Laws Adorno Aesthetic Theory Pdf


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Adorno's Aesthetic Theory means to breach this externality of aesthetics to art. nature sedirnented in art, which for Adorno takes shape in Aesthetic Theory as. Aesthetic Theory. Pages · by Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno · adorno aesthetics Schaum's Outline of Theory and Problems of College Physics. This thesis investigates Adorno's notion of expression in Aesthetic Theory. It describes some of Therefore, Adorno's Aesthetic Theory reveals his understanding of suffering as both positive and PDF version of Paddison (2): ,

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Theodor Adorno's, Aesthetic Theory. (translated by Robert Hullot-Kentor),. Athlone Press, London, ALEXANDER REYNOLDS, London. With whom did it. Electronic copy available at: 9 An~aesth~tic Theory Adorno, Sexuality, and Memory Mary Anne Franks I still c;\nnot decide t:o . AESTHETICS. Andrew Edgar. THE WORK of Theodor Adorno () embraces musicology, sociology and social theory as well as philosophy It is.

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View Metrics. Email alerts New issue alert. Advance article alerts. Article activity alert. Receive exclusive offers and updates from Oxford Academic. JI death under narcosis; and d1c exact features o this death wil l be hidden for ever from the relatives of the patient and the world at large. For cognition the gap between us and others was the same as the time berwecn our own present and past suffering; im truurmow1rablc barrier. Bur perennia.

All objectification is a forgetting. Adamo and Horkheimer argue that the physical "proc- ess of oblivion"-forgetting suffering-involved in medical anesthe ia is psychologically replicated in our ethical relationships. Tllis proces of oblivion, rhi psychosocial anesthe- sia, is accomplished not only through increasing technologicaLdomina- Electronic copy available at: In Adorno's view, the culture industry-which includes television, film, and advertising--erodes the human capacity to recognize and resist suffering.

This degradation of sensibility is the degradation of the aes- thetic in Adorno's mind-the aesthetic whose purpose is not diversion or amusement, but awareness of the wrongs perpetrated against human beings. The culture industry domesticates people through an endless sup- ply of products,. The deadening effect of the compulsive and consumptive repre- sentation of female sexuality in popular culture depoliticizes and natural- izes sexual violence against women.

Adorno's visionary aesthetic goal-of true aesthetic representation that radically decenters the viewer and compels him or her to resist the world as it is--can disrupt the stagnant ideological field of universally accepted sexual violence. Adorno's aes- thetic position of Bet: According to Adorno's political aesthetics, art's duty is to oppose itself to the suffering that takes place in reality. This cannot be accomplished if suffering is presented as an object of consumption.

The culture industry makes a commddity of every emotion and experience, offering a sensuous immediacy that reinforces the distance between the subject that con- sumes and the object that suffers: Adorno writes "while the artwork' sensual appeal seemingly brings it close to the consumer, it is alienated from him by being a commodity that he possesses and the loss of which he must constantly fear.

It is basic helplessne s. It is the exact O[ p site of the aesthetic sensibility Adorno proposes: Adorno's invocation of Pierre Flourens is thus clear: By contrast, the genuine aesthetic moment for Adorno involves a sense of oncern Betroffe: According to Benjamin, mechanical reproducti n bas the potential to liberate art from ritual, and as Shierry N icholsen writes, hi enthusiasm for till potential i understandabl against the background of Fascist monumentalism.

Benjamin regarding the los of the au: Such images, by destroying suffering's particular presence in time and space-its aura-become an ideological support of that suffering. When an image is reproduced and commodified, the very pathos that it might invite ultimately "justifies the world which makes it necessary. The triumph of technology has created two classes which can coexist in the same person: Thus when Adorno comments that "aura is not only-as Benjamin claimed-the here and now of the artwork, it is whatever goes beyond its factual givenness, its content; one cannot abolish it and still want art," he seems to suggest that, contrary to Benjamin, one should decry the loss of aura in mechanical reproduction and maintain the aesthetic position of preserving that aura.

U However, Adorno at the same time agreed with Benjamin that the culture industry itself can manipulate aura and tum it into "cult value. Every close-up in every commercial film mocks aura by contriving to exploit the contrived nearness of the distant, cut off from the work as a whole.

