Thursday, March 17, 2011

FYI: Reasons for digitizing at 96kHz or above

Some Archives work intruding -- I do digitization of analog tape recordings for both preservation and use copies. And in the research I've done, few people talk about why sampling frequency needs to go up, and up, and up -- I hear a lot of "96kHz is marketing -- you can't hear sounds up there anyways." And I'm not sure that 192kHz isn't marketing, but having the equipment now, I can tell you why high-frequency digitization is an absolute necessity.

First, a bit about Nyquist-Shannon theory. If the signal you want to faithfully reproduce is at frequency X, you need a sampling frequency of at least 2X to reproduce it. In practice, you actually need headroom over that, especially for dither. So, in your Red Book-standard CD, the audio is 16-bit, 44.1kHz. Now, that specification is the way it is because of older standards of mastering audio recordings, but what it means is that in that 44,100 Hz of headroom, you can reproduce sounds up to 22,050 Hz -- in practice, you only really get good stuff to about 20kHz, but we usually talk about that as the limit of audible frequencies anyways. So you can see that 48kHz (DVD standard) gets you reproduction to just under 24kHz, and 96kHz gets you reproduction to just under 48kHz.

So why do you need all of that range, when the ear picks up on only the stuff between 20-20,000 Hz?

Here's what I've found: basically, even if you can't hear it, it's still there in the analog signal. It doesn't matter, to start with, what frequencies you're dealing with as desirable -- speech voice recordings rarely have anything useful in them above 12.5kHz, for example. The noise runs through a much broader range of frequencies. 44.1 and even 48 don't accurately reproduce anything higher than 24 kHz, and everything above that has artifacts. You wind up with the frequency equivalent of amplitude clipping. It can't be removed, even with hard low-pass filters, and it can't be repaired. Often, we're talking about noise in the HF bands that isn't at audible amplitudes, say around -88dB. And nobody in the analog world would ever worry about that! It had as well not exist, because every component in the chain contributes more noise than that. But digital sampling doesn't care about audibility, it cares about mathematics.

So the moral of the story is, take your initial digitization at high frequency, 96kHz or better, because you need to faithfully reproduce the full noise spectrum to do anything of useful quality with the desired signal. After that, if you're cleaning out the noise, make sure you roll off anything above your Nyquist limit before you downsample, and everything will be great!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What is broken in us, Christ restores

Lent 1A: Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7; Psalm 32; Romans 5:12-21; Matthew 4:1-12

All that we have broken, Christ restores. All that is broken in us, because of sin, Christ restores. And he does this because he knows who he is before God -- and in him, before God, we know who we are.

Today's gospel reading brings to mind the Christ hymn of Philippians. "He did not look on equality with God as something to be seized, but being found in the form of a servant, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death." The prototypes didn't have this feature -- Eve could be tricked. Eve could be made to want more, and Adam was right there with her. But of course, all that story explains is that we don't have that feature. Which you know -- it's quite obvious at a casual glance around our world. We don't do humble well, unless there's no other choice. The word has a sour taste to it. Humility is always very close to humiliation. We want better.

But what is broken in us, Christ restores. We wouldn't bear up well under the temptations we see here. My wife and I keep at least two kinds of bread in the house at all times -- a loaf of industrial wheat bread, and a loaf of something better. There are few things as tasty, in my book, as a nice piece of sourdough toast, lightly buttered and spread with peanut butter. My mouth is watering just to think about it! And I get cranky if I fast for 12 hours. In the fullness of time spent fasting, Jesus was pretty hungry. The rocks were looking good right about then. "Solve your own problem -- you have the ability to make that into a boule of sourdough. It would certainly be the most delicious bread for miles around. What are you waiting for?" Maybe that's a little too obvious. "Gee, buddy. You look awful! I'd give you something to eat, but I don't have anything left. Wait -- aren't you the Son of God? Can't you do something about this?"

But this temptation isn't about fixing myself a harmless snack. What is messianic about me fixing my own hunger? Life doesn't just come from food. Our life can't be built on me feeding myself. "One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." What is broken in us, Christ restores, and the Word of God feeds 5,000 people from a few loaves and some fish. That's messianic.

