Interesting concept in how you perceive the aura of music in comparison with Benjamin's work. I like how you drew comparisons from both live performances and studio work; I would suggest, though, that you try not to get too caught up in the comparative aspects of both methods of musical production. I say this because both methods, as you argue, will place the listener into a further stage of subjugation. Instead of comparison, draw upon Benjamin's argument of the diminishing aura and how it is able to be cast through society when it is mechanically reproduced; more simply put, show how the diminishing aura brings about subjugation to the masses.
Also, this may be a far-fetched thought, what of Karl Marx and his arguments on religion. Can music (if you say causes subjugation of the masses) be an "opiate of the masses" itself?
It is interesting how you drew several parallels between Adorno and Habermas. I was also critical of the role of consumerism (more Capitalism) in my post earlier this semester titled "Adorno, Capitalism". I attempted to show both sides of the argument of capitalism, or consumerism, which seems to be left out in some of the critical theorists works. Although I do agree with your three points of consumerism through the arguments of Adorno and Habermas - I feel as though they overlook potential benefits that come from us living in a capitalist society.
Initially, we tend to see consumerism as the 'taking-away' from rational-critical debate because it limits our interactions with other individuals. I also was quick to accept this idea. But, what of film, radio, and TV? Can't we argue that the abundance of these commodities has also led to an increase in critical debate? Let us look at the talking figure-heads throughout all media outlets that make our society open to debate. Whether it is Sean Hannity on his radio show or Bill Maher, the accessibility of these technologies could also be viewed as expanding our realm of critical debate because it encompasses more people (who if they follow a given argument) are more educated.
Secondly, the argument that consumerism leads to a decline in the quality of the arts is also questionable. Couldn't we argue that consumerism is capable of expanding the quality of art as well? For example, if our society is content with reprinted images of the Mona Lisa, then why is there such a fuss about going and seeing the image in real life? (This entails the argument of Benjamin's Aura, which I am currently trying to figure out). But, the fact is, it seems that consumerism, and capitalism, don't seem to limit the potentials of art just because the artist is pursuing monetary gains.
Lastly, the recent trends that determine social status in our society have become blurred. About 10 years ago, we could argue that what a person owns is a direct sign of their affluence. But, with the current movements of sustainability and drives for moderation, some individuals have seemingly put their egos in the backseat. Instead of driving around in the newest BMW or Audi, there has been a major shift towards cars with better gas mileage or cars that produce less pollution. Whether we view this as a sign of affluence (because they are able to afford these vehicles) I believe that it says something about our society and their attempts to moderate their actions.
This was a good post. You raised several substantive questions as well. What I find interesting, and I believe it was brought up in class yesterday, is the fact of this "utopian" community; an environment where we can ignore our differences and proceed towards a future by following the Good. I believe it was mentioned yesterday the man named Socrates attempted to do this. Certainly, we can all have our arguments about him and his actions; whether he was being facetious or purposefully outlandish. The fact is, he argued for a civilization populated by individuals who held morality, moderation, and self-control as the basis of a society. He was put to death.
This rampant and polemical society that we have come to know, regardless of how we wish to label it, is public opinion. Do we ever wonder then why politicians (Martin Fiorina, author of the book "Culture War" puts it best) views their constituency as "not informed, do not care a great deal, do not hold views very strongly and actually aren't that ideological"? It seems obvious to me that we are a society based upon self-preservation and ignorance (as we have been discussing on the post titled A Culture-Consuming Public). I feel that the Internet only magnifies this problem.
I certainly understand where you are coming from, Sam. But, eventually we must ask, "Who is to blame?" The finger cannot be pointed to anyone but ourselves. If we wish to read Kim Kardashian's asinine tweets (which I have, and they are truly ridiculous) over reading or subjecting oneself to a thorough mental workout, who is to deem that less important? Just because the technology is out there to pursue these quests into, what we believe is a waste of time, doesn't mean that we MUST pursue it. But, I also contend that it is difficult to avoid these technologies, however hard you try. We must attempt to balance these issues more carefully instead of completely neglecting one-side of the spectrum, which has seemed to be the most popular theme.
I certainly agree with Daniel. In our time, reading has seemed to be shunned upon in our society; almost neglected because it's shown as a time-consuming practice which involves isolation. What is socially acceptable about locking yourself in your room and delving into some text that takes you two coffees to get half-way through?
The advancement of technology, and those who are active participants in this realm, help signify that problems that people have with reading. I, since last year, have been attempting to read Alexis de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America". It is a thick text, to say the least. If I wanted, I could easily access several websites or blogs at the click of a finger and find a shortened summary of his writings divided by chapter.
This also raised the question as to our desire to read. Of course, there are some people who truly like sitting down and reading, but it is becoming more noticeable within the younger classes that they wish to avoid reading however possible. I've witnessed students even add/drop classes depending on how many books are assigned for a certain course.
I believe this vicious cycle will continue to be an ongoing problem as long as societal norms and technology offer us more efficient ways to reading.
You are right to make notice of even unintentional signs of poverty or wealth. If I am understanding you correctly, you take any and all types of expression to reflect social status? If so, I believe there lies a deeper argument in this.
What if I was to mention that I purchased the television with student loans that I must pay back in the future? (Not saying that I did!) The new Sony Bravio flat-screen television may reflect my social status, but it does not truly give an honest measurement of where I stand in society, does it?
Interesting post. I, too, also question this type of complacency that Marcuse seems to posit our civilization in. What I do not fully understand, and this goes back to Adorno for me as well, is how the advancement of technology can be both modes of expression while also types of constraints. With your example of the television, I can come to understand how a person might "show-off" their wealth by purchasing a new, over-priced T.V. But, in all honestly, unless you are of a higher class, this seems very impractical. Before college, I purchased a flat-screen television for my apartment based upon the simple fact that the flat-screen television had better picture quality and was more easy to move than a regular television. Certainly, I did pay more, but this was not an expression of my wealth.
What would Marcuse say as to the advancement of beneficial medicines that are causes of a strong focus on technology?
Very good post Andrea. I felt the same way through each class discussion we had about Adorno. As I read the book, I would catch myself thinking through each of his aphorisms of negativity, "Okay, enough, I got the picture..." Adorno's critiquing seemed never ending as his topics were deteriorating. I was always looking for some place in the text to grab onto; this place was never found. Nor is there any conclusion that may be taken from this work. I believe that is why many people have become frustrated with Adorno; he seemingly lacks an ontology. What is the purpose of critiquing society if you are not expressing any options as how to fix these problems?
Interesting post, Dan. I am also confused as to how Adorno wants to apply the concept of redemption at the end of his work. Throughout reading Minima Moralia, I sensed a type of Cartesian reconstruction; the tearing down of walls in an attempt to find definite answers. These definite answers were not to come, though. Certainly, Adorno is not Descartes, but from my standpoint, I viewed both similar in their styles. I viewed Adorno, despite wanting to destroy the concept of systems altogether, unable to warrant a reason for our world not to have them. So, for me, the theme of Redemption at the end of this work was Adorno "throwing us a bone", if you will.