Aura is gulped dqwn along with the sensual stimuli; it is the uniform sauce that the culture industry pours over the whole of its manufacture. If art and culture's task in a brutalized and brutaliz- ing world is to expose suffering and encourage resistance, it can only do so by refusing to reproduce and commodify it: The image of suffering should not gratify sensuous feeling or evoke a sense of possession.

Although one must be in some way "close" to the image, this closeness cannot be main- tained without the acknowledgment of the distance that finally exists between viewer and viewed; and as Kaja Silverman writes, mere closeness "signifies possession, that 'belong-to-me' quality which is such a notable feature of certain contemporary images.

It implies not only the substitu- tion of the subject's own frame of reference for that specific to the object, but the possibility of 'getting hold' of it at 'very short range,' i. The aesthetic "shudder" of which Adorno speaks ''does not provide a satisfaction to the ego and is removed from desire. It refuses to encourage or even allow auratic representations of certain kinds of suffering, particularly those related to sexuality.

An authentically auratic representation of suffering would exclude any ac- commodation, acceptance, or redemption of the causes of that suffering, while maintaining a certain respectful but not ritualizing distance from that suffering.

The feeling-the literal aesthetic-that auratic suffering should inspire must be a full shock of the other's pain that is yet not appropriated by one's own desire or made consumable in any way. As des Pres points out, in the contemporary world one can no longer not know of the suffering of others-including that of millions of women and female children around the world. In our technologically advanced society we now hear and see accounts of rape warfare in the former Yugoslavia, Chechnya, Rwanda, the Congo; sexual trafficking of Eastern European wbmen; girls sold into sex tourism in Thailand; the unsolved and largely unremarked by official governmental and criminal institutions murders of young women in Ju- arez, Mexico.

The world knows that sexual inequality and the oppression of women by men, both explicitly and in more subtle ways, goes on even in our "liberal" day: And yet in the West, we continue to have great difficulty identifying sexual violence as one of "our" real problems-unlike tax cuts.

But the statistics speak volumes: No American would pub- licly condone rape warfare, the oppression of women under the Taliban, or the practice of throwing acid in the faces of Indian women who have rejected suitors.

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But violence against women keeps happening both "over there" and "over here. Western resignation to this phenomenon seems inexplicable. Some explanation for the West's lack of resistance lies in our very representation of sexual violence, or rather the preemptive representation of sexuality that portrays every imaginable sexual atrocity within the range of legitimate "visual pleasure.

More recently, some of the images depicting American soldiers raping Iraqi women at the Abu Ghraib prison were dismissed as "only" pornog- raphy-while such acts have reportedly taken place in reality, the pic- tures in question were "bogus," allegedly taken from an Internet porn site.

As Susan J. Brison pointedly asked regarding the American response to the "real" torture that took place at Abu Ghraib, "Given our tolerant, even self-congratulatory, attitude toward pornography, why should we be so shocked when torture takes this form? Why should it be cause for inter- national alarm when sexually degrading, dehumanizing things are done to Iraqi prisoners and photographed if doing the same things to women around the world and photographing them for a multibillion-dollar por- nography industry is considered entertainment?

Several survivors of the "rape camps" in. In September , the films of at least two of these rapes were broadcast on Serb-controlled television.

Confirmation of this is all too easily found: It is at this extreme end of the pornographic spectrum that one confronts the truth of all pornography: The objections are not difficult to imagine: The women are of legal age and clearly consent to the activity depicted. Un- fortunately, even this is not true: Until her age was made known to the authorities and the tapes and magazine banned, the image ofTraci Lords's body-her child's body-was consumed as a sexual object.

The fact that this was not explicitly known only testifies to the deep ambiguity of the pornographic image. A few years after Deep Throat the first.

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Those who cast doubt on Marchiano's credibility can do so but should perhaps acknowledge that in their efforts to insist that pornography is actually an empowering industry, they have to revile, belittle, and throw the worst cliches of misogyny at women to do so-in effect saying, The whore lied , but whether her claims were true or not is ultimately irrelevant to the fact that ,viewers who thought is was true found the movie even more appealing for this fact.

