The Exalted and the Beatiful after the Fall


Dmitri Bakhturin reported in a post in his Facebook account about a lecture “General feeling. Exalted. After the fall.” («Общее чувство. Возвышенное. После падения») of the Russian philosopher V.A. Podorogi in the series “Island 10-22” (Остров 10-22) on June 12, 2019.

It is worth to mention this in a TRIZ related channel since Podorogi presents the philosophical concept of a world view (with strong references to Kant and Adorno), which seems to be very common among TRIZ people (Dmitri: “the most important concepts and lines for the modern intellectual”), but in my opinion requires very detailed analysis if applied to the modern world of “digital changes”.

We had a short discussion (in Russian) on that topic with Dmitri in a special thread of the mentioned post that is reproduced here in the original version and in an English translation. More comments from third parties are added below.

Hans-Gert Gräbe, August 11, 2019

Excerpt from Podorogi’s Lecture

The lecture was presented in Russian and is available at Youtube.

This is an excerpt (some of the main topics and positions presented in the lecture) compiled by Hans-Gert Gräbe (HGG) from the Russian source. Caution: All misunderstandings and missinterpretations are completely due to HGG.

The sublime and the beautiful (чувства возвышенного и красивого) as overcoming the feeling of fear

General feelings. References to the philosophers Edmund Björk (?? critic of the French Revolution) and Kant’s “third book” (Critique of Judgment)

The philosophy of the sublime and affect theory.

The epoch of the Enlightenment is the way out of compulsory relationships and thus the way out of barbarism.

Modernity: Baudelaire and Nietzsche get their meaning only from the later retrospective. In their time, both played almost no role.

Modernity 1 (Baudelaire, Nietzsche) and Modernity 2 (Adorno, Habermas).

The main question in Modernity 2: Are the atrocities of the 20th century the end of modernity?

Answer of Habermas: Communicative reason as the end of politics as we know it so far. The mind is unable to grasp the general feelings associated with Auschwitz (and other atrocities of the 20th century).

Björk and Kant are not interested in art (aesthetics), but only in the possible effects of art. A concept of “Gestalt” as a whole of the world was still self-evident in Goethe’s time, but has since been lost. With Baudelaire returns the feeling of disgust (? - HGG) that was not estimated by Kant.

The ideal and the absolute in art - Kafka, Proust - and the separation from the real.

Modernity 2 as a precursor of postmodernity. The concept of the work disappears as an expression of wholeness. Art without form.

Technology, especially digital technology, carries the core of fascism and inhumanity.

Such reflections already begin with Dadaism. Modern art makes formlessness its object.

Art has lost its elitism and thus the feeling of the sublime. Taste becomes an interpersonal phenomenon.

Questions and Answers

Q: How to deal with ecological issues and the concept of the natural in general?

A: Kant has a term “technology of nature”. Previous: imitation of nature, organic nature. Today: intervention in nature.

Q: Is not the decadence of art equated with art as a whole? How does such a degeneration of art come about?

A: This process develops slowly since Baudelaire’s time, but is irreversible. The glorious and sublime is revealed as a lie.

Q: But where did the fear disappear?

A: The state and society pursue pain and fear and want to eradicate both. For this purpose, the medicine is developed as well as an illusion of security.

The Original Discussion in the Facebook Thread

Dmitriy Bakhturin - Вчера имел честь представлять визионерскую лекцию В.А.Подороги на Острове 1022. Тема «Общее чувство. Возвышенное. После падения». Докладчиком были развернуты важнейшие для современного интеллектуала понятия и линии их эволюции - Страх и Прекрасное, их взлет и падение (от Берка к Канту, далее через Бодлера к Адорно и далее). В завершении – логично – зашел разговор о ситуации в «актуальном» (современном) искусстве (читай – творчестве, читай далее – подстрочник – в проектировании). Базовое разделение, предложенное ВА – быть «захваченным искусством» vs «владеть искусством». Быть играемым или играть… Спасибо Андрей Силинг (Andrey Siling), Василий Буров (Vasiliy Burov) за риск и поддержку этого эксперимента, и огромная благодарность великолепной Ольга Форись (Olga Foris) за сопровождение и заботу.

