`If Adorno isn't the devil, it's because he's a jew': Lyotard's misreading of Adorno through Thomas Mann's dr faustus

Philosophy and Social Criticism 35 (5):517-531 (2009)
In this article, I explore the relationship between the philosophy of Theodor Adorno and the Bilderverbot , or biblical Second Commandment against images. My starting point is J. F. Lyotard's construction of the melancholic sublime in his essay `What is the Postmodern?', which I argue he uses to critique Adorno's aesthetics, and, more generally, his position as a `modern' thinker. To prove that Lyotard had Adorno in mind when he constructed the category of the melancholic sublime, I return to an earlier piece by Lyotard — `Adorno as the Devil' — which is a reading of Thomas Mann's Dr Faustus , in which Adorno is said to be one of the faces of the Devil. My argument is that Lyotard's understanding of Adorno is flawed because he does not recognize the distinctly Jewish, albeit secularized, character of his thought. I set out to challenge Lyotard by demonstrating the central importance that the Bilderverbot plays in Adorno's work, which should not be understood as melancholic because the Jewish Messianism associated with the Bilderverbot is profoundly future-oriented. In short, I argue that Lyotard's depiction of Adorno is flawed because he reads him as a Christian, while he should be approaching him as a secularized Jew. Key Words: Theodor Adorno • aesthetic theory • Dr Faustus • the image prohibition • Jewish thought • Jean-François Lyotard • Thomas Mann • Messianism • representation • the sublime.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1177/0191453709103425
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 35,941
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Adorno on Jazz and Society.Joseph D. Lewandowski - 1996 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 22 (5):103-121.
Mimesis in Adorno's Aesthetic Theory.Bed P. Paudyal - 2009 - Journal of Philosophy: A Cross-Disciplinary Inquiry 4 (8):1-10.
TELOS [Journal] - Special Issue on Adorno.Various Various - 1974 - Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary 19.


Added to PP index

Total downloads
80 ( #81,739 of 2,293,875 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
24 ( #18,213 of 2,293,875 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature