MINIMA MORALIA: Reflections from the damaged life. By THEODOR ADORNO

PART THREE: 1946-1947. Aphorism #153: At the end.

Translated by Dennis Redmond


At the end. – The only philosophy which would still be accountable in the face of despair, would be the attempt to consider all things, as they would be portrayed from the standpoint of redemption. Cognition has no other light than that which shines from redemption out upon the world; all else exhausts itself in post-construction and remains a piece of technics. Perspectives must be produced which set the world beside itself, alienated from itself, revealing its cracks and fissures, as needy and distorted as it will one day lay there in the messianic light. To win such perspectives without caprice or violence, wholly by the feel for objects, this alone is what thinking is all about. It is the simplest of all things, because the condition irrefutably call for such cognitions, indeed because completed negativity, once it comes fully into view, shoots [zusammenschiesst] into the mirror-writing of its opposite. But it is also that which is totally impossible, because it presupposes a standpoint at a remove, were it even the tiniest bit, from the bane [Bannkreis] of the existent; meanwhile every possible cognition must not only be wrested from that which is, in order to be binding, but for that very reason is stricken with the same distortedness and neediness which it intends to escape. The more passionately thought seals itself off from its conditional being for the sake of what is unconditional, the more unconsciously, and thereby catastrophically, it falls into the world. It must comprehend even its own impossibility for the sake of possibility. In relation to the demand thereby imposed on it, the question concerning the reality or non-reality of redemption is however almost inconsequential.

This entry was posted in Dennis Redmond, Theodor Adorno. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to MINIMA MORALIA, No. 153

  1. peterln says:

    Great to see this translated and freely available on the web. Adorno deserves much wider recognition. On the whole this is a valiant effort of translation given Adorno’s notorious semantic and syntactic difficulties. Only three comments on the translation.

    My translation of the first sentence would be:

    ‘The only philosophy that can be responsibly practised in the face of despair is the attempt to contemplate everything as it would present itself from the standpoint of redemption.’

    In line 9 of your translation the transitive verb ‘lay’ has been incorrectly used instead of the intransitive verb ‘lie’ (a common contemporary confusion, perhaps since Bob Dylan incorrectly sang ‘Lay Lady Lay’ and wasn’t talking to his pet hen; grammatically, people should lie on beds, not lay eggs on them).

    ‘Bannkreis’ cannot be translated by ‘bane’. ‘Bann’ does not mean ‘ruin’ but ‘spell’ or ‘magic charm’. ‘Bannkreis’ itself could just be translated as ‘spell’.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s