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a quarterly journal of radical social theory
Number 19 Spring 1974
Table of Contents
Introduction to Adorno , 2
Theses Against Occultism ~ 7
Theodor W. Adorno
The Stars Down to Earth: The Los Angeles Times Astrology Column .... 13 Theodor W. Adorno
On Social Identity : 91
Jan Kott: Between Shakespeare and Euripides 104
Introduction to Lyotard 124
Robert Hurley .
Adorno as the Devil , .. 128
NOTES AND COMMENTARY:
The Case of the 'Belgrade Eight' 138
Beethoven and the Sonata Form. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 141 Robert C. Solomon
Beethoven and the Enlightenment ; , 146
Maynard Solomon '
Michel Foucault on Attica: An Interview 154
Daniel Bell, The Coming of Post-Industrial Society ....•............. 162 Trent Schroyer
Alvin W. Gouldner, For Sociology 176
Mikhail Lifshitz, The Philosophy of Art of Karl Marx 182
Theodor W. Adorno, Jargon of Authenticity :' 184
Copyright © 1974 by Telos Press.
Permission to reprint may be readily obtained from the Editors.
Introduction to Adorno
The label most frequently used against Adorno is "negativism." In Germany, where his works are more readily available and where Adorno's language should not quite present the formidable obstacles that confront the English reader, those who try to deal with Adorno often leave the impression that they "criticize what they don't understand." I For example, in Negative Dialectics, Adorno writes: "The fact that collectivism is directly commanded in the countries which today monopolize the name of socialism, commanded as the individual's subordination to society, this( fact belies the socialism of those countries and solidifies antagonism." 2 One of his critics, Wilhelm Raimund Beyer, uses this passage to demonstrate Adorno's "anti-Marxism." Not inconsistently, however, he does accept Adorno's critique of Hegel while still suggesting that it is "typically idealist thinking" [Gedankengut).3
Those not committed to any specific versions of Marxism are also uncomfortable with Adorno's "negativism." Again, Negative Dialectics is seen as the key to Adorno's approach: "If the role, the heteronomy prescribed by autonomy, is the latest objective form of an unhappy consciousness, there is, conversely, no happiness except where the self is not itself. Historically, the sub~ect has fought its way out of a state of dissociation and ambiguity, and if the Immense pressure that weighs upon it hurls the self into that state-into schizophrenia-the subject's dissolution presents at the same time the ephemeral and condemned picture of a possible subject. If its freedom, once upon a time, called a halt to mythos, the subject would now win deliverance from itself as the ultimate mythos. The subject's identity without sacrifice would be utopian.t'" The complaint here is that Adorno does not see schizophr~nia, or more generally, aII insanity, as a social disease imposed on the subject, but, rather, as a form of salvation: "By unchaining insanity, the human being as a person is asked to retrogress to the amorphous ambiguity of biological drives and impulses. This aspect of nature, unchained and unbound by domination, means politicaIIy the rehabilitation of anarchism: anarchy as the only praxis remaining in our times. While the entrenched powers of domination have not apprehended nature, setting it free as subject
1. A notable exception is Bernard Willms' "Theorie, Kritik und Dialektik," in Ueber Theodor W. Adorno (Frankfurt, 1968). A Hegel scholar, Willms reads and follows Adorno's theory very closely and carefully, but differs with him primarily on the evaluation of Hegel's concept of the whole.
2. Negative Di~lectics (New York, 1973), p. 284.
19~O), ;1Ir7~~ Rairnund Beyer, Vier Kritiken: Heidegger, Sartre, Adorno. Lukacs (Cologne,
4. Negative Dialectics. op.cit .. p. 281.
INTRODUCTION TO ADORNO / 3
of political praxis represents the up-to-date renewal of the anarchist tradition through negative dialectics. In the outbreak of insanity, subjectivity as freeing itself from the burdensome pressure of reified conditions is legitimated to run amuck against them, without caring for any argument.t'f The frightened bourgeois not only sees Adorno as pleading for insanity and anarchy, but also links him with the "excesses of the recent past," i.e., student activism.'
If Adorno is misunderstood or misinterpreted by those able to read him in the original, it should not be surprising if the problems get compounded by "Adorno in English." Aside from the difficulties of translation, the culture industry of the New World has even less room for someone as critical as Adorno. It is significant that in the first comprehensive attempt to introduce the so-called Frankfurt School to this country, Adorno is referred to in such terms as "cultural elitist," "gloomy," "pessimist," etc."
Things degenerate further in a situation such as today's when we have "critical theory as consumption.t'f Adorno feared this development as a distinct possibility 9 and, therefore, directed his energy towards the only praxis he could conceive of under present conditions as he defined them. Responding to Dahrendorf's critique of his "Spatkapitalismus oder Industriegesellschaft?" Adorno elaborated on the relationship between theory and praxis as follows: The legitimate demand of unity between theory and praxis tends to lead towards an emphasis on the concrete and particular that easily loses sight of theory and thus precludes meaningful action. Any efforts toward "concrete change" immediately run into unsurmountable limitations. It is for this reason that praxis must aim at the whole. While praxis ultimately is to affect the life of each and every individual, it must be recognized that life itself is mediated by aspects of the social totality that determines it. The forms of mediation must be understood before praxis is really possible. As Marx and Engels have illustrated, poverty is not a particular phenomenon but is mediated and secondary to the structure: it is a derivative. This understanding of poverty sounds "inhuman" to some, because it does not focus immediately on the real poverty of human beings. But the real humanity is the fact that men, their lives and fates, have become objects.!"
It is clear from the above that Adorno did not readily subscribe to the
"organization of the working class" as a key to social change.'! The forms of
5. Gunter Rohrmoser, Das Elend der kritischen Theorie (Freiburg, 1970), p. 35.
6. Ibid .. p. 10.
7. Martin Jay, The Dialectical Imagination (Boston, 1973).
8. This term is from Raymond Williams' article "Base and Superstructure," New Left Review 82 (November-December 1973).
9. See his article "Gesellschaft" in Theodor W. Adorno: Schriften (Frankfurt. 1972),
V. VIII. esp. p. 18. English translation by Fredric Jameson in Robert Boyer, ed., The Legacy of the German Refugee Intellectuals (New York, 1972).
