Recently launched by the self-styled "sporting outfitters of intellectual distinction" aka Philosophy Football, comes their Adorno football t- shirt. Here was a philosopher who knew all about the necessity to endure defeat in order to truly enjoy the moment of victory.
Philosophy Football have five of the t-shirts to be won in the December competition and one lucky winner will also receive a set of Verso titles by iconic names from, and inspired by, the Frankfurt School.
Q.2 In what text was the term "culture industry" first coined?
A: The Dialectic of Enlightenment.
The winners will be the first three people to answer both questions correctly. Those in North America, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For the rest of the world, including the UK, email email@example.com. Please put ADORNO COMPETITION in the subject line or your entry may not be counted. The winners will be announced on Tuesday 11th September.
Please do not post the answers in the Comments or Facebook, Twitter or anywhere else—entries accepted by email only. Any comments posting the answers will be deleted.
"The sheer idiocy of a mass product created especially for you assumes the character of a ghastly necessity. Individual needs have been so ruthlessly eliminated from the product that they have to be invoked like magic formulae to prevent the customer from becoming aware of the murderous ritual of which he is the victim. The entire life of a lover is proclaimed to have been produced for the first person who happens to pass by. ‘Especially for you that's all I live for / Especially for you that's all I'm here for'... The truth is made clear in the first instance by a warning prominently placed beneath the title of the hit song: ‘Any copying of the words or music of this song or any portion thereof, makes the infringer liable to criminal prosecution under U.S. copyright law.' After reading this, anyone who harboured the illusion that an object existed especially for him, and who had bought it on that assumption, will dismiss the idea that it actually belonged to him. If he wished to change this situation he would be locked up, if he weren't locked up already."
— Theodor Adorno in 'Commodity Music Analysed'.
Critical theorist Theodor Adorno wrote extensively, and passionately, about the radical potential of music. His writing itself continues to provoke such passions: at Verso's recent panel discussion, held at Cafe Oto on March 18th, music writers Adam Harper and Ben Watson, and curator Irene Revell, talked frankly about his relevance to contemporary music today. The discussion took Adorno's essay 'Commodity Music Analysed', a scathing attack on commercial popular music, as a controversial starting point, and the participants went on to discuss his attitude to jazz, what constitutes "real" working-class culture and the modern music journalism industry.
NTS Live was there to record the ensuing debate, and have made the event available as a podcast. Visit the NTS website to listen to the broadcast. 'Commodity Music Analysed' is a key essay in Adorno's own anthology of music writing, Quasi Una Fantasia.
After the Occupy Wall Street "People's Library" was brutally dismantled by the police, Paolo Mossetti of Through Europe asked some of his favourite writers, activists, and academics to help him compile a list of books that would recreate, though only virtually, the library's shelves.
Here is the third part, with contributions from Gar Alperovitz, Mike Davis, Enrico Donaggio, Ann Ferguson, Shabnam Hashmi, John Holloway, Sandro Mezzadra, Douglas Rushkoff, Felix Stalder.
The fourth part of the reading list will be online next week.
In a recent contribution to the Notre Dame Philosophical Review, Martin Jay reflected on Towards a New Manifesto, the lengthy exchange between Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, which Verso published last fall. The dialogue, which went on for several days in the mid 1950s and was initially transcribed by Adorno's wife Gretel, today stands as a fascinating document that touches on a wide range of issues central to Adorno and Horkheimer and to the broader trajectory of critical theory. As Jay notes in his review, the publication of this exchange offers rare insight into the thought processes of these two leading members of the Frankfurt School, veering from the highly abstract to the urgently concrete, and registering the live intellectual development of some of the ideas whose later evolution ended up being so decisive for the course of critical social, political and philosophical thought in the second half of the 20th century.