorno points to the difference between understanding modernity as post-Renaissance, versus understanding modernity as post-1848. Art after 1848 is about disenchantment, secularization, and sacralization of the everyday, but in a fundamentally different way than the art from the Renaissance period through the Romantic period, up until the time of Hegel. This difference hinges on the difference between Kant and Hegel, on the one hand, and Marx, on the other, which should not be understood simply as a difference in thinking. Rather, it is a matter of the real historical difference between the pre-1848 and post-1848 world, which makes it necessary to pose quite differently the question of Enlightenment, disenchantment, desacralization, and resacralization.

Jay, I think you have posed art as occupying a space outside capital, outside modernity, representing a romantic response to the instrumentalization of the world. I believe there were elements of this in Lydia’s remarks as well. In contrast, I think Adorno and Benjamin challenge us to see how art also becomes instrumental reason, in the sense that art is an instrument of capital. It is not as though there is reason that is used instrumentally, and reason that is not used instrumentally. Rather, reason becomes instrumentalized by capital so that the Enlightenment becomes a more ambiguous phenomenon after 1848. There is a reversal of means and ends after 1848 such that one can no longer understand capital as the advance of Enlightenment, but can only see the Enlightenment as the means of capital. Rather than “non-conceptual knowledge,” Adorno and Benjamin see art as part of the reason of capital, but also, therefore, as bearing the ambivalence of capital and potentially making that ambivalence recognizable.

A similar difficulty, which came up in Gregg’s presentation, is getting beyond an understanding of emancipation in terms of cracks or fragments in society. This conception of emancipation traces back to a kind of Romantic Counter-Enlightenment, from which Marx and, thus, Benjamin and Adorno, would have to be distinguished. I take great issue with the claim that Adorno and Benjamin were enchanted by the sacred. Like Hegel, they were tasked with understanding continuity and change in the desacralization of the world Download the game. Hegel had to account for the ways that religious metaphysics remain with us in spite of, and even through, the disenchantment of the world. Kant and Hegel understood this in the sense that religion was a prior form of reason, but I do not think they argue for a Romantic re-enchantment of the sacred against the disenchanted world. Marx, Benjamin, and Adorno certainly do not.

LG: This treats Adorno and Benjamin as if they are producing a theory of society or a theory of art in a traditional sense—that is, taking a step back, coming up with a theory, and then imposing it upon society, art, or capitalism. What Adorno and Benjamin share in their writing is precisely this turning back on themselves to ask how, actually, does one write about this. They always turn back on the structures of thought and writing.

CC: I don’t think I implied that Adorno and Benjamin felt they could step outside their object of critique. They consider their own thinking symptomatic of capital, which means that they understand their own opposition to capital as itself being a symptom of capital. In this sense the only difference they could establish between their own thinking and others’ was the measure of self-clarification and self-awareness they achieved, which is an issue of the philosophy of history. There is a difficulty in understanding what opposition to capitalism means. The usual approach is to look at how capital breaks down—to look for apparent cracks, which provide the grounds for “resistance.” This is the typical language of the Left in the late 20th century, down to the present. In contrast, Benjamin and Adorno follow from Marx in recognizing that it is not the case that capital moves by a smooth logic, interrupted by moments of collapse representing something outside of capital. Rather, part of what makes capital an “alienated” logic is that it is no logic at all; it reproduces itself not in spite of, but precisely through breakdown, resistance, discontents, and a host of contingent or “spontaneous” factors.

There is an undigested Romantic legacy, in the wake of 1789, of positioning oneself, along with all humanity, under the treads of history. This tends toward a one-sided understanding of capital as instrumental reason, whereas in fact Adorno and Benjamin, like Marx and Hegel, are actually trying to overcome a Romantic rejection of modernity. Trying not to fall on one side of that Romantic rejection is hard without seeming to speak from some kind of objective view outside of the phenomenon, but I think that is primarily an issue of style and presentation.

Q & A

Q: In your comments, Gregg, you said that returning to the distinction between fascism and communism seemed dreadful. But what hope for the redemptive power of art, or even of thought itself, exists outside of the hope for socialism, a movement that the revolutionary Marxist tradition understood as the attempt, for the first time, to put social relations under the dominion of social consciousness?

GH: My expression of despair was only at the prospect of having to frame the problem that way. The articulation of socialism necessarily involves the retrieval of the emancipatory moment of “actually existing socialism.” But what must we return to in order to retrieve this emancipatory moment? I don’t have an answer to that, but if there is an answer afoot, we need to hear it. Several times in the last month I have heard the following remarkable thought—and when I say remarkable I simply mean I want to know more—that Khrushchev represented an actual breakthrough, from which we might retrieve a different practice of communism. That is the kind of thought that I do not know how to make use of, even in trying to think about what you and I share, which is a view of socialism as the horizon of emancipatory political practice.

Q: Jay, in your remarks you have described our culture as being problematic in its relation to art, which I took to mean that we have a “wrong culture.” What do you mean by this?

JB: “Wrong culture” would be optimistic. I am interested in how the culture question has lapsed. It was standard even in the 1960s to articulate how system integration, the way in which various institutions make capital reproduction possible, required social integration, whereby people would have harmonious beliefs, values, and ideals. At a certain moment, capital recognized that this was not strictly necessity, and that people did not actually need a whole lot of ideological forming. My claim is that an image of radical culture was parasitic on the idea that there was a dominant culture. There is no longer a coherent dominant culture against which to mount a critique that could push forward the formation of an alternative political will. This is what requires us to rethink the notion of critique.

CC: I think the world appears to lack a common culture holding the system together because the common culture that exists is poorly recognized 리눅스 jdk 1.7 다운로드. Counterintuitively, I think there are a great deal of assumptions shared by Islamic fundamentalists, Christian fundamentalists, postmodern bohemians, and so on, but these common assumptions go unrecognized and unremarked. These assumptions have become ideology in a classic sense. The task would be provoking recognition of this commonality in order to make legible the unity of the opposites in our world, rather than thinking that we live in some sort of cultural plurality that resists any attempt to understand it as a totality. That this appears to be the case is simply an artifact of our failure to understand it. One could just as well make a plausible argument, from the standpoint of the 19th century, that the world was being held together without a hegemonic culture in 1830, 1848, or 1870. The task would be to find the hegemonic culture that is there, but which is completely naturalized.

LG: But are we talking here about culture with a small C, or Kultur with a capital K?

