‘The splinter in your eye is the best magnifying glass.’ -
Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia (1951)
Theory is assailed on two fronts: on the one hand, it is suffocated by the protocols of academic knowledge production, which forces specialisation at the expense of conjunctural vitality; on the other, it’s complexity is flattened by the infernal content machine, the endless cycle of controversies precluding the labour of the concept. Splinter seeks a way out of this quandry. A magazine of theory, culture, and politics, it aims to carve a space for diverse intellectual work, cohered by a fidelity to the historic task of emancipation, and the duty of critical thought to expose the blocks, contradictions, and potentials therein.
Adorno once wrote that art is both more and less than praxis, and we might say the same of theory. Less, because it can do nothing - unto itself - to break the hand of power and transform the relations of forces; but also more, because it’s relative autonomy from the chains of action allows it to stand as a plenipotentiary of the world that could be. In a moment of total crisis, where the structures that rule our world are becoming ever more abstract and impenetrable, theory must work from the raw material of everyday experience in order to open up the possibiliies immanent within it. ‘Perspectives must be fashioned that displace and estrange the world, reveal it to be, with its rifts and crevices, as indignant and disorted as it will appear one day in the messianic light [...] Even it’s own impossibility it must at last comprehend for the sake of the possible.’