Justin Kaushall (University of Warwick): Utopian Spontaneity: Adorno’s Concept of Mimesis and Surrealist Automatic Writing


  • 5.15pm - 6.15pm

  • Hunter Building, Hunter Lecture Theatre (017)
    74 Lauriston Place
    Edinburgh
    EH3 9DF

In this talk I discuss an aporia in Adorno’s work, and argue that Surrealist poetry may provide a path out of the crisis. It is unclear how Adorno’s concept of mimetic comportment brings about the expression of utopia as nonidentity, because expression results from the imitation of reified life. If expression is bound to reification, how can it present an image of freedom? I argue that, in automatic writing, the subject attains proximity to unconscious processes that are not repressed by reason. In this way, the subject imitates freedom, and materiality demonstrates its agency, which appears in the spontaneous affinities between words and images in Surrealist poetry. Surrealist images demonstrate their agency through the spontaneous connections that appear in the poem; such connections form a model of freedom that does not involve violently mastering nature, because surrealist images are fragments that long to be reconciled into a nonviolent togetherness that preserves difference.

Justin Neville Kaushall is a PhD student in the Philosophy Department at the University of Warwick. His research interests are: Adorno’s Critical Theory and Aesthetics, Kant's Critique of Judgment, Western Marxism, Beckett's novels and short fiction, and Dadaist and Surrealist art and poetry.