GH: I had a version of that question in mind. In a review of the Anselm Kiefer art show that appeared recently in the New York Times, Roberta Smith hauled out of the dustbin of history a critical concept you almost never see anymore: She referred to Kiefer as a “middlebrow painter.” [14] The concept seemed archaic to me. Even though it was clearly meant as a slander, “middlebrow” had none of the negative charge it used to have. Suddenly there was, in the concept of middlebrow, a whiff of democracy. It sounded optimistic, as though it is something to aspire to. So, I don’t mean to imply by this that Anselm Kiefer is a great painter or anything, but reading this review of his work suggested to me that, whatever might come to count as a common culture, it is definitely not going to be culture with a capital K—it is not going to be a matter of cultivation, in that sense.

JB: With respect to what I am calling the breakdown or the loss of culture, I am thinking about what goes on, for instance, in Philip Roth’s novel American Pastoral, which captures how ideality or hopefulness is no longer available as something that could be transformative. It is not simply “ideology,” or a series of false beliefs, that make a culture, even with a small C. There has to be a notion of ideality. That notion, which appeared in Germany under the phrase “critique of pure cynicism,” really has its American moment now, and it is that difficulty I was pointing to.

LG: From that, it follows that the real confrontation now would not be between critical theory and capital, directly, but between critical theory and democracy. This is really where the issue is for politics.

Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring (1913)

CC: The word I want to introduce into the discussion is “kitsch.” Maybe we now have kitsch culture and kitsch politics. There are interesting parallels between Clement Greenberg and Benjamin and Adorno. It is interesting that Greenberg foregrounds the question of democracy by treating avant-garde and kitsch as symptoms of democracy. But in this way Greenberg also raises the question of the relationship between capital and democracy. The culture industry was a concept that Adorno meant to embrace high art as well. Schoenberg and Stravinsky were also a part of the culture industry. In that respect I think one has to see how avant-garde and kitsch practices subsist on a common ground and how Schoenberg and Stravinsky are two sides of the same coin. Adorno certainly was not just a partisan for Schoenberg over Stravinsky, which is how Adorno is usually read.

Q: A few of you tonight have touched upon the concept that an artwork is not successful unless critique is doing its job. But what is critique’s job description, so to speak, in relation to art today? And what should it be?

Beethoven, Symphony 5 (1804–08), I. Allegro con brio

LG: It is not that art will not function unless critique does its job, but that critique is this ongoing process of rethinking what is being asserted. One of the reasons Adorno admired Schoenberg was that he thought you could not reduce Schoenberg to whistling, and this meant that in some way Schoenberg was not assimilable by the culture—in its form it would always rub up against culture. If you understood what it was that made Schoenberg so difficult and so unassimilable, so unwhistleable, you could perhaps understand again what was amazing about a Beethoven symphony or even, in my view, a Puccini opera like La Bohème. This is where I think even Adorno got himself wrong, in that he made too many blanket statements about the kind of music that was subsumable by this society. The real resistant potential is to try and listen to Puccini as a great composer, not to listen to Puccini as a composer under the conditions of commodification.

Puccini, La bohème (1896), O soave fanciulla

CC: I don’t think Schoenberg was unassimilable—if anything, his work was assimilated. But I also do not think that Adorno thought Schoenberg was unassimilable, and so I don’t think unassimilability is what Adorno valued in Schoenberg. Adorno talks about Schoenberg and the culture industry in terms of “the inevitable” versus “the incomprehensible,” as a sort of antinomy within a historical moment of the culture industry Download the subtitles of One Fun Man 2 2 10. Inevitability and incomprehensibility are, to Adorno, two aspects of the same thing. The operation of capital is not comprehensible by individuals but it is clearly socially assimilable. In this sense, capital is inevitable and incomprehensible. What Adorno valued about Schoenberg was that, in Schoenberg, you cannot escape that simultaneous inevitability and incomprehensibility as easily as you can escape it by putting on Puccini, for instance, or Stravinsky, who gives you the comprehensible sublime.

Q: In your comments, Jay, you have proposed the everyday as a different route to go besides the messianic or sacred. But how is the everyday supposed to get beyond all the problems you have raised with shareability, for instance? Doesn’t everydayness run into all the same problems we run into with culture?

Schoenberg, Erwartung/Expectation (1909)

JB: I think the everyday has always been the question for modern art. Whatever we might mean by modernity, it has to be the thought of a wholly secular form of life. What we don’t know is what shareability is going to look like. That is something art practices will need to invent, in the sense of figuring out, as they go along, variations on this idea of immanent sharebility, which comes out of the practice itself and yet remains a practice. What makes art particular, at least for me, is that it bears this burden.

Q: I think the theme of the failure of postmodernism to advance historical consciousness has not been fully fleshed out. What is it about how postmodernism saw art that has left us with less access to historical self-awareness or consciousness?

CC: There have been assumed but, unfortunately, naturalized and invisible categories we have used in discussing art and critique, and I think the invisibility of these categories points to problems of historical consciousness. In a sense, we necessarily read figures like Adorno or Benjamin—or, as I pointed out before, Marx—in terms of categories that they themselves wanted to transcend. One thinks of how the classic postmodernist art critics, the October group, separated the avant-garde from modernism. I do not think critics like Benjamin and Adorno, or Clement Greenberg for that matter, would have accepted the opposition of the avant-garde to modernism in the way that postmodern critics superimpose on the history of modern art. Similarly, the relationship between Romanticism and modernism has been a troubled one throughout our discussion. To the degree there has been a critique of Adorno and Benjamin, the critique was of a residual Romanticism they purportedly exhibit. That they appear to retain a Romantic understanding of modernity is itself a signal of how much influence postmodernism, and particularly postmodern art criticism, has exerted on how we think about modernism. Thus, for instance, modernist art becomes a kind of secular religion. A return to these figures as points of reference—especially Adorno, as someone who anticipated but preceded emphatic postmodernism in art criticism—is salient today precisely to the extent it allows us to estrange ourselves from these kinds of rhetorics. We should resist the notion of Adorno and Benjamin as mandarin intellectuals and holdover Romantics, and we should resist a Romantic conception of modernism, whether we use that term positively or negatively. I say this in hopes of at least pointing to how our discussion bears the damage that has been done by the way we talk about art after postmodernism. Our discussion bears the traces of an abdication of criticism over at least the last 40 years, since Adorno’s time. In all the ways we have talked about the modern work of art—in terms of whether modernism is finished or unfinished, how it subsists, how and why it is still necessary, and so on—I think we have been forced to concede something. | §

Originally published in The Platypus Review #31 (January 2011). Transcribed by Andony Melathopoulos


1. Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, “Towards a New Manifesto?” New Left Review 65 (September-October 2010). This document is available in full at <http://www.newleftreview.org/?view=2860>.

