Not Dialectical Enough: On Benjamin, Adorno, and Autonomous Critique

Philosophy and Rhetoric 44 (4):336-362 (2011)
Where Benjamin attempts an account of social and attention practices surrounding the artwork, Adorno accuses him of not being dialectical enough and of inadequately theorizing the artwork's autonomy.2 Adorno makes the same accusation in those places where Benjamin attempts to disrupt historicism with the "dialectical image." Although Adorno appears to offer the same criticism in both instances, I maintain that Adorno's blanket prescription for more dialectics covers over a chiastic relationship between his reactions in each case. That is, the worries that inform Adorno's reaction to Benjamin's portrayal of the artwork are quite the opposite of the worries that inform his reaction to Benjamin's portrayal of the ..
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