Monday, April 14, 2008

Kirsch, Adam. "The Stern German." NEW YORK SUN April 9, 2008.

Claussen, Detlev. Theodor W. Adorno: One Last Genius. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2008. Walking near the Metropolitan Museum not long ago, I saw a young man, about the right age for a graduate student, wearing a T-shirt that declared “I (heart) Adorno.” I’m not sure how ironically the slogan was intended, but it perfectly captures the ambiguity that still surrounds Theodor Adorno’s name, nearly 40 years after his death. On the one hand, he is the kind of intellectual who has not just readers but fans, who define themselves in part by their allegiance to him. The breadth and absolutism of his judgments, the way he seems to peer down on all of culture and history from the heights of theory, inspire a cultish devotion that more modest thinkers neither attract nor desire. Adorno’s critical theory, which allows its wielder to discover the stigmata of history in even the most trivial products of culture, is especially attractive in our post-ideological age, when Marxist cultural analysis is more plausible than Marxist economics. (For examples, see any issue of the magazine n+1, where Adorno is a tutelary spirit.) Even the famous difficulty of Adorno’s prose, which retains in English the auratic abstractness of German, helps to increase his allure. As with the guru who sits at the top of a mountain, his teaching is made more seductive by the hardships the seeker encounters along the way. . . . Read the rest here:

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