This is my undergraduate dissertation submitted at the University of Brighton. The dissertation is an examination of musical temporality as conceived by Theodor Adorno. I argue that Adorno was far from an elitist, although he may have been a snob. Negative dialectics is a system of thinking that refuses to allow for stasis and reification. Because of this, thinking remains in check and is refused the opportunity to see itself as identical to the world it seeks to understand. From here, I examine what art means for Adorno. Art is not supposed to be pleasing, is not supposed to be entertainment. I focus specifically on musical temporality in order to show that way that art can be thoroughly critical without adhering to the desires of outside forces. The final chapter gives a critique of the limits of Adorno’s ideas and show that there is still a way to be critical in music while thinking through the framework of negative dialectics. I argue that free improvisation offers a way of thinking about musical temporality that is both critical and artistic.
This dissertation was submitted for the MA in Cultural and Critical Theory at the University of Leeds. It evaluates the distinction between nature and history, as well as the distinction between human nature and culture. The intention is to demonstrate, through both dialectical philosophy and contemporary scientific research, that climate change is currently articulated in such a way that perpetuates the impossibility of even thinking of a solution. Beginning with an exposition of the dialectic, I then demonstrate the way that history is nature, and how nature is history. From this I focus specifically on the notion of self-preservation and the way that it appears as inescapably and naturally individualistic. The self-preservation instinct cannot exist if it is not mediated through society, and my intention is to show how the individualistic sheen on self-preservation is both a product and necessary component of contemporary society. The mediation of the self-preservation instinct through capitalist society both perpetuates climate change and prevents individuals from doing anything other than participating in their own demise. From here I turn to Walter Benjamin and his essay Der destruktive Charakter. I re-evaluate this essay in order to show how destruction is posited as an emancipatory force, and how the destructive character is a revolutionary subject. The final and concluding chapter brings the dissertation together to argue that the only way to prevent climate change, the only chance for true emancipation, is the destruction of nature.