It ain't Adorno---its Beckett +
Rob over at the wonderful blogorrhoea
has lightly taken me to task for allowing my depressed state to push me into the world of 'the perfectly regulated pack of passive automatons envisaged by Sadsack Adorno and his gloomy mates.'
Fair enough. That's what blogging is all about.
The eagle-eyed Rob has spotted my liking for Adorno's anti-systematic, negative philosophy that critically interprets cultural fragments of broken-backed traditions. Rob corrects my onesidedness and resignation with a bit of Gramsci-----"Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will." It was fashionable for a time amongst English cultural Marxists around the time of Thatcher. A number of those cultural Marxists left England and set up shop at Griffith University in Queensland, where they spun the cultural wheels for Paul Keating's Labor Government, then left to become house intellectuals for the Blair Labour Government.
I never really understood that one when I read it, and I don't now. Being a plain man living amidst cultural junk, and who feels like data trash from reading all the war propaganda, the Gramsci quote is not something that I could take my stand on. I find it all a bit too cheerful. Like tv adverts, talk shows, games shows and much contemporary journalism.
Thats all by and the by. It was the negativity of Beckett that I ws reading about -- a text on Endgame.
It caught my eye because all the journalists are writing about Endgame with respect to the UN and the US-led war with Iraq.
HAMM: And the horizon? Nothing on the horizon?
CLOV (lowering the telescope, turning towards Hamm, exasperated): What in God's name would there be on the horizon? (pause)
HAMM: The waves, how about the waves?
CLOV: The waves? (He turns the telescope on the waves.) Lead
HAMM: And the sun?
I presume that text is counterposed to the official optimism of the day, a sort of alarm system.
CLOV (looking) Zero.
HAMM: But it should be sinking. Look again.
CLOV (looking): Dam the sun
HAMM: Is it night already then?
CLOV( looking): No.
HAMM: Then what is it?
CLOV (looking): Gray. (Lowering the telescope, turning towards Hamm, louder) Gray! (Pause. Still louder.) GRRAY!
This is life after the catastrophe---a life of bleak bare survival. Is that not the future for the Iraqi people after the war? Adorno, in interpreting Beckett, in an essay called, Trying to Understand Endgame', says:
"Beckett's characters behave in precisely the primitive, behaviouristic manner appropriate to the state of affairs after the catastrophe, after it has mutilated them so they cannot react any differently; flies twitching after the fly swatter has half-squashed them.'
Its tough and harsh without a hint of blandness. But it is still true. Isn't that what war does to human beings? Especially when you are nuked or been subject to the deployment of chemical weapons.
This is a world constructed around a metaphysics of death.