In 1966 Theodor W. Adorno devoted an affectionate essay to his recollections of the provincial Frankish village of Amorbach, where he spent summers as a child and to which he returned in later life. Literally and figuratively, the essay centers on the experience and concept of utopia. Adorno's recollection of childhood moments of self-absorbed play preserves the lived experience in a way that forever links present and past and that also holds open a space for the experience of utopia: u-topia, no-place—a realm of imagined borderless freedom. Resonances with Amorbach in Adorno's letters reveal subterranean links to the equally utopic experience of romantic love. The landscape near Amorbach appears again in Negative Dialectics, where its visualization is invoked as the nearest analogue to metaphysical experience. Translated into language, these lived experiences serve as images of memory, happiness, and philosophical need while retaining the ungraspable remainder that, the commentary argues, is a necessary and desirable aspect of every translation. The essay “Amorbach” exemplifies the kind of thinking that Adorno, in the last paragraph of Negative Dialectics, refers to as “in solidarity with metaphysics at the instant of its overthrow.”

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