Published at TriQuarterly
The essay’s innermost formal law is heresy.
— Theodor Adorno
Every time I read that line from “The Essay as Form,” Adorno’s midcentury manifesto, I feel the kind of joy I felt when I accidentally rang the fire alarm instead of the recess bell in seventh grade at St Francis of Assisi in Spokane. I feel guilty, involuntary joy. And I think of the video essay—the brainy, bratty, mixed breed love child of poetry, creative nonfiction, art house indies, documentary, and experimental media art. It is an ascendant incarnation of Adorno’s heresy, and the moment has never been better for it.