10. Schriften, Vol. VIII, op.cit., pp.579-82.
11. In his 1942 article "On Class Theory," Adorno suggests that the time of the barricades looks like the "good old days." Cf. Schriften, Vol. VIII, op.cit.
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domination in contemporary society have become too complex and subtle to permit this type of praxis. This does not mean, however, that praxis is impossible; praxis is in conceptual labor [Anstrengung des Begriffs], which requires an almost superhuman struggle against ideological contamination, against the verwaltete Welt, a world caught by admlnistration.F
Most of Minima Moralia was written during the war, when Adorno lived in exile in this country and external circumstances separated him from Horkheimer, for whom he wrote the book as a dialogue interieur. In sharp, precise formulations, Adorno has presented here the major themes which were to be elaborated later: Hegel and dialectics, myth and enlightenment, domination, culture, and decay. The focus is on life: "What philosophers once meant by 'life' has [first] become the sphere of the private and then merely that of consumption dragged along as an appendix to the process of material production, without autonomy and a substance of its own. The truth about immediate life must be sought in its alienated form-in the objective powers that determine individual existence even in its most hidden corners." 13
But Adorno believed that not all subjects are yet totally integrated; "the reduced and degraded individual struggles stubbornly against being transformed into a facade." 14 Wherever he can detect signs of this struggle and in all instances where individuals do not conform, Adorno probes further: in what specific forms do objective powers attempt to blot out the individual? Thus, Adorno investigates such phenomena as fascism and the culture industry, psychoanalysis and occultism, intellectuals and labor leaders, which all function to pervert the hopes of enlightenment into mythology.
The range and diversity of topics discussed in the Minima Moralia are not the only reason why the book is difficult to read, in spite of its brilliant style. Adorno's method is Hegelian through and through. IS His later critique of Hegel is only a systematic elaboration of some of the points presented in Minima Moralial> The work is further characterized by Adorno's status when he wrote it: an emigre intellectual.l? This makes Adorno's writing mote personal and "culture-bound"-the frequent references to fairy tales, nursery rhymes, etc., indicate a nostalgia that Adorno would not permit himself in his other works, and they are probably the main reason why Minima Moralia has taken so long to appear in Enghsh.l''
12. "The Stars Down to Earth," in this issue of Telos.
13. Theodor W. Adorno, Minima Moralia (Frankfurt, 1951), p.7.
14. Ibid .. p.8.
15. Ibid., p.9.
16. Cf. his Drei Studien zu Hegel (Frankfurt, 1957), and Minima Moralia. op.cit, Cf. also the ninth of the "Theses Against Occultism," in this issue of Telos, pp. 11-12.
17. Minima Mora lia , op.cit., p. 13.
18. Forthcoming by New Left Review Press (London, 1974?).
INTRODUCTION TO ADURNO / 5
The "Theses Against Occultism" were originally written during 1946-47 and, in the chronology of Adorno's own work, constitute the "missing link"
" C I I d ,,19' h D' 1 . if
between the chapter on The u ture n ustry ill t e ta ectic 0
Enlightenment, and his study on astrology and television. In Adorno's own words: "In the late fall of 1949 I went back to Germany and was completely absorbed for an entire year in the reconstruction of the Institut fUr Sozialforschung, to which Horkheimer and I then devoted our whole time, and by my teaching activity in the University of Frankfurt. After a short visit in 1951, I finally returned in 1952 for about a year to Los Angeles as scientific director of the Hacker Foundation in Beverly Hills ... I saw myself forced into the situation of a "One Man Show"-to use a good Americanism-obliged to carry out the scientific work of the Foundation, as well as the arrangement of lectures and a certain amount of publicity, almost singlehanded. Thus I again found myself thrown back upon the analysis of 'stimuli.' I got two content studies well under way. One was on the astrology column of The Los Angeles Times, which was actually published in English under the title of 'The Stars Down to Earth' in the lahrbuch fUr Amerikastudien for 1957 and then later formed the basis for my German article 'Aberglauben aus zweiter Hand" in Sociologica II. My interest in this material dated back to the Berkeley investigations, particularly to the sociopsychological significance of the destructive. impulse that Freud had discovered in Civilization and Its Discontents and which at any rate so far as the masses are concerned seems to me to be the greatest potential danger in the present political situation. The method which I adopted was that of putting myself in the position of the popular astrologer, who by what he writes must supply his readers with a kind of personal satisfaction and finds himself continually confronted with the difficulty of giving to people whom he knows nothing about apparently specific advice adapted to each individual. The result is a strengthening of conformist views through commercialized and standardized astrology, as well as the appearance in the columnist's technique, above all in his 'biphasic approach,' of certain contradictions in the mentality of the audience, traceable to social contradictions. .. Thus the astrology study linked up with what I had done in America earlier. That also applies to the study 'How to Look at Television,' published in the Hollywood Quarterly of Film, Radio and Television for Spring 1954, later also used for the German article, 'Fernsehen als Ideologie' in the volume Eingriffe." 20
In spite of the fact that Adorno spent a considerable amount of time in the forties in the United States, "critical theory" had practically no impact in the
19. Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment, translated by John Cumming (New York, 1972), pp. 120-167.
20. T.W. Adorno. "Scientific Experiences of a European Scholar in America," in Donald Fleming and Bernard Bailyn, eds .• The Intellectual Migration: Europe and America 193.0·196.0 (Cambridge, Mass., 1969). pp. 365-366.
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U.S. at that time-which was largely due to the Institut's members' refusal to write in English and to make any concessions at all to the "American way of life." In fact, the only good words that Adorno had for the U.S. deal, by and large, with the landscape! 21 Thus, as Marcuse put it, Adorno's work has yet to be critically evaluated and discussed.F Whereas in the "Theses Against Occultism" he lays out the theoretical categories for a social-psychological analysis of the phenomenon, in "The Stars Down to Earth" he concretely I carries out such an analysis. Together, they provide an excellent example of the high quality of his work.