Hans-Gert Gräbe - Я прослушал это. Почему философы сегодня являются такими агностиками? Подорога призывает к предсказанию цифрового будущего. Почему он сам так слабо в этом бизнесе? И он не одинок в этом, в Германии несколько лет назад было так же спорно с вмешательством Юргена Миттельштасса («Интернет или прекрасный новый мир Леонардо»). Почему нет анализа, похоже по уровне мышления как в Георг Лукач: Разрушение разума (со времен до Адорно) – со всеми трудностями тоже его подхода? А как насчет современной живописи, например, Нео Рауха? Google быстро показывает, что я имею в виду.

Dmitriy Bakhturin - Агностика - это форма знания. И он, в этом смысле, марксист, указывая на кризис, 4й этап развития. А цифра - да, не его. Он так и сказал – хотя бы книжку какую путную почитать про это.

Hans-Gert Gräbe «Агностицизм - это мировоззрение, которое подчеркивает, в частности, основные ограничения человеческого знания, понимания и осознания». Так по крайней мере, немецкая Википедия. Извини, если я не выразил себя достаточно точно. В частности, я не уверен, что «цифровое будущее» правильный перевод английских терминов digital future, digital era or digital change. Я согласен, что стоит «хотя бы книжку какую путную почитать» «про это». История идей, однако, не заканчивается Адорно и Хабермасом, может быть, стоит также всглянуть в книги Joseph Weizenbaum или Donna Haraway? Даже почтёному философу?

English Translation

Dmitriy Bakhturin - Yesterday I had the honor to present a visionary lecture by V.A. Podorogi on the Island 1022. The theme is General feeling. Exalted. After the fall. The speaker traced the evolution of the most important for the modern intellectual concepts and lines - Fear and the Beautiful, their rise and fall (from Burke to Kant, further via Baudelaire to Adorno and beyond). At the end - logically - the talk was about situations in the „current“ (modern) art (read - creativity, read also - between lines - in design). The basic distinction proposed by V.A. Podorogi is „to be captured by art“ vs „to own art“. Be played or play … Thanks to Andrey Siling, Vasily Burov for the risk and support of this experiment, and many thanks to the great Olga Foris for escort and care.

Hans-Gert Gräbe - I listened to this. Why are philosophers today so agnostic? Podorogi calls for a prediction of the digital future. Why is he himself so weak in this business? And he is not alone in this, in Germany several years ago was a controversial about the intervention of Jürgen Mittelstass („Internet or Leonardo’s wonderful new world.”) Why there is no analysis, similar in level of thinking as in Georg Lukácz: Destruction of the mind (a text from the time before Adorno) - with all difficulties also in his approach? What’s about modern painting, for example, Neo Rauch? Google quickly shows what I mean.

Dmitriy Bakhturin - Agnostic is a form of knowledge. And he, in this sense, is a Marxist, pointing to the crisis, 4th stage of development. And cipher – yes, not his. He said so - at least a worthy book to read about it.

Hans-Gert Gräbe - “Agnosticism is a worldview that emphasizes in particular, the main limitations of human knowledge, understanding and awareness.” So at least the German Wikipedia. I’m sorry if I did not express myself accurately enough. In particular, I’m not sure if “цифровое будущее” (cipher future) is the right translation of the English terms digital future, digital era or digital change. I agree that it’s worth “at least some worthwhile book to read” “about this”. The history of ideas, however, does not end with Adorno and Habermas, maybe it’s also worth to take a look at the books of Joseph Weizenbaum or Donna Haraway? Even for the venerable philosopher?

An unrelated comment read in a German Newspaper

The article was published in the German newspaper “Neues Deutschland”, August 11, 2019, p. 19. The translation was compiled by Hans-Gert Gräbe.

Criticism and Jargon

On the 50th anniversary of the death of Theodor W. Adorno - a note. By Velten Schäfer

When a “great thinker” is commemorated, a phrase is standard - “as up-to-date as never!”. Regarding Theodor W. Adorno, who died these days 50 years ago, this update is now even available in book form: The historian Volker Weiß reconstructed an unpublished version of Adorno’s lecture on “Aspects of the New Right Radicalism” for the Suhrkamp publishing house. And in fact, the effort was worth it. Who reads today, what Adorno said in 1967 in the face of a strengthening NPD (German neo-Nazi party - HGG) to Viennese students had, the AfD (a right-wing party whose influence in Germany has equaled that of leading parties in the last two years - HGG) is immediately in mind.

