believed the present, however unpromising,nto be pregnant with a betternfuture, Johnson’s emphasis on a consciousnessnof “radical needs” as thenspringboard to revolution is largelyninspired, if that is the right word, bynHeller’s extensive writings.nIn the last two-thirds of the book,nJohnson discusses briefly, and inadequately,nwhat translations she couldnlocate of work by Walter Benjamin,nBertolt Brecht, Theodor Adorno, HerbertnMarcuse, Louis Althusser, andnPierre Macherey. They, along withnBritain’s Terry Eagleton, are commendednfor their Marxist approach,nbut found wanting because, unlikenLukacs, they have been unable tondiscern the promise of change in contemporarynexistence. Along the way,nshe treats us to some delicious morselsnof radical esoterica. I, for one, did notnknow that the lamentable Althussern(who not so long ago killed his wife)ndistinguishes between mechanismsnused by the “repressive state apparatuses”n(RSAs) and those used by then”ideological state apparatuses” (ISAs).nMake no mistake about it, his is anfinely tuned theory.nNot even sympathetic readers of thisnbook will be able to take it seriously.nAs a study of Marxist aesthetics it isnshallow, poorly researched (the bibliographyncontains not a single foreignnlanguage entry), and unoriginal.nMoreover, it offers no recognizablenargument. Like Heller, Johnson simplynassumes that the “real” and “radical”nneeds of “the people,” whatevernthey may be, can legitimately be satisfiednonly by the socialist regime of hernimagination. To make matters worse,nshe has couched this ideological exercisenin prose that is clumsy and jargonridden.nSomehow, too, she managednto persuade the publisher to experimentnwith a lunatic program of linguisticngender equality. This sentencen—I do not jest—received editorialnapproval: “He/she hopes to find confirmationnof his/her unique individualitynby extricating him/herself from thencrowded city streets.”nAfter such barbarisms we turn tonTheodor Adorno’s notoriously opaquenprose with a sense of relief. A leadernof the so-called Frankfurt School ofnSocial Research, Adorno made hisnreputation in radical circles as a theoreticallyndense but politicallynU/CHRONICLES OF CULTUREnundoctrinaire Marxist critic of culture.nAlthough Johnson had not read AestheticnTheory, which has only nownappeared in translation, she did notnhesitate to compare Adorno unfavorablynwith Lukacs—his arch theoreticalnrival on the left—charging him withnhaving denied “any effective enlighteningncapacity to art.” It is an allegationnto which he would certainly havenobjected, for he too believed that artnwas “objectively practical because itnforms and educates consciousness”nand that “a change in consciousnessn. . . might ultimately lead to a changenof reality.”nJnewish on his father’s siden—“Adorno” was his Gentile mother’snname—Theodor WiesengrundnAdorno was born in 1903 and receivedna Ph.D. in philosophy from FrankfurtnUniversity before going on to Vienna,nwhere he studied composition withnAlban Berg. When Hitler came tonpower, he left Germany for England,nand after several years there and in thenUnited States, returned home in 1949;nhe died two decades later without havingncompleted revisions of his aesthetics.nAs even this hurried summary ofnhis itinerary suggests, the Hitler-Zietnwas the formative experience ofnAdorno’s life. In order to gain someninsight into the origins of his unshakablenconviction that the world was ankind of Auschwitz writ large, one hasnonly to note the subtitle of his MinimanMoralia (1961)—“Reflections Fromnan Injured Life”—or to recall thenpainful passage in Negative Dialecticsn(1966), where he asked “whether afternAuschwitz you can go on living . . .nwhether one who escaped by accident,none who by rights should have beennkilled, may go on living.” In the projectionnof Adorno’s dark vision of thenworld, his memory of the nazi exterminationncamps and his profoundnsense of personal guilt were alwaysnmore important than Marxist theory.nIt is therefore not surprising that hisnpoint of departure in Aesthetic Theorynwas the “incomprehensible terror andnsuffering,” the “unredeemed conditionnof the world.” Refusing to recognizenany significant distinction between,nsay, the Soviet Union and WesternnEurope, he insisted that the ghosts ofnAuschwitz haunted “a society” innwhich “rationality is an end in itselfnnnand hence passes over into irrationalitynand madness.” Everywhere he lookednAdorno professed to see repression,nslavery, alienation, and cruelty onnsuch a scale that the murder of micenprompted litfle, if any, opposition.nWhat was even worse, he argued, fewnof his contemporaries were aware ofntheir servitude because the moguls ofnwhat he called the mass culture industryncirculated the lie that the world wasngiven and fundamentally unalterable.nMarxist theorists who continuallynspoke of society as a “totality”n—Adorno had Lukacs principally innmind—were little better than thosenwho adjusted social controls, for theyntook no notice of those fugitive particularsnand fragments that resisted integrationninto the whole, the totalitariannstructure of the world.nConfronted by such a world, art,naccording to Adorno, was called uponnto wage unremitting war against everynaspect of empirical reality. It couldnnot, however, conduct its campaignsnby means of direct protest, the mistakenof all “committed” art. However passionatenengaged artists might be, theynsucceeded only in acknowledging andnthus legitimizing empirical reality asnthe immutably given. What art could,nand should, do was to constitute itselfnan “epiphany of the hidden essence ofnreality,” which essence was, of course,nthe very opposite of what it appeared tonbe. Avant-garde art, at its best, was justnsuch an epiphany. Unlike Lukacs,nwho despised the avant-garde and lionizednrealists such as Balzac, Tolstoi,nand Mann, Adorno championed thenmodernists—Schonberg, Kaflca, andnthe expressionists in particular. He hadnintended to dedicate Aesthetic Theorynto Samuel Beckett, whose revolutionarynsignificance supposedly derivednfrom his apolitical instincts and hisndistance from “reified” empirical reality.nBy portraying a meaningless world,nAdorno insisted, Beckett rejected acceptednreality—which was inextricablynbound up with meaning—andnplaced meaning, rightly understood,non the agenda.nThis is an example of the fancynfootwork, or “dialec’ al turn,” thatnconstitutes the strar.gic center ofnAdorno’s theory. True art had to bennegative through and through in ordernnot only to awaken human consciousnessnto the full horror of reality, butn