19 March, 2008


"Art...is not social only because it is brought about in such a way that it embodies the dialectic of forces and relations of production. Nor is art social only because it derives its material content from society. Rather it is social primarily because it stands opposed to society. Now this opposition art can mount only when it has become autonomous. By congealing into an entity unto itself—rather than obeying existing social norms and thus proving itself ‘socially useful’—art criticized society just by being there. (...) Art will live on only as long as it has the power to resist society. If it refuses to objectify itself, it becomes a commodity. What it contributes to society is not some directly communicable content, but some more mediate, i.e. resistance. (...) There is nothing in art that is directly social, not even when direct sociality is the artist’s express aim. (…) What is social in art is not its political stance, but its immanent dynamic in opposition to society. (…) If any social function can be ascribed to art at all, it is the function to have no function.”

-Adorno, Aesthetic Theory

So as you might suspect, I'm working on my dissertation. It's a theory of "socially engaged music." Apparently I am totally wrong about everything, according to Big Teddy up there. But then again, according to him my music and most of the music I love would be awful too, so whatever.

The problem here is that I don't really disagree with him. I disagree, however, with people who used this sort of thinking to call their music "political" when, in fact, they were just second-rate modernists. It's like: Yeah, sure, Mr. Modernist. Your music is political. Of course. I mean, after all it "stands opposed to society," right? So what more do you have to do? Just write some crap that sounds terrible. Call it "autonomous" and BAM! - you're an instant politico!

Now just to find a way to eloquently express my relatively subtle disagreement, without resorting to name calling...the big jerks.


Shakadal said...
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Professor Howdy said...
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