2. Ibid.

3. Susan Buck-Morss, reply to “Visual Culture Questionnaire,” October 77 (Summer, 1996), 29.

4. Theodor Adorno, Negative Dialectics, trans. E. B. Ashton (New York: Continuum, 1973), 3.

5. Robert Pippin, “Critical Inquiry and Critical Theory: A Short History of Nonbeing,” Critical Inquiry 30:2. Available online at <http://criticalinquiry.uchicago.edu/issues/v30/30n2.Pippin.html>.

6. Walter Benjamin, “The Author as Producer,” Reflections (New York: Schocken, 1986), 220–238 Thread.

7. Walter Benjamin, “The Image of Proust,” Illuminations (New York: Schocken, 1969), 201.

8. Walter Benjamin, “Paris, Capital of the 19th Century: Exposé of 1939,” The Arcades Project (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 1999), 14–26.

9. Leon Trotsky, “Art and Politics in Our Epoch,” <http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1938/06/artpol.htm>.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid.

12. Theodor Adorno, “Vers une musique informelle,” Quasi una Fantasia (New York: Verso, 1998), 322.

13. Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” Illuminations, 253–264.

14. Roberta Smith, “A Spectacle with a Message,” The New York Times, November 18, 2010. Available online at <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/19/arts/design/19kiefer.html>.

What is critique?

The relevance of Critical Theory to art today

Chris Cutrone

Presented on a panel with J. M. Bernstein, Lydia Goehr, and Gregg Horowitz at What is Critique?, Parsons, the New School for Design, New York, November 20, 2010 (video recording).

The scholar of Benjamin and Adorno’s work Susan Buck-Morss, in her response to the October art journal’s 1996 Visual Culture Questionnaire, provided a pithy formulation for defining the tasks of both art and criticism in the modern era, “[Artists’] work is to sustain the critical moment of aesthetic experience; our job as critics is to recognize this.” Two aspects of Buck-Morss’s formulation of the work of artists need to be emphasized, “sustaining the critical moment” and “aesthetic experience.” The subjective experience of the aesthetic is what artists work on. And they do so in order to capture and sustain, or make available, subjectivity’s “critical moment.”

Adorno, in his 1932 essay on “The Social Situation of Music,” analogized the position of modern art to that of critical social theory. The role of both was to provoke recognition. Furthermore, Adorno warned that there can be no progress in art without that of society. Adorno’s posthumously published but unfinished monograph Aesthetic Theory can be considered to have a central theme organizing all its discussion of the modern experience of art, the simultaneous necessity and impossibility of art Download Jurassic Cops. In this, Adorno was elaborating in the aesthetic realm his thesis in Negative Dialectics, the simultaneous necessity and impossibility of philosophy and critical theory. What does it mean to practice art in an epoch of its simultaneous continuing necessity and impossibility? A clue can be found in Adorno’s claim in Negative Dialectics, that “philosophy lives on because its moment of realization was missed.”

Philosophy of art

Adorno’s treatment of philosophy and art are modeled on Marx’s treatment of capital. The potential for a dialectical historical transformation, in which capital would be simultaneously realized and abolished, became for Adorno the question of what it would mean to simultaneously realize and overcome the aspirations of modern philosophy and art. What would it mean to overcome the necessity that is expressed in modern practices of art? The Hegelian thought-figure of art’s attaining to its own concept while transcending it, through a qualitative transformation, was mobilized by Adorno to grasp both the history of modern art and the desire to overcome its practices.

The Hegel scholar Robert Pippin, in his response to the 2003 Critical Inquiry journal’s forum on the current state and potential future for critical theory, described postmodernism as a repetition of the “Romantic recoil” from modernity 윈집 무료. Specifically, Pippin pointed to modern literary and artistic forms as derived from such Romanticism, of which postmodernism was the mere continuation, but in denial of its repetition. But Pippin also pointed out that such repetition is in fact a “regression,” because consciousness of the historical condition of the problem had grown worse.

Hegel had posed the question of the “end” of art. But Hegel meant by this not the cessation of practices of art, but rather their ability to make the activity of “Spirit” appear in a self-contained manner. While religion had been superseded by art, art had come to be superseded by “philosophy.” What did Hegel mean by this? Nothing but that art needed philosophical interpretation to be able to mean what it meant. Art needed criticism in order to be itself. This was a specifically modern condition for art, which Hegel addressed in a rather optimistic manner, seeing such need for criticism in art as a hallmark of enlightenment rather than a disability of art 마이크로 소프트 프로젝트 다운로드.

But Adorno took this Hegelianism of art and turned it, from a historical explanation of its condition, into a critique of such circumstances of history. Like Marx who had turned Hegel “on his head,” or put Hegel back “on his feet,” Adorno inverted the significance of Hegel’s philosophical observation. Where Hegel had, for instance, regarded modern politics as the realm of reflection on, the self-objectification of civil society in the state, Marx regarded the modern state and civil society distinction as expressing the pathological necessity of capital, in which the self-contradiction of capital was projected. Adorno similarly addressed the complementary necessities of art and criticism, as expressing a self-contradiction in (aesthetic) subjectivity.

As Adorno put it, however, this did not mean that one should aspire to a “reconciliation” of art and philosophy or theory. Just as Marx critiqued the Left Hegelians for their Romantic desire to dissolve the distinction between state and “civil” society, the separation was regarded, by Marx and Adorno alike, as the hallmark of freedom 게임 디지털 다운로드. In a late essay, the “Marginalia on Theory and Practice” (1969), Adorno attacked “Romantic socialism” for wanting to dissolve the distinction and critical relationship between theory and practice, maintaining that, by contrast with traditional society, the modern separation of theory and practice was “progressive” and emancipatory. So was the separation in meaning between art, as “non-conceptual knowledge,” and criticism, informed by “theoretical” concepts.

Artistic modernism

So Adorno, like Marx, looked forward, not to a return to a pre-modern or pre-capitalist unity of theory and practice and reconciliation of form and content, as had been the case in traditional culture, but a qualitative transformation of the modern division of meaning in art and criticism, in which each would be simultaneously realized and abolished, as presently practiced. The problem is that, rather than being raised to ever more acute levels, already in Adorno’s time there was a retreat from the productive antagonism, the dialectic of theory and practice, or art and criticism.

Adorno drew upon and sought to further elaborate the approach of his friend and mentor Walter Benjamin, who argued, in his 1934 essay “The Author as Producer,” that no art could be of correct political “tendency” unless it was also of good aesthetic “quality.” Furthermore, Benjamin argued that every great work of art “either founds or dissolves a genre.” As Benjamin put it, the work of art that fails to teach artists teaches no one. Artists do not “distribute” aesthetic experience but produce it. New art re-works and transforms, retrospectively, the history of art. Benjamin argued that there can be progress in society without that of art, for necessarily involved in both is the transformation of subjectivity Download The House of the Dead 2.

