600 Geever (s)                 

Adorno and Political Aesthetics 


Portfolio Essays 

Reflecting Essay, Narcissus Thoughts  

Subject Document

 Then  Bazerman-Hartman,  Parrish-Ellison Document

Joseph Harris Document 

Supporting Material 

Annotated Bibliography

Verstehen (essay on Adorno and Gee's Bend quilts)

Adorno Biography

Gee's Bend Quilts


Joseph Geever for Dr. Stacey - Eng. 600

If the debate on aesthetics has ebbed at the moment, it is out of dirty neglect.  Aesthetics is the intersecting realm of politics (governing) and creation (beauty); aesthetics is the discussion of cultural philosophy.  Our world, in the academic milieu of cultural retrieval, exploitation, and discussion, is centered on cultural products (projects).  Regardless of critical perspective the ocular object is a cultural phenomenon, or at least arguments revolve around proving an object to be cultural: to be Art.  However, this discussion often avoids the pregnant foundation of aesthetics and what constitutes or defines culture/art.  Bus tickets to murals, urine in a jar to 700 page manifestos, Brittany Spears to Thelonious Monk, quilts to Picasso canvasses – all are art.  And what does that mean?  It is not a task of yes and no, but why and how.  
    Using Theodor Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory as a grounding work this paper wants to awaken the beast of slumber: lethargic aesthetics.  Adorno posits a very particular version of aesthetics that incorporates political stance, Frankfurt Marxism, elitism, and historical revision.  Adorno does not want Kantian aesthetics – there is no zone of disinterest in Adorno’s world.  Art becomes a form of resistance against Gramcian hegemony.  And history is not so much wrong as falsely analyzed and interpreted.  Each moment of history is itself, each moment needs its own aesthetics, and it is imperative that each generation constructs an Aesthetics that reflects its own history.  History is not a linear monster of manifest destiny chugging onward, progressing, always moving and leaving bits behind; history is always pulsating solitary – involved in the future and the past, but only as far as either pertains to the immediacy of the present.  Thus aesthetics is the discussion of what is culture now, and not a validation of what constituted culture then.  
    Combining Adorno’s thoughts with the work of Guy Debord, Walter Benjamin, Lionel Trilling, Samuel Beckett and Kathy Acker this paper will discuss a construction of aesthetics and what that entails (many pinwheels and pintails).  Cultural representation is a key component in political power struggles, and a discussion of what constitutes culture and how is needed.  There are many assumptions concerning art/culture written into this abstract and it will be the nature of this thesis to expound and discuss these assumptions and those inherent in our society at present.