Adorno: The Stars Down to Earth and Other Essays on the Irrational in Culture
The essays collected here offer an analysis of the irrational dimensions of modern culture which is both timely and disturbing in the 1990s. Adorno's ... Show synopsis The essays collected here offer an analysis of the irrational dimensions of modern culture which is both timely and disturbing in the 1990s. Adorno's ideas are relevant to the understanding of phenomena as apparently diverse as astrology and "New Age" cults, the power of neo-fascist propaganda and the re-emergence of anti-Semitism, and the psychological basis of popular culture. The longest essay, "The Stars Down To Earth" offers a content analysis of the astrology column in a 1950s Los Angeles newspaper. Adorno argues that the column promotes psychological dependency and social conformism in much the same way as fascist propaganda. He maintains that the same principles operate in the mainstream products of "the culture industry." The three shorter papers illuminate different aspects of Adorno's argument: the relation of occultism to orthodox modern thought, the pervasiveness of anti-Semitism, and the "psycho-technic" rhetoric of fascist propaganda. Stephen Crook's introduction critically reviews Adorno's argument and offers an assessment of its contemporary relevance. Taken together, these essays offer an astringent antidote to any facile optimism about the democratic and pluralist character of postmodern popular culture. Adorno identifies an irrationalist dynamic which implicates the most enlightened and emancipated elements of contemporary culture. His unsettling arguments demand the attention of anyone interested in popular culture, critical theory, racism, and authoritarian politics.