Minima Moralia [Reflections on a Damaged Life]

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MINIMA MORALIA ONADAi\(,\GED Theodor Adorno TranslatedfromtheGermanbyE.F.N. Jephcott VERSO LondonNew York Originally published asMinima Mora/ill by Suhrkamp Verlag,Frankfun amMain1951 toSuhrkamp Verlag1951 Translationfirstpublished by New LeftBooks 1974 C NLB1974 This edition published by Verso 2005 All righ tsreserved The moralrights of the author and translator havebeen asserted 1 3 5 7 910 8 64 2 Verso UK 6 Meard Street, London WIF OEG USA:t 80 VariekStreet, New YorkNY1001 ~ 4 6 0 6 www.versobooks.com Versoisthe imprint of New Left Books ISBN1-84467-05 t -1 British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A cataloguerecordfor this book isavailablefromtheBritish Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog recordforthis book isavailablefromtheLibrary of Congress Printed and Bound intheU oitedKingdom byBookmarque ForMdX IngrtJtimJ, aNI promul PARTONE 1944 For MarcelProust:z I Grassy seat. 2 ~ Fish in water2J Final serenity:l4 How nice of you, Doctor~ 5 Antithesis26 They, the people28 If knaves should tempt you~ 8 Promise methis, my childJO Divided-united30 With all my worldly goods.J I Inter pares3 ~ Protection, helpandcounsel.J.J Lebourgeois revenantJ4 Lenouvel avare:JS On the dialectic of tactJ5 Proprietary rights.37 Refugeforthe homeless38 Do not knock40 Struwwelpeter4 0 Articles maynot be exchanged4 ~ Baby withthebath-water4.3 Plurale tanturn45 Tough baby4S To them shallno thoughts beturned46 English spoken47 On parle frans48 Pay sage41 Dwarf fruit49 Pro doma nostnSo Cat out of the bag5, Savages are not more noble5 ~ Out of the firing .. line5.3 Johnny-Head-in-Air56 Back to wlture57 The Health untoDeath$8 This side of thepleasure principle60 Invitation tothe dance62 Ego is Id6,3 Always speak of it, never think of it65 Inside andoutside66 Freedom of thought68 Unfair intimidation69 For Post-Socratics70 How sickly seem allgrowingthings'71 On themonlity of thinking73 De gustibus estdisputandum75 For AnatoleFrance76 Morality andtemporal sequence78 Gaps80 PARTTWO 1945 Memento8S Where the stork brings babies from87 Folly of the wise88 The Robbers89 May I be50bold?90 Genealogicalresearch91 Excavation9 ~ The truth about Hedda Gabler9.3 Since Iset eyeson him95 Aword formorality96 Court of appeal97 Briefer expositions98 Deathof immortality100 Morality andstyleIOl Not half hungryIO ~ Melange102 Unmeasurefor unmeasure103 People arelooking at you105 Little folk105 Uninformedopinion106 pseudomenos108 Secondharvest109 Deviation11:J MammothlIS Chilly hospitality116 Gala dinner,z8 Auctionzig Over the hillsI~I Intellectus sacrificiumintellectus1.2.2 DiagnosisI23 Great andsmallI24 Keeping one's distanceI ~ 6 Vice ... President128 Timetable130 Passing muster1.31 Little Hans1.)2 Wrestling club1:J.J Simple Simon1.35 Blackmail1.]6 Institution for deaf-mutes1.J:J Vandals1.J8 Picture-book without pictures'40 Intention andreproduction'4' Alltheworld's not a stage'4J Damper anddrum145 Palace of Janus146 Monad148 BequestISO Gold assayIS2 Sur l'Eau155 PARTTHRBE Hothouse plant161 Morehaste,lessspeed162 Boy fromthe heath16.3 GoldenGate164 Expiry165 Allthelittle Rowen,66 Necherchez plusmon coeur167 PrincessLizard169 L'Inutile Beaute171 Constanzas172 Philemon andBaucis17J Et dona derentes17,3 Spoilsport'74 Heliotrope177 Coming clean178 Just hear,how badhe was179 IIservo padrone182 Downwards, ever downwards183 Modelofvirtuez84 Rosenkavalier187 RequiemforOdette189 MonogramsIgo The bad comrade1 9 ~ Puzzle-picture19.3 OletIgS I.Q.196 Wishfulthinking197 Regressions199 Servicetothe customer.200 Grey andgrey20 I Wolf asgrandmother.20J Expensivereproduction206 Conttiburion tointellectualhistory Juvenars error209 Sacrificiallamb21 .2 Exhibitionist.21 :l Smallsorrows,great songs214 Whoiswho.215 Addressee unknown216 Consecutiotempo rum.217 La nuance/encor'219 By thisdoesGtrman song abide22 I In nuce222 MagicFlute224 Art-object225 Toy shop Novissimum Organum Knackery2.31 Don't exaggerate.2.3.3 Late extra235 Theses againstoccultismWarning:not to bemisused Finale247 Puhlisktr's Note TheGermantextof MinimaMoraliahasnofootnotes.Adorno's extensiveuseofliterary,musical,philosophicalandidiomatic allusions is,however,anintegral device of the whole formalstruc-ture andstyle of thebook. Explanations of these has seemed essen-tial,wherepriorknowledgecouldnotreasonablybeassumedin English-speakingreaders.Thiseditionthereforeincludesbrief deciphermentsof thoseimplicitorexplicitreferencesorcitations wherea clarificationappearedtobenecessary.Allsuchfootnotes havebeenaddedbyNLB.The decisionwhentoinsenthemhas oftenproveddifficult.Butingeneral,familiaritywithworksor figures in German literary history has been assumed to be less wide-spreadamongAnglo-SaxonaudiencesthanFrenchreferences: hence,at risk of superfluity for readers conversant with the fonner, moreinformationhasbeenprovidedwhereechoesof itarecon-cerned. A special problem has arisen with the titles to the aphOrisms. Thesecomprisesixlanguagesintheoriginal- German,English, French, Italian, Latin and Greek. The latter four have been rendered exactly inthe forminwhich Adorno composedthem, with accom-panyingnotes.The titlesinEnglish,nolongerdirectlyvisiblein translation,arethefollowing:T I t ~ y ,tA,people,ToUS"Baily, English.spolcen,Go/den.Gate,I.Q.,Wislr.ful thinking, andWAD is WAD (Nos.7,2.4,2.6,104,12.6,127,1)8).Whether intitlesor text,the great majority of theallusionsinMinimaMoralia,aswillbeseen, involveirony or inversion. Allactualquotations- forexample,fromHegelor Nietzsche, Goetheor Proust - havebeennewlytranslatedfromtheoriginal, andfootnotedto standard native editions; to help English-speaking readerslocatethe passagesconcerned,however,translatededitions havebeenaddedinbracketsinthenotes.Theonlyexceptions, WhereexistingEnglish-languagetranslationshavebeenused,are the quotations fromMarx andLukacstowards the end of the book. I) Dedication ThemelancholysciencefromwhichImakethisofferingtomy friendrelatestoa regionthat fromtime immemorial wasregarded asthetruefieldof philosophy,but which,sincethelatter'scon-version into method, has lapsed into intellectual neglect, sententious whimsy and finally oblivion: the teaching of the good life.What the philosophersonceknewaslifehasbecomethesphereof private existenceandnowofmereconsumption,draggedalongasan appendage of the process of material production, without autonomy or substanceof itsown.Hewhowishestoknowthetruthabout lifeinits immediacymust scrutinizeits estrangedform,the objec-tivepowersthatdetermineindividualexistenceeveninitsmost hidden recesses. To speak immediately of the immediate is to behave muchasthosenovelistswhodrapetheirmarionettesinimitated bygonepassionslike cheapjewellery, andmakepeople whoare no more than component parts of machinery act as if they still hadthe capacitytoactassubjects,andasif somethingdependedontheir actions.Our perspectiveof lifehaspassedintoanideology which concealsthefactthat there is lifenolonger. Buttherelationbetweenlifeandproduction,whichinreality debasesthefannertoanephemeralappearanceof thelatter,is totally absurd.Means and end are inverted. A dim awareness of this perversequid proquohasstillnot beenquiteeradicatedfromlife .. Reducedanddegradedessencetenaciouslyresiststhemagicthat transfonns it into a The change inthe relationsof produc-tionthemselves dependslargely on what takesplace in theof consumption',themerereflectionof productionandthecari-catureof truelife:intheconsciousnessandunconsciousnessof