Theodor W. Adorno resisted Sigmund Freud’s explanation of artistic creation as the sublimation of the artist’s libidinal drives. It focuses too much on the artist rather than the work and is in the service of accommodation to the status quo. But Adorno also questioned the simple reversal of Freud’s formula, pointing out the dangers of unmediated desublimation. The artist, he suggested, should sublimate his or her rage instead. No less significant was the retrospective cultural sublimation of objects from exhausted devotional or cultic contexts, which preserved the unfulfilled yearnings originally expressed in them.

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