Friday, 9 May 2008

Adorno re. Dictating as Provisional Step in the Writing Process, Termed "Sacrificial Lamb" ...

Aphorism No. 135 – Lämmergeier.
[Sacrificial lamb., bearded vulture 'Gypaetus barbatus']

Dictating is not merely more comfortable, and is not merely a spur to the concentration, but has in addition an objective advantage. Dictation makes it possible for the author to slide into the position of the critic during the earliest phases of the production process. What one puts down is non-binding, provisional, mere material for reworking; once transcribed, however, it appears as something alienated and to a certain extent objective. One need not fear establishing anything, which ought not to remain, for one does not have to write: one takes responsibility by playing a practical joke on responsibility. The risk of formulation takes the harmless initial form of effortlessly presented memos, then work on something which already exists, so that one can no longer even perceive one’s own temerity. In view of the difficulty, which has increased to desperate levels, of any theoretical expression, such tricks are a blessing. They are a technical means of assistance of dialectical procedure, which makes statements, in order to take them back and nevertheless hold them fast. Thanks however are due to those who take dictation, when they flush out the author at the right moment through contradiction, irony, nervousness, impatience and lack of respect. They draw rage to themselves. This rage is channeled from the storehouse of the bad conscience, with which authors otherwise mistrust their own texts and which the author would be that much more stubborn about leaving in the presumably holy text. The emotional affect, which ungratefully turns against the burdensome helper, benevolently purifies the relation to the matter [Sache]. — Theodor W. Adorno

(Aphorism No. 135, taken from: "Minima Moralia. Reflections on a Damaged Life", 1951 by Theodor W. Adorno. Translation by Dennis Redmond.)

Link to English translation: Adorno Achives - Minima Moralia (Engl)

No comments: