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Volume 94, Number 1, Spring 2002 Table of Contents

Special Issue: Rereading Adorno


Gerhard Richter
A Portrait of Non-Identity A photograph of Adorno shows the philosopher perched on a small chair, the toes of his two feet timidly pointing inward, his facial expression stoic, his gaze averted, one hand covering his knee, the other holding a slim metal object. Investigating the ways in which this image presents an arrested mirror reflection as a photographic self-portrait, this essay suggests that the photograph’s legibility in the context of Adorno’s thought is predicated upon its multiple removals from the referent. Here, subject and object, as well as the space that they inhabit, remain suspended in a dialectical play, a serious play that cannot be arrested by any Hegelian synthesis. The image of Adorno that this self-portrait captures is caught in a moment of non-identity, a rupture that can never be glossed over or repaired. As such, the essay argues, Adorno’s self-portrait presents itself as a self-portrait of the category of the non-identical, what he calls “das Nichtidentische,” a fissured concept that centrally occupies his thinking at least from the Negative Dialectic to the unfinished Aesthetic Theory. (GR)

Texts and Documents

Who’s Afraid of the Ivory Tower? A Conversation with Theodor W. Adorno
In this seminal 1969 interview with the German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel, Adorno explains, in more lucid and conversational terms than is characteristic of his formal writings, his conceptualization of the political relevance that his theoretical work may have. For Adorno, the political impact of his work is not to be measured by the extent to which it enables unmediated social praxis but rather by the extent to which it effects a broad change in consciousness. Here, the oppositional pair of thought and action itself is suspended. The text belongs in the general orbit of similar meditations that Adorno devoted to this subject in the late 1960s, such as his texts “Resignation” and “Marginalia on Theory and Praxis.” Indeed, there is no sentence in Adorno’s mature work that is not touched by the political implications of the thoughts that he expresses in this interview. It is here translated, edited, and presented with an introduction by Gerhard Richter. (GR)


Stanley Corngold
Adorno’s “Notes on Kafka”: A Critical Reconstruction
Adorno’s “Notes on Kafka” refers moments in Kafka to an “inverse theological,” Marxian-Freudian fable that tells of the collaboration of bourgeois commodity culture in its own extinction under Fascism. Although Adorno argues for a rigorously literal reading, he proceeds allusively, by fits and starts “mortifying” the text to fit the fable. His Kafka espouses, theologically speaking, a Gnosticism without relief; in fact Kafka saw that there came “slantwise through the words remnants of light.” Adorno, who would save Kafka for a form of socially redemptive resistance, does not register Kafka’s felt, immediate, redemptive immersion in the act of writing. Kafka’s work amounts to a genuine index of falsity (in Aesthetic Theory to a moment of truth); but it is impossible to determine how, for Adorno, this moment of insight could be recovered, since “the bourgeois [reader] has yet to find his successor.” (SC)


Jan Plug
Idiosyncracies: of Anti-Semitism
Dialectic of Enlightenment posits the possibility of freedom from anti-Semitism, and repression more generally, a freedom that can be achieved once the futility of the concept of the idiosyncracy associated with the Jews is exposed. This article argues that Horkheimer and Adorno are thus implicated in a thinking of the limits of conceptuality as that point at which historical liberation takes place. But they are also implicated in a conception of representation, for idiosyncracy involves a notion of mimesis, a mode of adaptation to nature and of language that resists instrumental reason. The freedom offered by exploring the futility of this concept must therefore be thought in all its radicality, as the subject’s adaptation to modes of representation which resist precisely the intentionality of the subject. (JP)


David Kaufman
Matters of Taste
Adorno’s scattered meditations on taste are traced from the 1930s through the posthumous Aesthetic Theory, in an attempt to reconstruct a dialectical account of taste as a (learned) somatic reaction to aesthetic convention. In order to flesh out the sociological conditions of this reaction, a brief Auseinandersetzung with the work of Pierre Bourdieu is presented. In the end, while Bourdieu reminds us of the social restrictions that inhere in aesthetic experience, Adorno reminds us of its possibilities. (DK)


Katja Garloff
Essay, Exile, Efficacy: Adorno’s Literary Criticism
This article examines Adorno’s valorization of diaspora by tracing his definition of the essay as a quintessentially diasporic genre and a tool of critical intervention. In a close reading of his essay “Heine the Wound,” this article shows how Adorno deploys strategies associated with exile and diaspora in an effort to disrupt the systemic continuity of fascism in postwar West Germany. This and other essays by Adorno also shed new light on recent debates about the modes and functions of posttraumatic writing, in particular the roles of historical reference and force of address in such writing. (KG)


Review Article

Eva Geulen
Adorno macht’s möglich. Neue Lektüren

Book Reviews

Apostolidis, Paul, Stations of the Cross: Adorno and Christian Right Radio (Theresa Kelley)

Bauer, Karin, Adorno’s Nietzschean Narratives: Critiques of Ideology, Readings of Wagner (Sheila Johnson)

Brunkhorst, Hauke, Adorno and Critical Theory (Matthew Stratton)

Cascardi, Anthony, Consequences of Enlightenment (Robert Kaufman)

Düttmann, Alexander García, The Gift of Language: Memory and Promise in Adorno, Benjamin, Heidegger, and Rosenzweig (Jan Plug)

Harding, James, Adorno and “A Writing of the Ruins”: Essays on Modern Aesthetics and Anglo-American Literature and Culture (Theresa Kelley)

Huhn, Tom and Lambert Zuidervaart, eds., The Semblance of Subjectivity: Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory (Donald Brown)

Jarvis, Simon, Adorno: A Critical Introduction (Eric Jarosinski)

Menke, Christoph, The Sovereignty of Art: Aesthetic Negativity in Adorno and Derrida (Arthur Strum)

Morris, Martin, Rethinking the Communicative Turn: Adorno, Habermas, and the Problem of Communicative Freedom (David Weberman)

Nicholsen, Shierry Weber, Exact Imagination, Late Work: On Adorno’s Aesthetics (Franz Peter Hugdahl)

O’Neill, Maggie, ed. Adorno, Culture, and Feminism (Jennifer Jenkins)

Pensky, Max, ed., The Actuality of Adorno: Critical Essays on Adorno and the Postmodern (Christina Gerhardt)

Varadharajan, Asha, Exotic Parodies: Subjectivity in Adorno, Said, and Spivak (Christine Hendricks)

Witkin, Robert W., Adorno on Music (Jost Hermand)


Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Studies in Germanic Languages and Literatures.
11th interdisciplinary Brecht Symposium, call for papers.