individuals.Onlybyvinueof oppositiontoproduction,asstill notwhollyencompassedbythisorder,canmenbringabout moreworthyof humanbeings.Shouldtheappearanceof life,whichthesphereof consumptionitself defendsforsuchbad reasons,be once entirelyeffaced,thenthemonstrosityof absolute production willtriumph. Nevenheless, considerations which start fromthe subject remain falsetothe same extent that life ltas become appearance.For since the overwhelming objectivity of historicalmovement in its present phase consists so far only inthe dissolutionof the subject, without yet giving rise to a new one, individual experience necessarily bases i!'Self on the old subject,now historically condemned, whichisstill for-itself,butnolongerin-itself.The subject stillfeelssure lof its autonomy,butthenullitydemonstratedtosubjectsbythecon-centrationcampisalreadyovertakingthefonnofsubjectivity itself.Subjectivereflection,evenif criticaUyalenedtoitself,has somethingsentimentalandanachronisticaboutit:somethingof a lament over the course of the world, a lament to berejectednot for its good faith, but because the lamenting subject threatens to become arrestedinitsconditionandsotofulfilinits tum thelawof the world'scourse.Fidelitytoone'sownstateof consciousnessand experienceisforeverintemptationof lapsingintoinfidelity,by denyingtheinsightthattranscendstheindividualandcallshis substance by its name. Thus Hegel,whosemethodschooledthatof Mitu'maMoralitl, arguedagainstthemerebeing-for-itself of sub;ectivityonallits levels.Dialecticaltheory,abhorringanythingisolated,cannot admitaphorismsassuch.Inthe mostlenientinstancetheymight, touse atermfromthe tothePIaDlDlMnologyof Mind,be tolerated as'conversation'.But thetime forthat ispast.Neverthe-less,thisbookforgetsneither thesystem's claimto totality, which wouldsuffer nothing to remainoutside it,nor that it remonstrates againstthisclaim.InhisrelationtothesubjectHegeldoesnot respectthedemandthatheotherwisepassionatelyupholds:tobe inthematterandnot-alwaysbeyondit',to'penetrateintothe immanent content of the matter'. 1 If today the subject isvanishing, aphorismstakeuponthemselvestheduty-toconsidertheevan-escent itself as essential'. They insist, in opposition to Hegel's prac-tice and yet in accordance with his thought, on negativity:'The life of the mind only attains its truth when discovering itself in absolute desolation.Themindisnotthispowerasapositivewhichturns away from the negative, as when we say of something that it is null, or false, so much for that and now for something else; it is this power onlywhenlookingthenegativeintheface,dwellinguponit. 'I The dismissive gesture which Hegel, in contradiction to his own insight,constantlyaccordstheindividual,derivesparadoxically I.PJajjnomcnologieJesGeistes,Werlce), Frankfurt 1970, p. (TltePlatno-m6M/ogy of MinJ,London1966,p.II2..PAiinommolog;..desGeistu,p.)6 (TAilof p.93). 16 ughfromhisnecessaryentanglementinliberalisticthinking. conception of a totality hannonious through all its antagonisms compelshimto. to howev,:" he designateit adnvlngmoment Intheprocess,anIn theconstructionof thewhole.The knowledgethat Inpre .. hlstory the objective tendencyitself over the heads of human beings, indeedbyvirtUeof annihilatingindividualqualities,withoutthe reconciliationof generalandpanicular - constructed inthought -ever yet beingaccomplishedinhistory,isdistoned inHegel:with sereneindifferenceheoptsonceagainforliquidationof thepar-ticular.Nowhere inhiswork isthe primacy of the whole doubted. Themorequestionablethetransitionfromreflectiveisolationto glorifiedtotality becomesinhistory asin Hegelianlogic,themore eagerly philosophy, asthe justification of what exists, attaches itself to the triumphal car of objective tendencies. The ,culmination of the socialprincipleof