Hector Rottweiller


Bashing out notes for a lecture/text on the Culture Industry. Reading Adorno’s essay ‘National Socialism and the Arts’. He wrote this in 1946, but I think he might have meant it to be read today. When he talks about the social and political situation of popular music after the second imperialist world war – as the continuation/modification of the spirit that birthed Hitler – I can only think this resonates with the way commercialization has been totally operationalized in the situation of imperialism today. Or maybe worse, in a way, well, that might have made both Adorno and the Nazi’s blush. Sure, there is still a lot of examples where you can point to ‘oppositional’ elements in music, and the injunction that ‘nothing should be moist’ (Adorno) still has not taken hold absolutely everywhere, but sometimes even the moisture just tastes like a ‘sexual lozenge’ (Leiris) we are sold to keep us quiet. Adorno pointed out how it would be an error to think there ‘ever sprung to life a specifically musical Nazi culture’ but, rather, what was ‘profoundly changed by the system was the function of music which now openly became a means to an end, a propaganda device’ (Adorno 1945/2002:283 [Essays on Music]). The exponential exacerbation of this tendency today is not just the use of quaint guitar pop to introduce political leaders – Fleetwood Mac for Clinton, Oasis and Bliar, Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ for U.S. Gulf War Generals, but the all pervasive trivializing of music in every sphere of our lives as mere flavour and colour. No longer rhythm and sonorous life, just the clitter clutter of the new aural gadgetry. Should we be bothered (?) that: music on music-television has become mere jingles for lifestyle shows and fashion shoots; ring-tone downloads reduce melody to mechanical alarms; football games punctuate scoring moves with sampled pop refrains from the worst back lists; hip hop stars advertise acne creams: “I’m moisturizing my situation…” and do it on prime time. Role models yeah, I guess they gotta get paid… What then for creativity and listening, articulated in the market, killed at the store. Ready Mr Music please…

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  • John Hutnyk  On 26/07/2006 at 10:59

    Rottweiler,Hektor (Adorno,Th.) Zeitschrift f.Sozialforschung,Jahrg.1/1936 (über JAzz),

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  • By Repetition « trinketization on 20/03/2008 at 06:15

    [...] Notes on Repetition. Adorno says no. (as Hektor Rottwieller) Marx quotes Hegel – tragedy and farce. Deleuze quotes Nietzsche- eternally. Difference [...]

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  • By Beyond Exoticism « trinketization on 21/10/2009 at 22:06

    [...] I’ve some minor quibbles with Taylor’s description of ADF as hip hop, not drum and bass, or as a ‘could have been Public Enemy’. This strikes me as too easy – a kind of imperious assumption that hip hop is the prism through which all parts of culture production must only be seen – a kind of blinding by bling perhaps, and though we do not ignore it, we do address more dexterous translations of hip hop and other influences – not merely as hybrid mash-up. There is a book edited by Dipa Basu that examines just this. Now, its heart warming to see Taylor endorses some of what I say – about commercialisation of exotica and on radical hybridity for example – but I think he misses a lot of the detail because he is thinking these things through the prism of a west coast musicology frame. Nothing clearly wrong with that I guess, but I would have liked to see some involvement with the politics of these issues, not only scholarly comment. That’s black, that’s not. He endorses my question ‘What would a radical hybridity look like?’, but now I want to ask for a radical scholarship alongside radical hybridity. Yep, this is something I am very keen to promote. Can Taylor fire up? Not everyone has to join the communist party or even sign up with Adorno within the academy – but I am concerned that scholarship slides into knowing quietism. And why does he seem to not like Adorno? – saying at the end of the book that he is ‘not ready to follow the Adorno route’. This of course is not necessarily to endorse the fabricated and erroneous versions of Adorno that prevail in universities these days, but I am curious to know why he felt the need to end the book with the usual ‘Adorno-thought- consumers-were- all-just automatons’ routine? I think its good to remember that Adorno wrote his essay ‘On Jazz’ under the pseudonym Hector Rottweiler… [...]

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