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Theodor Adorno Quotes

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Taste is the ability to keep in balance the contradiction in art between the made and the apparent not-having-become; true works of art, however, never at one with taste, are those which push this contradiction to the extreme, and realize themselves in their resultant downfall.

Technology is making gestures precise and brutal, and with them men.

That all men are alike is exactly what society would like to hear. It considers actual or imagined differences as stigmas indicating that not enough has yet been done; that something has still been left outside its machinery, not quite determined by its totality.

The aim of jazz is the mechanical reproduction of a regressive moment, a castration symbolism. 'Give up your masculinity, let yourself be castrated,' the eunuch like sound of the jazz band both mocks and proclaims, 'and you will be rewarded, accepted into a fraternity which shares the mystery of impotence with you, a mystery revealed at the moment of the initiation rite.

The almost insoluble task is to let neither the power of others, nor our own powerlessness, stupefy us.

The capacity for fear and for happiness are the same, the unrestricted openness to experience amounting to self-abandonment in which the vanquished rediscovers himself.

The culture industry not so much adapts to the reactions of its customers as it counterfeits them.

The decay of giving is mirrored in the distressing invention of gift-article, based on the assumption that one does not know what to give because one really does not want to.

The dialectic cannot stop short before the concepts of health and sickness, nor indeed before their siblings reason and unreason.

The division of the world into important and unimportant matters, which has always served to neutralize the key phenomena of social injustice as mere exceptions, should be followed up to the point where it is convicted of its own untruth. The division which makes everything objects must itself become an object of thought, instead of guiding it.

The dreams have no dream. Just as the Technicolor heroes do not allow us to forget for a second that they are normal people, type-cast public faces and investments, so under the thin tinsel of schematically produced fantasy emerges in unmistakable outline the skeleton of cinema-ontology, the whole obligatory hierarchy of values, th canon of the undesirable or the exemplary. There is nothing more practical than escape, nothing more fervently espoused to big business: we are abducted into the distance only to have the laws of empiricist living hammered from afar, unhampered by empirical possibilities of evasion, into our own consciousness. The escape is full of message. And message, the opposite, looks what it is: the wish to flee from flight. It reifies the resistance to reification.

The ego consciously takes the whole man into its service as a piece of apparatus. In this re-organization the ego as business-manager delegates so much of itself to the ego as business-mechanism, that it becomes quite abstract, a mere reference-point: self-preservation forfeits its self. Character traits, from genuine kindness to the hysterical fit of rage, become capable of manipulation, until they coincide exactly with the demands of a given situation. With their mobilization they change. All that is left are the light, rigid, empty husks of emotions, matter transportable at will, devoid of anything personal. They are no longer the subject; rather, the subject responds to them as to his internal object.

The enraged man always appears as the gang-leader of his own self, giving his unconscious the order to pull no punches, his eyes shining with the satisfaction of speaking for the many that he himself is. The more someone has espoused the cause of his own aggression, the more perfectly he represents the repressive principle of society. In this sense more than in any other, perhaps, the proposition is true that the most individual is the most general.

The film has succeeded in transforming subjects so indistinguishably into social functions, that those wholly encompassed, no longer aware of any conflict, enjoy their own dehumanization as something human, as the joy of warmth. The total interconnectedness of the culture industry, omitting nothing, is one with total social delusion.

The first and only principle of sexual ethics: the accuser is always in the wrong.

The gods look in pleasure on penitent sinners.

The good man is he who rules himself as he does his own property: his autonomous being is modeled on material power.

The hardest hit, as everywhere, are those who have no choice.

The human is indissolubly linked with imitation: a human being only becomes human at all by imitating other human beings.

The idea that after this war life will continue 'normally' or even that culture might be 'rebuilt' - as if the rebuilding of culture were not already its negation - is idiotic.

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