• Wounds and Willful Objects: Art, Abject Sorrow and Adorno’s Totality

    Intaglio Journal (view group) , Emily Barton
    Intaglio Journal
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    Adorno’s conception of “serious art” posits that art rejects mimesis, has autonomy from the world as well as from itself but can, however, simultaneously be about the world. Autonomy, from my vantage, has always signaled will, volition, positive and negative freedom. Positive freedom being freedom from internal restraints—the art being autonomous from itself—while negative freedom is freedom from external restraints—the art being autonomous from the world. My interest here is directly implicated in Adorno’s totality. This totality, I posit, is the culture industry. However, through the course of this essay I argue that film’s that prompt abject sorrow—or perhaps anxiety—can rupture or go un-subsumed by this totality. This rejection of subsumption, I posit, implicated in what Sara Ahmed calls “willful objects”. To demonstrate this I take as my objects, Sean Baker’s 2017 film The Florida Project, Steve McQueen’s 2009 Hunger and Jonathon Demme’s 1991 The Silence of the Lambs. The integral aspect to the potential rupturing of the culture industry, and what I ultimately hope to explicate, is through the duration of affect in the body of the spectator by the film. Time is made insignificant by the culture industry; I endeavor to make it significant again.
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