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Minima Moralia: Reflections on a Damaged Life

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Adorno's literary and philosophical masterpiece, built from aphorisms and reflections.

A reflection on everyday existence in the 'sphere of consumption of late Capitalism', this work is Adorno's literary and philosophical masterpiece. Built from aphorisms and reflections, he shifts in register from personal experience to the most general theoretical problems.

256 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1951

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About the author

Theodor W. Adorno

443 books1,112 followers
Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno was one of the most important philosophers and social critics in Germany after World War II. Although less well known among anglophone philosophers than his contemporary Hans-Georg Gadamer, Adorno had even greater influence on scholars and intellectuals in postwar Germany. In the 1960s he was the most prominent challenger to both Sir Karl Popper's philosophy of science and Martin Heidegger's philosophy of existence. Jürgen Habermas, Germany's foremost social philosopher after 1970, was Adorno's student and assistant. The scope of Adorno's influence stems from the interdisciplinary character of his research and of the Frankfurt School to which he belonged. It also stems from the thoroughness with which he examined Western philosophical traditions, especially from Kant onward, and the radicalness to his critique of contemporary Western society. He was a seminal social philosopher and a leading member of the first generation of Critical Theory.

Unreliable translations hampered the initial reception of Adorno's published work in English speaking countries. Since the 1990s, however, better translations have appeared, along with newly translated lectures and other posthumous works that are still being published. These materials not only facilitate an emerging assessment of his work in epistemology and ethics but also strengthen an already advanced reception of his work in aesthetics and cultural theory.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 255 reviews
Profile Image for Nick Ramsey.
11 reviews2 followers
December 5, 2010
Imagine your grandfather complaining about how the world is going to hell in a hand-basket. Then, imagine that your grandfather is the most well-read and erudite German bro. That's what this book is.
Profile Image for Michael.
657 reviews966 followers
April 3, 2020
A sad and strange critique of life under late capitalism, made up of 153 short essays denouncing everything from the commodification of everyday relationships to the modern obsession with easily understandable prose. Adorno's intellectual virtuosity and elliptical phrasing makes for a stimulating, sometimes tiring, reading experience—not all the ideas presented here are as complex as the often-opaque language suggests, and for such a short book it feels repetitive. Still, the style's arresting, at once impersonal and intimate, and makes the work worth checking out; several of the most daring thoughts have become commonplace, but the way Adorno expresses them is unforgettable.
Profile Image for Geoff.
444 reviews1,176 followers
February 6, 2017
Perhaps the great book of the oncoming Trump era. Adorno's depth of observation, critical analysis, and disgust at late-capitalist culture reads as a cry from the least false oracles of Delphi. His intellect burns ultra-bright, spouts of water on a magnesium fire. Aphorism as razor to drain the infection, but where are the willing nurses? The entire work could be quoted, but who's listening? A few will take heed as humanity passes on sedate, confused, uninvolved, happy, dumb, unflowering, swollen and mute with delusion into the graveyard of potential.
Profile Image for Szplug.
467 reviews1,212 followers
October 14, 2011
Well, that wasn't easy.

This is a strange book, one in which the removed tone of the text belies the personal sources from whence it was derived, and whose elegantly difficult style and aethereal buoyancy prevent it from succumbing to the chthonic gravity of postwar stodginess and cracked dais condemnation. Well-nigh every sentence can stand alone as an object to be admired and marveled over for its aesthetic grace, though its nonporous exterior and taut configuration repels the casual effort to penetrate its meaning, its essential positional importance to the message Adorno is rather haughtily attempting to convey. And the gist of the latter, as far as I can discern, reveals a broken—and seemingly irreparable—Western society on the receiving end of a sometimes ethereal, ofttimes caustic analysis from an observer who finds the entirety of modernity's state-of-affairs to be a rebarbative theater of the absurd and the damaged—one that has entrapped its audience and offers no alternative for these sallow-visaged members but to try and find a comfortable position in which to view the parade of empty performances, to sense the very air being made oily with commodification, fizzy from the soda carbonation, with the gaudy and cacophonous set pieces underlain by the structural duress of having the invisible energies of the atom threaten to slip their seeds in an annihilatory flowering.

