Should one laugh at, cry over, or be inspired by Theodor W. Adorno's engagements with popular culture? It would perhaps be a risky, ridiculous, and disingenuous enterprise to position Adorno as either an enthusiast or a fan. Rather, being an “uncompromisingly critical thinker” (kompromißlos kritisch Denkende) is Adorno's preferred approach to philosophizing culture. Yet Hellings argues that Adorno's conceptualization of being uncompromising unintentionally supports an amorous subject and comportment, which is not altogether dissimilar to being an enthusiastic fan. This article, therefore, reads Adorno's philosophy of culture against the grain, and it does so by focusing on a constellation of concepts: fan, fanatic, fanaticism, Schwärmerei, Begeisterung, playfulness, and love. The article attempts to salvage a notion of critical fandom in and against Adorno: to give serious and uncompromising participants of (popular) culture a chance. This attempted rescue is intended to allow for a more extensive reconsideration of the relations between philosophy and fandom.
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Research Article| February 01 2013
James Hellings; Precautions against Fan(atic)s: A Reevaluation of Adorno's Uncompromising Philosophy of Popular Culture. New German Critique 1 February 2013; 40 (1 (118)): 149–174. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0094033X-1812604
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