The right-wing think-and-feel package, according to Adorno, is based on one unconscious longing for evil, which is at the same time fought and summoned and gives the right subject a perverse satisfaction. The fear at those times before socialism, anarchism and general moral decay are today “Islamization”, the “Left-winged Daft Oppression Dictatorship” and their supposed project of »big exchange«.

Then as now, right-wing radicalism works with fears of economic declassification, but never against “the apparatus that this causes”. He seeks more vulnerable targets, including those who criticize that apparatus. The nationalist superiority fantasy, that is true then as it is today, breaks track in an alleged humiliation. The authoritarian “solution” is the brutal promise to clean up, to let the masses romp, whereby the power remains protected. Adorno sees right-wing radicalism as a crisis phenomenon of a democracy that “does not completely justifies their own term” - confesses to the delusional a basis in real exclusion experiences too.

The small volume is not only a phenomenon since it after 50 years sounds so present and thus shows how little new is in the “New Right”. More astonishing - and questionable - is his career as commodity: The posthumous Adorno is a hit. These days only the publisher had turn on the printing press again. And that can be alarming: how helpless is a public, that has for an urgent present problem to roll historical manuscripts? And you can also think about a second point: what could this late dose of Adorno do to that public?

The answer to this is ambiguous. In this lecture, whose publication according to records he would have rejected, Adorno underlines, that the right-wing radicalism of bourgeois society is not a threat from the outside. He does not say that as pointedly as Max Horkheimer - »who does not want to talk about capitalism should be silent about fascism” - but in one clarity that would be good for the liberal debate if it came out to draw conclusions. One may hope that some of those educated people (a very raw translation of the German “Bildungsbürger” - HGG) who are now readig that publication will take also a closer look at Critical Theory in their pre-Habermas format. Certainly not at harm for the mainstream.

As far as the intellectual activist left is concerned, however, the opposite is true. Here is to be feared that the success of the small volume leads to an “It’s all yet written in Teddies texts” reflex, to fuel one of the most politically regressive directions of the past two decades; the “Adornism”. What is meant by this the philosopher Meinhardt Creydt explained about 15 years ago in two unfortunately mainly unknown texts: in the kernel a confusion of theoretical reductionism and political radicalism.

While for the individualistic liberalism it is hard at all to be concerned with the idea of a unity called “society” , the adornism tends to absolutisation of social coherence. He is pretty sure always present, when someone speaks didactic on “social totality”, “the value society” or says it lacks others “a concept of the capitalism”. The emphasis here is on the word “the”: the tendency to characterize “society with a single principle” already belongs Adorno’s obvious weaknesses. And the adornism, writes Creydt, condenses this tendency into a jargon of depolitization. Namely if society is “totally” shaped by this one principle, it cannot be attacked, because there is no position outside of it: “From many followers of Adorno’s thinking”, says Creydt, “one gets the impression, that Adorno just happens to be a prompter for a farewell to every more detailed study of society”.

This attitude became disastrously practical, for example, in the financial crisis 2007. There was little more to this academically-moved left than one concerned note: Whoever now demonizes bankers, loses the “totality” out of the view. And concerning the right-wing radicalism, which current rise is strongly related to those years, the adornism forced a position that again comes close to the liberal doxa of the quasi-extra-social phenomenon: everything only “delusion”, “irrational”, no political processing required.

Adornism, so Creydt, is an attitude that “Adorno makes at the same time unambiguous and distortes him beyond recognition”. And that is one point that emphasizes the new small volume. Because in this lecture Adorno answers Gretchen’s question of today’s anti-Nazi different than its dominant adepts: Talking with rights? Yes, of course, but not with their cadres.

Thus, the newly emerging Adorno lecture is recommended reading not just for the liberals, but also the radicals. The latter should also take note of the Adornismus texts Creydts - which are recommended to be published also in a nice small volume.