Poor Adorno: imagine believing that you were witnessing the crystallization of an abhorred economic system into an overwhelmingly triumphant and dominant cultural meme, even as its philosophical antithesis, the collective egalitarianism of socialist theory, was hardening into something terribly corrupt and malignant of its own; and that, even as you espied and set to paper the manipulations, internal stresses, and absurd manifestations of this tyrannical power backed by the threat and allure of nuclear Armageddon, you knew your pessimistic finger-pointing would be utterly subsumed in the efficiently spreading and gaudily regnant noise; that you would be yet another Cassandra whose coolly impassioned warnings were met with either a blank stare, a dismissive furrowing of the brow, or—worst of all—belching, cackling, elbow-aimed laughter as the channel you were declaiming from was changed. This precisely distributed blanket of mordant flakes may, on occasion, move the reader to wish to seek out the bucket-tipper on high and deliver unto him a swift kick in the ass—but such urges are fleeting, and mood prevails; and if that mood inclines for difficult dispensations from an erudite and saturnine elite then you will continue to keep your arms outspread and shiver in the bleak arctic chill of Adorno's disapproval.
Profile Image for Greg.
1,107 reviews1,829 followers
January 16, 2010
Adorno is so wonderfully negative and devastating in his attacks on just about everything that there is a certain sense of hopelessness and everything is shit that prevades out of the pages, but within this negativity is an unspoken greatness to what can be great and beautiful. I have no idea what to say, this book is just great.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 8 books98 followers
September 28, 2010
It is really strange how influential Adorno is within Marxist circles. He is such a neg-head downer... After I read this text I truly ran to the bookshelves and tried to lift myself out of this book's funk by Re-reading Epictetus and Seneca. Give me Greek Philosophy over this trite bitch-fest any day. Please, if you are thinking of killing yourself, DO NOT READ ADORNO! READ GREEK PHILOSOPHY INSTEAD (and get outside and play)

Probably the biggest angst-ridden crock of shit since Nausea by Sartre. I just wanted to say "Cheer Up" - and wondered by God - Auschwitz! That Nazi-bullshit has really taken the fun out of philosophy over the last 100 years or so... man, what I'd give to live in Ancient Greece instead of in this wretched post-modern milieu with its ennui and its Adorno-slit-my-wrists-mind-fuckingly-wretched-'critical theory'.... blah, everything sucks to Adorno - no, poetry after Auschwitz my ass - WE NEED POETRY NOW MORE THAN EVER! Since nobody can sit and process anything truly challenging that takes time to enjoy - which is probably what gets Adorno so steamed to begin with. Ahhh, I cannot believe I wasted my 20's actually feeling ashamed of my own joy, precisely because I was obsessing over texts like Minima Moralia by Theodor Adorno. Bleck!

Give me Epictetus and Seneca over this wretched (the whole world is a concentration camp) bullshit anyday - to think how many of today's scholars still cling to this critical theory - Agamben, Butler, Foucault, anyone born in France of Italy doing critical theory in the last 40 years, etc. It's enough to drive you crazy.
Profile Image for Argos.
983 reviews283 followers
May 15, 2022
Adorno’nun 153 adet kısa, birbiriyle bağlantılı olmayan, bir sıra takip etmeyen ama ucu bir şekilde ahlak ile (etik) iliştirilen denemelerinden oluşan bu kitabı çok sıkı bir metin. Zor bir okuma oldu, içeriğinin yoğunluğundan dolayı bazı cümleleri birkaç kez okumak zorunda kaldığım felsefik/sosyolojik metinler çok yordu beni.

Birinci völümü 1944’de yazmaya başlamış. İkinci bölümü 1945’de. Yani bir mülteciyken, Amerika’da, ülkesinden uzakta, ancak ülkesindeki faşizmi neredeyse beş duyusuyla hissettiği zamanlarda başlamış yazılarına. Adorno yaşadığı çağı tüm yönleriyle yaşayan çağının insanıdır; bir tarafta mülteci bir aydın olarak sığındığı ülkenin bireyciliğini ve çıkarcılığını görmekte, diğer tarafta Hitler faşizminin insanlığı yok edişini görüyor, duyuyor, okuyor. “Minima Moralia” böyle bir dönemin ve böyle bir kişinin eseri olan çok sert, iç karartıcı ve yakıcı, köşeli bir metinler bütünü.

Bazı düşüncelerine katılmak mümkün değil, Adorno’nun yaşadıklarını yaşamadan olumlanması zor karar ve sonuçlar. O kadar öfkeli ki düşüncelerini kağıda aktarırken bile sakinleşmiyor, bu ise onu objektiflikten savurup vermek istediği mesajı da anlaşılması zor hale getiriyor. Eleştirel dozu çok yüksek, Freud, Hegel, Heideger, varoluşçular, Nietzsche gibi filozoflar, Anatole France, Maupassant, Goethe ve birçok yazar hedefinde. Psikanalizi yerin dibine batırıyor. Alman emperyalizminin başlangıç noktası olarak besteci Wagner’in “Tanrıların Alacakaranlığı” eserini hatırlatır. Ancak sunuşunda belirttiği gibi “savaş sırasında, düşüncelere dalmak ve seyretmek zorunda kaldığı bir dönemde” yazılmış. Amacını ise zorlu düşünmeye zorlamak olarak açıklıyor.

Üçüncü bölümü 1946-7 yıllarında yazmış Adorno, yani savaşın bittiği, faşizmin yenilgisinin ardından. Bu bölüm ilk iki bölüme göre hüküm verici metinlerden çok sorgulayıcı metinlere dönüşmüş, daha genel konular yanında uslupta da az da olsa serlikte azalmanın görüldüğü denemeler dikkat çekiyor.

Hakkında çok yazılan ve ezici çoğunlukla beğenilen bu yazılar belki beş yıldızlık bir kitap oluşturuyor ancak okurken bu kadar çok yoran bir kitaptan bir yıldız kırpmak şart oldu. Okunsa iyi olur ancak ısrarlı değilim. Deneme sevmiyor ve hafif depresyon modunda iseniz hiç başlamayın derim.
Profile Image for Sebastian.
95 reviews29 followers
April 3, 2011
My thoughts on this from the bottom up are a bit scattered, but the short summary is that if you are reading this and are at all curious about trying Adorno, you should do it.

4/2/2011 update. I finished. A considerable challenge throughout, but one that I believe was worth the time investment. Even if I only was able to absorb 20% of Adorno's sentences, that 20% was made up of provocative, downbeat and penetrating encapsulations of our culture and the way we live now.

One last lengthy quote. I read this bit while SXSW was going on and I couldn't help but think that in some banal way (maybe it was the startlingly contemporary reference to unnecessary horn-rimmed glasses) portions of this acerbic passage, Expensive reproduction, might apply to the homogenization and follow-the-leader fashion of the much-maligned hipster culture, which ostensibly was once meant to be "independent" and distinct from the culture industry (as to whether "indie" culture/music was ever anything but another way to divide people and show membership in different groups, just not the designated "cool" or "popular" groups, is another question, see portions of Our Band Could Be Your Life):