There are numerous examples of such troubling ambiguity. The con- troversial documentary Raw Deal: A Question of Consent tells the story of the stripper Lisa Gier King, whose performance at a frat party ended, she claimed, in rape. The tape made for common viewing at subsequent fraternity parties.

One of the most revealing objections against treating both Marchiano's and King's claims seriously takes the form of "but she doesn't look like she's being forced" -but this is precisely the question: In a video or an Internet image, how could one tell if a woman was being raped or not, unless the caption said so? Film critics who watched Raw Deal seemed surprised by the fact that the videotaped footage does not answer the question of whether rape occurred or not-it is impossible to tell.

What is beyond dispute is that many people who believe it is a recording of a rape are able to watch the videotape for entertainment.

It is telling that many of the images displayed on "rape" sites are iden- tical to images one finds on "mainstream" Web sites, where the women supposedly do consent. In fact, often the only thing that changes is the caption-the very same image is "blonde whore taken anally and loving it" on one site and "young blonde Chechen viciously raped" on another.

The viewer looking for depictions of "consensual" sex and the viewer looking for images of rape are looking at the same image. It is this 1indif- ference of the image, and not the supposedly disproved causal relation- ship between rape and pornography, that should be addressed and conceptualized in the discussion of sexual violence. The illusion that it can is used to shield consumers of pornography from any association with "real" sexual violence. If mainstream pornography by its very nature asserts that all the women depicted "want it," then no one has to engage the difficult question of, How could I tell if they didn't?

One can condemn violent pornography and child pornog- raphy and real sexual violence without ever feeling implicated; and then one can throw out the word consent like a rhetorical hand grenade and run away. But mainstream pornography is an ideology. It is based on the photographic, "real" image, which is in itself ideological.

As Adorno writes, "[I]deology is split into the photograph of stubborn life and the naked lie about its meaning-which is not suggested and yet drummed in. She claims furthermore that the videotape shows her being raped; whether she is telling the truth or not-and are fraternity boys to decide, especially considering that one of them declared at the beginning of the videotape that the proceedings would include "the raping of a white trash, crack whore bitch"?

We know of Benjamin's unease regarding the mechanical reproduction of the face: Whether one decides to believe women who claim that they have been raped on set, there is no way to guarantee that it did not occur. Her consent in this case is a fabrication, and yet looking at the image no one can discern this.

Aesthetic Theory

Moreover, as uncomfortable as it may be for a liberal viewpoint, sexual violence and pornography often do share the same ideological space.

According to the Yugoslavian critic Bogdan Tirnamic, the former Yugoslavia has the "freest pornography market in the world. The soldiers reportedly showed pornography to their victims to illustrate what they were going to do to them. Survivors also report t,hat in some cases the soldiers reenacted scenes from the pornographic materials when raping the women.

It is not difficult to see how one can progress from indifference to a woman's consent to arousal at her refusal, or see how the two at least intersect. The mainstream Web site and the rape Web site present the same images for a reason: A consent merely stipulated across time and space, irrespective of circumstances or context, lies at the core of rapist logic. It is the same mindset behind laws still in existence in many countries today that allow men who rape their wives and girlfriends to argue, "once consented, always consented.

The average pornography consumer is just a passive viewer who has nothing to do with the actual execution of sexual violence. As repulsive as this might be, our free society protects the right of men to have violent, misogynist fantasies and indulge in them as long as they do not act them out such was the message of the highly popular film The People vs.

Larry Flynt. But someone is acting them out including, according to his daughter, Larry Flynt himself. To override a woman's protests. To rape a young girl repeatedly and bash her head in with a brick.

To get together with their fellow soldiers and gang-rape a female Iraqi prisoner who has no possible means of escape or resistance. As Katharine Viner writes apropos the abuse at Abu Ghraib, there is a connection between what we look at for pleasure and entertainment and what we are capable of doing to another human being. Of course there is a gulf between them, and it is insulting to suggest that all porn actors are in the same situation as Iraqi , confined and bmtalised in ten;- fying conditions.

And yet, the images in both are the same.

