The house is past

Adorno, Theodor. “Refuge for the Homeless”. In Minima Moralia. London: Redwood Books, 1999 (p.38-39)

In this short passage, Adorno seems to following Heidegger’s idea about dwelling. But with the bombing of European cities as a background, dwelling becoming an impossibility. The war context and the values of the market have destroyed the house as a shelter. There’s no difference between sleep and awareness, and every space is temporary. If the house, building in Heidegger’s terms, cannot be longer a refuge for the man, therefore the house is past.

Adorno says that even the most functionalist aim is now reduced to purely form, and no individual can resist this process: is it not longer possible to feel at home in one’s home. The annihilation of the property is accompanied with a capitalist sense of the infinitude of the goods. Wrong life cannot be lived rightly.

If this historical contingence turns the house into something useless, for dwelling purposes, therefore the house is not naturally attached to that idea, and their relation becomes historical, too.


Adorno – Minima Moralia