This article proposes that it is the notion of the “image” that provides the key to how Adorno understands interpretation in both philosophy and art. It seeks to show that it is especially music, and musical interpretation as performance, that provides the model for Adorno's conception of philosophical interpretation. It argues that interpretation is a practice that also involves the making of something, as poesis, and that Adorno's ideal for this is interpretation as musical performance. Through a rereading of the concepts of riddle-character (Rätselcharakter), interpretation (Deutung), and image (Bild) in Adorno's philosophical and musical texts from the early 1930s to the late 1960s and material from the Nachlass, the case is made that his conception of interpretation involves not only the decipherment of the riddle-character of art but also the construction of further “interpretive” riddle figurations, as “dialectical images.”

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