Society is integral even before it undergoes totalitarian rule. Its organization also embraces those at war with it by co-ordinating their consciousness to its own. . . . What [intellectuals] subjectively fancy radical, belongs objectively so entirely to the compartment in the pattern reserved for their like, that radicalism is debased to abstract prestige, legitimation for those who know what an intellectual nowadays has to be for and what against. The good things they opt for have long since been just as accepted, in numbers just as restricted, in their hierarchy of values just as fixed, as those of student fraternities. While they inveigh against official kitsch, their views, like dutiful children, are allowed to partake only of pre-selected nutrition, cliches against cliches. On the walls the deceptively faithful colour reproductions of famous Van Goghs like the 'Sunflowers' or the 'Cafe at Arles', on the bookshelf the boiled-down socialism and psycho-analysis and a little sexology for libertines with inhibitions. . . . Every opinion earns the approbation of friends, every argument is known by them beforehand. That all cultural products, even non-conformist ones, have been incorporated into the distribution-mechanisms of large-scale capital, that in the most developed country a product does not bear the imprimatur of mass-production can scarcely reach a reader, view, listner at all, denies deviationary longings their subject matter in advance. . . . The intellectuals themselves are already so heavily committed to what is endorsed in their isolated sphere, that they no longer desire anything that does not carry the highbrow tag. Ambition aims solely at expertise in the accepted stock-in-trade, hitting on the correct slogan. The outsiderishness of the initiates is an illusion, they are merely biding their time. To see them as renegades is to asseses them too high; they mask mediocre faces with horn-rimmed spectacles betokening 'brilliance', though with plain-glass lenses, soley in order to better themselves in their own eyes and in the general rat-race. They are already just like the rest.

Whew, punishing stuff, right? Perhaps hitting a little close to home for me as well. Striving for truly independent thought, tastes, ideas requires a disciplined regime that seems beyond imposing. I guess step one would be getting myself to the point where I can understand may 33% of Adorno and not just go with Pitchfork's Best New Music picks. There's that philistine again...


10/29/10: Perhaps this book isn't ideal subway reading, but my morning commute has been the time and place when and where I've found myself picking it up, as I haven't had nearly enough free time recently. Minima Moralia is packed with relentless negativity, intriguing concepts, relatively novel (to me) perspectives on social and philosophical issues as well as interesting shifts between the very general and the very specific. Often, however, I'm left puzzled, with my head cocked like a dog waiting for a treat, thinking "damn, that's some fine writing but what in the hell is he talking about?"

I'd been more or less at sea for over ten pages at the end of Part One, not waving but drowning, lunging for a life raft in the form of any sliver of a frame of reference, when I came to the section Gaps. Eureka! Adorno doesn't want us to be able to follow and understand everything he's writing. Being lucid and familiar makes a writer a banal mediocrity. My glib, undereducated and lame jokes aside (can't shed that philistine skin completely), it seems that Adorno's broader point is that perfectly clear, explained/explainable writing is boring, but more importantly inconsistent with the way thought and life works. It's pretty fascinating stuff. He writes:

The injunction to practise intellectual honesty usually amounts to sabatoge of thought. . . . [T]he value of a thought is measured by its distance from the continuity of the familiar. . . . Texts which anxiously undertake to record every step without omission inevitably succumb to banality, and to a monotony related not only to the tension induced in the reader, but to their own substance. . . . [T]he demand for intellectual honesty is itself dishonest. Even if we were for once to comply with the questionable directive that the exposition should exactly reproduce the process of thought, this process would be no more a discursive progression from stage to stage than, conversely, knowledge falls from Heaven. Rather, knowledge comes to us through a network of prejudices, opinions, innervations, self-corrections, presuppositions and exaggerations, in short through the dense, firmly-founded but by no means uniformly transparent medium of experience. . . . [I]f honest ideas unfailingly boil down to mere repetition, whether of what was there beforehand or of categorical forms, then the thought which, for the sake of the relation to its object, forgoes the full transparency of its logical genesis, will always incur a certain guilt. It breaks the promise presupposed by the very form of judgment. This inadequacy resembles that of life, which describes a wavering, deviating line, disappointing by comparison with its premisses, and yet which only in this actual course, always less than it should be, is able, under given conditions of existence, to represent an unregimented one.

And then there are these gorgeous final two sentences:

Every thought which is not idle, however, bears branded on it the impossibility of its full legitimation, as we know in dreams that there are mathematics lessons, missed for the sake of a blissful morning in bed, which can never be made up. Thought waits to be woken one day by the memory of what has been missed, and to be transformed into teaching

Do I get it? Probably not, but it certainly invites one to dig in and wrestle with it.


