This article pursues the possibility of a non-reified thinking in the act of “rescuing” through critique. If the objective of such thinking were to rescue something without thereby becoming affirmative, to retain something that is about to disappear for good without thereby becoming an instrument of apologia for the status quo, then what kind of relationship can be imagined to connect the sphere of vigilant thought, along with the critical writing that it sponsors, to the nonaffirmative rescuing of its elusive and nonself-identical objects? A reconsideration of the critical dialogue between Walter Benjamin and Theodor W. Adorno, in which the concept of “rescuing” plays a crucial role, along with a close reading of key passages from works including The Arcades Project and Negative Dialectics, provides significant insights into the centrality and difficulty of this question, both for the Frankfurt School and for critical thought more generally.

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