Art and Its Resistance to Society

Ehrhard Bahr

in Weimar on the Pacific

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9780520251281
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520933804 | DOI:
Art and Its Resistance to Society

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This chapter focuses on the concept of the “culture industry,” as defined in Dialectic of Enlightenment, and on Theodor W. Adorno's Philosophy of Modern Music of 1949 and his late Aesthetic Theory of 1970. The process of enlightenment had proved both progressive and regressive, and culminated in a crisis around 1933 that needed not only political action to decide its outcome, but also philosophical reflection to chart the future course of enlightenment. The chapter shows how Adorno, in his book on Arnold Schoenberg and Igor Stravinsky, integrated the development of modern music into the historical process and identified resistance to society as the function of art. Later in his aesthetics, Adorno added the concept of art as historical record and the permanent language of human suffering. As a close reading of the chapter “The Culture Industry” shows, Max Horkheimer and Adorno suggest similarities between Adolf Hitler and Hollywood, or between German national socialism and American mass culture.

Keywords: Dialectic of Enlightenment; Theodor W. Adorno; Max Horkheimer; Adolf Hitler; mass culture; culture industry; Hollywood; art; music; aesthetics

Chapter.  9203 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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