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Radical Philosophy Review

Volume 12, Issue 1/2, 2009

Art, Praxis, and Social Transformation

Joseph Weiss
Pages 273-287

Transforming Mimetic Play
Adorno’s Resistance to the Formalism of the Death Drive

At stake in Adorno’s aesthetics in general, and his analysis of musical development in particular, is the manner in which artworks resist the formal, subjective characteristics of the death drive’s play. In order to win back control, as it were, of a mastery that has hardened nature’s particularity, Adorno conceives of a transformed, critical mimesis. Ultimately the work of the contemporary Finish composer, Kaija Saariaho, is revealed as an exemplary instance of a transformed mimetic play which critiques the menacing elements of the death drive, but does not altogether discard it.

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