"The aim of art in general is simply to provide men with pleasant amusement, and thus distract them in a pleasant manner from their more serious occupations, or rather the only occupations proper for them, namely those that earn them bread and respectability in society; they will then be able to return with redoubled concentration and energy to the real purpose of their existence, namely to become efficient cogwheels in the treadmill of the state, and (I continue the metaphor) to twirl round and be twirled round. Now no art is more capable of achieving this purpose than music."
— E. T. A. Hoffmann, "Thoughts About the Great Value of Music," in E. T. A. Hoffmann's Musical Writings, trans. David Charlton (Cambridge UP)
More: Patrick Swanson again lights up our mailbox with the observation that Hoffmann seems to be summarizing, more than a century in advance, Theodor W. Adorno's arguments in "The Culture Industry." One may take this to mean either that 1) Hoffmann anticipated in visionary style the summits of twentieth-century post-Marxian cultural theory; or 2) said theory was in fact a verbose reformulation of Hoffmann's lone-artist- against-the-philistines Romantic philosophy. Or perhaps a bit of both. By the way, if you haven't taken Patrick's "What major work of Alban Berg are you?" quiz, you must do so at once. Hardly a day goes by that I don't say to myself: Life may have its ups and downs, but at least I'm the Lyric Suite.