Dialectic of Pop, 103–120


II. Modern or Nothing


When still only a little over twenty years old, and before embarking upon the fruitful philosophical career for which he is known, Adorno was a music critic for specialist German magazines. Pult und Tacktstock published his remarkable first texts, which hermetically foreshadow his future aesthetic theory: texts against
the sentimentality of Romantic expressiveness and in favour of a music stripped of all the ‘culinary’ seductions that offer satisfaction to the bourgeoisie. At one time editor of the magazine Anbruch, where he was equally sharp, he was soon dismissed as a result of the significant drop in the number of subscriptions and
the anger of readers against the elitist turn taken by the editorial line. In the dismissal letter sent to him by the director of the magazine, Hans Heinsheimer, the latter offers some wise words of advice, which one imagines pronounced in a hushed and confidential tone:

Dear Herr Wiesengrund, […] We must recognize the signs of the times exactly as such, even if they are less to our taste, or in the long term perhaps seem wrong or indeed worth fighting against.182

Of course, this lesson in journalism imparted to the young critic fell on deaf ears, and so it would remain.