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The Mathematical ImaginationOn the Origins and Promise of Critical Theory$
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Matthew Handelman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780823283835

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823283835.001.0001

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Geometry: Projection and Space in Siegfried Kracauer’s Aesthetics of Theory

Geometry: Projection and Space in Siegfried Kracauer’s Aesthetics of Theory

(p.145) Four Geometry: Projection and Space in Siegfried Kracauer’s Aesthetics of Theory
The Mathematical Imagination

Matthew Handelman

Fordham University Press

Chapter 4 investigates how geometry revealed to Siegfried Kracauer a style of cultural critique that worked toward a more reasonable society through critique. For Kracauer, geometric metaphors of space and projection fulfilled a seemingly impossible task: in a world vanquished of divine authority, geometry bridged the divide between the raw contingency of materiality and the necessity of mathematical reasoning. Kracauer’s Weimar-era essays, such as “The Mass Ornament” (1927), transformed these metaphors into an aesthetic strategy that, through the space of the text, sought to confront readers with the capitalist misuse of reason and provoke critical self-reflection. For Kracauer, the marginalized figure of the societal observer, the cultural critic, even the Jew took on the role of correcting the historical trajectory of Enlightenment. This vision of critique suggests that critical theorists look to the performativity and positionality of criticism for modes of cultural intervention in our hyper-rationalized and digitized present.

Keywords:   cultural criticism, descriptive geometry, detective novels, geometry, Kracauer, projection, rationality, sociology

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