Politics of art

The history of modern art, as Benjamin and Adorno recognized, presents a diverse multiplicity of practices, none of which have been able to come to full fruition. Benjamin described this poignantly in his Arcades Project as “living in hell.” Benjamin and Adorno’s thought-figure for such historical consciousness of modern art comes from Trotsky, who pointed out, in a 1938 letter to the editors of the American journal Partisan Review, that the modern capitalist epoch displayed the following phenomenon in its historical course:

[N]ew tendencies take on a more and more violent character, alternating between hope and despair. The artistic schools of the [first] few decades [of the 20th century] — cubism, futurism, dadaism, surrealism — follow each other without reaching a complete development. Art, which is the most complex part of culture, the most sensitive and at the same time the least protected, suffers most from the decline and decay of bourgeois society.

This was because, as Trotsky put it,

The decline of bourgeois society means an intolerable exacerbation of social contradictions, which are transformed inevitably into personal contradictions, calling forth an ever more burning need for a liberating art 4 camping clubs. Furthermore, a declining capitalism already finds itself completely incapable of offering the minimum conditions for the development of tendencies in art which correspond, however little, to our epoch. . . . The oppressed masses live their own life. Bohemianism offers too limited a social base.

Trotsky said of art that, “a protest against reality, either conscious or unconscious, active or passive, optimistic or pessimistic, always forms part of a really creative piece of work. Every new tendency in art has begun with rebellion.” And not merely rebellion against existing conventions of art, but the greater conditions for life in capitalist modernity.

So, what would be a “liberating art?” Adorno addresses this in terms of the aspiration for “artistic autonomy,” or the self-justification of aesthetic experience. This is related to how Kant had described the experience of the beautiful, in nature or art, as the sympathetic resonance the subject experiences of an object, which thus appears to embody “purposiveness without purpose,” or a telos, an end-in-itself 랜선라이프. Except, for Adorno, this empathy between subject and object in Kant’s account of aesthetic experience, is not to be affirmative but critical. In Adorno’s account of the modern experience of art, the subject recognizes, not the power of experiential capacities, and the transformative freedom of the human faculties, but rather their constraint and unfreedom, their self-contradictory and self-undermining powers. The subject experiences not its freedom in self-transformation, but rather the need for transformation in freedom. Adorno emphasized that the autonomy of art, as of the subject, remains, under capitalism, an aspiration rather than an achieved state. Works of art embody the striving for autonomy that is denied the subject of the modern society of capital, and thus also embody failure. Hence, the history of art furnishes a rich inventory of failed attempts. This is why its history is unsettled and constantly returns. Modern works of art are necessarily failures, but are nonetheless valuable as embodiments of possibility, of unfulfilled potential.

The constrained possibilities embodied in modern art are, according to Benjamin’s formulation, approached by the subject with a combination of “desire and fear.” Modern artworks embody not only human but “inhuman” potentials, or, the possibilities for the qualitative transformation of humanity 메가맨x6 다운로드. They thus have simultaneously utopian and dystopian aspects. Modern artworks are as ambivalent as the historical conditions they refract in themselves, “prismatically.” But it is in such ambivalence that art instantiates freedom. It is the task of theory, or critique, to register and attempt to bring the non-conceptual within the range of concepts. As Adorno put it, the aspiration of modern art is to “produce something without knowing what it is.” In so doing, art acts not only on the future, but also on history.

Art history

Modern artworks find inspiration in art history. This is the potentially emancipatory character of repetition. Artists are motivated by art history to re-attain lost moments by achieving them again, but differently. Artists produce new works that, in their newness, unlock the potentials of past art, allowing us to re-experience history. But this work on history is not without its dangers. As Benjamin put it, “even the dead are not safe” from the ambivalent “progress” of history, which unfolds in capital as a “mounting catastrophe.” The history of modern art, like that of capital more generally, furnishes a compendium of ruins 고전게임 씰 다운로드. The simultaneously progressive and regressive dynamics of history find their purchase in this, that historical forms of experience and consciousness inform present practices, for better or worse. It is the work of critique to attempt to better inform, through greater consciousness, the inevitable repetition in the continuing practices of art, and thus attempt to overcome the worst effects of the regression involved in such practices.

In the Hegelian sense adopted by both Marx and Adorno, the greater consciousness of freedom is the only available path for freedom’s possible realization. Consciousness is tasked to recognize the potential that is its own condition of possibility. This is why Adorno and Benjamin addressed works of art as forms of consciousness. Art can be ideological or it can enlighten, provoking consciousness to push itself further.

The dialectic of art and criticism is necessary for the vitality of art Metalheart. The self-abnegation of criticism, the disenchantment of consciousness that characterized “postmodernism” has clearly demonstrated the barrenness of such abdication of responsibility, on the part of critics and theorists even more than artists, who were thus left at the mercy of poor, unclarified concepts. The challenge posed by modern critical-theoretical approaches to art have been warded off rather than engaged and pushed further.

Artists’ work continues to demand critical recognition, whether the “critics” recognize this or not. What such critical recognition, of the work of history taken up by art, would mean is what Marxist critical aesthetic theorists like Adorno and Benjamin pursued, and from whose efforts we can and indeed must learn. For a new condition of art has not been attained, but only an old set of conditions repeated, however without their being properly recognized. The relation between art and social modernity, or capital, continues to task both art and theory. Art is not merely conditioned by, but is itself an instance of the modern society of capital. But, like society, for art to progress, theory must do its work. | §


“The Relevance of Critical Theory to Art Today” video recording:

An incomplete project? Art and politics after postmodernism

Chris Cutrone

Presented at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, October 26, 2010. Originally published in 491 #2 (November 2010).

What was postmodernism? — Habermas’s critique

Postmodernism challenged the institutionalized modernism of the mid-20th century, offering more radical forms of social discontents and cultural practice. It meant unmasking the values of progress as involving ideologies of the political status-quo, the problems of which were manifest to a new generation in the 1960s. But, more recently, postmodernism itself has begun to age, and reveal its own concerns as those of the post-1960s situation of global capitalism rather than an emancipated End of History.

In 1980, Jürgen Habermas, on the occasion of receiving the Adorno prize in Frankfurt, predicted the exhaustion of postmodernism, characterizing its conservative tendencies 아틸라 토탈워 한글. Habermas called this situation the “incomplete project” of modernity, a set of unresolved problems that have meant the eventual return of history, if not the return of “modernism.” How does Habermas’s note of dissent, from the moment of highest vitality of postmodernism, help us situate the concerns of contemporary art in light of society and politics today?

