Sebastian TruskolaskiJan 30, 2023
Adorno and the Ban on Images
Adorno and the Ban on Images (Bloomsbury, 2022) upends some of the myths that have come to surround the work of the philosopher Theodor W. Adorno – not least amongst them, his supposed fatalism.
Sebastian Truskolaski argues that Adorno's writings allow us to address what is arguably the central challenge of modern philosophy: how to picture a world beyond suffering and injustice without, at the same time, betraying its vital impulse. By re-appraising Adorno's writings on politics, philosophy, and art, this book reconstructs this notoriously difficult author's overall project from a radically new perspective (Adorno's famous 'standpoint of redemption'), and brings his central concerns to bear on the problems of today.
On the one hand, this means reading Adorno alongside his principal interlocutors (including Kant, Marx and Benjamin). On the other hand, it means asking how his secular brand of social criticism can serve to safeguard the image of a better world – above all, when the invocation of this image occurs alongside Adorno's recurrent reference to the Old Testament ban on making images of God.
By reading Adorno in this iconoclastic way, Adorno and the Ban on Images contributes to current debates about Utopia that have come to define political visions across the political spectrum.
Lukas Hoffman is a Doctoral Candidate at the Carolina-Duke Graduate Program in German Studies and is currently supported by a DAAD research grant as a Visiting Scholar at the Humboldt University in Berlin. He is currently working on a book manuscript that examines how the persistence of religious imagery in German modernist lyric reimagines the ways in which traditional, religious attitudes overlap with revolutionary political thought. Recently, he has published an article in Monatshefte, titled “Love of Things: Reconsidering Adorno’s Criticism of Rilke” (Summer 2022) and has a forthcoming article in New German Critique, titled “Abject Eve: A Revolutionary Reading of Lasker-Schüler’s ‘Erkenntnis.’”