-GWF Hegel, "Absolute Knowing," The Phenomenology of Spirit
"All my life, my heart has yearned for a thing I cannot name."
-Andre Breton, The Surrealist Manifesto
These trees which line the path make one think that he is an emperor. But he surely isn’t. He is one among a million who make that same walk, and this became true the moment that aristocracy itself was commodified. Why else do the lamps which accompany these trees display such a nineteenth century aesthetic, if not to harken back to a time when men in trench coats and top hats strolled down lanes with their canes pointing to the future — just a few meters ahead! — which awaited their progeny? The modern writer even writes with a taste for the archaic, as I do presently.
All of this subdues us for now, it appeases our appetite for another dialectic: for haven’t we already reached the end of History? Now only the steady flow of technological obsolescence keeps our time, seemingly dead events which signal the infinite positing of “absolute knowing” without any conflict or negation. And anyway, when the world merely posits endlessly, at an ever increasing rate, there isn’t much time left for the leisure of negating.
The end of History in which we currently find ourselves therefore itself represents the new dialectic. This notion goes far beyond the postmodern theories which deny history the status of being an object of Wissenschaft, views which ironically only became popular once history visibly ended. With the end of History, a new dialectic occurs in which the form of the dialectic struggles against the fact that it no longer contains any content. The mere form of History is impossibly preserved, despite the fact that any content which can make its dialectic real has vanished. The revolution continues — but against whom or what? Negation without object is a paradox which philosophy has not yet detailed.
Time becomes violently empty in the modern period. Wars flow into one another endlessly, like rivers of blood which feed a common reservoir. An insurrection in Greece, Libya, Chechnya, rises against a phantom only to recreate the same horror show with a different cinematography. The "negation of the negation" therefore takes on a new meaning: negation, for the present age, does not negate "some" negation, but negates negation itself. The modern dialectic must play out between nihilism and the radical desire for a something which has not yet been elucidated.