In his Adorno prize talk, Habermas emphasized the question of the “aesthetic experience . . . drawn into individual life history and . . . ordinary life,” and “not [already] framed by experts’ critical judgments” (12–13). Habermas thinks that such aesthetic experience “does justice to . . . Brecht’s and Benjamin’s interests in how artworks, having lost their aura, could yet be received in illuminating ways,” a “project [that] aims at a differentiated re-linking of modern culture with an everyday praxis that [would be impoverished by mere traditionalism][, a] new connection [that] that can only be established on condition that societal modernization will also be steered in a different direction [than capitalism].” (13). Habermas admitted that “the chances for this today are not very good” (13).

Instead, Habermas points out at that, “The disillusionment with the very failures of those programs that called for the negation of art and philosophy has come to serve as a pretense for conservative positions” (13–14) canon multi-machine driver. This is how Habermas characterized postmodernism, an anti-modernism that was an ideology of the “young conservatives,” namely Foucault and Derrida (among others).

Habermas drew a parallel of the postmodernism of Derrida and Foucault to the “neo-conservatives,” for which he took the Frankfurt School critical theorists Horkheimer and Adorno’s former secretary, in their time of exile in the U.S. during WWII, Daniel Bell, as representative. Bell had described the “cultural contradictions of capitalism” as resulting in what he called “antinomian culture,” which produced a nihilistic “culturati” in a “counterfeit” high culture of “multiples,” hedonism for the middle class, and a “pornotopia for the masses.” What Bell, as a self-styled “conservative,” deplored, such as the “conformism” of a liberal “heterodoxy” that became a “prescription in its confusions,” postmodernists celebrated. But they agreed on what Habermas called the destructive aspects of the “negation of art and philosophy,” against which various “hopeless” “Surrealist revolts” had been mounted, as an inevitable result of modernity. Whereas Bell, for instance, explicitly called for the return of religion as a way of staving off the nihilism of modernity, the postmodernists implicitly agreed with the conservative diagnosis of such nihilism, for they explicitly abandoned what Habermas called modernity’s “incomplete project” of enlightenment and emancipation 소닉2. Postmodernism was a form of anti-modernity.

Critical art, liquidated

So, how does art figure in such a project of enlightened emancipation? The scholar of Benjamin and Adorno’s work Susan Buck-Morss wrote, in response to the postmodernist art journal October’s 1996 Visual Culture Questionnaire, that, “[Artists’] work is to sustain the critical moment of aesthetic experience. Our work as critics is to recognize it.” Buck-Morss protested against what she called the “liquidation” of art in the move of “attacking the museum,” “producing subjects for the next stage of global capitalism” by replacing concern with the “critical moment of aesthetic experience” with a discourse that “legitimates culture.” In so doing, Buck-Morss pointed out that failing to properly grasp the social stakes of aesthetic experience resulted in the “virtuality of representation,” ignoring how, for Benjamin and the Surrealists he critically championed “images in the mind motivate the will” and thus have “effect in the realm of deeds.”

Indeed, prominent October journal writer Hal Foster had, in the 1982 essay “Re: Post,” gone so far as to call for going “beyond critique,” really, abandoning it, for in critique Foster found precisely the motor of (deplorable) “modernism,” which he characterized as consciousness of “historical moment” that “advanced a dialectic.” Foster stated unequivocally that critical “self-reflexivity” needed to be abandoned because it (supposedly) “enforces closure.” Foster called the Brechtian terms “defamiliarization” and “estrangement” “quintessentially modernist.” But Foster remained equivocal regarding the matter of art’s potential to “initiate new ways of seeing,” even if he stayed suspicious of “the old imperative of the avant-garde and its language of crisis.”

The crisis of criticism — driving art underground

But the concern, for Foster, as with the other leading October writers (such as Rosalind Krauss and Douglas Crimp), was reduced, from social problems, to problematizing art: (in Crimp’s words) “on the museum’s ruins.” But the museum is still standing. The question is whether it still houses art. As Buck-Morss pointed out, the museum is the “very institution that sustains the illusion that art exists.” What this means is that, disenchanted with art, the “realm of deeds,” in which “images in the mind motivate the will,” abandoned by the critics, is ceded instead to the “advertising industry.” The museum, lacking a critical response, is not overcome as an institution of invidious power, but, instead of sustaining the socially necessary “illusion” that “art exists,” however domesticated, becomes an embodiment of the power of kitsch, that is, predigested and denatured aesthetic experience, to affirm the status-quo: high-class trash. Art becomes precisely what the postmodernists thought it was. The museum has not faced the crisis of meaning the postmodernists wished of it, only the meaning has become shallower 이니셜d 5기. In Adorno’s terms, the museum has become an advertising for itself, but the use of its experience has become occulted, in favor of its exchange-value: the feeling of the worth of the price of the ticket. But the experience of art is still (potentially) there, if unrecognized.

For Buck-Morss, there is indeed a crisis — of (lack of) recognition. Criticism, and hence consciousness of aesthetic experience objectified in artistic practices, was in crisis in postmodernism. Critical theory ceased to be critical — and thus became affirmative, even if it was confused about this. This was the result, in Habermas’s terms, of the “postmodernist” turning away from the “incomplete project” of modern art’s critical response to social modernity: a conservative result, by default, even if under the “pretense” that it was progressive or even radical.

Against such postmodernist abdication and thus affirmation of existing “culture,” Buck-Morss called for approaching art “emblematically and symptomatically, in terms of the most fundamental questions of social life,” “bringing to consciousness what was before only dimly perceived, so that it becomes available for critical reflection.” Otherwise, Buck-Morss warned that “tomorrow’s artists may opt to go underground,” and “do their work esoterically, while employed as producers of visual culture.” We might also say that there is the option of continuing to make “art,” but without recognition of its stakes by critics, impaired by a discourse of “visual culture” and supposed “institutional” critique or opposition — that is, an institutionalized opposition to the institution (such as effected by the October writers, who have since entered the canon of academicism, for instance in the academic art of the postmodernist art school) 하나님의 은혜. This outcome represses, or drives “underground,” the concerns of artists regarding aesthetic experience, which, according to Habermas and Buck-Morss, following Benjamin and Brecht, are potentially “vital” and “fundamental” to “questions of social life.”

“Relational” aesthetics

The question of the more recent phenomenon of “relational aesthetics” needs to be addressed in such terms, for “relational aesthetics” claims to be about mobilizing attention to the aesthetic experience of the social for critical ends, in society as well as art.

