Adorno on pop culture

19 Feb, 2021 at 09:39 | Posted in Politics & Society | 1 Comment

Image result for adorno pop cultureWhen Adorno issued his own analyses of pop culture, though, he went off the beam. He was too irritated by the new Olympus of celebrities—and, even more, by the enthusiasm they inspired in younger intellectuals—to give a measured view. In the wake of “The Work of Art,” Adorno published two essays, “On Jazz,” and “On the Fetish Character of Music and the Regression of Listening,” that ignored the particulars of pop sounds and instead resorted to crude generalizations. Notoriously, Adorno compares jitterbugging to “St. Vitus’ dance or the reflexes of mutilated animals.” He shows no sympathy for the African-American experience, which was finding a new platform through jazz and popular song. The writing is polemical, and not remotely dialectical.

Alex Ross / The New Yorker

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  1. Music is an escape from economics. Early jazzman Sidney Bechet writes: “If you start taking what’s pure in a man and you start putting it on a bill of sale, somehow you can’t help destroying it.”


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