As to the second, I haven't jumped off the top of the Capitol building, but I bet it'd be a great stunt. Especially because nobody else knows about the whole angel trick. Wouldn't work for me, obviously, but I have plenty of stories from my time in the hardware store about cavalier attitudes around casually dangerous power equipment. When I was in the Boy Scouts, we took a trip into the mountains to learn climbing and rappelling. Now, heights scare the socks off me, but not everyone feels that way. One kid really liked the rappelling bit, and kept going back up to do it again -- got so comfortable up there he forgot to lock his carabiner. It's a good thing the guide caught it -- that's a hell of a way to come down the mountain, when the rope slips out. But what if you knew someone was going to catch you, no matter what? And this is no mountain out in the backwoods -- this is Jerusalem. This is the Temple. This might be the greatest news story around, and plenty of people to see it. A great way to announce yourself as the messiah, don't you think?

But what's so messianic about self-aggrandizing publicity stunts? The world has more of those than it needs, and without claiming to be shows of God's power. "Do not put the Lord your God to the test." And again, what is broken in us, Christ restores. And when he next comes to the Temple mount, it is with great popular acclamation for healing and preaching and teaching -- with a little hope of insurrection mixed in, to be sure. But what does he do? Jesus walks around with his disciples, and talks to people -- and sure, he gets a little irritated at the merchandising, but even that is an object lesson for his teaching. He goes about doing the kingdom of God in spite of everything. Because the people's hope in him is based on their need for salvation. Because he really does heal our brokenness. That's messianic.

As to the third temptation, just last week we saw Jesus take his disciples to a very high mountaintop. And they fell down in worship at the sight of Jesus transfigured, with Moses and Elijah standing there. I've heard years of Transfiguration sermons that talk about "the mountaintop experience". Today, Jesus says to the tempter, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, "Worship the Lord your God and serve only Him."" Last week, his disciples said to him, "Hey, let's stay up here, and we'll make booths, and we can just hang out here in the holy." But God had another idea: "This is my son, the beloved. Listen to him." And what is broken in us, Jesus restores: he takes us back down the mountain, back down into the world where it is impossible to believe of ourselves that we're radiant and glowing and cool all by ourselves. Because what's messianic about that? No, Jesus takes us back down into the world, and gets back to work healing our brokenness. Restoring us and raising us to life.

In Jesus Christ, we know who we are. Before God, in Christ, we are people who have no need to artificially multiply our bread -- except to feed our neighbors. People who have no need to "prove" God's great goodness (and our own) -- except by living that goodness toward others. People who have no need to doubt that God will give us all things, and who can therefore go about meeting the world's needs. Christ fulfills in us everything that we lack, and the grace of God overflows from each and every one of us, moving out to restore the whole world.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Whiteness, or "gnōthi seauton"

Tentative definition:
Whiteness: an attachment to an increasingly ungrounded familiarity with what is "normal" combined with a perverse obsession with the exotic. Either can have positive or negative values attached, but the objects of both remain largely un- or self-defined.

This requires some unpacking.

1) "an attachment to an increasingly ungrounded familiarity with what is 'normal'" -- Whiteness is a phenomenon of cultural normativity. For participants, it is based on a sense of self that has merged with the historically dominant group at some point. The difficulty is that that merger happens with respect to a target that is by nature ambiguous and vaguely defined. In the United States, it is part of a long and continuous chain of assimilation that continues to "move the bar". For groups early in the process, it involves the gradual adaptation and renunciation of cultural practices. The impact of situation-specific pressures and particular cultural values can cause the result to vary widely. Many German groups in America over the period of the two World Wars renounced large swaths of their immigrant culture in favor of Anglo-American cultural norms -- including renouncing the use of the German language in many instances. Other communities chose to remain more isolated and keep more of their cultural heritage -- the Wisconsin and Missouri Lutherans being notable examples. All of them are white Anglo-European Americans today. As the pressure has come off of German identity (with the exception of identification with National Socialism and the Hitler regime -- which remains stigmatized and falls into the second category, obsession with the exotic), white people of German ancestry (to whatever extent traceable) safely have begun re-appropriating token elements of their national-culture-of-origin. Another interesting example is the ongoing negotiation of Jewish identity both toward and away from whiteness in the United States.

