This relatively small book (as Critical Theory texts go) consists of aphorisms, written during Adorno’s exile from Naziism and his return to post-World War II Germany. This form is especially well-suited to Adorno’s critique of the paradoxes, illusions, and alienation that constitutes modern civilization — a critique centered on culture. Most disturbingly, Adorno, in many of these aphorisms, connects aspects of modern society to the rise of totalitarianism. He does this with an unrivaled lucidity and skill for distillation of complex notions and observation — an abilitiy to, as Orwell phrased it, face unpleasant facts.
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