Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Book Review: Minima Moralia: Reflections on a Damaged Life by Theodor Adorno

I read this book for my class on Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School. We slogged through it 10-15 aphorisms at a time for about 12 weeks, and in the end I have to say it was really rewarding. I think it would be a formidable text if we hadn't broken it down. For each section, pairs from the class presented on an aphorism or two and related it back to other sections from earlier in the book or to other Frankfurt School readings from the course. From an academic standpoint, it was a really rich text in that it encompassed so many of Adorno's ideas into clever little bits. One joke I liked to make is that Adorno speaks in a way that lends itself to the facebook status.

But I fell a few weeks behind and so had to read a big chunk of the book in a more traditional format and it was still rewarding that way as well. Adorno isn't concerned with offering solutions: only pointing out how the world is broken. "There is no right life in a wrong world." And so he is concerned with pointing out how the world is wrong, how life is damaged. It sounds depressing and this book can be pessimistic even at its best moments, but there is something hopeful in the care he takes in examining the world so closely. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone recommended in Frankfurt School theory or social theory in general.

This review was reposted and expanded from my review at Good Reads. Oh, you love reading and reviewing books, too? Join! We can be friends!

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