Publication details [#6305]

Jarosinski, Eric. 2005. The rhetoric of transparency in the New Berlin: A critical genealogy (Adorno, Benjamin, Kracauer). Madison, Wis.. 185 pp.


This study examines one of the most dominant metaphors in the German capital's current political, aesthetic, and rhetorical confrontation with its past: "Transparenz'. Through an analysis of the writings on architecture, politics, and consumer and visual culture by the three theorists in this study--Siegfried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, and Theodor W. Adorno--it outlines a critique of transparency as "aesthetic ideology," the problematic attempt to translate a linguistic or aesthetic construct into an empirical reality or political program. Following an introductory chapter which traces the contours of discourses of transparency in Berlin, the second focuses on Kracauer, analyzing his essays on Weimar-era urban culture collected in the volumes 'Straßen in Berlin and Anderswo', 'Das Ornament der Masse', and in his novel 'Ginster'. Chapter Three analyzes the ways in which this critique is shared by Benjamin and articulated in his early essays on the philosophy of language, and his 1928 collection 'Einbahnstraße'. His work finds hope for a redemption of vision and critical perception in the form of the dialectical 'Denkbild', whose figurative language necessitates a shift from registering the literal to activating the performative. The fourth chapter examines the work of Adorno ('Eingriffe', 'Minima Moralia', and "Funktionalismus heute"), who finds that the greatest hope of insight is the recognition of its own limitations and the openness to an understanding yet to come. In conclusion, it is argued that no matter how noble the effort to create more open and accessible government may be, proposing a model of language, communication, and political action based on presence, closure, and single meanings can easily result in a transparency that is ahistorical and one-dimensional, offering more affirmative mimetic reflection than a deconstruction of the workings of power. (Dissertation Abstracts)