So my tentative ongoing dance with Kierkegaard has been, if not yet an abysmal failure, a excrutiatingly slow series of frustrating exercises, dominated by a sense of deep philosophical, historical and cultural ignorance. So, hey, what the hell, let's add a text to my "to read" list that's likely significantly more difficult and assumes more pre-existing knowledge of European philisophy than I would have if I was to be sequestered in the most magnificent library imaginable for the next five years.

This addition was a direct result of my intrigue with a post from the Paris Review's damn fine, and still relatively new, blog The Paris Review Daily.

Who knew crawling one's way out of philistinism took so much work?
Profile Image for Heath.
23 reviews2 followers
September 14, 2007
My copy is completely damaged from reading and re-reading. There is a strain of pure modernism, of the highest designs for art and thought with nothing but disdain for anything else. Anti-capitalist. Severe. I dig it.
Profile Image for Jason.
170 reviews67 followers
November 7, 2021
This is Adorno’s "creative" book of theory positing the totalizing effect of the “administrative machine.” The book is broken into 153 vignettes on subjects ranging from fashion to zoos to operas to writing itself. The structure was quite novel at the time (1951) and highly influential. You see this modular structure all the time these days.

Adorno is the king of the negative dialect and probably the king of negativity itself. Almost nothing gets a free pass. Adorno is seemingly against everything because everything has been poisoned by the totalizing commodification of all life under capitalism, and more so since this was written. Stalinism is bunk as well, of course. Adorno laments the Soviet perversion of his beloved Marxist dreams, but his real enemy is consumer capitalism, and the state and culture’s role in maintaining it. Adorno focuses his ire primarily on capitalism's apotheosis, what he calls the culture industry: advertising, films, lowbrow culture, mass communication, etc.

At times Adorno seems elitist and petulant and other times he’s in his finest and most lucid form. This was written during the final days of the Nazi regime and just after and is steeped to the core with pessimistic defeat. Adorno himself was Jewish and forced into exile. It isn’t any wonder why he’d lost hope. To him the mechanized death machine the Nazis employed was the logical conclusion of all life being subsumed into commodity exchange. We line up for new products (e.g. iPhones) in order to fulfill our personhood, to define it, to brand it. We are the subtotal of commodity brands and the real cost is our subjectivity. Many people have picked up where Adorno left off in 1951, furthering it into better more refined critiques, but Adorn was laying some important theoretical groundwork.

So how does this relate to a contemporary Goodreads member?

Consider this. Do you feel the urge to finish books even if they have long since bored you? If so, why? To add another entry in the “finished” list? And if this is so, why again? Adorno has this to say: “Every programme must be sat through to the end, every best-seller read, every film seen [. . . ] The abundance of commodities indiscriminately consumed is becoming calamitous.” We collect books like we line up for the new iPhone. We build an identity from the commodities we consume. This book, in fact, was extremely tedious at times. I would have been happy to put it down and never look at it again if it wasn’t assigned for a class.

But there is more. All of life is reduced to an exchange relationship, says Adorno. Here’s another quote to consider: “The utopia of the qualitative—the things which through their difference and uniqueness cannot be absorbed into the prevalent exchange relationships—takes refuge under capitalism in the traits of fetishism. But this promise of happiness in luxury [here his discussion was of Cadillacs] in turn pre-supposes privilege, economic inequality, a society based on fungibility. Thus the qualitative itself becomes a special case of quantitative, the non-fungible becomes fungible, luxury turns into comfort and finally a senseless gadget.”