The pornographic culture has clearly influenced the soldiers; at the very least, in their exhibitionism, their enthusiasm to photograph their handiwork. And the victims in both don't have feelings: Both point to just how degraded sex has becom in western culture. Porn hasn't even pretended w show loving sex for decades; in films and TV mo t sex is violent, joyless. The Abu Ghraib tortmers are merely acting out their culture: So Charles Graner and his colleagues can humiliate Iraqi prisoners because the prisoners are dirt; they can humiliate women, forcing them to bare their bodies and rap- ing them, becau e that way they can show their power.

It reas- sures us that it doesn't really hurt, that since everyone is smiling nothing bad could really have happened. Pornography rein- forces the idea that ne cab ommodify consent and buy it like a cheap magazine. H w can we then behold the literal images of rape-the videotape of the woman raped and beaten by Serbian soldiers? Or the picture of Iraqi women gang-raped by U.

How will we see it, this image that without a head. Lne or an accom- panying story is indistinguishable rom the images on the lnternet, in newsstands, even in so-called political journals in Yugoslavia and Israel?

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How will we see her suffering? The woman gang-raped by Serbian soldiers or by U. The pornographic an-aesthetic prevents us from seeing or feeling a depiction of rape as the suffering of the other.

Adorno and Horkheimer were keenly aware of the role that visual representations play in forming murderous prejudices. In "Man and Ani- mal," Adorno and Horkheimer discuss caricature, and note the darkness that lurks behind the seemingly innocuous, seemingly humorous exagger- ation of the Jewish caricature: The Jew was depicted as a bnd of monster, with gro- tesquely lengthened or enlarged limbs, a glint in his eye suggesting that he mqre than deserves the punishment he will ultimately experience.

Adorno and Horkheimer also noted the connection between anti-Semi- tism and misogyny: Women and Jews can be seen not to have ruled for thousands of years. They live, although they could be exterminated; and their fear and weakness, the greater affinity to nature which perennial oppression produces in them, is the very element which gives them life.

This enrages the strong, who must always suppress their fear. They identify themselves with nature when they hear their victims utter over and over again the cry that they dare not themselves emit.

Hnan with gigantic, artificial breasts, shaved pubes, excessive makeup,: One cannot blame the huge success of the porn industry solely on men; after all, it couldn't function without willing volunteers, and women: How does one explain this-should we not after all consider that regardless of how men may or may not view pornog- raphy, many women argue that their work in the porn industry is empow- ering, lucrative, sometimes even a feminist practice?

Surely there is some legitimate motivation for their decision. If men's enjoyment is problem- atic, what about women's?

The first response to this is that sexual coosent in the sex industry is a treacherously complex issue. The fact that a woman is not threatened at gunpoint to petform in a porn ftlm or become a prostitute does not meant that she was not coerced in some other way-whether by economic cir- cumstance, threats to loved ones, cultural pressure, or orne ther source of intimidation.

Anyone wishing to argue that women by and large make autonomous decisions to enter the sex trade shouldinform d1emselves of the hundreds, tf not thousands, of reports of exploitation, abuse, and financial despair that is the background story of so many "consenting adults.

The grand excepti n to this is when women sell d1eir bodies for sexual conswnptiort. A s ciety characterized by a genuine sense of concern for all its members must surely address this tragic valuation of women and the s cial contribution they are allowed or encouraged to make. The second response must be to more d sely examine what is meant by enjoyment.Adorno's visionary aesthetic goal-of true aesthetic representation that radically decenters the viewer and compels him or her to resist the world as it is--can disrupt the stagnant ideological field of universally accepted sexual violence.

As Katharine Viner writes apropos the abuse at Abu Ghraib, there is a connection between what we look at for pleasure and entertainment and what we are capable of doing to another human being.

Adorno and Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment, This appearance, of course, is false.

Maggie O'Neill London: Sage, That is, the historical situation in which the avant-garde sees itself will be one in which the "artistic forces of production" are fettered by traditional conventions and forms of expression; the goal will be to find a new set of expressive forms appropriate to the artistic forces, i.

And this is perhaps the key to understanding why one of the only instances of America's explicit condemnation of violence against women concerned the Taliban's regime, and not that of the warring factions in power in Afghanistan before and after it: