Kittler

Following from the previous post, another feature in the latest Artforum is a discussion of the work of Friedrich Kittler. But more compelling for me was Diedrich Diederichsen’s mention of the same thinker. According to Diederichsen, he was a scornful debunker of Adorno. As a great admirer of Adorno I naturally find that very interesting. At another point Diederichsen refers to “…bourgeois Marxists who have abandoned the utopia of self-fulfillment but continue to believe in the concept of art…” I guess that’s me, so felt a bit of a twinge, but of course he is paraphrasing Kittler on Adorno. I find Diederichsen much more believable than Kittler, even in his critique of Adorno. He points out that the Frankfurt School’s image of a better world, found in memories of bourgeois childhood, is not believable today—I would add because it contradicts one of Adorno’s more compelling formulations, that “the only origin is ephemeral life.” He goes on to say

“Nevertheless, every concept of art as well as of progressive culture more generally can be measured by its ability to resist totality—which is not necessarily the same as political resistance, even if the two are often confused. This is true whether the resistance to the gigantic takes place on the level of media or their technological composition at any given moment or whether it is premised on a negation of the commodity form in the specificity of, for example, an artistic object.”

Readers of this blog will know that I am interested in the specificity of the object as a place to leverage a critique of global conceptualism, meaning an education/culture/tourism complex larger than art itself. Meanwhile Kittler’s version of the “post-human” seems undistinguished to me. I humbly submit that my idea of the “inhuman” is better, not least because it invokes the sublime—what Diederichsen calls the gigantic—in a productive way.

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