Monday, February 6, 2017

Theodor Adorno - "Minima Moralia: Reflections From Damaged Life" (Verso)

ISBN: 978-1-84467-051-2 Verso Books

"Minima Moralia" is my first introduction to the writing and brain of Theodor Adorno. I, of course, heard of the Frankfurt School, but never read works by its writers/thinkers - except for Walter Benjamin, who I adore. And technically he knew these guys, but wasn't a "member." This book is the ultimate bathtub book. It took me at least ten bath sessions, and a few long bus rides till I finished this book.

153 segments stand alone as miniature essays on subject matters that deal with the political system, aesthetics, literature, music, and Hitler. Since he wrote this book during the war years and as an exile in California, one gets a very precise snapshot of what it's like for an intellectual to witness such a devasting loss. The end of civilization, or the entrance of hell. "Minima Moralia" would be a proper companion piece to Guy Debord's "Society of the Spectacle." Both writers are very different, but the format of the writing is similar. The prose is very dense, and often I had to re-read passages. There are countless cultural references in Adorno's text -from classical works to pop culture of Germany/U.S.A/Europe of the time he wrote this work. The book analyzes the system that made things go wrong but doesn't have an answer to the problem. What comes through is an intelligent writer who is bitter, angry and very critical of the world as it lays out in front of him.

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