Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More Fun with Culture

From what I remember, Adorno lightens up a little bit by time he wrote Aesthetic Theory, but his (and Horkheimer's) critique of art-objects in The Dialectic of Enlightenment is quite damning (and depressing). I can see why people don't like this guy:

"But the cheapness of mass-produced luxury articles, and its complement, universal fraud, are changing the commodity character of art itself. The character is not new: it is the fact that art now dutifully admits to being a commodity, abjures its autonomy and proudly takes its place among consumer goods, that has the charm of novelty...Pure works of art, which negated the commodity character of society by simply following their own inherent laws, were at the same time always commodities" (127).

"Everything is perceived only from the point of view that it can serve as something else, however vaguely that other thing might be envisaged. Everything has value only in so far as it can be exchanged, not in so far as it is something in itself. For consumers the use value of art, its essence, is a fetish, and the fetish--the social valuation which they mistake for the merit of the work of art--becomes its only use value, the only quality they enjoy" (128).

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