By Richard Howells (auth.)
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Extra info for A Critical Theory of Creativity: Utopia, Aesthetics, Atheism and Design
Its agenda is all about the maximisation of profit, not ideological conspiracy. So while Frankfurt rounded upon Hollywood, for example, Hollywood in fact provides clear evidence to the contrary. 12 With capitalism, the box office remains the ultimate sanction. 14 It is in such spaces that Utopia glimmers. To their harsher critics, Adorno and Horkheimer simply got popular culture wrong. But in terms of intellectual history, they took the important step of taking popular culture extremely seriously.
4 What is intriguing here (and this is the beginning of a vital theme) is the amount of time, effort and skill the Amish put into endowing their quilts with aesthetic features which in no way improve their practical facility as economical bed coverings. 5 What, then, was the purpose of the quilt’s decorative form, as opposed to its function? Why go to all that extra trouble in the face of the already serious struggle to keep warm with scraps of old material? Quilting, of course, is not unique to the Amish.
They may not have liked what they found, but they knew that they could not afford to dismiss it. Both high and low culture, said Adorno, contained ‘elements of change’,15 and although he disliked much of popular culture intensely, he nevertheless understood that ‘when, for the sake of humanity, you close yourself off from what has become of humanity ... 17 Although he shared the critical theoretical background of Adorno and Horkheimer, Walter Benjamin’s perspective on popular culture had greater room for Utopian optimism.
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