Saturday, November 12, 2005

Ruskin at the Theatre, Adorno in Love, Burgess in His Cups

“We, of the so-called ‘educated’ classes, who take it upon us to be the better and upper part of the world, cannot possibly understand our relations to the rest better than we may where actual life may be seen in front of its Shakespearean image, from the stalls of a theatre. I never stand up to rest myself, and look around the house, without renewal of wonder how the crowd in the pit, and shilling gallery, allow us of the boxes and stalls to keep our places!” –Fors Clavigera, Letter LXI
***
Has no-one ever compiled a list of Adorno’s best one-liners?:
•Intelligence is a moral category.

•No emancipation without that of society.

•True thoughts are those alone which do not understand themselves.

And is there an essay out there on Adorno as philosopher of love?:
•Love is the power to see similarity in the dissimilar.

•Love you will find only where you may show yourself weak without provoking strength.

•If love in society is to represent a better one, it cannot do so as a peaceful enclave, but only by conscious opposition. This, however, demands precisely the element of voluntariness that the bourgeois, for whom love can never be natural enough, forbid it. Loving means not letting immediacy wither under the omnipresent weight of mediation and economics, and in such fidelity it becomes itself mediated, as a stubborn counterpressure. He alone loves who has the strength to hold fast to love…
The love, however, which in the guise of unreflected spontaneity and proud of its alleged integrity, relies exclusively on what it takes to be the voice of the heart, and runs away as soon as it no longer thinks it can hear that voice, is in this supreme independence precisely the tool of society. Passive without knowing it, it registers whatever numbers come out in the roulette of interests. In betraying the loved one it betrays itself. The fidelity exacted by society is a means to unfreedom, but only through fidelity can freedom achieve insubordination to society’s command.
(all from Minima Moralia)
***
When I was a pup I must have read forty or fifty Anthony Burgess novels, and always wondered what fuelled his ceaseless productivity. Now, thanks to the "NB" column of the 28 October TLS, I know: a cocktail of his own invention, known as “Hangman’s Blood”:
Into a pint beer-glass doubles of the following are poured: gin, whisky, rum, port, and brandy. A small bottle of stout is added, and the whole topped up with champagne. It induces a somehow metaphysical elation, and rarely leaves a hangover.
If you’re in South Florida, join me for one; I’ll find the designated driver.

4 comments:

E. M. Selinger said...

Mark! So GOOD to have you back online.

I remember reading excerpts from Ruskin in graduate school, and hearing Pound throughout, in content and (surprisingly) in method. Does anyone write about that connection? Maybe someone should blog the Fors monthly, in manner of Thoreau's journal. I'd keep up.

Adorno on love? Hmmm.... The first clip is Socrates, no? (A vague memory from Anne Carson, near the end of "Eros, the Bittersweet.") The third is very odd, as though St. Paul had written a Little Red Book for the Corinthians to tote, although I like its emphasis on love as a deliberate act, an artifice, rather than a gust of nature. (Reminds me a bit of Denis de Rougemont--are they contemporaries? Maybe it's a 40s thing.)

My favorite is the second, by far. Maybe I'll borrow it for my romance fiction research. I'm dead sure Adorno has never shown up in a critical study of THAT genre. Thanks for the tip.

As for the drink, I'm game. When's the next conference down your way?

alex said...

Thomas Pepper has written about Adorno as a thinker of love: probably inevitable given his (TWA's) teen obsession with Kierkegaard. (original essay in MLN I think, reprinted in his book Singularities.

mh said...

"The things harden themselves as fragments of what was subjugated; the latter’s rescue means the love for things. (Liebe zu den Dingen)"
--Negative Dialectics, `Objectivity and Reification'

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