individuationinthetriumphof fatalitygives philosophy occasion enough todo so.Hegel, in hypostasizing both bourgeois society andits fundamentalcategory, the individual,did not truly carry through the dialectic between thetwo.Cettainly he perceives,withclassicaleconomics,thatthetotalityproducesand reproducesitselfpreciselyfromtheinterconnectionof theanta-gonistic interestsof itsmembers.But the individualassuchhefor themostpanconsiders,naively,asanirreducibledatum- just what inhistheoryof knowledgehedecomposes.Nevenheless,in an individualistic society, the general not only realizes itself through theinterplayof particulars,but societyisessentially thesubstance of theindividual. For this reason, social analysis can learn incomparably more from individualexperiencethanHegelconceded,whileconverselythe largehistoricalcategories,afterallthathasmeanwhilebeenper-petrated withtheir help,are nolonger above suspicion of fraud.In thehundredandfiftyyearssinceHegel'sconceptionwasformed, some of the force of protest has revened to the individual. Compared tothepatriarchalmeagrenessthatcharacterizeshistreatmentin Hegel,the individual has gained asmuch inrichness, differentiation and'\dgouras,ontheotherhand,thesocializationof societyhas andunderminedhim.Intheperiodof hisdecay,the In.dividual'sexperienceofhimselfandwhatheencounterscon-tributes once more to knowledge, which he had merely obscured as long ashe continued unshaken to construe himself positively asthe 17 dominant category. In face of the totalitarian unison with which the eJadicationof differenceisproclaimedasapurposeinitself,even partof thesocialforceof liberationmayhavetemporarilywith-drawn to the individual sphere. If criticaltheorylingersthere, it is not only with a badconscience. All this is not meant to deny what is disputable in such an attempt. Themajorpanof thisbookwaswrittenduringthewar,under conditions enforcing contemplation.The violence that expelled me thereby denied mefullknowledge of it.Idid not yet admit to my-self the complicity that enfolds all those who, in face of unspeakable collectiveevents,speak of individualmatten at all. Ineachof thethreepansthestarting-pointisthenarrowest privatesphere,thatof theintellectualinemigration.Fromthis followconsiderations of broader socialandanthropologicalscope; theyconcernpsychology,aesthetics,scienceinitsrelationtothe subject. The concluding aphorisms of each part on thematically alsotophilosophy,withouteverpretendingtobecompleteor definitive:theyareallintendedto markout pointsof attackor to furnishmodelsfor a futureexertionof thought. The immediateoccasionforwritingthisbook wasMaxHork-heimer'sfiftiethbinhday,February14th,Thecomposition tookplaceina phasewhen,bowing to outward circumstances,we hadtointerruptour worktogether.Thisbookwishestodemon-strategratirudeandloyaltybyrefusingtoacknowledgetheinter-ruption.It bearswitnesstoa dialogueinterimr:thereisnot a motif init thatdoesnot belongasmuchtoHorkheimer astohimwho found the time to formulate it. The specific approach of MinimaMoralia,the attempt to present aspectsof our shared philosophy fromthe standpoint of subjective experience,necessitatesthatthepansdonotaltogethersatisfythe demandsof thephilosophyof whichtheyareneverthelessapart. Thedisconnectedandnon-bindingcharacteroftheform,the renunciationofexplicittheoreticalcohesion,aremeantasone expressionof this.Atthesanletimethisascesisshouldatonein some part forthe injustice one alone continued toperform thetaskthat can only be accomplished by both, and that we do not forsake. 18 MinimaMoralia PARTONE Lift Joesnotlive FerdinandKiirnberger , rMarcel Proust.- The son of well-to-doparents who, whether fr:mtalent or weakness, in a ionasanartist or a scholar,willhave a paracularly difficult arne those bear...