Mimesis, Critique, Redemption: Creaturely life in and beyond Dialectic of Enlightenment

2017-05-23T00:16:32Z (GMT) by James Dorahy
“The text of Dialectic of Enlightenment,” writes Rüdiger Bittner, “is studded with words of religious origin. We find talk of guilt, of ban, of expiation and reconciliation and, especially prominently, of Unheil – a word that preserves a religious meaning thanks to its evident relation to ‘Heil’ (salvation).” To this list Bittner might have added the creature and its variants creatureliness and creaturely life. The German noun Kreatur is derived from the Lat-in creatura and is a synonym for Geschöpf, both of which signify “the totality of the world, insofar as it is related to the activity of a creator.” However Bittner is not alone in neglecting to bring the creature within Adorno’s theological lexicon. Christopher Craig Brittain, in his excellent study of Adorno and Theology, adds Bilderverbot—the prohibition on images of the divine—justice and the messianic to the terms identified by Bittner, yet, like Bittner, makes no reference to the creature—and this despite references in Dialectic of Enlightenment (DE) to the creaturely counting higher than the majority of these terms by some way. From one perspective, this relative neglect is surprising: the concept of creatureliness has emerged as an increasingly influential vehicle for the philosophical and literary analysis, and critique, of modernity.