I felt extremely challenged by today's reading, in part because I wasn't aware we had to do it until last night. That said, I found the concepts explored to be fascinating stuff, and I am glad I at least tried to make sense of it all before class. What is most compelling to me right now is the connections between the ideas proposed in each work; I am in part seeking to make a coherent whole, to decipher a "school", to isolate a discourse that could be called postmodern. But from the very beginning of my attempt to make meaning out of these works I encounter a challenge from Derrida. He pushes against my notions of how to make sense of a body of writing, highlighting problems with trying to create new thoughts within the methodology of an old system. I have been accustomed to seeking totality, or the farthest I can go in that direction, and suddenly I am confronted with Derrida's play. So until I am better able to condense my thoughts about our reading, I too will have to become a bricoleur of sorts, and draw from what I am able to understand now, with hopes later of acquiring new methods and tools for understanding this material. In the meantime, I will briefly compare Adorno/Horkheimer and Benjamin, since I thought they offered interesting and different perspectives on similar phenomena.
Both are intensely concerned with what they perceive to be big changes in how art functions in society, especially in relation to mass consumption. I read a very different perspective in each as to the what the primary force was behind this shift, and thus who benefitted most. Adorno sees mass production of art, and the shift from perceiving art in a "concentrated" vs. "distracted" manner to be an evil trick of concentrated capitalist power that benefits the few who are really in charge. Benjamin, however, I saw to see mass reproduction as ultimately beneficial to "the masses" who he regarded in a much more positive (Marxist?) light, and the changes in the function of art as beneficial insofar as they put tools for subversive expression into more peoples' hands. I'll finish this in a second post.