Empirical (OED): based on observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.
Adorno begins to use this word in the first paragraph of his essay, saying "Artworks detach themselves from the empirical world and bring forth another world, one opposed to the empirical world as if this other world too were an autonomous entity," in his attempt to define art. He uses the word a great number of times throughout his essay. He begins the essay by talking about what is "self-evident" in relation to art. Since those things which are empirical are literally those things which are self evident, by definition, it is important to explore the importance of this word. Adorno claims of modern art, (that is, art created after the "emancipation" of art, during the period in which it became autonomous) "art sanctions the primacy of reality, by virtue of its rejection of the empirical world." It seems an interesting contradiction that art's "rejection of the empirical world" somehow brings it closer to describing reality, since reality, in its most rudimentary sense, can be define as that which is in fact, empirical, that which is self-evident, that which we can see. This apparent contradiction brings us to one of the most alluring arguments in Adorno's essay. Adorno criticizes romanticized art as presenting something nonexistent as existing. "The fictions are modifications of empirical reality." So, the artist who creates this type of art, shows us something which is a romanticized version of reality, thus a rejection of empirical reality, whereas modern art attempts to bring to the surface, actual reality, without the guild of 'poetic glimmer.'
2 years ago