Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Addendum on Affirmationism: 'The Pure Tone Drips with Positivity'

Re-reading Adorno's The Jargon of Authenticity and came across this quote, which captures rather better than I did the dual sense of 'affirmation' that runs together existence with the good:

'Simply to be there becomes the merit of a thing. It is guaranteed in the protection of the double sense of the positive: as something existent, given, and as something worthy of being affirmed. Positive and negative are reified prior to living experience, as though they were valid prior to all living experience of them; as though it was not thought that first of all determined what is positive or negative; and as though the course of such determination were not itself the course of negation.' (21)

There is much I could, and probably should, unpack from this. One thread is that although I vectored affirmationism through Nietzsche, we could also do so through Heidegger and Heideggereanism. Adorno's (and Benjamin's) scepticism concerning the fundamentally abstract nature of the phenomenological 'concrete' resonates with its affirmation of the existent and its refusal or demarcation of negativity (obviously complicated in the case of Heidegger through his reference to 'Nichts', but still capable of critique as a reification of the negative). This would also have implications for reference to the 'concrete' that derive from phenomenology, especially in the delimitation of negation.


Anonymous said...

I don't know if you saw this, but I did a post on the problems of conflating metaphysical, logical, and affective connotations of positivity/negativity not that long ago. Still haven't read your book I'm afraid, but it's on the list!


Benjamin said...

I did, and found it fascinating (and somewhat more precise than me - I always struggle with those 'basic' philosophical distinctions). The book is soon in paperback, if that's any encouragement - I'd be interested to know what you think