21. Cf. Minima Moralia, op.cit .. p. 78.
22. "Ein Interview mit Marcuse," in Hermann Schwcppenhauser, ed., Th. W. Adorno zum Gedachtnis (Frankfurt, 1971).
Introduction to Lyotard
by Robert Hurley
The following essay 'by Jean-Francois Lyotard is extracted from a collection of essays 1 published in the wake of Deleuze and Guattari's Capitalisme et Schizophrenie, Vol. I. The lead essay of the collection is both an enthusiastic compte rendu of that work, which Lyotard signals as "one of the most intense products of the new libidinal figure 'taking hold' within capitalism," and Lyotard's own position with regard to Critical Theory. He thinks that critical reflexion, with the negation as its motor, suffers from the fatal weakness which Marx assigned to atheism: it is forced to take on the adversary's position. In order to denounce (Nietzsche caned this need to accuse resentment), critical thought must first of all maintain a place from which to criticize, and Lyotard is convinced that because it camps in the territory of its object, it is unable to displace the terms which the object sets for criticism. But before saying any more about his rejection of dialectics, I should point out that Lyotard is a libidinal economist, which means that his analyses, whether of capital, or of Critical Theory, or of structural linguistics (which Lyotard attacks in his Discours, Figure), aim primarily at discovering and describing different social modes of investment of libidinal intensities.
It is not my intention here to discuss issues related to Capitalisme et Schizophrenic, but it should be said that Lyotard considers psychoanalysis as a particular apparatus for channeling and capturing the nomadic energies of the unconscious, Lyotard's conception of the unconscious is not Freudian. In his view, the unconscious functions according to its own regime of syntheses which are pre-individual and non-personal. The libido is immediately social because it crosses all barriers established to contain its energy: sexual differences, class interests, family roles, racial divisions, bureaucratic functions, and social structures. The libidinal body is a body without organs (Deleuze would now say a corps-machine), but the statement is probably too negative to please Lyotard. It would be better to say that affects are produced wherever differences of forces are registered on the bande libidinale. The libidinal body supports a perpetual migration of positions of intensity, simultaneous investments which do not communicate clianges ofpotential which are instantaneous and leave no memory trace. It is on this point that Lyotard objects to dialectical thought. It cannot abandon one position for another; it has no capacity to forget. A change of position (the Hegelian, moment?) from A to B means that B must carry.A along with it. But the unhappy couple is soon bound into a greater unity
1. Jean-Francois Lyotard, Des Dispositifs Pulsionnels (Paris, 1973).
INTRODUCTION TO LYOTARD / 125
(the work of Eros?) which is itself moving toward the totality. Whether this t talization occurs in the form of an ascribed natural base (use-value) for
o changing commodities, of a concept of the Party radiating the strength of its strategy to the masses, or in the notion of the alienated individual, there is in Lyotard's view, a dispositifin place which is well within the bounds of
~~presentational thinking: B ,8 also A.· .
The deployment shares a striking feature with psychoanalytical theory; both function in terms of a Grand Signifier: for Critical Theory, the anthropological base, nature, the non-alienated society, three dimensional man, etc.; for psychoanalysis, the phallus, either the common Freudian variety, or the exotic phallus of Lacan's symbolic order. In both instances the Grand Signifier is lost. missing, absent; there is a negativity of need, of that which is lacking. "It must be said clearly: it is not true that a political, philosophical, or artistic position is abandoned because it is 'sublated'; it is not true that the experience of a position means ineluctably the development of its whole content to exhaustion, and therefore its growth into another position where it is conserved-suppressed: it is not true that in experience and in discourse the occupation of a position which will contain negatively the first in surmounting it. This description is that of the: dialectic of the spirit by Hegel, it is also that of the enrichment of the capitalist by Adam Smith; it is the good student's vision of life, and it is also the fat rope to which the puppets of political life suspend their promises of happiness and with which they strangle us.,,2·
Lyotard thinks that all theoretical discourse (to which he opposes research discourses) models itself after and tries to attain the wholeness of the organic body, that is to say, the representation of an organic body, the body presided over by a subject (alienated or' not), the .whole thing maintained by apparatuses of power whose primary task, set fer them by capitalism, is the production of the md'ividual. Lyotard sees the individual as fundamentally a function of the privatization of non-individual forces which capitalism accomplishes through its law of exchange value. In this regard, it is no surprise that psychoanalysis operates on every level by establishing contractual relations: a strategy for capturing affects in order to assure their exchangeability.
In Lyotard's conception, capitalism is first of all an energetics, a circulation of energy regulated by an economy that is more and other than the political economy criticized 'by Marx. In Lyotard's opinion, it is a mistake (a theological last stand) to. privilege an economic order of needs, interests, or labor which would produce secondary effects in the domains of culture, religion, jurisprudence, education, the family, etc. All of these areas are no less economic because it is the force of capitalism itself which destroys previous codes and inscriptions, which wipes out territories and values, and immerses everything in the acid bath of its nihilism.. "The only
2. Jean-Francois Lyotard, Derive a Partir de Marx et Freud (Paris, 1973), p. 13.
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untouchable axiom concerns the condition of metamorphosis and passage: exchange value. An axiom and not a code: the energy and its objects are no longer marked by a sign; properly speaking, there are no more signs since there is no longer a code, no longer a renvoi to an origin, to a 'practice,' to a reference, to a supposed nature or surreality or reality, extra-dispositij or grand Other-there is only a little price label, an index of exchangeability, which is nothing, which is enormous, which is something else."! Thus, there is no external limit to capitalism, no inside/outside; it greets all appeals to archaic codes and signifying machines with the indifference of its own fundamental lawlessness. The only kind of political response that Lyotard feels is valuable is a practice which escapes the axiom. The importance of a political action, of a theoretical text, of an artistic work lies in its charge in affects, its force of contagion. Rather than what it means, the essential is in what it does and causes to be done.
