Adorno on Free Time & Music

By Kevin Spencer

The idea of “free time” is a recent development. An older idea was “leisure,” which denotes “the privilege of an unconstrained, comfortable life-style.” By contrast, free time only gets its meaning in not being work time, but it thereby reveals the extent to which it is constrained by work time. Just as free time is a recent development, so it seems that it will continue to become more prominent in the future as more and more technologies develop. However, one suspects that “‘free time’ is tending toward its own opposite, and is becoming a parody of itself. Thus unfreedom is gradually annexing ‘free time’, and the majority of unfree people are as unaware of this process as they are of the unfreedom itself.” (188)

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