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Teemanumeron etusivu

Theodor Adorno's (1903-1969) work keeps attracting renewed interest and fresh perspectives. This issue approaches Adorno through his cultural criticism, aesthetic theory and musical philosophy as well as his personal history and private life.
Vadim Zakharov: Adorno Monument (2003)Theodor Adorno’s (1903—1969) work forms an acknowledged body of cultural theory and criticism of the thoroughly administrated capitalist culture, and as such it is today perhaps more acute than ever. In this volume we wish to offer new insights into Adorno, not only as a theoretician but as a person, too. Under scrutiny are Adorno's theory of the culture industry; his musical philosophy; his aesthetic theory vis-a-vis Anselm Kiefer's work; as well as his personal history and private life.
In February 2015 I escaped the weather and political climate of Finland into one of the best fantasy-scenarios there is: planning a trip. However, no single European city appeared attractive enough over the others as to prompt a decision about the destination. Finally, like a decent humanist, I decided to combine dulce et utile. Hence, my destination of choice became Frankfurt am Main, the home town of Theodor Adorno (1903—1969).
Adorno thinks that films cannot be art because of the social conditions in which they are always created. Thus, his critique is not fundamentally intended as a rejection of cinema itself – there is no cinema as such. Rather, it is a necessary element of his consistently negative position taken in relation to ‘false’ society, in which culture is calculated and standardised, stripped of autonomy. The theory initially formulated by Adorno and Max Horkheimer, in Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944/47), seems at first extreme and exaggerated. However, its inherent idea is precisely that only such an unconditional view can truly combat the equally unconditional totality of production.
In his last public lecture on February 24, 1969, a few months before his death, Adorno encapsulated the problem of musical analysis as follows: “Indeed, all ‘Becoming’ in music is in fact illusory, insofar as the music, as text, is really fixed and thus is not actually ‘becoming’ anything as it is already there. Nevertheless, music is actually only a ‘coherence’ [Zusammenhang] when regarded as a ‘Becoming’, and in this there lies a paradox for musical analysis: analysis is, on the other hand, limited by what is actually fixed and available to it; but, on the other hand, it has to translate this back again into that movement as coagulated in the musical text.” So, the main task that Adorno as music analyst sets up for himself to solve is paradoxical: How can music as a fixed text be analysed as an unfolding of individual, temporal moments?
Anselm Kiefer: Schwarze Flocken (2006)The mimetic impulse appears in a person’s emphatic ability to identify with another. In art it appears as sensuality and expressivity. The bodily mimetic impulse is an ancient, primordial faculty. In art its origins are found in the magical practices of “the primitives”; but in the course of history, art has nevertheless disavowed these magical antecedents. However, Adorno argues that mimesis is the source of all methods and means of artistic production. Music, dance, theatre, and painting preserve the bodily, expressive mimetic impulse even in our late modern society. It would, however, be a mistake to regard the mimetic in art as a-rationality. Adorno explains that in art the mimetic and rational depend on each other so that rationality appears as the organizing, unity-producing element in art. It is not unrelated to the rationality that governs in the external world but it does not reflect its categorizing order either. Art’s rationality appears as (i) a critical position against shallow, one-dimensional instrumental reason and (ii) as the organizing element in art.
I offered him a glass of Bavarian Riesling, and we sat down at the table. His dark grey suit hung awkwardly from his narrow shoulders. I looked at him and said that I had some topics I wanted to discuss. He nodded and took a sip of wine. I cleared my throat and, trying to sound professional, noted that one of the neglected sides of his Aesthetic Theory is the sincere undecidability and confusion about the future of art.