The Fleeting Promise of Art: Adorno's Aesthetic Theory Revisited

By Peter Uwe Hohendahl

A dialogue of Theodor Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory is certain to seem considerably diverse this present day than it should have seemed whilst the publication used to be first released in 1970, or while it first seemed in English translation within the Eighties. In The Fleeting Promise of Art, Peter Uwe Hohendahl reexamines Aesthetic Theory besides Adorno’s different writings on aesthetics in gentle of the unforeseen go back of the cultured to today’s cultural debates.

Is Adorno’s aesthetic conception nonetheless proper this present day? Hohendahl solutions this question with an emphatic certain. As he indicates, a cautious interpreting of the paintings exposes assorted questions and arguments this day than it did long ago. through the years Adorno’s difficulty over the destiny of paintings in a past due capitalist society has met with every thing from suspicion to indifference. partially this might be defined through relative unfamiliarity with the German dialectical culture in North the USA. Today’s debate is best proficient, extra multifaceted, and extra faraway from the rapid aftermath of the chilly battle and of the shadow of postmodernism.

Adorno’s insistence at the radical autonomy of the art has a lot to provide modern discussions of artwork and the cultured looking for new responses to the pervasive results of a neoliberal paintings marketplace and tradition undefined. Focusing in particular on Adorno’s engagement with literary works, Hohendahl exhibits how notably transformative Adorno’s rules were and the way completely they've got formed present discussions in aesthetics. one of the themes he considers are the position of paintings in modernism and postmodernism, the reality claims of works of art, the functionality of the grotesque in smooth works of art, the precarious price of the literary culture, and the miraculous value of realism for Adorno.

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Finally, Adorno’s evaluate of Goethe’s Iphigenia continues to be ambiguous. at the one hand, he forcefully recuperates the drama from its traditional reception through underscoring the significance of fantasy and the fragility of contemporary humanism. In different phrases, he emphasizes the anticlassicist parts of the play, arguing in desire of a critique of modernity. nevertheless, he affirms the centrality of Iphigenia, not just for Goethe’s oeuvre, but additionally for the classical interval of German literature. Goethe’s classicism, in particular the formal perfection of the play, isn't unsure.

The examples that Kant presents make it rather transparent that he speaks of what's quite often known as allegories. briefly, Kant’s try and offer higher value to the art leads him again to the idea that, a course that Adorno isn't ready to stick to. by means of comparability, Kant’s inspiration of the elegant looks to provide a extra promising route to Adorno’s idea of Geist because the center of the fashionable paintings, simply because Kant notes: “One can describe the elegant hence: it really is an item (of nature) the illustration of which determines the brain to think about the unattainability of nature as a illustration of rules” (CJ �29, 151).

The critic has to take away layers of prejudices in accordance with a Eurocentric notion of aesthetic improvement. “From the very starting the negro is visible because the inferior half who should be ruthlessly classified; and what he has to supply is a priori judged as incorrect. really obscure hypotheses of evolution have been carelessly utilized to him; for a few critics he needs to undergo such methods with the intention to satisfy a fake thought of the primitive. ”8 A methodologically rigorous engagement as a result calls for a initial rejection of evolutionary theories and a unique framework for the research of the fabric.

E. within the sphere of nonfreedom, it additionally articulates the strength of existence opposed to the demise of the cultured shape. As a proper therapy of a classy class, Adorno’s part at the gruesome comes throughout as heterogeneous and incomplete. the writer seems to be not able to make up his brain approximately what precisely he desires to research. The common shift in emphasis from the philosophical culture to trendy artwork, the position of the archaic, and the connection among fantasy and paintings confuses a reader who's looking ahead to the improvement of a linear argument.

In transparent distinction to a historicist viewpoint, Adorno significantly engages not just Kant and Hegel but in addition Schelling, Schopenhauer, and particularly Nietzsche. His engagement takes at the kind of a comparative research within which no longer the vulnerable however the robust issues of alternative positions are introduced into concentration. therefore he provides as a lot consciousness to Kant’s formalism as Hegel’s content material aesthetics, let alone Nietzsche’s research of the Apollonian precept of lovely semblance opposed to the backdrop of the Dionysian precept.

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