Lyotard was for several years an editor of the leftist journal Socialisme ou Barbarie and later worked on a newspaper called Pouvoir Ouvrier. In 1968 he was teaching philosophy at Nanterre and became a militant in the March 22 movement, which he points to as an example of a politics of affirmation. The events of May were able to shake the whole edifice of bourgeois society because there were shifts in the social positions of desire from bottom to top and across the structures and institutions of France. For a time there were forces at play which could not be represented in the political theater. Not that Lyotard thinks that intensities ever exist in a free state (he rejects the notion of a "liberation of desire"); there is always investment on a surface. For a short while in '68, there were affects deployed elsewhere, not on the surface of capital. The movement ended when the rebellious intensities were captured by the machinery of representation (the Party, the political discourse of the established organizations) and compressed into exchange relations, into claims for higher salaries, university reform, into fictitious strategies for seizing state power, etc.
Jean-Francois Lyotard has published three other books: La PhCnom€nologie (Paris, 1954), Discours, Figure (Paris, 1971), and Derive 11 Partir de Marx et Freud (Paris, 1973). He is a professor in the philosophy department of the University of Paris (Vincennes) and is currently preparing for publication a book which is to be called Economie Libidinale.
3. Des Dispositifs Pulsionnels, op.cit., p. 32.
Adorno as the Devil*
by Jean - Francois Lyotard
The loss of the content of the work is thought as alienation. The artist has become the mere executor of his own intentions. which appear before him as strangers-inexorable demands risen up from the compositions on which he is working. What Adorno does not see is that they are no longer even his intentions which the artist realizes, but rather anonymous intensities. Klossowski: the intensities beyond the intentions. The latter belong to the category and to the thought of a subject, of a subject of creation, or production, of a prop [suppot] for the qualities attributable to it. The dissipation of subjectivity in and by capitalism; ~dorn?, I,ike Marx, s:es there .a defeat; he will only be able to surmount this pessmusm by making of this defeat a negative moment in a dialectics of emancipation and of the conquest of creativity. But this dialectics is no less theological than the nihilism of the loss of the creative subject; it is its therapeutic resolution in the framework of a religion, here the religion of history. Thus, the justification given the new music, essentially that of Schonberg, is that it has taken upon itself all the darkness and guilt of the world, that it finds all its happiness, all its beauty in forbidding itself the appearance of the beautiful. Art is a kind of Christ in its denunciating function. As for effective redemption, it is even further away than in christology, and must be; art is not reconciliatory, that is its force, to hold itself inside nihilism, to assume it, and thus to manifest it. Hope, the principle, keeps the works open, says Ernst Bloch the Marxist. Adorno nourishes this same Marxism almost entirely withdrawn into a demythologized christianism. The breakdown of all criteria for judging a musical work is recorded nihilistically, as the possibility of launching crazed products [des toquards] on the musical market, by way of great composers. This devaluation cannot be grasped positively; yet it is the liquifaction of traditional limits which allowed the separation of "great music" from the other kind; it is the' bringing down of the walls circumscribing the musical domain, circumscribing the museum, culture. The positive grasp of the breakdown of values does not permit one to take it for an indispensable and painful moment in the process of reconstitution. ~ave we ever thought the revolution other than negatively, as nihilists, that IS to say, as disorder in a change of order, as passage? So long as we continue to think it that way, we will not know what to do. The same holds
for "art.". .
The category of the subject remains uncriticized. It is the nucleus not
* Translated from the French by Robert Hurley.
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only of the interpretation of society as alienation and of art as its martyred witness. but of all theory of expression. That the subject, and consequently its so-called expression, may be itself a product, and a hoarder of production, and not a producer, Adorno would have been able to pose the doubt only by doubting representation. The critique of representation would have led him to a critique of politics (even "Marxist" politics), and of dialectics. To raise doubts about representation is to manifest the theatrical relation (in music, in painting, in politics, in the theater, in literature, in film) as being directed by an arbitrary libidinal deployment [dispositij libidinal], sometimes invested in a predominant fashion, sometimes not. By extending this relation to a number of domains, capitalism brings about the emergence of the libidinal, irrational nature of the apparatus which supports it. We have the advantage over Adorno of living in a capitalism that is more energetic, more cynical, less tragic. It places everything inside representation, representation doubles itself (as in Brecht), therefore presents itself. The tragic gives way to the parodic, the libido retracts its investment from the stage, and invests the ensemble stage/hall, the whole interior of the theater, including the wings and underneath the stage. What remains is the walls, the entry, the exit. If we do not destroy the walls/entry/exit, inside there can be a reconstitution under different· names: happenings, communes, "events," autogestion, T-groups, institutional analysis, automatic writing, the open work, workers' councils, a practice which however critical is no less theatrical although in a different way, a Critical Theater, a critical theology, with a torn subject, the Lacanians say "re-split"; and no more history-narrative, but the discourse in place, the discourse of the complaint [Ie discours de la plainte]. "Razorblades ... half the blades into one side ... rest, of the blades into ... other side. Paul Bowles" (Cage). One of the masks that the devil assumes, in Chapter XXV of Doctor Faustus, is the image of Adorno. In succession, the demoniacal principle, or demonic principle, as Freud would say, disguises itself as pimp, as hustIer, as theoretician and critic of musical composition, and as horned devil. The devil travestied as an intellectual, delivers whole phrases from the Phil;sophy of Modern Music just as they were written. The supporting devil is an allusion to the syphilis contracted by Adrian Leverkuhn, the musician "hero" of Thomas Mann's novel. He causes his victim and accomplice to understand that the evil contracted in the bordello comes as genius' counterpart, "For we purvey the uttermost in this direction; we purvey towering flights and illuminations, experiences of 'upJiftings and unfetterings, of freedom, certainty, facility, feeling of power and triumph ... And correspondingly deep, honorably deep, doth he sink in between-time, ~ot only into void and desolation and unfruitful melancholy but also into pa1~s and sicknesse." What is diabolical in this Nietzschean alternation? Well, Its pimpery: that it is necessary to pay for the highest with the lowest, for the lightest with the heaviest, for the intense life with death. That the one does
ADORNO AS THE DEVIL / 129
not go without the other, that is quite simply the metamorphosis of energies and investments; that which is dead is not dead, but only converted, no procurism [proxenetisme] in that. The latter. begins with the idea and the practice that the metamorphosis will be paid for. The devil is first of all a middleman (the capitalist) placed between the states of libidinal energy. "The devil, the true lord of enthusiasm": the intensities referred to a master, the forces '[puissance,s] subordinated to a power [pouvotr]-th:ereupon. Adorno's mask and his words arrive in a dissolve to mount themselves onto those of the master pimp and enlighten them. "What these beings (like Leverkuhn) in classical decades could have without us, certainly. that. nowadays, we alone have to offer." In modern times, great inspiration can only be demoniacal: the master of enthusiasm can no longer be God. In order for God and inspiration to be compatible, a cult must be able to welcome the works. An order, embracing all activities, has to enable them to be tied together into a totality. A religion must unite the affects. The modern is the loss of this totality, Every work appears and lives there in disaffection. in distrust. 'The artist is a solitary voyager. There are no' more cults. only a culture. Diabolism is then the testimony that the paroxismic force or power persists in the confines of a world which has no place for it-it can only persist as disease. syphilis, neurosis, etc.: ways by which this world of weakened affects names the high intensities in order to neutralize them. efforts to bring them back into its positivist "order." Thus, according to Adorno. the great music of Schonberg gives testimony that the force of intensities has not disappeared, but the counterpart of the witness it carries is its incomprehensibility, the darkness where it remains submerged, and which qualifies it as the work of the diseased.
Thomas Mann's devil, and Leverkuhn in his. crises, notably the last, speak old German, "the good old German without palliatives or garlands," that of Luther. The diabolistic position of the work is a christian position. but from a medieval christianism, from the kind where a narrow complicity is established between the sinner and the confessor, the witch and the exorcisor, sex and sainthood. Modern christianism, next to this force for marshalling paroxysms, is a paganism of mediocrities, that is why the devil appears to Leverkubn when he is residing near Rome, pagan city: extreme contrast with the Pallid from Pallas, laxist, sumptuous displays of the capital of all beliefs, of all skepticisms. It has been said that Leverkuhn was Nietzsche, but he is Pascal, it is an interpretation of Nietzsche as Pascal, that is to say, the most sensible misunderstanding of Nietzsche, maintaining him inside theology, drawn and quartered 'to be sure. An apostasy not of faith. but in faith. Diabolo again as simbolo. Grave error with regard to Nietzsche, but a just perspective on Schonberg: the new music was indeed the emergence of a new deployment, "radical," critical, inside the womb of the old, the classical deployment; but a deployment which was itself liturgical; the Marxism of Frankfurt, the emergence of a deployment which
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was "radical," Lutheran, Jewish, in the womb of the "Roman," Viennese and Stalinist Marxism. . '
At the end of Doctor Faustus, Thomas Mann writes: I, Zeitblom (the story teller), I am not from the same epoch, from the same Germany, that of 1945. He causes Leverkuhn to die August 25, 1940. The. problematics of Leverkuhn is not (yet) that of totalitarianism, and Hitlerism is itself only possible according to a libidinal deployment foreign to Leverkuhn's. Adorno's problematic belongs, similarly, to a libidinal deployment, that of remission by sacrifice, that of the martyr, that of the paradox of faith, the great work being all the more true the more poorly it is received in the world of alienation-to a deployment which modern capitalism has now disinvested, which it has emptied of all affective intensity. If Marxism were that, the Marxism that caused Marx to write in 1842 a note on the miracle of Luther according to Strauss and Feuerbach, in 1844 an Introduction on the proletariat as suffering destined to triumph, in 1856 in the Grundrisse, and still in 1859, in the unpublished Chapter VI of Kapital I, pages on the dialectics of alienation in labor-Marxism would be entirely disaffected today, as is every religion. But the "radical" religious function in Marxism covers another operation, perfectly effective in the most modern capitalism, and which permits doing much more than "criticism" allows for, the operation of revealing the entire society as an economy (in the Freudian sense), ~s the expense and the metamorphosis of libidinal energy. It is precisely this affirmative operation which is lacking in the Marxism of Frankfurt. It is vain to reinforce composition in the Schonbergian sense, as it is vain to search out the right position from which to struggle [contester] in the leftist sense: these activities remain inside faith. In a sense, capitalism is stronger than these kinds of projects, not because it engulfs them, "co-opts" them, but rather because it renders them useless, and its deployment is posed otherwise, elsewhere.
Adorno is criticism's finale, its bouquet, its revelation as fireworks. There is a skepticism in all criticism, it is the skepticism of writing, of thinking Cl l'occidentale. This skepticism explodes in the new music: the material has value only as relation, there is only relation. The sound refers to the series, the series refers to the possible operations on it. When serialism extends its principle to all the dimensions of sound, skepticism will attain its acme. "In my opinion, it is fully enough that a thing has been heard a single time: when the composer imagined it," says Leverkuhn-Schonberg. The material being fully desensitized, the energetics is supposed to become entirely channelable in a combinatory schema [combinatoire]. Criticism requires the occultation of the ear, it finishes the obliteration of the libidinal body, as in Hegel. Similarly, in capitalism, the predominance of the law of value desensitizes the material, obliges us to abandon the naive concept of use value, and the concept of a corporal reference, reputed to be natural, carried by the commodity: as in serialism, everything has value through
ADORNO AS THE DEVIL / 131
relation, here in so far as it is exchangeable. And theoretically, criticism occupies the same position and implies the same consequences: it has value only in relation to its object. Structuralism, semiology, and hermeneutics are critical positions in this sense. And if you add to them the epithet "dialectical," all you accomplish is a little displacement in the interior of skepticism.
Dissonance does ?ot .have value for Adorno solely as the heart-rending witness to the suffering Imposed on the subject, as the subjective side. It has value also. as .its obje~tiv~ side, as the. affirmation to the heart of the melody of the principle of indifference which reigns in capitalism. The melodic detail degenerates into a simple consequence of the total construction without having a~y longer the least influence on it. I~ becomes the image of the s~rt of t~chn~cal progr~s~ of which the world is full. There is no longer anything which IS not relation; but the relation is not immanent to the sounds, it is no longer the affinity said to be natural, for example that of the sensory [celle de la sensible] in the diatonic scale, the attraction among the chords-thought to be more archaic than all conscious organization-which u.sed to authorize preparation and resolution: the chords are henceforth simple monades held together by a planifying domination. The dissonant chords cease then to be expressive of the suffering SUbjectivity, they are the son.orous effects of composition's bureaucratic power. This description is entirely parallel to Marx's analysis of 1844 in the Manuscripts as well as that of 1857 in the unpublished Introduction to the Contribution to the ~ri:ique of P?litical Economy: also an analysis centered on the category of indifference, ~ndustrial labor tending to be able to be accomplished by every labor power independently of its qualification (breakdown of the trades) and of ~ts activity (the worker placed on the margin of the production process ltsel~, mo~e! able to exchange itself for every object regardless of Its possessors qualities (breakdown of social roles and status, breakdown of use val~es). But one sees that such an analysis, made by Marx-Adorno, is constramed to produce its antibody, the natural, as that which capitalism Co~es to lack. Capitalism is thought nihilistically, relative to a natural SUbject. That is found in Marx as well. The price paid for the apparatus of representation.
I have determined six ideas (dialectics, criticism indifference position
theolo d' . .' , ,
gy an expression, affirmation) under which I have distributed all my
~eflexions in the form of items. A first drawing has assigned to each of these Items. the face of a dice. A second drawing (another throw of the dice) has PNermltted me to establish the diachronic series of the ideas' appearance
ext ad' (I' I' .
whic . rawillg Itt e papers carrying the numbers 1 to 20) has determined
(f h Item, number 5 or number 14, for example, belonging to which idea
lOr exa I . d'ffi )
di . mp e, ill I erence would occupy place n of the series. Several
flmenslons are left undetermined: the duration of each item the duration
o th bl k '. '
e an s-silences which separate them, the chromatism (one would
132 I TELOS
have been able to conceive of several writing types), etc. The artist has become the mere executor of his own intentions, plus: intensities, which do not belong to him. "We are getting rid of ownership," "our poetry is the realization that we possess nothing:" Cage. The artist no longer composes he 'lets his deployment's desire go its way. That is affirmation. The quote~ from Adorno are noted in italics, those of other writers are between quotation marks. The designation of this item is: affirmation 13.
By relaying the tendency of Beethoven and Brahms (to immerse, to subscribe the theme under the variations, to suppress the domination Over the implied time, in classical music, by the opposition of the theme and the development) Schonberg can claim to be the inheritor of classical music in a sense fairly comparable to that of the relationship of the materialist dialectic and Hegel. Schonberg is to Brahms as Marx is to Hegel, as the romantic subject (= bourgeois revolutionary) is to the subject of the last bourgeois period, rendered solitary, emancipated, says Adorno. But the Marxism of this tragic subject is that of Adorno, of Frankfurt. The mutation of the relationship with time implies not only the work's disappearance as totality, the end resolving the development in a kind of perfect super-cadence, hence the analogy of the work with the narrative, the diachrony of a fall (of a dissonance) and of a redemption (of a good harmony) which refers to the achronics of a stable cultural system, as in the Bildungsromanen which served as a model for the Phenomenologies des Geistes, but should imply the disappearance of the work itself; if the latter remains, in so far as it is "musical," a privileged place of the relationship to time, hence still a privileged time, it will be in a disinherited capacity. Instead of the music-narrative, Adorno sees that Schonberg composes a music-discourse (but a paradoxical discourse, a discourse of faith); and Schonberg composes in fact such a music, Schonberg and Adorno on the razor's edge. We who are no longer there need a music-intensity, a sonorous machine without finality. What Morton Feldman says very well: a surface music, without depth, preventing representation. And a politics-intensity, rather than a politics-tragedy. Therefore to leave the "radical" Marxism of Frankfurt.
At the end of the introduction to the Philosophy of Modern Music which dates from 1948, a year after the publication of Doctor Faustus, Adorno defines his method as a dialectics . of works and of contradiction: the modern work deserves the name when it gives form to contradiction, hence is imperfect; and contradiction le~ds to the work's destruction. It is a nonHegelian dialectics, because the totality is missing: the reconciliation of the subject and the object has been perverted into a satanic parody, into a liquidation of the subject in the objective order. Totality is missing = there is no god to reconcile = all reconciliation can only be represented in its impossibility, parodied = it is a satanic work. You wasted your time replacing God with the devil, the prefix super+with the old sub-terranean
ADORNO AS 'FHE DEVIL I 133
mole, you remain in the same theological deployment. You pass from shamefaced nihilism to flaunted nihilism. Adorno's work, just as Mann's and SchOnberg's, is marked by nostalgia. The devil is the nostalgia of God, impossible god, therefore possible precisely as a god.
When Adorno sees well that modern art is the end of appearance, the elimination of the sensuous ldu sensible], the impossibility of the unity of concept (form) with intuition (material), it is to conclude that it sets itself to functioning as a process of knowledge. Through its hostility for art, the work of art approaches knowledge. Its disarticulation signifies the emergence of its critical content, and the tn:th content of works of art fuses with their critical content. But the critical content is not a content, is not material, is not intuitive, it is a relation, and as such a knowledge. Thus the alternative to fusion with the material, the alternative to enjoyment Uouissance], consists in the ascese of knowing. This knowledge cannot be the Hegelian knowledge, which is still enjoyment at finding itself in the object; it is unhappy like the severe god Logos, dear to Freud. We have to leave behind this alternative: neither appearance, musica ficta, nor laborious knowledge, musica fingens; the metamorphic game of sonorous intensities, the parodic work of nothing, musica figura.
Is it still a currentmatter, to struggle against Zhdanov, to affirm that to reduce advanced music to its social origins and functions, is to find the language of a pompous and bureaucratic oppression, to affirm that dialectics has degenerated into a religion of the State? 1948. More relevant: to affirm that to reduce advanced politics to its social origins and functions is to fi~d the language of the religion of the State, of its priests, Seguy, Marchais, of their vicars in partibus intelligentiae, and of several leftisms, Zhdanov and his papa ready to blossom again on the lips, under the plume of young Maos. That is the religious raw material in nihilistic Marxism, and enough material for a Holy Office and an Inquisition. Dialectics has not de~e~erated into a State religion. The modern State can only have for its retigton dialectics, this catchall for skepticisms and nihilisms, this ready-to-wear for melancholy.
~acing bureaucratism, useless to invoke the young Marx, Kierkegaard faclllg Hegel, Pascal facing the Jesuits; this will give rise to churches, to' chapels, to countercurrents in the river. And bureaucracy today is not the St li .
a mist monstrosity foisted onto the body of the proletarian revolution as
Trotsky tried and the Trotskyists still try to persuade themselves, it is everywhere the machinery of capital itself as a claim to the proper order, its ~o-~a~led rational circulation. Don't react toward the period of the ~dlvldual subject, act toward the time of the circulation of energy liberated b om the law of value. The secret located between these fragments lets itself di. evoked only in the figure they form together: Beethoven's last works,
lslocated, detotalized. Mallarrne. The same silence reigns in Schonberg, says Adorno. And the same silence of lacunae in the wandering disposition
134 / TELOS
of the Aesthetische Theorie. Disfunctioning machines, Tinguely's machines. Blank events where dialectics derails.
Schonberg says halt to dialectics. But dialectically.
Perfect harmonies are to be compared with the drcU11:!stantial expressions of language. still more with money in the economy. Their abstract character renders them capable of intervening everywhere in mediation and their crisis is profoundly linked. in its present phase. to the crisis of all the functions of mediation. It is necessary to overthrow the parameters of this Adornian equation. The critique of political economy, teaches that money resolves nothing, that "its" abstraction is the abstraction of the law of value, which permits placing in an exchange relation. as commodities, the most different/indifferent objects. The tonal, the dominant. and the seventh dominant chords are not money. on the contrary. they are the, analogs, in classical and baroque music, of the minutely observed niles weighing on artisan fabrication and its product, they are the "chefs-d'oeuvre," they incarnate the supposedly perfect reconciliation of material and form. They are the cult. What Adorno describes is their cynical use in culture, something like the "guaranteed hand made" or the "rnis en bouteille au chateau" which will come to distinguish, in a reactionary fashion, certain commodities in the industrial economy and which will make use of them, for an instant, objects of prestige. Money, in its capacity as the visible law of value, is, in the new music, not the harmony of consonance. but the audible abstraction, the indifference to the reputedly natural deviations, the cutting up of the octave into twelve half tones, the exchangeability of the degrees according to the values of reversal and retrogradation. the universalization of the principle of the series to include ail the dimensions of sound. Schnnberg once spoke out against the animal warmth of music and against its w.oeful demeanor. His coldness is that of the survivor. the inverse of Weberian warmth, close to the material, ~ays Adorno. Now, the Schonbergian chill is that of those waters where capital plunges all things according to calculation alone. Dissonance leads to its extreme consequences: it is a formula of modern capitalism.
In Marx as in Freud, the laying bare of the economic, of the political and libidinal economy, remains inhibited by a theology. It is not the same one:
. in Freud, it is judaical, critical, somber (forgetful of the political); in Marx, it is catholic, Hegelian, reconciliatory. But the occultation effect on the economic is almost as strong in the one as in the other. It is in this way th~t in the one and in the other the relationship of the economic with meaning 1S blocked in the category of representation. The fact that the representation of instincts [pulsions] by phantasies and illusions in Fneud, that the representation of productive forces by, superstructures and ideologies in Marx 1S criticized here and there does not change iti the least the principle whereby the economic is and can only be, represented; for Freud, the proper representation of instincts happens in' verbis on the couch, for Marx, the re-
ADORNO AS THE DEVIL / 135
presentation of forces occurs in verbis et rebus in the streets daring the period of the Commune, in the party during the period of the Gotha. congress. Here a politics, there a therapeutics, in both cases a laical theology, on top of the arbitrariness and the roaming of forces. In Adorno, all that is left is the theology, Freud's theology, tragic, refusing all reconciliation, displaced and applied to Marx's; but in any case theology, without any economics. Thomas Mann goes further when he makes his Leverkuhn say about Leonore 3: "But here you have it, such music is energy itself, yet not as idea, rather in its actuality." (But he quickly adds.: "I call your attention to the fact that that is almost the definition of God. Imitatio Dei"
the same pascaloid repression which nourishes the whole book.) ,
Nietzsche understood very quickly, after The Birtb 9.1 Tragedy, that one must not count on the tragic any longer, that the tragic, if one wanted to restore it, would be a clown's affair. Napoleon, great clown: "Tragedy today is politics." What makes intolerable 'the Final Solution that the Nazis gave to the supposed Jewish Question, the .liquidation of the left oppositions by Stalinism, the extermination ofthe Indochinese peoples by U.S. democracy, is the impossibility of inscribing them in any destiny. To firmly grasp the fact that any production of a "destiny," on any of these occasions, is a buffoonery, a mystification whose purpose is necessarily to cause us to accept, even in the fatal's [fatidique] most revolting form, what is unacceptable and without any fatum whatsoever. In this sense, the "tragic" that Vienna produced in the first half of the century in music, politics, theory, psychoanalysis, philosophy, science, poetry (and even a little in painting), belongs to the clown genre. Parody in the bad sense: the representation of something which "outside" the representative space (in "society") is already dead, dialectics' Finale.
"Since then, several incidents have occurred [in the Dijon prison]. Last week two prisoners swallowed razor blades and had to be hospitalized" (report in Le M onde, August, 1972).
