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"One can tell if one is happy by listening to the wind. This latter reminds the unhappy of the fragility of their house and pursues them in fitful sleep and violent dreams. To the happy, it sings the song of their safety and security: its raging whistle registers the fact that it no longer has any power over them."

Minima Moralia: Reflections from the Damaged Life is a book written by German sociologist and philosopher Theodor W. Adorno during his exile in California in the 1940s. Translator Dennis Redmond has released his translation under creative commons (here is the same translation set up in a more book-like way). In his essay Promiscuous Reading, Mark O'Connell talks about his habit of never finishing books, but an exception being "this captivatingly strange and mordant text" Minima Moralia, "a thematically wayward aggregation of a hundred and fifty-three short essays and aphorisms that darts restlessly from one subject matter to the next, its fleeting yet intense engagements rarely spanning more than a page and a half." Among the subject matters Adorno addresses is the ethics of writing, which has reverberated down through the years, and is often set up in opposition to George Orwell's thought, as recounted by James Miller in the essay Lingua Franca. [more inside]
posted by Kattullus on Dec 28, 2012 - 31 comments

The Principles of the Weighty Tome

" . . . every second was the narrow gate, through which the Messiah could enter."
There is a lot we do not know about September 27, 1940. On that day, Walter Benjamin found out that he needed a visa to cross the border from France into Spain. By September 28, he was dead. Was it a suicide? Was he murdered by Stalin? He carried trunks with his last works. What was in them? These questions will never be answered, but Benjamin is not lost to us. He told us about the culture of print and photograph. He probed the metaphysics of hashish. Through fashion, feuilleton, and flânerie, he traced the lineaments of the modern city. His task, as he saw it, was one of reading and critique, the illumination of modernity.
posted by nasreddin on Sep 4, 2007 - 17 comments

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