In any case, the attachment to what is "normal" tends to stick, even as culture-of-origin practices are re-introduced in the more thoroughly assimilated, and in spite of the retention of "abnormal" particular practices. The constellation of acceptable cultures changes over time, but it is normatively white to engage in re-appropriation of one's "original ethnic identity" -- ethnic rather than racial. Note: The increasing trend of pitching "genetic ancestry testing" toward the U.S. African-American population for the sake of re-appropriating particular continental African (often tribal) cultural affinities doesn't seem to me to conflict with this judgment. The "roots search" of people of African ancestry in the United States has become a very similar process to the ancestry search of "rootless" white people, and the companies that do the work appear to be marketing the same genealogical research technology, with a few new tools, to a new (to them) and reasonably well-integrated "rootless" population on the basis of differentiating their by-now culturally normed blackness. It has become dominant-American-culture acceptable for the same reasons.

But this is what I mean by "increasingly ungrounded familiarity" -- it is as though I transplanted a bare-root plant from its native soil into a completely new environment, and it adapted to that environment, becoming thoroughly rooted there. The cedar growing in the Morton Arboretum is not Lebanese in terms of its environment. A transplanted biome, maintained carefully to preserve the conditions and environment of Lebanon, might grow cedars that resemble the cedars of Lebanon. But you could not transplant the fully-grown Illinois cedar to Lebanon and have it survive, and if you took the zoological specimen and planted it in your Illinois yard, it would also die. (Death is not essential to the analogy; it's just a fact of most fully-grown plants.) What we do instead is to take Illinois-grown cedars and decorate them with reasonably authentic but non-essential components of Lebanon. Non-threatening components that do not change the essential nature of the Illinois plant. These can be discarded at a moment's notice, and the plant remains what it is. It is so profoundly grounded in the "normal" of its actual environment that it can pretend to anything it so desires that does not significantly change that environment, and still remain "normal". Its environment of normalcy will in fact support most changes of that sort. The cedar can forget that it is growing in Illinois, but it retains a profoundly essential attachment to that environment, one that is very difficult to renounce because of its power over the organism's lifestyle.

2) "combined with a perverse obsession with the exotic" -- As I say, this can be positive or negative in value. By "perverse obsession" I mean that the object of focus is not typically taken on its own terms. Exoticism can support a wide variety of means of more-or-less authentically appropriating another culture. Consider Orientalism. I might say that the cultural re-appropriation of ethnic identities by whites is one example of positive-value exoticism -- just exotic enough to differentiate from the Same. Lawrence of Arabia is an extreme example of positive-value exoticism, while remaining a great example of the retention of white privilege and also the limits of tolerable transplant shock in terms of both the white environment and the white specimen. Sexual objectification of black women is also an example of positive-value exoticism -- note that I mean the value assigned to the exotic is positive within a given subjective framework, not that the behavior is. Homophobia, Islamophobia, focused racism (as opposed to the more prevalent generic racism in which every white person participates -- I mean people with expressed antisemitic views, for example) -- these would be major examples of negative-value obsession with the exotic.

To some extent, this is merely the flip-side of having an identity based upon a shifting conglomerate of social normativity. It is attached to a shifting conglomerate of things defined by their difference from the normal. Defined by acceptable or unacceptable difference, and frequently informally ranked as such from "good" to "bad". At the extreme, this can boil down to an absolute expression of one particular as universally normal and the exclusion of all difference -- see "orthodoxy and heresy". This would tend to be the zenith of negative-value exoticism. White supremacy in its stereotypically assertive, focused form, for an example in the whiteness spectrum. (Again, as opposed to the more prevalent generic assumption of white supremacy in which every white person participates because of the trained power dynamics of racist culture.) But the blip in my consciousness when I see a black person, and know that they're a black person and so I should be careful to treat them better because I'm white, is no less exoticism. A behavior-corrective self-conscious obsession with difference is still perverse, and it knows itself to be so!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pauline tactical ethics: against "them"

