Giulia Zerbinati (Bio)

Aesthetic images as the reconnection of the self with the world: an Adornian approach to Kierkegaard

Adorno’s book Kierkegaard: Construction of the Aesthetic is a critical and unique analysis of Kierkegaardian philosophy. Its leading methodological principle is to plumb the depths of Kierkegaard’s philosophy to draw out those aspects that remained hidden to their same author, as though his writings enclosed a secret core, that only a posthumous examination can disclose, whether it is able to read them literally. An interpretation of this sort should start from the aesthetic, insofar as such secret core is concealed in the images that Kierkegaard constructed through his work, seen by Adorno as a codebook in which they represent the ciphers he aims to decipher. Kierkegaardian aesthetic images can also be seen as illustrations of philosophical categories, representing a key to their understanding. Moreover, if with Kierkegaard the aesthetic takes on his very meaning as modus vivendi, Adorno reverses the Kierkegaardian existential hierarchy attributing to the aesthetic realm the highest rank, as it comes closer to reality, both as the real condition of the subject and as the dimension of objectivity of the external world. Starting from the subject-object dialectic, Adorno finds in the recurring image of the intérieur the perfect representation of the interior space of the Kierkegaardian self (the subject) and its estrangement from sthe world (the object), that it wards off in the illusion of preserving itself in interiority. Just when Kierkegaard’s subject seems fatally trapped in «objectless inwardness», a prison where it can experience nothing but solitude and melancholy, Adorno glimpses a possibility of his reconnection with «the other». My aim is to show, through the Adornian interpretation, how this possibility lies again in the aesthetic, namely in the fragmentary rarefied images that Kierkegaard’s writings present as allegories, and why the aesthetic realm is where a clue of reconciliation with reality can be found.