The Danger of (Over)Interpretation: On Adorno’s Plea Against Artistic Semblance and “Micrological Study”

Naturally, this bit by Menachem Feuer about Adorno and autonomous art reminds this reader of Talmud –especially the passage from p.101 about splintering.

Schlemiel Theory


When someone sees a great artwork or reads a compelling novel or poem, he or she usually wants to know why it has such an affect.  Is it the choice of words?  Is it the theme? Is it the critique it levels on society? Humanity? Religion? As a literary and cultural critic, I know very well what its like to explore these questions.   When I teach courses on literature and philosophy, I often tell my students to see themselves as literary or philosophical detectives or psychoanalysts so as to figure out what is said and what is not said.  (The latter being more important than the former.)  For in doing so, one can get at the meaning of poems and art.  As Walt Whitman once suggested in his poem “Song of Myself,” we all want to get at the meaning of poems.  With this in mind, he tells his reader…

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About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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