Lately, I hear a lot of "them" ethics going on. "Them" ethics is always a top-down approach: I stand at the top, and those with me, and we look down on "them". This is generally the basis for unilateral actions taken upon "them" as a homogeneous class or group. The species no longer exist; the genre is what we have said it is. And once we've done this, the pious next step seems to be to replace "us vs. them" with "God vs. them" because He's our God. And so God hates fags, Muslims, and all sorts of other things we hate. (The link is hilarious, BTW. Fear not.) And so often I hear this sort of thing translated into "law/gospel" terms, which is patent BS. "Law" is condemning the people God hates right along with God, while "Gospel" is refraining from condemning -- nay, even accepting, if you're a total heretic -- the people God hates. Which those crazy antinomians will tell you is "what Jesus would do". We all know they'll wind up in the lake of fire, and then we'll be laughing at them twice as hard as we are now. Us; them. And God as the gold standard of our judgmental currency.

Of course, Paul does it much better in Romans 1:18-32 than I just did -- there's not a first- or second-person pronoun or conjugation to be had in the whole bit. Pure "God vs. them". And what happened in the audience is what happens to every naive reader of the text -- that pure third-person rhetoric is designed to get mapped into the implicit "us vs. them" of the hearing community. The orator is the focus of "us," saying the words "we" think should be said. Condemning what all right-thinking people should condemn.

But the naive reader of the text doesn't have to listen to "chapter 2" once they finish "chapter 1" -- I've had people tell me that there is absolutely no connection between the two! The audience has no such luck -- they have two choices: either to keep listening, or to walk away, and 1:18-32 isn't setting them up to walk away. (I'll decline to discuss the modern innovation of chapter and verse numbering....) No; you could hear 1:18-32 at a Tea Party rally. But you wouldn't hear chapter 2 there, even though it is designed for just such an audience. And so Paul brings back the second person into the discussion:
"So then you have no excuse, every one of you who judges, because you stand condemned by what you use to condemn the other -- because the judge has the same vices! "Indeed we know that God's judgment on those who do such things is just!" You think so, you who do the same sorts of things you judge? You think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you look down on the richness of God's goodness and restraint and patience, ignoring the fact that that goodness of God draws you toward repentance?"

Quite a smack in the face. But Paul still gives them no opening to walk away. You see, these are the same people who heard 1:1-17, who heard Paul's bona fides and then said, "yeah, that's us" when he called them "all those beloved of God in Rome, called and holy." Who felt Paul's eagerness in sympathy for the mission to proclaim the gospel of God in Christ Jesus -- because they are his people, and they trust this God and this messiah. Put more simply, who recognize Paul as one of their own. People who, hearing from him, understand that he and they form an "us".

1:18-32 reinforces this -- it's the way "them" ethics works. You have a choice. You can be one of "us" or you can be one of "them". The audience wants to stay in the "us" so comfortably established in 1:1-17. And if Paul has done his job right, the terms of the "God vs. them" bit are calculated not to alienate the audience. (And it's a beautifully calculated piece!) The terms of the "God vs. them" bit are exactly the terms used in the community, addressing the "problem" that troubles the community. Here, it's Gentile idolatry as the root of all Gentile sin. But the real ground that makes that work is always prevailing cultural morality. Paul can play on the Gentile idolatry bit because he and his audience claim normative Judaism, and are concerned over the boundaries of self|other as Judeans in the Roman capitol. But that grand theme covers the fact that the question of identity comes down to behaviors. They do [X]. We do not. (Even though we do!) We do [Y]. They do not. (Even though they do!) The closer two cultures get, both in terms of proximity and in terms of real behaviors, the harder that line has to be drawn. The other cannot be allowed to be us. We will even other ourselves, gnaw off our own souls, to get out of the trap.

It's not an easy problem to solve -- especially once God has been dressed in the uniform of our side. But Paul means to solve it, because it stands in the way of Christ. No matter how grand the expansion of the gospel on the outside, if this remains on the inside, it is a whitewashed tomb. And here is where it must become clear that 1:18-32 is not part of the "law/gospel" paradigm. Both the law and the gospel stand opposed to this sort of human judgment, to "them" ethics especially on the part of God's own people.

