To Readers Of My Writing Over, Under, Within And From Theodor Adorno’s Minima Moralia: Reflections From Damaged Life (the I.Q. letter)

Dear Friends,
Thought and the “creative” act have been well-nigh inverted into the solution of tasks assigned to them.  What is not assigned is also dealt with according to the schema of the task.  Thought, having lost its autonomy, no longer trusts itself to comprehend something real for its own sake, in freedom.  This it leaves, with respectful illusion, to the highest-paid, and makes itself measurable for this. These not sent letters provide a way out of this conundrum.  From within this project, thought no longer behaves, for its own part, as if it had to unceasingly portray its usefulness. Elsewhere, even where there is no nutshell to crack, thinking turns into training for some sort of exercise or other, but not here!
Seemingly everywhere today, thought and the “creative” act relate to their objects as mere hurdles, as a permanent test of their own being in form. Considerations, which would like to be responsible for relations to material and thereby for themselves, invite the suspicion that they are vain, overblown, asocial self-satisfaction. Just as professionals of all fields split cognition into the scrap-heaps of market-logic empiricism and liberal-apologist logical formalism, the intellectual and artistic activity of the types, who regard the unity of discourse as written on their foreheads, is polarized in the inventory of the known and the test sample of the capacity for thought and action: to them, every possibility turns into a quiz of whether they are informed or of their qualifications. Somewhere, they believe, the correct answers must already be posted. There is nothing correct here in this project.  There is only freedom.
Instrumentalism, the latest version of pragmatism now dominating the globe, has long since become not merely an affair of the application of thinking and “creative” action, but rather the a priori of its own form. When oppositional intellectuals and artists caught in such a spell wish to approach the content of society differently, they are crippled by the shape of their own consciousness, which is modeled in advance on the needs of this society (grant proposal processes are a garish example of this). While their thought has forgotten how to think for itself, it has simultaneously turned into the absolute exam-authority of itself. Thinking means nothing other than checking at every moment, as to whether one can think. Thus the asphyxiating quality of every seemingly independent production, the theoretical ones no less than the artistic ones. The socialization of life holds it, roofed over, ensorceled, under a glass, as long as society is itself trapped. Where thinking previously internalized obligations imposed from outside, today it incorporates its integration into the all-embracing apparatus, and goes to pieces, even before its economic and political verdict can overtake it.
This too, my friends, is why I can never send these letters.