If culture is defined as the de-barbarization of man, elevating him beyond the state of simple nature, without actually perpetuating this state through violent suppression, then culture is a total failure. It has not been able to take root in man as long as he has lacked prerequisites for an existence marked by human dignity. It is no coincidence that he is still capable of barbarous outbursts because of suppressed rancour about his fate, about his deeply-felt lack of freedom. The fact that he welcomes the trash of the culture industry with outstretched arms – half aware that it is trash – is another aspect of the same state of affairs, the seeming harmlessness of which is probably restricted to the surface. Culture long ago evolved into its own contradiction, the congealed content of educational privilege; for that reason it now takes its place within the material production process as an administered supplement to it.
[Theodor W. Adorno, “Culture and Administration” (trans. Wes Blomster), The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture, ed. J. M. Bernstein (New York: Routledge, 1991) 126]
And a puff: the most recent issue of Chicago Review publishes a “Centenary Portfolio” for Louis Zukofsky, including two chapters from my Zukofsky biography. (The stylistic solecisms that so painfully strike my eye when I see the piece in print will, rest assured, be edited out of the final version.) Pay special attention to Barry Ahearn’s brief but meaty selection of unpublished Zukofsky letters and to David Wray’s very brilliant (and beautifully written) meditation on Zukofsky’s Latin translations.