So Paul employs them in exactly that order: law first, then gospel. But not because law has any innate priority! Only because it is the right tool for this job. Paul has raised the question of just or unjust judgment, and the way to clear the path is to bring in perfectly just judgment as the basis for comparison. In classic Lutheran terms, this is the second use of the law: to convict the believing sinner of their sin. What this means is that 1:18-32, standing as condemned behavior, is not an example of the first use of the law, as a curb for behaviors for the protection of the community. Instead, it is an example of sin -- in this case, the attempt to stand in the place of God. It is a nice bit of irony, that an act of condemnation that uses idolatry and vice as pretexts to condemn a whole group of people is itself vicious and idolatrous.

Nor does Paul let his audience continue to think that they are merely not allowed to do God's work here, and that God upholds condemnations for which they got smacked. No matter whether we may find pieces of Torah that match pieces of 1:18-32, that passage does not represent either the form or the content of God's instruction for God's people. It is not the hearer (let alone the speaker or teacher) of Torah that is just, but the one who does what God instructs. And this has nothing to do with the self|other boundary -- in fact, Paul bypasses obvious external cultural markers to point to "the hidden Judean, whose mind is circumcised by the Spirit, ... whose praise comes not from people but from God." The performance of Torah is not judgment or condemnation, but justice which comes through the Spirit because of Christ. And it is this because this is what God does -- it is justice as modeled on God's justice, rather than judgment modeled on God's judgment. The two are not the same -- judgment that is truly reflective of God's judgment is perfect and equitable, and rewards goodness and truth while punishing rivalry, contention and evil, no matter who does it. (Again, not what is modeled in 1:18-32.) And yet justice as God demonstrates it is that God carves out a space next to Torah, next to instruction and its performance, and makes it a gift in Christ, a gift built upon trust just as the gifts of circumcision and Torah were built upon the trust of Abraham and Moses. Perfect justice acknowledges that in perfect judgment, there is nobody left standing as righteous. And yet perfect justice restores Christ to life, and raises us with him, and gives us life in this space, in the Spirit, that we may live to God and not destroy one another. That is the proclamation of the gospel, and just like the law, it stands against human judgment. The Spirit doesn't go there. Christ doesn't go there. The Father doesn't go there. Don't you, either. Don't give in to "them" ethics. Fight for the sake of your brothers and sisters, all of whom are God's redeemed creation in Christ.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

On not being a "good" theo-blogger

The last post reminds me of how true it is, what I say in the sidebar. This is not a place where, by and large, I put up polished work. It is a place where I put up things that are coming out of my head mostly as I write them, or within a few days. The roughest never get posted -- they're too fragmentary and I like to at least have a complete thought out. The Derrida bit just now is a piece of hashing out for an AAR proposal -- something that would never go in the proposal, let alone the paper, but had to be written, and therefore went on the blog because I had the time.

It strikes me that "good" theo-bloggers don't do this, but I never started this thing to be good at self-publishing. I started it to get a spot where the writing could go other than random scraps of paper or text files. It is, as Hall says, an extension. A place outside my body where a function of my brain can undergo rapid-prototyping. Sometimes what comes out has undergone more development, and looks halfway decent and usable; sometimes it gets better than that. But I'm not aiming for this to be a place where I'm always correct, or always proud of what I have to say or the ways I have of saying it. I'd like it to be a place where I'm always correctable.

Of course, I also don't do a damn thing to improve my audience here. Which doesn't help the correction factor -- many eyes make all bugs shallow -- but it's not like all the stuff here is palatable to a general audience. Meh. It is what it is. It is also what I have been along the way.

"hors-texte," Pharisaism, and moral arguments from scripture

Alright, let's hack this out:

In On Grammatology, Derrida says "Il n'y a pas de hors-texte", which is often taken in English as "There is nothing outside of the text." Of course, it is also taken that way without most of Grammatology, as well! Spivak understood its implications for "prefaces," as the statement can be read that "there is no preface" -- literally, there is nothing that comes before the text. The preface is a piece of the text. Its story contributes, well or poorly, to the story which it attempts to introduce, but it has no life without that story. The text has no "before," no "outside of the text," nothing that can be taken as superior to the text which is not also itself text, and part of the text. Paul and his Christ live for us because we encounter them in and through the texts of scripture, and through the canon of scripture as a text itself.

