Such constellations offer us the canonical tension between the beautiful and the sublime, but with the latter now understood more precisely, in [Hal] Foster’s terms, as the experience of trauma. (Like torture or terrorism, the sublime makes us feel infinitesimal, mortally wounded in our insignificance.) Art can’t escape the market, because nothing can, but art has the capacity to force the latter fact upon us. Maybe Rancière was right after all: the imaginative distance of artworks, their delicious stabs of revelation, cannot, by themselves, change the world, but without them the world will not change.

This notion, too, may be faith or wishful thinking, but I prefer to think of it as a necessary premise of art and its audiences. The alternative is a total surrender of the soul: not selling out but buying in. Capitalism’s supporters are fond of leveling charges of hypocrisy against intellectuals or artists—Damien Hirst and Banksy have taken much of the heat—as though bringing attention to one’s immersion in a sick medium were somehow self-contradictory. But these charges merely occlude the difference between capitalism as a fact and capitalism as an ideology. It is the main business of the second to make it seem as though the existence of the first were beyond question.

Mark Kingwell, “Outside the White Box”