Several important critical accounts of relational aesthetics have been attempted. Claire Bishop has addressed the problem of relational aesthetics raising the social at the expense of recognition of social antagonisms. Stewart Martin has questioned the relational aesthetics opposition of the social to the (autonomous) art object of traditional (modernist) aesthetics. But Martin has also interrogated the hypostatization of the social, whether considered either as a relatively unproblematic value in itself or as a zone of antagonism, as in Bishop’s criticism. Additionally, Martin has addressed shared problems of the late paradigmatic but opposed attempts on the Left to politicize aesthetics by Jacques Rancière and Alain Badiou Gta4 free. Martin has deployed a sophisticated understanding of Marx and Adorno on the commodity form towards these ends. Thus it becomes possible for Martin to address relational aesthetics practices’ “naïve mimesis or aestheticization of novel forms of capitalist exploitation,” in treating art as a “form of social exchange” that advocates an “inter-subjective art of conviviality” (370–371), as well as address the potential political stakes of various approaches to art. — Conversely, it becomes possible for Martin to address what he calls the otherwise naturalized “commodity form of the political” (372).

Martin is concerned to be able to preserve a social-critical approach to what he calls the “arty non-art of late capitalist culture.” It is necessary, according to Martin, to avoid the “Hegelian trap” of “harmonious rapprochement,” through a dialectic of “anti-art and pure art,” resulting in an “artification of the world” that however “breaks” with attempts to “critique bourgeois culture.” Instead, Martin recalls Adorno’s recognition that art’s “autonomy,” its simultaneously “anti-social” and “non-subjective” or “objective” aspect, was inherent both in its commodity character and in its “resistance to commodification,” through “immanent critique or self-criticism” (373). It is this aspect of art, common to both “anti-art” and “pure art,” that, for Martin, “relational” aesthetics, with its emphasis on the supposedly “inter-subjective” character of the social, occludes.

Historical temporality of artworks not linear succession

John Roberts, in his recovery of Adorno, has focused as well on the “asocial” aspect of art as the potential source of its critical value. Roberts recovers the key idea, from Benjamin and Adorno, of artworks’ “pre-history” and “after-life” in history, in order to introduce the problem of the historical temporality of the experience of works of art, which is not reducible to their immediate aesthetic experience or the thoughts and feelings of the artists who produced them Download The Sea Expedition Octonnut. Works of art are “objective” in that they are non-identical with themselves, in the sense of non-identity in time. In Adorno’s terms, artworks have a “historical nucleus,” a “truth-content” revealed only as a function of transformations in history. According to Benjamin, this is how artworks can gain stature and power with time.

The example Roberts uses is the late, delayed reception of early 20th century avant-garde artworks in the 1960s, which inspired artists. This is a very different account from the notion, common in postmodernist criticism, of artists rebelling against the preceding styles and art criticism and historical discourses of abstract expressionism. Artists may have remained innocent of the cloistered disputes of the art critics and historians, though their works were used as evidence in these disputes; and they may have remained more sympathetic to abstract expressionism as art than the postmodernist critics were. The pendulum-swing or grandfather-rule accounts of the vicissitudes of history are inadequate to the non-linear temporality Roberts highlights.

Roberts discusses works of art as forms of “deferred action” in history, with which artists and viewers engage in new forms of art production and reception, which belie notions of successions of styles traditional to art history Download turbo recall. This allows works of art to be understood as embodiments of objectified experience that change as a function of historical transformations, as potentially informing a proliferation of experiences unfolding in history, rather than, as Foster, for example, feared, forms of “closure.”

Neo-avant garde or neo-modernist?

It is important that neither Habermas (nor Bell) nor Buck-Morss accepted the idea that gained traction in the 1970s of a division between modernist and avant-garde art. For neither did Benjamin or Adorno. (Peter Bürger’s influential study, Theory of the Avant-Garde, was, importantly, a critique of Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory on this score.)

What Martin calls the “dialectic” of “anti-art” and “pure art” has continued, though not necessarily in terms of opposed camps, but rather in what Adorno recognized as the necessary element of the non-artistic in artworks. Now that postmodernism has been exhausted as a trend in criticism (as seen by significant reversals on the part of its standard-bearers such as Foster), it becomes possible to recognize how postmodernism reacted inadequately and problematically to this dialectic, conflating realms of art and social life, and thus repressed it, obscuring its operations from proper recognition.

The emergence of “relational” aesthetics in the 1990s marked the exhaustion of postmodernism, as both its culmination and its negation (it is significant that Foster was hostile, calling it a mere “arty party”), but also a terminal phase of the recrudescence of the problem of the social and of politics, long wandering lost through the postmodernist desert of the 1970s and ’80s, during which Adorno, for example, could only be received as an old-fashioned modernist Download Windows Capture Tool. But, since the 1990s, critics and theorists have found it increasingly necessary to reconsider Adorno.

Today, which may be considered a post-postmodernist moment, art practices can be broadly grouped into two seemingly unrelated tendencies, neo-avant garde (such as in relational aesthetics) and neo-modernist (in the revival of the traditional plastic arts of objects such as painting and sculpture). The task would be to understand what these apparently independent tendencies in art have in common as phenomena of history, the society and politics with which art practices are bound up. Postmodernist art criticism has made it impossible to properly grasp such shared history of the present, hence its exhaustion today, leaving current art unrecognized.

But, in the midst of the high era of postmodernist criticism, Habermas sounded an important note of dissent and warning against this trend, reminding of what postmodernism left aside in terms of society and politics. For it is with respect to society and political ideology that art remained potentially vital and necessary, if under-recognized as such. In his Adorno prize talk, Habermas raised the problem of art as an exemplary task for the “critical intellectual.” This is because, as more recent critics such as Bishop, Martin and Roberts have noted, art, in its dialectical transformations, allows for the recognition of history, the present as historical, revealing not only the history of art, but of modern capitalist society and its unfulfilled forms of discontent, as registered in aesthetic experience download the fm2019 editor. | §


Sources

Theodor W. Adorno, Aesthetic Theory (1970), trans. Robert Hullot-Kentor (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1997).

Daniel Bell, “Foreword: 1978,” The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (New York: Basic Books, 1978), xi–xxix.

Walter Benjamin, “The Task of the Translator,” Illuminations (New York: Schocken, 1969), 69–82.

Claire Bishop, “Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics,” October 110 (Fall 2004), 51–79.

Claire Bishop, “The Social Turn: Collaboration and its Discontents,” Artforum (February 2006), 179–185.

Susan Buck-Morss, Response to the Visual Culture Questionnaire, October 77 (Summer 1996), 29–31.

Hal Foster, “Re:Post,” Art after Modernism, ed. Brian Wallis (Boston: David R. Godine, 1992), 189–201.

