The concept of the aestheticization of reality presented in this essay is an attempt to articulate a number of contemporary cultural and political phenomena and give them critical intelligibility through their mutual interaction. This is undertaken in parallel with a discussion of the intellectual tradition of ideological critique. A notion of ideology is deployed that has more to do with adequacy to reality than with attempts to conceal it. The historical role of ideological critique is established as a function of the level of the economic, political, and technological development of capitalism. The general notion of a crisis of liberal society and the consequences it has for ideological critique are presented. At the same time, a connection is suggested between the problem of the relevance of ideological critique and the crisis of representation in modern art, and a discussion of the social and political significance of this connection is undertaken. The relationship between art and society is considered from a political and a cognitive perspective, taking into account the possible critical and affirmative functions of artworks. A distinction is drawn between attempts at critique through aesthetic content and form. A similitude is suggested between the form contemporary ideology has taken and the internal functioning of artworks. It is finally suggested that the critique of aestheticized reality implies a theory that is able to critically address itself in a way similar to what was promoted in modern art by formally aware works.

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