After an introduction that is both stultifying and adds little to the content to come, the book settles into Adorno's prose. (Also annoying is that the dates of the essays' original publications are not given; only their printings in edited editions are offered.) It is this that makes the book so difficult to rate because, while Adorno's theories are at once based on hysterical, fever-swamp constructions and assumptions that he often states as facts (rather than fallible premises), his logic and writing is quite incisive and insightful, *were* one to accept the assumptions upon which they were based. From the perspective of formal logic, his conclusions (logically) follow from his premises, no matter how fanciful (or irresponsible) those premises may be.
As such, one might even call his arguments "rational," after a fashion, though I am less certain of this because the endeavor seems, ultimately, to be an exercise in teleology. That is, it is (abundantly) clear that Adorno hates Western culture (the locus of the eponymous "culture industry"), capitalism (which he confusingly misidentifies as "monopoly" capitalism), anything that might make the prols more comfortable and, therefor, inconveniently less "revolutionary" and radical, and a whole litany of other things besides. So it seems he *chooses* his foundation assumptions with care, so that he can extend them to their ultimate telos: a trenchant critique on all things cultural and Western. He trusts, with good reason, that given the right fodder, his formidable intellect will transport him to his ends, so long as he's selected the right points of departure. And so he chooses his assumptions not so much because of their empirical validity (which he denigrates anyway), their objective Truth (per, say, Popper) or even their social validity, but rather as the fuel for his engine of hatred for what he sees about him (although he has a particular loathing for the fascists, notwithstanding his own totalitarian inclinations, they are by no means the sole or even primary target for this particular set of critiques).
As such, as the source of so much pre-determined and thus unreasoning-reason, his perspectives provide great insight into the contemporary Progressive movement and the adherents hitherto. Educated, erudite, and (radically) unhinged not by madness but by choice. Given the Frankfurt School's ongoing (though often unacknowledged and/or unknown) influence on the latter's thoughts and perspectives, the book's essays are every bit as relevant as when they were written.
But while reading this provides some great insight and, indeed, food for thought, one must ultimately wonder: given the outcome, is the effort really worth the candle?
- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd; 2 New edition edition (17 May 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780415253802
- ISBN-13: 978-0415253802
- ASIN: 0415253802
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.3 x 19.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 304 g
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- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)