Reconciliation and Withdrawal

Adorno’s counter to Mahnkopf:

The aesthetic unity of the multiplicitous appears as though it had done no violence but had been chosen by the multiplicitous itself. It is thus that unity–today as real as was ever the diremption–crosses over into reconciliation. (AT, p. 176)

It is because the multiplicitous must chose its unification that counterpoint needs to have an element of intuition in its construction. Otherwise its unity is chosen for it. This doesn’t of course preclude some rational structuration, but that this rational structuration would be but one part of the totality, not stand in its place.

Adorno goes on to clarify what he means by this reconciliation. I’ll quote it in full because it wonderfully links the question of reconciliation with ideology:

Art is not reconciliation in the classicist sense: Reconciliation is the comportment of artworks by which they become conscious of the nonidentical. Spirit does not identify the nonidentical: It identifies with it. By pursuing its own identity with itself, art assimilates itself with the nonidentical: This is the contemporary stage of development of art’s mimetic essence. Today, reconciliation as the comportment of the artwork is evinced precisely there where art countermands the idea of reconciliation in works whose form dictates intransigence. Yet even such irreconcilable reconciliation through form is predicated on the unreality of art. This unreality threatens art permanently with ideology. Art, however, does not sink to the level of ideology, nor is ideology the verdict that would ban each and every artwork from truth. On the basis of their truth, of the reconciliation that empirical reality spurns, art is complicitous with ideology in that it feigns the factual existence of reconciliation. By their own apriori, or, if one will, according to their idea, artworks become entangled in the nexus of guilt. Whereas each artwork that succeeds transcends this nexus, each must atone for this transcendence, and therefore its language seeks to withdraw into silence: An artwork is, as Beckett wrote, a desecration of silence. (AT, p. 177)

Mahnkopf (as a Derridean) wants to avoid all reconciliation, since that would be a function of ideology. This leads him to a renunciation of the entire dialectic of reconciliation and withdrawal: art’s raison d’être.

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