Adorno sees all of this as inescapable. I don’t yet hold such pessimist views, though I’m getting close.
Profile Image for lilly amber.
23 reviews38 followers
April 2, 2021
this is a book, perhaps truly the first for me, which I will be consulting the index to in the future, if i somehow am unable to manage reading it again when I have learned more.
for now - I shall perhaps give a more thorough review in the coming days - my rating is based on two aspects of the book. adorno’s dialectical method, applied to contemporary culture, literature, politics, etc.. was incredibly, incredibly illuminating for me. following the contours of this man’s thought was the most difficult aspect for me in reading the book, but the parts I felt I did understand were incredibly rewarding. I feel like I may one day look back on reading minima moralia with some nostalgia.
that being said, I almost gave the book an even lower rating because I find Adorno to be kind of a repulsive human being: hermetic, arrogant, and presumptuous in the worst egotistically male-centric way one might imagine for a collection of writings with such profundity. granted, i feel I did miss a significant amount of adorno’s meaning from my own inexperience, and Adorno writes a lot about irony and sophistry, so perhaps I read him too straightforward..??? but there were parts of this book that were unreadable, insufferable and frankly hard to take seriously
Profile Image for Maxwell.
40 reviews172 followers
January 2, 2018
I saw an interview with Marcuse where he said that Adorno's speech, even in casual conversation, was so perfectly structured and insightful that it could easily be transcribed and published. Minima Moralia does a lot to verify Marcuse's claim. The book presents itself as Adorno's dissembled thoughts and observations, from single sentence aphorisms to ostensible diary entries; but upon close reading, these ideas have real cohesion and a very ambitious address and import. I think this is more a literary than a philosophical work, if such distinctions interest you, but Minima Moralia is as provocative, astute and thoroughly convincing as Adorno's serious philosophical books (if not as rigorously argued) and far more pleasurable to read.

I read this alongside 'The Grand Abyss Hotel' which I thoroughly recommend for texture.
Profile Image for Anastasiia Mozghova.
360 reviews558 followers
January 13, 2022
as relevant as if it were written nowadays. there is so much to think about, learn, and reconsider!
Profile Image for Andrew.
1,975 reviews689 followers
August 30, 2008
Adorno's writing style, while initially difficult, eventually becomes more lucid. It just takes some time. However, he provides, again and again, smart observation after smart observation. The little essays in here are also remarkably personal, and we get a very good sense of Adorno-the-individual. My sole major reservation is the overwhelmingly classist overtones. While a critique of mass culture is indeed necessary, it probably shouldn't be this condescending.
Profile Image for Yakup Öner.
158 reviews94 followers
May 18, 2015
Adorno ve en önemli eseri olan Minima Moralia [Asgari Etik] yaşamın bir çok alanına etkin bir eleştirel kuramla farklı bir yorumlayış getirmiştir. Düşünce yapısındaki zerafet ve derinlik ustalığı sizi etkileyecektir. Adorno için söyleyebileceğim tek şey üstüste koyduğum tüm taşları yıkıyor olması.
Profile Image for Anna.
1,656 reviews616 followers
November 30, 2016
‘Minima Moralia’ took some time and effort to read. It deserves four stars for content but I’m giving it three for my own inadequacy. There were quite a few sentences (especially those involving Nietzsche) that took me four readings to parse, let alone comprehend. To be honest, I can only claim to have understood about a fifth of the book. My grounding in philosophy is weak and patchy; I’ve never actually studied it. However, the fifth that I did understand I greatly appreciated. Notably, many insights seemed strangely contemporary. The book was first published in 1951 and was largely written during the Second World War. It is structured in many short chapters, each making a particular point. Although some overarching themes could be discerned, I did not detect a singular linking narrative or message that ran through the whole thing.

The parts of the book that will stay with me concerned gender politics, an apparent indictment of hipsters, and the corrosive influence of mass production capitalism, which equates exchange value with any value at all. The latter point is made in many different ways, each with a differing emphasis. My favourite example of the former is chapter 24, titled ‘Tough Baby’ and deserves an extended quote:

’There is a certain gesture of virility, be it one’s own or someone else’s, that calls for suspicion. [...] It’s archetype is the handsome, dinner-jacketed figure returning late to his bachelor flat, switching on the indirect lighting and mixing himself a whisky and soda: the carefully recorded hissing of the mineral water says what the arrogant mouth keeps to itself: that he despises anything that does not smell of smoke, leather and shaving cream, particularly women, which is why they, precisely, find him irresistible. [...] The pleasures of such men, or rather of their models, which are seldom equalled in reality, for people are even now better than their culture, all have about them a latent violence. [...] It is in fact violence against himself.’

