By David Jenemann
The German thinker and cultural critic Theodor W. Adorno used to be one of many towering highbrow figures of the 20th century, and among 1938 and 1953 he lived in exile within the usa. within the first in-depth account of this era of Adorno’s lifestyles, David Jenemann examines Adorno’s war of words with the burgeoning American “culture industry” and casts new gentle on Adorno’s writings in regards to the mass media. opposite to the commonly held belief—even between his defenders—that Adorno was once disconnected from the USA and disdained its tradition, Jenemann finds that Adorno used to be an energetic and engaged player in cultural and highbrow existence in the course of those years.
From the time he first arrived in ny in 1938 to paintings for the Princeton Radio examine venture, exploring the influence of radio on American society and the maturing advertising and marketing suggestions of the nationwide radio networks, Adorno was once devoted to knowing the technological and social impression of well known paintings within the usa. Adorno carried those pursuits with him to Hollywood, the place he and Max Horkheimer tried to make a movie for his or her experiences in Prejudice undertaking and the place he befriended Thomas Mann and helped him craft his recognized novel health practitioner Faustus. Shuttling among insightful readings of Adorno’s theories and a wealthy physique of archival materials—including unpublished writings and FBI files—Jenemann paints a portrait of Adorno’s years in manhattan and la and tells the cultural historical past of an the United States coming to grips with its swiftly evolving mass culture.
“For these vulnerable to push aside Adorno’s tackle the USA because the uncomprehending condescension of a mandarin elitist, David Jenemann’s ultimate new booklet will come as a impolite awakening. Exploiting a wealth of recent assets, he persuasively exhibits the intensity of Adorno’s engagement with the tradition and the complexity of his response to it.” —Martin Jay, Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor of heritage, collage of California, Berkeley
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Extra resources for Adorno in America
22 In addition to whatever intellectual prestige the Institute was able to confer on Lazarsfeld at this time, Horkheimer was also providing Wnancial assistance while Lazarsfeld was still in New Jersey. ”23 Lazarsfeld, in his memoir, conWrms this account, making at the same time speciWc reference to the hoped-for collaboration of his own research methodology and critical theory: “I was aware of [the] controversial features of Adorno’s work, but was intrigued by his writings on the ‘contradictory’ role of music in our society.
Just as in the beer ad he criticizes, which uses peace to sell products, the formal logic of Lazarsfeld’s essay requires that critical theory become a means to an end. ” For Lazarsfeld, the question of critical theory is what “value . . 41 Further, communications research as an “operation” exists to serve as the tool of dominant interests: Behind the idea of such research is the notion that modern media of communication are tools handled by people or agencies for given purposes. ” In one of the calmer sentences of Lazarsfeld’s reprimand of Adorno’s “Memorandum: Music in Radio,” he insists that “before we show your memorandum to other people, it will be necessary that you spend much time on a more concrete presentation.
Even in his Wrst days in America, Adorno’s unease with a type of research that sought to streamline audience responses was palpable. His dismay is registered as early as 1938 in “The Fetish-Character in Music The Monster under the Stone 5 and the Regression of Listening,” an essay written just after his Wrst taste of “applied” social research. On the Wrst page he writes, “If one seeks to Wnd out who ‘likes’ a commercial piece, one cannot avoid the suspicion that liking and disliking are inappropriate to the situation, even if the person questioned clothes his reaction in those words.
Adorno in America by David Jenemann