The critical relation cannot criticize itself, it can only parody itself in the derision of autocritique. And in this impossibility, it shows that it is still an authoritarian dominating relation, that it is negativity as ,power. This power is that of language, which annihilates what it speaks of. Criticism can only redouble the empty space where its discourse plunges its object, it is cloistered in this space of vacuity, it belongs to language and to representation, it can no longer think the object, the work and history, except as language. But at the same time it understands that what is in the process of destroying itself today is precisely the predominance of language, the asceticism of the work, the asceticism of history and politics. Now criticism, far from criticizing asceticism, hopes that it will be redistributed differently: the bourgeois want a sensual aft and an ascetic life. the inverse would be p_rejerable. Criticism wantsmore asceticism in art (and more "sexuality" in hfe). But it is capitalism itsdf which pushes for a life without asceticism as
136 I TELOS
well as for a severe art. Yet at the same time that capital maintains, in life and in art, the law of value as separation, savings, rupture, selection, protection, privatization-at the same time, it undermines everywhere the value of the law, constrains us to regard it as arbitrary, forbids us to believe in it. It is a buffoon. It plunges everything into skepticism, that is, into asceticism and its uselessness. Criticism ca~not go beyond that buffoonery. It is not criticism, it is the emergence (non-ordered, non-dialectical, unnecessary, but effective) of another deployment, of a dementia with regard to the law of value, which reveals the latter as a gray disease, a general depression and equalling-out [perequation] of affects and depressed products. What brings us out of capital and out of "art" (and out of the Enikunstung, its complement) is not criticism, which is language-bound [langagifwe], nihilistic, but a deployment of libidinal investment. We do not desire to possess, to "work," to dominate ... What can they do about that?
The Aesthetische Theone is not constructed like a Phenomenologie or a Dialectics, like a discourse proceeding to its proper conclusion, it is fragmented, full of silences, and full of silence, as Jiminez shows. It carries the loss of the totality in its form: the sweeping of a field, a fragmentation never reclosed. But why say loss of the totality? This discourse of rhetoric and classical and romantic philosophy is a deployment (implying representation of the totality by its very construction), this deployment is disinvested. Another deployment sets itself in place, there the representation of the totality is not pertinent. The libido is not necessarily attached to a total object. What Cage looks for in the I Ching, in what respect is that a deconstruction?
How is it that I am writing this? Is it that I have an interest in this skepticism toward everything, even the most serious crises? This skepticism of writing and of the West, which causes one to act as if one were saying: always the most important, the most important even in the crisis is what will be left from it, let us write, let us inscribe the crisis, that will remain, and will be therefore the most important. All music, insofar as it is notation, is this skepticism, skepticism too with regard to what is skeptical, with regard to What is the most painful.
The diabolical figure is not just dialectical, it is expressly the failure of dialectics in dialectics, the negative in the heart of negativity, the suspended moment or momentaneous suspension. Therefore something like the affirmative, the demented, but placed inside the horizon of a negativity, of a broken-down negativity.' Instant of disequilibrium, razor's edge brink. Adorno is the edge. Dialectics broken-down was: . the German proletariat joining Hitlerism; the Russian proletariat joining Stalin; the one and the other massacring each other; the Spanish proletariat crushed by the fascist air force, finished off in Barcelona by the Stalinists; the French proletariat deserting the positions occupied in '.36, fi~ished-off by the reformists; the Chinese proletariat whiped out by-Chiang and Stalin's politics. The red god
ADORNO AS THE DEVIL / 137
no longer speaking, the culture being nothing more than the residue of the cult, once God fell mute (Zhdanov), What place could Adorno assign himself, if not that of the devil? That is not a bad place when evil is on God's side. When the Creation raves, it is the devil who risks being right. Nothing left to invoke, everything to revoke. Hence judaism as a reemerging deployment: dementia ( = the devil) bound up, religified [religiose].
Just as with Schonberg there is a reference to tonality in absentia, which is the revocation in absentia of sensuality, of the feminine, of catholicism, of the reconciled god, so with Adorno there is a reference to the cult and to nature in absentia. Freud says that no one can kill in absentia. To place something in absentia is to place it outside the range of murder, to conserve it, to memorize [memoriser]it, to invest it. Schonberg's libidinal investment in totality is powerful, powerful remains that of the devil Adorno in the divinity of a reconciled humanity. To cease conserving tonality on the horizon is to cease composing. To cease composing in politics is to cease conserving in absentia the idea of the totality, the military, industrial, clerical organization which represents totaliy, to cease constructing a "party." In place of the politica ficta-fingens, a politica figura. What can an affirmative politics be, which does not look for support in' a representative (a party) of the negative, etc.? That is the question left, abandoned by Adorno. I doubt that Marcuse or Reich, dialecticizing once more the unconscious, will rid us of it. No more than Rousseau rids his reader o(Hegel, but rather inhoculateshim against Hegel. Us, we are beyond Hegel. Hegel did not die in the death camps (OIl the contrary, tragical dialectics feeds only on cadavers), he did not die from Criticism (on the contrary, he lives through it), he died in abundance, he passed away from prosperity, he croaked from health.
Adorno saw in the German "student" movement of the sixties a political
Stravinskyism. . ,
Leverkuhn is the musician of the "magical square," which one finds for example in DUrer's Melancholy: a deployment of numbers such that the sum of the units place on the columns, on the lines, or: on the diagonals is always the same. Schonberg is also the musician of the square: suppress the difference between the verticals and the horizontals, between the harmony and the melody. In Klee too, there is the magical square of colors. The magical square is the end of the narrative, the emergence of the structure. The neutralization of intensive differences. A narrative will still be possible, but only as one realization among others of a structure, the performance of a competence. Diachrony is a surface thing like history. The melodic statement [~nonc~], the historical development, become desperate. The magical square is to sound what capital is to the product (as the law of valu.e permitting the principle of permutating all the exchanges into the nullIfied circuit of simple reproduction). A squar.e diabolical for religion,
not at all magical for capital and for outselves. '
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