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Between Adorno and Heidegger

13 Joanna Hodge Aesthetics and politics: between Adorno and Heidegger Antinomies of reason The alignments of T. W. Adorno to the protracted, difficult process of coming to terms with a broken Marxist inheritance and of Martin Heidegger to the Nazi politics of rethinking the human might seem to leave them at opposite non-communicating poles of political difference.1 Their views on aesthetics seem similarly starkly opposed, in terms both of judgements and of the place of aesthetics within the philosophical pantheon. Aesthetic theory for Adorno marks out a domain of

in The new aestheticism
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some of her audience. Kafka’s story plays with various versions of aesthetic theory, linking Josefine’s apparent highlighting of the ordinary to make it extraordinary, for example, to what sounds like Russian formalism’s concept of ostranenie. The narrator is never convinced by what Josefine does, but is also never finally prepared to write it off. Given that the story was written by someone who had painfully devoted his life to ‘literature’, and who knew he was dying, the question as to whether he might just have been writing texts like everybody else, and thus doing

in The new aestheticism
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An introduction

’s willingness to dispense with traditional aesthetic categories forecloses on the possibility of a more rigorous engagement with the historical processes by which such categories continue to be ‘critiqued and renewed’. In contrast, and in his ‘defence of autonomous art as socially critical’, Adorno’s aesthetic theory interrogates the extent to which cultural forms and the materials and techniques by which they are transfigured are already riven by ‘the history sedimented within them’.16 In this respect of course, as Adorno himself reminds us, the situation of the new in art

in The new aestheticism
Feminist aesthetics, negativity and semblance

claim, neglects not only the aesthetic process of production but also the changing historical forms of mimesis. Contextualising aesthetics all too frequently occurs, therefore, at the price of a disavowal of the historicity of aesthetic categories. In order to elaborate an alternative approach to a feminist aesthetic theory, it is necessary to address the political implications of modern aesthetics without either sublating art by politics or making abstract claims about the ‘subversiveness’ of experimental form. By thinking through the contradiction between aesthetic

in The new aestheticism
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Aesthetics, fragmentation and community

this, it isn’t art. It doesn’t matter whether the work exists as part of a canon or recognised collection; art is what touches upon the differences between us that form the basis of community, and reminds us of the necessity of being in common. In the surprise fragmentation of sense elicited by the work there is the possibility of touching on the sense of a plural community. Notes 1 J.-L. Nancy, The Sense of the World, trans. J. S. Librett (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), p. 133. 2 T. W. Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, trans. R. Hullot-Kentor (London

in The new aestheticism
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Towards an archaeology of modernism

’s American Pastoral.5 At first blush, this might seem a strange choice since Adorno’s aesthetic theory is informed by the classic works of high modernism – Beckett, Kafka, Berg, Picasso – and it is the works of these artists that unquestionably best exemplify Adorno’s thought. But it is less clear that reflection on these artists will illuminate the social question. On the reading of American Pastoral I will offer its representational content, the categories practically informing its representational world themselves undergo the dialectic of spleen and ideal, hence

in The new aestheticism
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Hamlet, adaptation and the work of following

earliest conjunctures through which to view an emergent relationship between literary criticism and aesthetic theory in something approximating to a modern European context.19 Yet it is, as Bate reminds us, in Germany that early English literary criticism marks perhaps its most complex antecedent relationship in providing a crucial developmental spur to ‘the growth of what we now think of as Romantic aesthetics’.20 Such is the impact of the playwright’s work that by 1812 Friedrich Schlegel observes: ‘German Shakespeare translations [have] transformed the native tongue

in The new aestheticism
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Towards a contemporary aesthetic

certain respects cognitive, that is, possessing a truth or knowledge content. Such an account is associated most immediately with Adorno22 but again, has a longer, quite conventional history both as working assumption and as theory. Even conservative aesthetic theories embrace it, for example those, including neoclassicism, which regard art as offering generalised, universal truths about the world, though once again the question as to what kind of truth is being offered is one too few stop to answer or even ask. Arguably art has more often than not been assumed to possess

in The new aestheticism
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Beckett and nothing: trying to understand Beckett

tradition) and mobilises them in order to see how Beckett can speak to contemporary criticism aiming at recuperating affect in literature and culture. This is seen as a viable notion able to overcome some of the dead-ends of post-structuralism without forgetting how these have been fruitful forms of critique to widely held humanist assumptions. Bill Prosser (Chapter 5) looks at something that has remained a ‘nothing’ within the Beckett canon so far: his doodles as they appear in the Human Wishes manuscript. Prosser uses them to interrogate aesthetic theory and questions a

in Beckett and nothing