Although they came from strikingly different backgrounds, both William V. Spanos and Theodor W. Adorno were radically transformed by the historical circumstances of World War II. Both recounted those experiences in memoirs that questioned the degeneration of rationality and the resulting instrumental and mechanistic tendencies of twentieth-century life. Adorno’s fractured and aphoristic Minima Moralia is a reflection on the “damaged” nature of exilic existence; Spanos’s In the Neighborhood of Zero decries the massive destructive potential, on both global and personal levels, of reason driven by an unreflective telos. This essay emphasizes the homelessness—both physical and spiritual—that Adorno and Spanos recognize as a consequence of such unrestrained Enlightenment rationality.

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