The mezuzah is a Jewish Janus-face, a point on the door we pass as we go out and as we come in. Hidden inside the mezuzah case is a binding priciple of inside and outside. 

As we go out we remember the kind of life we want to live out. 

As we come in we remember the kind of home we want to keep. 

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I’ve put well over 10,000 hours of focused work into discovering where and how I’ve been wrong, and for the most part, the work has been highly successful.

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I had unusually vivid dreams last night. I saw two identical bristling wolves drowning two identical boys in a crystal-clear winding river. Then I was trapped under mounds of trash beneath a sprawling trailer park, and I was trying to escape but kept falling over and sinking beneath tacky lawn decorations, cheap fencing and bbq grills. I was trying to get to my car, but when I finally got there it was stripped and the engine was gone.

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For stylistic reasons I am considering adopting the term “realist” instead of “transcendent”.  I mean the same thing by both words, though: they both refer to being that exists independently of our minds and therefore has the capacity to shock our expectations and our logic. Only active and receptive engagement — experiment — permits us relationship with this kind of being (as opposed to relationships with our own ideas of things, which is relationship between parts of our selves).

But concepts that refer to such relationships tend to degrade into ones that lend themselves to mental reduction.

Transcendence distorts toward arbitrary magic, but realism distorts toward rule-governed matter-of-factness. Real transcendence is between the two — approximate order with unpredictable interludes of inexplicability. When it comes to this kind of subject of thought, words empty faster than they can be made up.

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Latour’s transcendences

I’ve been writing my own thematic index of Latour’s latest magnum opus (the 4th of his career, by my count), An Inquiry Into Modes of Existence (or AIME). One of the most interesting of these themes is Transcendence. 

Latour repeatedly points out a distinction between “mini-transcendences” that occur across all continuities and “maxi-transcendences” that stand unified above or behind reality, causing and unifying all things. For Latour, any unity is the hard-won result of numerous mini-transcendences, not the cause of some hidden, pre-existent, transcendent force orchestrating from another plane of being.

By making this distinction, and then expounding it by distinguishing fifteen different kinds of mini-transcendence, each with its own kind of trajectory and way of leaping (and many with their own version of maxi-transcendent, space-filling ghostly entity that usurps the role of causer and unifier), Latour is helping me sharpen and refine my own religious understanding, which sees the best ascetic denial in renunciation of big billowy grand gods, to better embrace the infinite God who approaches us in much smaller, less glamorous and more challenging ways every minute of the day. 

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It seems true to me that the kind of equality that matters most is legal equality — equality before the law. 

To secure full, enduring equality before the law it is necessary that some degree of social equality be maintained. Severe social inequality will lead to unjust legislation and distorted law enforcement. This principle is demonstrated dramatically in America’s “war on drugs“. 

 But I so not see legal equality as a means to acheive actual social equality. At most it is a means to potential social equality — rough (and no more than rough) equality of opportunity. It is social equality that is the means to the end of equality before the law. This priority makes me hostile to any distinctions between categories of citizen in policy.

(Just to confuse things more,  legal and social equality are different from political equality. Political equality is equality in ability to influence our collective actions, including our ability to move toward greater legal and/or social equality. Political equality also depends on social equality and preserving the right of citizens to organize in ways other than economic or governmental. Unions and public assemblies are vital to preserving or correcting the other kinds of equality. )

I think the stance I just outlined is basically conservative, but my concerns about social inequality interfering with legal (and political) equality pushes me past the middle point, into left-leaning regions of the political spectrum. At least, that is what I think. 

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A human being is one-third natural, one-third second-natural and one-third artificial. 

A human being without second-natural and artificial elements is anti-natural: monstrous. 

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