July 26, 2013

“Those clichés about art casting a glow of happiness and harmony over an unhappy and divided real world are loathsome because they make a mockery of any emphatic  concept of art by looking only at perverse bourgeois practices such as the employment of art as a dispenser of solace. These clichés  also point to the wound of art itself. Having dissociated itself from religion and its redemptive truths, art was able to flourish.  Once secularized, however, art was condemned, for any hope for a real alternative, to offer the existing world a kind of solace that reinforced the fetters autonomous art had wanted to shake off.”

Theodor Adorno, Aesthetic Theory

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3 Responses to “”

  1. 12kilroy Says:

    I should clarify – is this not a form of solace? And is that truly a perverse bourgeois practice – any more than kindness is?

  2. 12kilroy Says:

    I’m not sure I agree with this. But I may not be understanding it rightly.

    I don’t know – I find something compelling in the beauty in the true. There is a beauty in ugly things, in horrifying things, in mundane things, in sad things – that is – for a short while, transformative. It is almost like they are fuel for a flame; the flame itself is beautiful, though the thing being consumed by it is not – in fact is in some ways made worse by the flame.


    • I understand the flame analogy itself, but not how it represents the relationship between beauty and the mundane and horrifying and sad. What is ‘being made worse’?

      As I interpret the passage, the “perverse bourgeois practices” refers to the attitude some people have towards art as merely a nice relaxing thing or whose role in the world is to make people feel at ease. Art can serve many functions, but such an attitude dismisses the potential force of art.


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