He was saying that the culture that produced the poetry of Goethe and Rilke also produced the language of the Final Solution:
And this corrodes even the knowledge of why it has become impossible to write poetry today. What did Adorno mean, exactly, by that phrase?
How could writing poetry after a calamity such as Auschwitz, and by extension a horror like the Holocaust, be something barbaric? Doesn't poetry console in moments of mourning and despair? And more to the point today: Is writing poetry after Gaza also barbaric? What would that mean?
The preeminent Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish is no longer alive. But were he alive today, how would he react to the carnage in Gaza? He would have either committed suicide like the magnificent Lebanese poet Khalil Hawi who did so in protest against the brutish Israeli invasion of Lebanon inor he would respond with his poetry.
So how would we read Adorno's pronouncement today - after the barbaric slaughter of Palestinians by Israelis in Gaza?
First, let's put what Adorno said in context. In his essay, Adorno asserts that "the traditional transcendent critique of ideology is obsolete", meaning "there are no more ideologies in the authentic sense of false consciousness, only advertisements for the world through its duplication and the provocative lie which does not seek belief but commands silence".
We have, he is saying, hit a narrative cul-de-sac in our critique of ideology, for we are integral to that ideology. The insularity of that ideology has now metastasised into shades upon shades of advertisements, which engulf and transmute the very nature of our critical faculties.
Ideology has become amorphous.
Massacre at Dawn Adorno is after a critic of what he calls "the total society", a society where everything, including cultural criticism, has been brought into being, concretised, the critic and the subject of his or her criticism indistinguishable.
It is right here that Adorno suddenly adds: Cultural criticism finds itself faced with the final stage of the dialectic of culture and barbarism. To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.
But the sinister, integrated society of today no longer tolerates even those relatively independent, distinct moments to which the theory of the causal dependence of superstructure on base once referred. We are here in a hall of mirrors, where culture and cultural criticism keep reflecting each other, generating the illusion of defiance, consolation, liberation - but in effect plunging us ever deeper into the abyss.
An open-air prison It is here that, in an uncanny sentence written inAdorno uses a metaphor that points decades forward to Gaza: But hasn't Gaza, as a camp - a concentration or internment camp - also become that reified totality of the world the way Adorno diagnosed it?
In his Remnants of Auschwitz: But the testimonial distance between Auschwitz and Gaza is precisely where Adorno's cul-de-sac rests its case. This much is all known and familiar to students of Adorno.
Now the question is when we fast forward from when he wrote that essay to today, when we are witness to the Israeli slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza, what do we see?
Look at Israeli society today, when it has unleashed its gargantuan military machine against a mostly defenceless population.
Kill them as they play on the beachkill them in the playgroundkill their crippledkill them as they pray in their mosque. What does all of this amount to? Doesn't it come together to define what Zionism actually means today, as compared with its original potential? They said there were no Palestinians.
Today, Palestinians are Palestinians, if by nothing else, by virtue of a history of unconscionable suffering and heroic defiance. They are Israelis by virtue of what? By a shared and sustained murderous history - from Deir Yassin in to Gaza in Is that not Zionism, the ideological foundation stone of being an Israeli?
This is what Adorno meant when he said, "after Auschwitz poetry is barbarism". This is what he had diagnosed, this is what he had anticipated.
Israel is the puerile poetry after Auschwitz. It is barbarism manifest - and in that it is the microcosm of the world it inhabits, from Saudi Arabia and Egypt that support it, to Iran and Turkey that feign to oppose it, from the US and Europe that arm it, to China and Russia that look for lucrative business within it.When my turn came to offer a few comments on the dissertation, I pointed out that what Adorno had said was that it was barbaric to write poetry after Auschwitz, not that it was impossible.
And then I went on to note that, in any case, he later took it back, conceding that “perennial suffering has as much right to expression as the tortured. More information about Adorno (back to top) contents of the memorial collection from which the above interview is taken Origin of quotation " To write a poem after Auschwitz is barbaric ".
We inevitably begin with Theodor Adorno's famous injunction, "To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric." Susan Gubar disagrees, as do I. Theodor Adorno famously insisted that “to write a poem after Auschwitz is barbaric,” and Primo Levi introduced his readers to a fellow inmate at Auschwitz who had scratched a similar warning.
Theodor W. Adorno (/ Adorno's dictum—"To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric"—posed the question of what German culture could mean after Auschwitz; his own continual revision of this dictum—in Negative Dialectics, for example.
(Adorno, , p) To render the Holocaust experience a work of literature, to express it through written language, necessarily imports some meaning to it, which it arguably does not warrant.
In this manner the representation of the Holocaust becomes intolerably offensive to both the survivors and post-Holocaust cultural sensibility alike.