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Archive for the ‘history’ Category

This secondary source begins by introducing the Frankfurt School and Marcuse’s differentiation from earlier thinkers. It continues as an analysis of Marcuse’s thought, especially as outlined in On Dimensional Man, with comparison to the works of Adorno and Horkheimer in particular. It is broken down into the following subsections:

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In Max Pensky’s “The Trash of History,” taken from the larger Melancholy Dialectics: Walter Benjamin and the Play of Mourning, Walter Benjamin’s use of the objective dialectical image is viewed in juxtaposition–and unwanted collaboration -with subjective allegorical imagery. The dialectical image, where past and present interact with one another, is Benjamin’s method and subject of critical analysis. The allegorical image that has arbitrary meaning is melancholic: the passing of time is marked by sadness. The dialectic image “cannot be” (Pensky, 211), and yet it is as our history is a “catastrophic history” (Pensky, 211). This issue of imagery is one aspect of the larger subject/object problem and is how Benjamin incorporated Kabalistic elements into his criticism. (more…)

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The Long Friendship: Theoretical Differences Between Horkheimer and Adorno originally appeared in the book On Max Horkheimer: New Perspectives. In this essay Stefan Breuer successfully highlights the contrasting viewpoints that arise when juxtaposing the works of Horkheimer and Adorno.

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In the “ Culture Industry” chapter of The Dialectic of Enlightenment, Adorno and Horkheimer wrote of jazz, “ No Palestrina could have eliminated the unprepared or unresolved dissonance more puristically than the jazz arranger excludes any phrase which does not exactly fit the jargon. If he jazzes up Mozart, he changes the music not only where it is too difficult or serious but also where the melody is merely harmonized differently, indeed, more simply, than is usual today” (Adorno and Horkheimer 101). The essay “ Adorno, Ellison, and the Critique of Jazz”, examines the conceptual and historical factors surrounding Adorno’s controversial essays on jazz, by comparing and contrasting Adorno’s jazz criticism with representations of jazz in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (1952).

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       Gersholm Scholem’s main focus is to discuss Walter Benjamin’s fascination with the painting Angelus Novus, by Paul Klee.  He shows how Benjamin’s interpretation follow a dialectic between mystical intuition and reason. His main discussion revolves around the first two drafts found in a notebook in Benjamin’s literary remains in Frankfurt written August 12th and 13th, 1933, named “Agesilaus Santander.”  In it Benjamin discusses the relationship between a Jew and their secret religious name, an allegory for his relationship to Angelus Novus that Scholem exposes. The examination takes a route of literary and philosophical analysis accompanied by the author’s stance that he knew Benjamin on a very personal level.

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In this paper Fruchtl attempts to investigate the question of reflection on modernity. His main thesis is that to reflect upon modernity is to reflect upon the self. This immediately launches the investigation into the realm of subjectivity. He begins by building a picturing of the current dynamic concerning the subject. He creates a dynamic between the perspectives of Hegel and Habermas. It is one of current thinkers returning to the ideas of Hegel to challenge the views of Habermas. The post-modern thinkers tend to follow the Hegelian route of reflection on the self to examine modernity rather than rely on the ideal of human self creation. What Habermas writes off to aesthetics and expression have been revealed to be much more important and complex and have been brought under renewed scrutiny by post-modern thinkers wishing to reconcile the creative dimension of the self with the rest of their ideas.

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Theodor Adorno’s essay, “Reflections on Class Theory”, found in Can One Live After Auschwitz?, combines many of the themes that have been focused upon this semester, particularly Walter Benjamin’s notion of progress and Adorno and Max Horkheimer’s critique of mass culture. Set within a context of how the theory of class has changed into the modern age, Over the course of nine theses on the subject, Adorno puts forth a myriad ideas explaining the duality of the class, how it has been present since prehistory, and how it has perpetuated the impotence of the “exploited”, and extended the rule of the “exploiters”. (94) (more…)

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