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Theodor Adorno Quotes

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The ideology of cultural conservatism which sees enlightenment and art as simple antitheses is false, among other reasons, in overlooking the moment of enlightenment in the genesis of beauty. Enlightenment does not merely dissolve all the qualities that beauty adheres to, but posits the quality of beauty in the first place.

The individual mirrors in his individuation the preordained social laws of exploitation, however mediated.

The intellectuals themselves are already so heavily committed to what is endorsed in their isolated sphere, that they no longer desire anything that does not carry the highbrow tag.

The joke of our time is the suicide of intention.

The man for whom time stretches out painfully is one waiting in vain, disappointed at not finding tomorrow already continuing yesterday.

The most powerful person is he who is able to do least himself and burden others most with the things for which he lends his name and pockets the credit.

The new human type cannot be properly understood without awareness of what he is continuously exposed to from the world of things about him, even in his most secret innervations.

The notions of subjective and objective have been completely reversed. Objective means the non-controversial aspect of things, their unquestioned impression, the facade made up of classified data, that is, the subjective; and they call subjective anything which breaches that facade, engages the specific experience of a matter, casts off all ready-made judgements and substitutes relatedness to the object for the majority consensus of those who do not even look at it, let alone think about it - that is, the objective.

The only decent marriage would be one allowing each partner to lead an independent life, in which, instead of a fusion derived from an enforced community of economic interest, both freely accepted mutual responsibility.

The only philosophy which can be responsibly practiced in face of despair is the attempt to contemplate all things as they would present themselves from the standpoint of redemption. 

The overbearing matter-of-factness which sacrifices the subject to the ascertainment of the truth, rejects at once truth and objectivity.

The poor are prevented from thinking by the discipline of others, the rich by their own.

The quantification of technical progress, however, their dissection into minute operations largely independent of education and experience, makes the expertise of these new-style managers to a large degree illusory, a pretense concealing the privilege of being appointed. That technical development has reached a state which makes every function really open to all - this immanently socialist element in progress has been travestied under late industrialism. Membership of the elite seems attainable to everyone. One only waits to be co-opted. Suitability consists in affinity, from the libidinal garnishing of all goings-on, by way of the healthy technocratic outlook, to hearty realpolitik. Such men are expert only at control.

The recent past always presents itself as if destroyed by catastrophes.

The scientific industry has its exact counterpart in the kind of minds it harnesses: they no longer need to do themselves any violence in becoming their own voluntary and zealous overseers. Even if they show themselves, outside their official capacity, to be quite human and sensible being, they are paralysed by pathic stupidity the moment they begin to think professionally.

The specific is not exclusive: it lacks the aspiration to totality.

The splinter in your eye is the best magnifying-glass.

The task of art today is to bring chaos into order.

The very people who burst with proofs of exuberant vitality could easily be taken for prepared corpses, from whom the news of their not-quite-successful decease has been withheld for reasons of population policy. Underlying the prevalent health is death. All the movements of health resemble the reflex-movements of beings whose hearts have stopped beating.

The whole is the false.

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