Volume 12, Issue 1/2, 2009
Art, Praxis, and Social Transformation
Family, Inner Life, and the Amusement Industry
I critically engage Max Horkheimer’s “Art and Mass Culture” from Critical Theory. I split Horkheimer’s essay into three parts, which correspond to the three sections of my essay. The first section details the objective historical conditions that have lead up to Horkheimer’s diagnosis. The second section describes the change in consciousness that corresponds to these conditions, and the third section outlines Horkheimer’s critique of Mortimer Adler and art that belongs to “the amusement industry.” I describe the basic elements of Horkheimer’s aesthetic theory, use several pieces of art as examples of the application of the theory, and
provide contemporary analogues in order to illustrate the relevance of the essay to today’s world.