Jürgen Habermas, “Modernity An Incomplete Project,” The Anti-Aesthetic, ed. Hal Foster (Port Townsend, WA: Bay Press, 1983), 3–15.

Stewart Martin, “Critique of Relational Aesthetics,” Third Text 21.4 (July 2007), 369–386.

John Roberts, “Avant-gardes after Avant-gardism,” Chto Delat? / What is to be Done? 17 (August 2007).

John Roberts, “Art after Deskilling,” Historical Materialism 18.2 (2010), 77–96.

Benjamin’s philosophy of history

Freedom in history?

Chris Cutrone

Presented on the panel “Reconsidering Benjamin,” with panelists Alfred Frankowski (University of Oregon) and Donald Hedrick (Kansas State University), at the Rethinking Marxism 2009 conference, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, November 7, 2009. A prior, expanded version was presented at the University of Chicago History of Culture Symposium, May 30, 2008. Draft: not to be cited in present form.

I’d like to begin with a few citations as epigraphs, on the concepts of “freedom” and “history.” The first is from James Miller’s Introduction to the 1992 Hackett edition of Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin of Inequality:

The principle of freedom and its corollary, “perfectibility,” . . . suggest that the possibilities for being human are both multiple and, literally, endless. . . . Contemporaries like Kant well understood the novelty and radical implications of Rousseau’s new principle of freedom [and] appreciated his unusual stress on history as the site where the true nature of our species is simultaneously realized and perverted, revealed and distorted.  A new way of thinking about the human condition had appeared. . . .  As Hegel put it, “The principle of freedom dawned on the world in Rousseau, and gave infinite strength to man, who thus apprehended himself as infinite.”

Next, to address the concept of “history,” I’d like to quote from Peter Preuss’s Introduction to the 1980 Hackett edition of Nietzsche’s On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life, which was highly influential for Benjamin:

The nineteenth century had discovered history and all subsequent inquiry and education bore the stamp of this discovery 플래쉬 백. This was not simply the discovery of a set of facts about the past but the discovery of the historicity of man: man, unlike the animal, is a historical being. Man is not wholly the product of an alien act, either natural or divine, but in part produces his own being. The task of existing is a task precisely because it is not a case of acting according to a permanent nature or essence but rather of producing that nature within the limitations of a situation. History is the record of this self-production; it is the activity of a historical being recovering the past into a present which anticipates the future. With a total absence of this activity man would fall short of humanity: history is necessary.

But what if this activity is perverted? What if, rather than remaining the life-promoting activity of a historical being, history is turned into the objective uncovering of mere facts by the disinterested scholar — facts to be left as they are found, to be contemplated without being assimilated into present being 스윗미? . . . [T]his perversion has taken place — and history, rather than promoting life, has become deadly. This, then, is the dilemma: . . . history is necessary, but as it is practiced it is deadly.

The third and final epigraph I’d like to cite, also on “history,” is from Louis Menand’s Introduction to the 2003 republication of Edmund Wilson’s 1940 book To the Finland Station, which addressed the history of the Left from its emergence in the French Revolution all the way up to the eve of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917:

In pre-modern societies, the ends of life are given at the beginning of life: people do things in their generation so that the same things will continue to be done in the next generation. Meaning is immanent in all the ordinary customs and practices of existence, since these are inherited from the past, and are therefore worth reproducing. The idea is to make the world go not forward, only around. In modern societies, the ends of life are not given at the beginning of life; they are thought to be created or discovered. The reproduction of the customs and practices of the group is no longer the chief purpose of existence; the idea is not to repeat, but to change, to move the world forward Cubase 10. Meaning is no longer immanent in the practices of ordinary life, since those practices are understood by everyone to be contingent and time-bound. This is why death, in modern societies, is the great taboo, an absurdity, the worst thing one can imagine. For at the close of life people cannot look back and know that they have accomplished the task set for them at birth. This knowledge always lies up ahead, somewhere over history’s horizon. Modern societies don’t know what will count as valuable in the conduct of life in the long run, because they have no way of knowing what conduct the long run will find itself in a position to respect. The only certain knowledge death comes with is the knowledge that the values of one’s own time, the values one has tried to live by, are expunge-able. . . .

Marxism gave a meaning to modernity. It said that, wittingly or not, the individual performs a role in a drama that has a shape and a goal, a trajectory, and that modernity will turn out to be just one act in that drama Download SolidWorks 2015 Crack. Historical change is not arbitrary. It is generated by class conflict; it is faithful to an inner logic; it points toward an end, which is the establishment of the classless society. Marxism was founded on an appeal for social justice, but there were many forms that such an appeal might have taken. Its deeper attraction was the discovery of meaning, a meaning in which human beings might participate, in history itself. When Wilson explained, in his introduction to the 1972 edition of To the Finland Station, that his book had been written under the assumption that “an important step in progress has been made, that a fundamental ‘breakthrough’ had occurred,” this is the faith he was referring to. . . . Marx and Engels were the philosophes of a second Enlightenment.

The relevance of history is not given but made, in a dialectical sense. As Marx put it, humanity makes history but not under conditions of its own choosing (The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, 1852). History is made but in ways that also produce us, and so we need to be conscious of how history is made and reflect upon its significance, rather than taking it for granted Download Jesus mp3. Furthermore, “history” itself is a modern discovery: history is historical. This is not least why Walter Benjamin spoke, in his 1940 “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” of the “writing” of history, historiography on the Left being urgent for emancipatory politics, for the possibilities for social emancipation are not only historical but point to potentials beyond the historical, to the possibility of getting beyond history, for which capital might be the beginning and the end.

Benjamin’s concept of “constellation” refers to the sense that historical moments might not have pertinence to the present in a linear-progressive way. Rather, these historical constellations appear as structuring figures in the constitution of the present, as enduring problems yet to be worked through. Hence something that happened more recently might not have more immediate relevance to problems of the present than something that happened longer ago. Something later might expire faster because it is less essential to the present than something earlier might allow us to grasp.

Such constellations in the appearance of history are involuntary: as Benjamin put it, they “flash up;” as Marx put it, they “weigh like a nightmare on the brains of the living.” So history cannot be an inventory of “lessons already learned.” According to Nietzsche, responding to the Hegelian account of history as the story of reason and freedom, there is in history a dialectic of enlightenment and mythologization Midday meteor. For, as Benjamin put it, “even the dead are not safe.” The significance of the past changes as a function of the present. The meaning of history is itself a symptom to be worked through. This is why Benjamin spoke of regarding history from the standpoint of its redemption. What value do past thoughts and actions have? The history of the Left furnishes a set of questions and problems that we are tasked to answer according to the way the problem of freedom presents to us. But, as Adorno put it (in Negative Dialectics, 1966), “What has been cast aside but not absorbed theoretically will often yield its truth content only later. It festers as a sore on the prevailing health; this will lead back to it in changed situations.”

For Benjamin, this non-linear function of the past in the present constitutes the critical purchase of the melancholic-neurotic compulsion to repeat, the capture of the present by the past, but as a symptom yet to be worked through, in the Freudian sense that a symptom potentially yields, together, both knowledge and freedom.

For Benjamin, the problem of historical meaning was inextricably bound up with the dynamic of capital that provoked consciousness of history itself 피드 앤 그로우 피쉬 무료. “History” was a product of modernity, and was itself a form of appearance of social modernity under capital. “History” was historical, and thus subject to a “historico-philosophical” critique of what its appearance signaled and meant.

With the phrase “philosophy of history,” two figures immediately come to the fore: Hegel and Nietzsche. Both Nietzsche and Hegel sought to interrogate and problematize the very possibility of a philosophy of history, or of grasping a coherent meaning to history, and so both are foundational for and help to situate Benjamin’s attack on the “historicism” originating in the 19th century and symptomatically characterizing “historical” consciousness since then. The question becomes what it means to think about history. Furthermore, for Benjamin, Marx’s observation that history “weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living” is related to Nietzsche’s observation that (modern) historical consciousness was pathological and symptomatic, and potentially, if not manifestly, invidious for (present) life. For Marx and Nietzsche, (each in their own way) following Hegel, (the meaning of) history was something, not to be deified, but rather transformed and overcome.

So, crucially, for Benjamin, neither Hegel nor Nietzsche can be considered “historicist” thinkers, despite (myriad mistaken) attempts (from Right-Hegelian German academicism to “post-modern” Foucauldian “genealogies”) to base an epistemology or method on their critical philosophical investigations into the meaning of history, their attempts to raise the appearance of history to critical self-consciousness along the wind. Marx sought to follow Hegel in such a critical specification of history, and Nietzsche can be considered a contributor to Benjamin parallel to Marx, whose work gained a renewed importance as a kind of bad conscience to the vulgarization of Marxism in the late 19th century, when Marxism began exhibiting the same hypostatized progressive view of history that liberalism had demonstrated earlier. Vulgarized Marxism thus had become an affirmative philosophy of history to which, for Benjamin, Nietzsche’s thought could be productively opposed and brought into tension.

An early (pre-Marxist) writing by Benjamin, the “Theologico-Political Fragment” circa 1920, introduces metaphysical categories important for Benjamin’s later engagements with the problem of historical meaning.

[Read Benjamin, “Theologico-Political Fragment.”]

Benjamin raises two dimensions of historical temporality, one, in the “profane” direction of the pursuit of happiness, which is understood as informed by the temporality of the “eternal passing away” of mortal nature, and, the other, in the “sacred” direction of Messianic eschatology, with the consummation of history in redemption at the end of time, the end of all temporality, with its paradoxical image of (the restitutio in integrum or) bodily resurrection.

Several schema are raised by Benjamin to help situate the stakes of the meaning of history along these axial tensions of the opposed pursuit of happiness and demand for redemption 닌텐도스위치 롬파일. The failure to attain happiness is what produces the demand for redemption. Happiness is sacrificed in pursuit of redemption, and redemption is abrogated, its promise forgotten in the pursuit of happiness. So history as the story of happiness’s failure is necessarily accompanied by the story of history as the demand for redemption. According to Benjamin, this means that the pursuit of mortal happiness nevertheless “assists” the coming of the “Messianic Kingdom” of redemption by “its quietist approach.” Thus Benjamin attempts to establish a dialectic of happiness and redemption, which also involves a dialectic of cyclical and linear temporality: linear by way of an “end” in redemption, and cyclical by way of the temporality of nature’s “eternal passing away.”

A famous phrase by Marx describes how, under capital, changes in the cultural and political “subjective” “superstructure” occur more slowly than those of the “objective” socioeconomic “base,” which is constantly revolutionized according to a linear-progressive dynamic of a limitless drive of value maximization. Failing to recognize the key aspect of this phrase, about changes occurring “more slowly” in the “superstructure” than in the “base,” subsequent supposed “Marxists” have generalized from the descriptive (and subordinate) imagery of “base” and “superstructure” as if this distinction was Marx’s epistemological point. And mistaking Marx’s understanding of the relation of “political economy” to the totality of social life under capital, the further vulgarization of this mis-generalization has assumed that Marx was addressing a distinction between a more fundamentally “real” “economic” basis and a more “epiphenomenal” and arbitrary political and cultural sphere. But this loses Marx’s sense that concrete forms of material production in the economy are themselves “epiphenomenal” and subject to a more “fundamental” alienated temporal dynamic of the value-form in capital Download hp SolutionCenter. Forms of industrial production in factories etc. are not the fundamental reality of capital but rather its disposable effects as human beings have tried (and failed) to master its value dynamic.

It is this incessantly dynamic field of “revolutions” in concrete ways of life, for which according to Marx “all that is solid melts into air,” that gives rise to a new and exacting consciousness of “history,” beginning in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Human beings living under the capital dynamic become tasked to try to make sense of these dramatic — and destructive as well as “productively” progressive — changes, to make sense of history and question whether and how human agency exists in and through history. The “Left,” to which this history first gave birth (in the French Revolution), is itself inextricably part of this historical dynamic, for which emancipation and enlightened consciousness are inseparably tied. The “Left” seeks to be the most adequate consciousness and effective action in service of fulfilling concrete emancipatory possibilities presented in the history of capital, while grasping the underlying dynamic as the greatest threat and so limit to the possibilities for further developing the social emancipation the capital dynamic makes possible in people’s concrete ways of life.

What Benjamin offered was not an opposition of regression to progress but a necessary corrective to a mistaken and tragic identification with the aggression of the progressive dynamic of modern life and its incessant transformations. For melancholia is not really about the past but rather the present and its problems, for which the past offers a grasp and way to cope, as well as an indication of the failed mastery it expresses. Benjamin sought to make the demands that consciousness of history presents symptomatic in the sense of what Adorno, after Benjamin, called “consciousness of suffering.”

A sense of history that remains cognizant of both the potential for freedom and the suffering that results from its constraint, of the struggle for happiness and the redemption of its cruelest disappointments, of a present that is structured by past failures, is what Benjamin sought in his “negative” philosophy of history, which was neither an enchantment nor a disenchantment of progress, but the consciousness of the regression involved in the “progress” which is none under capital, and the memory that it might have been and so yet could be otherwise. | §