By Andreas Huyssen
Today's problem to the divide among mass tradition and modernism is going via the identify of the postmodern. Huyssen argues that postmodernism itself can't be considered as a thorough holiday with the earlier, as its inventive and political thoughts are indebted to that different development in the tradition of modernity - the old avant garde.
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Adorno's blindnesses have to be interpreted as simultaneously theoretical and historical ones. Indeed, his theory may appear to us today as a ruin of history , mutilated and damaged by the very conditions of its articulation and genesis: defeat of the German working class, triumph and subsequent exile of modernism from central Europe, fascism, Stalinism and the Cold War. I do not feel the need to either resurrect or bury Adorno, as the saying goes. Both gestures ultimately fail to place Adorno in the ever shifting context of our attempts to understand the culture of modernity.
And yet, reading Adorno against the grain opens up precisely some of these spaces inside his texts where we might want to begin rewriting his account for a postmodern age. Prehistory and Culture Industry To write aprehistory of the modern was the stated goal of Benjamin's never completed arcades project on 19th-century Paris. The dispute between Be~amin and Adorno revolving around their different readings of cultural commodification and of the relationship between prehistory and modernity is well-documented and researched.
The overriding concern here is the question of what happens to musical time in Wagner's oeuvre. Adorno argues that time becomes abstract and as such defies musical and dramatic development on the 38 AFTER THE GREAT DMDE level of melody as weil as on that of character. The musical material is pulverized, characters are frozen and static. "47 The predominance of"sound" in Wagner also dissolves the temporal pressures ofharmony. It spatializes musical time, depriving it, as it were, of its historical determinations.
After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism by Andreas Huyssen