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on 24 July 2010
It may seem strange but in an era of choice and down-loading Adorno's writings have become more relevant than redundant. Many of his concerns about the Culture Industries have become part of everyday consumption - we no longer have time to listen to LPs but prefer to down-load the best tracks, we hate the long slow takes of foreign films and prefer the fast-cutting of Hollywood films, we no longer experience popular culture together but indulge in ever greater segmentation and minute genres. Although people like to be optimistic, Adorno's unsparing pessimism is ultimately liberating. The Culture Industries generate ever greater alienation - little popular culture satisfies the desire for something more. Adorno's negativity offers hope that actually you can change things.
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on 11 July 2014
Unfortunately, Adorno's theories aged poorly, and he seems to be something of a rambling curmudgeon. His stance on culture is elitist to the point that I'm really not sure how he could have identified as Marxist. Other than that, you also have to drudge through his irritating style of writing. The book does have some redeeming values, but unless you know what you're up for, i wouldn't recommend it.
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on 2 September 2011
It's an irony that Adorno would have appreciated - his work is highly unfashionable but never more relevant and insightful for the age of Simon Cowell. Adorno provokes a knee-jerk reaction from those who just don't "get" him, but you can't reason people out a response they didn't reason themselves into ...
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on 9 March 2011
This is really just an unstructured collection of gripes from the author. There is little depth to his complaints about various "leisure activities" of his day, such as making home radios and playing and listening to jazz. He often comes across as bigoted.
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on 30 July 2008
Adorno's essays develop his theory that "mass culture" - he speaks particularly of modern popular music - has degenerated so that one can only see it today as a commodity. There is, for him, no question of art in this music ; rather the masses' tastes are produced by the industry which sells the music.

Adorno is one of the few writers who have developed in detail the very widespread idea in academic circles that popular music is bereft of any human or artistic value. The whole field of study of popular music has in a way been erected by reaction againt the analyses of Adorno. From this point of view it is important to look at what he wrote.

Nevertheless his analysis is tremendously problematic. If what he says is true, different changes in popular music ( the arrival of rock, punk, rap, blues or techno) reflect nothing more than the introduction of gadgets to sell more records, and in no way reflect social or artistic developments; in this way pop music is seen to be outside history.

Adorno claims a background in marxism, which makes it perhaps all the more surprising that he does not see popular music as a contradictory phenomenon containing voices and values from different social classes, in conflict within the genre. But his marxism was that which had more or less written off the mass of workers as agents of social change. It is then perhaps unsurprisings that for him, as well as not being able to change the world, ordinary workers listen to music, and write music, which is of no value.
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on 23 April 2016

still unread - I ordered the wrong text book!! cannot comment
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on 7 July 2014
It has always amused me how Adorno got away with this drivel. If he was that concerned about the commodification of culture, he would not have sold either his music or his books. He would have distributed them freely for the general edification of mankind.

For somebody so opposed to marketisation, he certainly knew how to sell books. "Stravinsky's music can be traced to bad potty training" (nice one Theo, now let's hear your version of "Les Noces") " Jazz is regressive jungle stuff" "Sibelius is a waste of time" etc etc, Great marketing there. Make outrageous statements and dress your bigotry up in high falutin' lingo and the academics will proclaim you a genius and you will shift units.

Which is a blessing when, as a composer, the best you can manage is reheated Schoenberg (c.1913). What we have here (and through his whole body of work) is the voice of somebody who lost the race and compensates himself by ripping apart others who had more musical talent than he could dream of.
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on 2 December 2016
Good book.
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