This is an extended sequence of poems and verse-essays about T.W. Adorno, taking a lead from various passages in his most accessible and engaging book Minima Moralia. The poems, like the book, are a complex amalgam of politics (always their ultimate focus) with philosophy, sociology, cultural commentary, aesthetic theory, and – not least – autobiographical reflections. The latter range from Adorno’s fondly nostalgic reminiscences of early childhood to thoughts of how school-playground bullying prefigured Nazi violence and how the experience of US exile in the 1940s evoked those same memories.
The poems are examples of ‘creative criticism’, a genre that in this case allows the interaction of Adorno’s hard-pressed negative dialectics with a range of exacting poetic forms, metrical arrangements, and rhyme-schemes. They are ‘formalist’ in the active – properly dialectical – sense of deploying such structural resources to draw out meanings and implications that are latent or unspoken in the source-text. The book is thus on the one hand a tribute to Adorno’s unequalled powers as a social critic and cultural-political theorist and on the other a case for the kind of poetry that engages issues beyond the narrowly personal remit of much contemporary verse.
About the author: Christopher Norris is Emeritus Professor in Philosophy at the University of Cardiff and author of many books on philosophy, literary theory, music, and the history of ideas. The present collection is a sequel to Hedgehogs: verse-reflections after Derrida (utopos, 2020).