When we think of the dialectic as purely formal object, unbounded, lacking its proper historical content, churning endlessly in an abstract process, we think of the identity of opposites, of comedy and tragedy, and the process of one forever becoming the other through the mediation of crisis, which can always be recuperated. A somewhat different understanding of the dialectic allows both for genre’s objectivity (which is to say its autonomy) and for its dialectical doubling. This one, its logical form situated historically, is premised on systemic expansion, with its breakings and reformations of societies and of humans, the very content that tragedy and comedy designate. If we arrived before at the formula that history is what moves itself, we must amend it once more. History is not what moves itself; history is what moves itself outward. And in this sense, to make the most capacious move, history as self-expanding whole is isomorphic with value itself, which must not only move but expand if it is to preserve its own existence. This dialectic is not itself transhistorical; rather it is the form of thought that arises with the systematic expansion of history enabled by the doubling of tragedy and comedy and that retains its analytic power within that movement.
Joshua Clover, “Genres of the Dialectic,” Critical Inquiry 43, No.2 (Winter 2017), pg.448