Adorno ‘Minima Moralia’ – a note on Rhinos

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 10.50.19‘The unreality of games announces that what is real, is not yet real. They are unconscious practice exercises of the right life. The relationship of children to animals rests entirely on the fact that in the latter, which Marx even begrudged the surplus value they deliver to workers, utopia is cloaked. Because animals exist without any mission recognizable to human beings, they represent their own names as expression, as it were – as what is utterly not exchangeable. This endears them to children and makes their contemplation a joy. I am a rhinoceros, signifies the form of the rhinoceros’ ‘Minima Moralia’ 1951

One thought on “Adorno ‘Minima Moralia’ – a note on Rhinos

  1. I guess I am going to need to explain this a bit more soon … Alfonso de Albuquerque, the Portuguese second viceroy of India, from 1506, with superior ships, secures control of the Indian Ocean over-against the Ottomans for the next 100 years. It was a not insignificant moment in an ocean that must be thought of as the site of the first globalisation, with Asian and Arabic trade running back millennia. Portugal then extends their trade, as the Ottomans and others had done before, as far as Malacca on the Malay Peninsula and through the Indonesian Archipelago, seeking the fabled spice islands in the Moluccas. In India, Albuquerque wanted to build a fort in Dui, Gujarat, and to negotiate this in 1514 sent envoys with gifts to Sultan Muzafar II, ruler of Cambay, who like Qian Long, also refuses the request, in turn sending, as is the way, a gift for Albuquerque to take to the Portuguese King. This gift was a Gujarati Rhinoceros named Ganda, and his keeper Ocem. This rhinoceros is shipped back to Portugal via Madagascar, St Helena and then the Portuguese King decides in 1516 to send it on to the Pope in the Vatican City. This Pope had, apparently, been thrilled at a gift the previous year of a white elephant. That the pope that was to receive the Rhino Ganda and had been previously very pleased to get a White Elephant would suggest the possibility of a long discussion of Animals, and we have not even got to Robinson yet. A white elephant. I was curious about the origins of this phrase. A gift of a white elephant apparently is not a sign of favour. Thai rulers would give such precious beasts to rival, to occupy and exhaust their finances in the upkeep of the notoriously fragile animal and so have few resources for a challenge to power. The white elephant as a gift has connotations of respect and insult.

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