9
After the End:
Adorno

The Art of Reading

ASCENE from Repetition, a passage that Adorno considered to be among the most important Kierkegaard ever wrote, can suggest a framework within which to approach Adorno’s own work today. To call it a “passage” is misleading, however, since in a certain sense it leads nowhere, neither from nor to any clearly defined place. And yet it doesn’t simply stand still, either.

So I arrived in Berlin. I hurried at once to my old lodgings …
one of the most pleasant apartments in Berlin…. Gensd’arme
Square is certainly the most beautiful in Berlin; das Schauspielhaus
and the two churches are superb, especially when viewed from
a window by moonlight. The recollection of these things was
an important factor in my taking the journey. One climbs the
stairs to the first floor in a gas-illuminated building, opens a little
door, and stands in the entry. To the left is a glass door leading to
a room. Straight ahead is an anteroom. Beyond are two entirely
identical rooms, identically furnished, so that one sees the room
double in the mirror. The inner room is tastefully illuminated.
A candelabra stands on a writing table; a gracefully designed
armchair upholstered in red velvet stands before the desk. The
first room is not illuminated. Here the pale light of the moon
blends with the strong light from the inner room. Sitting in a
chair by the window, one looks out on the great square, sees
the shadows of passersby hurrying along the walls; everything is
transformed into a stage setting. A dream world glimmers in the
background of the soul. One feels a desire to toss on a cape, steal
softly along the wall with a searching gaze, aware of every

-229-

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