Suck on that, Hemingway. Even now the tedious macho archetype pervades popular culture. I can’t locate the indictment of hipsters right now, but was amused that included a comment about people who wear clear-glass spectacles in order to appear more intellectual. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. More seriously, Adorno says some very interesting things about the role of intellectuals in society, the toxicity of fascism, and the psychological implications of mass consumption. Just don’t ask me to explain them all. My favourite chapter, though, was number 106 ‘All the Little Flowers’. This cautioned against treating memories as inviolable artefacts from the past, as they are modified and mediated by the present. Adorno explained this with especial elegance.
Profile Image for Bernardo Moreira.
102 reviews8 followers
September 18, 2021
Ainda estou abalado pelo fim da leitura da Minima Moralia, então vou tentar indicar aqui algumas questões que me inquietam.
Primeiramente, gostaria de agradecer ao Bonafini pela dica essencial na minha leitura: um aforismo por dia. Sem dúvidas, a digestão lenta do livro me proporciou uma experiência de longo prazo (153 dias) indescritível. Outro agradecimento a ele pela recomendação da tradução do Cohn, pela Azougue. Dificílimo de achar, mas consegui por sorte uma última cópia de um sebo paranaense online.
Se quisesse resenhar esse livro de forma sistemática e total, trairia seu sentido. As não-máximas de Adorno rejeitam tal procedimento. A questão para mim com esse livro foi justamente um confrontamento com uma série de influências e ideias que me orientam (afinal, um dialético de orientação hegeliana e crítica como Adorno expele uma multidão de problemas para minhas influências espinosistas). Mas não vejo Adorno como um antagonista. Diferente de Hegel, Adorno me mostra caminhos que ainda preciso percorrer.
A reflexão sobre a vida lesada, sobre o capitalismo tardio, sobre a guerra, sobre a indústria cultural: críticas poderosíssimas. O texto, orientado pela análise dos pequenos momentos, dos pequenos traços, mostra justamente a questão mais sublime: o todo diz pouco sobre a extensão da violência. É justamente na busca por aquilo que parece escapar é que percebemos a extensão do dano. A dominação, a destruição e a violência são muito mais brutais quando se ocultam em um simples gesto. Adorno capta um processo que ainda estava em vias de se aprofundar: a passagem de um capitalismo que constrói enormes estruturas de vigilância para um capitalismo que nos torna nossos próprios capatazes.
O declínio da modernidade, a brutalidade da exploração, a confusão da política: a conclusão, se é possível dizer que há uma, é justamente a formulação do problema. Adorno não propõe um programa, uma sistematização, uma saída fácil. Se há uma angústia na leitura, ela apenas nos mostra nossa condição. Não há saída: é precisamente isso que devemos superar.
Minha questão de mais intriga é justamente a reconciliação e a redenção. O aforismo Final é devastador: nos mostram que o impasse entre o possível e o impossível exigem que se pense por que fazemos filosofia - a busca pela vida feliz e justa não pode se ausentar de apresentar os problemas e não pode simplesmente escolher lados. A impossiblidade tem de ser compreendida em nome da possibilidade.
Certamente um de meus livros favoritos. Tenho muito ainda a aprender com ele. E como Adorno, rejeito uma conclusão sobre o todo de minha leitura. Me resta a memória desses 153 dias da experiência de lua de mel (ou visita ao purgatório) com a Minima Moralia.
4 reviews
May 14, 2007
proof of just how negative negative dialectics can be--a potent dose of precision grumpiness. take as needed.
Profile Image for Robert Wechsler.
Author 9 books125 followers
Shelved as 'ongoing'
May 28, 2019
Short sections that consist of a series of reflections, some of them in the form of aphorisms. I’ve never read anything that is at once so crazy and brilliant, that makes you say What? and Wow! often in response to different clauses of the same sentence.

Too much of what Adorno does involves throwing apparently opposing ideas and words together in various ways. More than anything else, Adorno is showing off; he’s a jazz pianist noodling away. You can’t take anything he says too seriously, because he’s being playful, even when he is at his most critical and negative, which is most of the time. Negativity can be fun, too, especially in the name of higher values, but here it is difficult to determine what those values are. Adorno is negative about negativity, somehow without being positive.

This is not a book I could possibly read all the way through. A third was enough for now. I hope to return to it.
Profile Image for Durakov.
104 reviews31 followers
October 5, 2022
Brutal and relentless and with good reason. The ruthless and justly paranoid critique of every little thing is certainly impressive but it also comes across as fragile and loosely arranged at times, dependent perhaps on historical conditions that have altered. But this is only the case in a few points. I shudder on Adorno's behalf to think of what he would have made of contemporary internet culture, social media, the horrendous magnitude of pop psychology, or superhero movies.
Profile Image for ipek.
17 reviews27 followers
March 27, 2023
let's consider a water bottle, for example. even the most innocent of acts, drinking water, is sick. why, one must ask, do we need water to survive? why must water be reified in its contained form, negated from its formlessness by the bourgeois? he who forms his own life in the shadow of commodified survivability must acknowledge both the negation of the self and its subsequent reification through the water bottle, administered by forces that seep into the very sources that keep us alive, and the water bottle, in itself a contradiction, is the very image of the new culture industry. there is nothing innocuous left.
Profile Image for E. C. Koch.
353 reviews19 followers
September 22, 2017
If Dialectic of Enlightenment offers trees which the reader has to make into a forest, then Minima Moralia only offers leaves and twigs. This book is pretty much a series of diary entries written by a really smart guy, wherein each chapter (if you could call them that) is about a page and a half long, meaning that no thesis from any chapter gets fully realized, and since the chapters vary so widely in subject the entire book's thesis is hard to reckon. As with D. of E., Adorno wrestles with dialectical thinking here with particular emphasis on aesthetics, politics, and truth. Even in working through these ideas in mere glimpses, Adorno comes back, again and again, to the question of where art goes (and by extension, where humanity goes) after the fascist horror of National Socialism. Fascism is the lens through which he sees relativism dominating culture, eventually leading to the human desire to cling to any political anchor, no matter how gruesome. From here, the postmodern (a term A. doesn't use himself) reifies the horrors of relativism that made fascism attractive (which, given our current political state, wasn't, like, far-fetched). As evidence of what a complete thinker he was, A. also addresses the notion of sincerity (he calls it "genuineness") as an antidote to irony/relativism/fascism, arguing (pace, DFW) that sincerity can never prove itself so and will therefore always be suspect. In the end, this little book has its moments of sparkling brilliance, but you have to dig through a lot of dirt to get at them.
Profile Image for Lacey.
25 reviews11 followers
December 15, 2010
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.
Profile Image for J.
730 reviews430 followers
July 29, 2011
I tried reading this in college and I definitely wasn't ready for it then. At first Adorno seems like little more than an unapologetically condescending snob, but as I worked into it, I found myself consistently blown away by his bleak, piercing observations about modernity. And they are made all the bleaker by the odd format of this, which gives you little glimpses into a mind that was obviously supremely unhappy in fleeing from European fascism to the schizoid, hyper-capitalism of Los Angeles. Adorno's haunted, despairing analysis is hard to get through, but I think it's even harder not to feel haunted by it yourself. That subtitle isn't kidding; Reflections on a Damaged Life indeed.
Profile Image for H.
59 reviews10 followers
July 22, 2016
"The bourgeois needs the bayadere, not merely for pleasure, which he grudges her, but to feel himself a god." yes ok go on "The nearer he gets to the edge of his domain and the more he forgets his dignity, the more blatant becomes the ritual of power." fine yes ok "The night has its joy, but the whore is burned notwithstanding." ok sure this just seems the the same thing again "The rest is the Idea." fuck off teddy
Profile Image for Tyler.
24 reviews
October 5, 2009
adorno's best zine! should be renamed as "rants and raves on alienated culture from a grumpy old man."
Profile Image for sologdin.
1,705 reviews609 followers
November 13, 2014
gnomics by bitter old marxist. some great bits, but not really a sustained argument.

I've kinda decided that I hate gnomics as a form, while reading through Pascal and le Douchefoucauld recently.
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