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By Simon Jarvis

Jarvis deals an creation to the highbrow and institutional contexts for Adorno's inspiration, and examines his contributions to social thought, cultural conception, aesthetics and philosophy. He demonstrates the iconic coherence and explanatory strength of Adorno's paintings and illustrates its carrying on with relevance to modern debates.

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Each of the essays approaches linked questions from a series of different angles. It may be useful here to think a little more about this idea of the book as a series of fragments or essays, and how it is related to the more scientific ways in which social and political thought has usually wanted to understand itself in the twentieth century. In his introduction to 77ie Pusitiitist Dispute in Gennan Sociology Adorno insisted that Amongst the moments which must remain common to philosophy and sociology If both are not to decline - the fonner to contentlessness, the latter to conceptlessness - one of the mast important is that both contain something not wholly transformable into sdence.

It already takes the form of the deception by manipulative substitution of the god who is allegedly worshipped in it. If ’sacrifice’ is opposed to the still more archaic ’mimesis’ and ‘magic’, however, perhaps these latter correspond to social transparency and to non-identificatory rationality? If we may not be nostalgic for sacrifice, perhaps we may be nostalgic for magic and mimesis? This would be a misconstruction. 3 As such they too exhibit not pure irrationality, but the incipient entanglement of rationality and domination.

The reading of the Odysq is as much about modem rationality and its organization of work and leisure as it is about Homer. The point of this kind of ’seriousplay’ is to overcome a choice of two different kinds of evils which arise when we try to consider the relation between our own experience and its history. Unhistorical humanism too easily takes Homer as the agent of a timeless human truth no less relevant now than it has always been. Radical historicism, conversely, insists on the absolute incommensurability of archaic Greece with modern life: we are to purge our approach of late twentieth-century presuppositions and replace them with the authentic world-view of archaic Greece.

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