The Concepts of the Ugly and Primitive
This chapter examines the function of the ugly in Aesthetic Theory, with particular emphasis on the primitive and the archaic. It first considers the meaning of the ugly in relation to Theodor Adorno's understanding of classical aesthetics and his assessment of modern art. It then discusses Adorno's argument against Igor Stravinsky in The Philosophy of Modern Music, and especially his claim that the composer has regressed to classical tonality and flirted with folk art and the primitive as a means of critiquing modern culture. It also explores Adorno's distinction between two modes of the ugly: a positive formalist version utilized by Arnold Schoenberg and a negative one in Stravinsky. It argues that Adorno was more deeply involved in the interpretation of primitive, non-European art than expected, and that he admits the archaic and ugly to the realm of art as a reminder of past and present horror.
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