Friday, February 6, 2009

what's your background?

The past life of immigrants is annulled. Before it was the warrant of arrest, now it is intellectual experience that is declared non-transferable and impossible to naturalize. Anything that cannot be reified, counted or measured ceases to exist. Not satisfied with this, reification spreads to its own opposite, the life that cannot be directly actualized--anything that lives on merely as thought or recollection. For this a special rubric has been invented. It is called "background" and appears on the questionnaire as an appendix, after sex, age and profession. To complete its violation, life is dragged along on the triumphal procession of statisticians. Even the past is no longer safe from the present, whose remembrance of it consigns it a second time to oblivion. -- Theodor Adorno.

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