July 30, 2012:

Dialectics is an attempt at a logic of change.

Historically, dialectic originated with the ancient Greeks, who believed that truth emerged from the back and forth of conversation. In this sense Plato's dialogs are dialectical.

The philosopher George Hegel reworked the idea into a systematic logic calibrated to grasp processes of change. Hegel introduced formal categories which try to capture evolution at specific moments, for example, the dialectic of quantity and quality, which says that if you add enough of something to something else, that something else changes. Add enough heat to ice, it becomes water. Add more heat, water becomes steam.

Karl Marx reworked things further, although, because he never wrote an explicit text on method, the exact nature of his contribution is controversial. Some people claiming to be Marxists, Georg Lukacs for one, believe that Marx took over Hegel's dialectic without structural modification. Others, following Louis Althusser, hold that Marx rejected Hegel and transformed things very radically.

These pieces use a simplified dialectic as a formal way to structure short narratives. The structure is triadic: thesis - antithesis - resolution. It derives from the definition of dialectics offered by Hegel in the later part of his career. This late explanation is schematized and much simpler than his earlier work; I've made it even simpler. But, my goal isn't to revise Hegel. This is just a convenient way to structure short narratives to try to get them to resonate as if they were larger than they actually are. To my mind this has more in common with Oulipo than with Hegel per se.

I have a lot of fun writing these. It's a simple formal game I find enjoyable. I hope this turns out to interest you.