Adorno in America by David Jenemann

By David Jenemann

The German thinker and cultural critic Theodor W. Adorno used to be one of many towering highbrow figures of the 20th century, and among 1938 and 1953 he lived in exile within the usa. within the first in-depth account of this era of Adorno’s existence, David Jenemann examines Adorno’s war of words with the burgeoning American “culture industry” and casts new mild on Adorno’s writings concerning the mass media. opposite to the generally held belief—even between his defenders—that Adorno used to be disconnected from the USA and disdained its tradition, Jenemann unearths that Adorno used to be an energetic and engaged player in cultural and highbrow existence in the course of those years.

From the time he first arrived in long island in 1938 to paintings for the Princeton Radio learn undertaking, exploring the effect of radio on American society and the maturing advertising techniques of the nationwide radio networks, Adorno was once devoted to figuring out the technological and social impact of renowned artwork within the usa. Adorno carried those pursuits with him to Hollywood, the place he and Max Horkheimer tried to make a movie for his or her stories in Prejudice undertaking and the place he befriended Thomas Mann and helped him craft his well-known novel health care provider Faustus. Shuttling among insightful readings of Adorno’s theories and a wealthy physique of archival materials—including unpublished writings and FBI files—Jenemann paints a portrait of Adorno’s years in big apple and la and tells the cultural background of an the USA coming to grips with its swiftly evolving mass culture.

“For these vulnerable to brush aside Adorno’s tackle the United States because the uncomprehending condescension of a mandarin elitist, David Jenemann’s greatest new ebook will come as a impolite awakening. Exploiting a wealth of recent assets, he persuasively indicates the intensity of Adorno’s engagement with the tradition and the complexity of his response to it.” —Martin Jay, Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor of historical past, collage of California, Berkeley

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Listeners are transformed into laborers, whose unpaid work is sold to the advertising agencies. To illustrate this point, the chapter concludes with a number of “children’s” books developed by the networks for the beneWt of the advertisers. In these texts, the administrative authority of the networks is made plain and is illustrated with chilling good humor. In chapter 3, “Below the Surface: Frankfurt Goes to Hollywood,” I consider how Adorno dealt with subjects’ inability to see the destructive effects of transmission in visual media.

From Marcel Proust’s impossible effort to capture the entirety of his narrator’s past in À la recherche du temps perdu, to James Joyce’s “I am a stride at a time,” and the “ineluctable modality of the visible” that characterize the perambulations of Ulysses, the modernist subject utterly resists the logic of a social science that reduces human qualities to data points. ”11 Not only does this unwillingness to alienate Horkheimer reXect the young Adorno’s attempt to curry favor with the Institute’s director,12 but it also shows that Adorno was aware of Horkheimer’s desire to bring the demands of critical theory into line with the methods of empirical research.

At the same time I have tried to avoid using biographical details to offer any sort of psychological explanation for Adorno’s writings and actions and instead hope that those details merely add shade and color to the picture of a dialectical relationship between an exile and his wartime refuge. ”50 To those readers of Adorno looking for an intricate reworking of the collected mass of Adorno scholarship or for erudite twists and turns as I go trundling down every theoretical rabbit hole, I am afraid I must say that this is not that book.

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