The historical quests for Jesus or Paul -- or any other persona of the texts -- set themselves against the text much of the time, as they purpose to judge between bits of text on authenticity criteria that are superior to the texts because they are historically grounded. They intend to use what is before the text to judge the text, just as they would use Rousseau and the living models for his characters to judge his stories about them, And this is precisely the situation in which Derrida says that there is nothing that stands autonomously prior to the text. The factical events of history live only because of the stories that present them. For us who have the text, they are components of its life, and cannot be had without recourse to the text. They are not interpreted without recourse to that text, even though nothing prevents them from being so interpreted but the text itself. No one who had not the text, who had never been touched by the text, would go about tying these facts together in this way and justifying the textual interpretations of them, even if by opposition! So it's a pretty poor way of making conclusions that rely on the text, to attempt explicitly to destroy its integrity in favor of facts interpreted in its light. We wouldn't do that to any other metaphysical system but scripture, unless we intended to destroy it. (Which, now that you mention it, was Lessing's game, and is still the root of modern Biblical scholarship, critical or otherwise: there's a problem that prevents church interpretation, and only church interpretation, from making sense, and I'm piously concerned enough that I'll "help" this discipline of interpretation work on falsified premises so that it believes it cannot work on its original ones -- I'll give it a "historical problem" and watch it fall apart.)

And we have fallen apart! Our historical reclamations have nothing to do with the origins of the texts, and everything to do with falsifying the premises -- falsifying the text itself. Even the Evangelical perspectives that attempt to reject historical critical methods also reject the text itself, in favor of a non-historical and even anti-historical authority the text never had. They have read the text and declared it Qorban, a gift from and a sacrifice before God (as though God wanted it!). All these and more, pre-texts (hors-textes) that have supplanted the text. And I will not tell you that postmodern methods offer anything better -- except a pre-text that demands that the pre-text appear, that demythologizes the pre-text as text in its own right.

We cannot argue with the text, as though it could be made to say what it does not. The text will not be convinced, nor will its inconvenient bits obligingly disappear. We can disagree with the text, but it will not yield. Nor will anyone upholding the moral and ethical normativity of the text yield to the text bent out of shape. But the same fact works in the other direction -- because we have all bent and broken the text into some more or less convenient form of our own. Only the text, fully and consistently read, can stand in identity with the logic of the text. However many ways there are to read the text in full consistency with its own logic, these readings can argue amongst themselves. And they will argue on the basis of pre-texts that submit to the text.

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That said, on to Pharisaism. Not the Gospel caricature that has come to be the Christian staple definition for the word, as in legalistic piety and pietistic legalism. No, the phenomenon that grew dramatically in the Hasmonean period, and that survived into the Rabbinic period, was about the adaptation of Torah to daily life. Compare this to the Sadducees and other directly Temple-affiliated sects, who could read Torah as it applied directly to the practices of Temple piety. In contrast to the popular idea that the Pharisees believed that the proper performance of the law would bring the Messiah, the Pharisees had nothing to do with literalism, and everything to do with flexibility. The idea of "the proper performance of the law" is a profoundly debatable topic, and Pharisaism is the location of that debate! But it is debatable only and precisely because doing Torah outside of the environment for which the specific bits of Torah were given leaves a lot of open questions. Again, the Sadducees have no such trouble. In the situations where Torah applied, they applied it. The Pharisaic problem is the declaration that Temple piety applies to the whole of life.

How would you act at home if you got the notion that what your boss required of you in the cleanrooms of the microprocessor fabrication plant was of analogous usefulness outside, and indeed in every part of your life? Especially after you and your whole cohort had been fired from that plant, a rival corporation had taken it over, and years later your people staged a coup to retake it? If you lived the rest of your life like people who belong in a microprocessor fabrication cleanroom?

Now, that's a bit pathological-sounding, because nobody (except maybe IBM in the 60s-80s) makes a religion out of manufacturing computer parts. (Okay, maybe Intel now, with their creepy "all together now" bum-BUM-bum-BUM commercials.) But it was never a religion of the Temple, any more than it was a religion of Jerusalem. Those are pathologies, except as synechdoche. Nor is the entirety of Torah reducible to Temple piety. The true point of Pharisaic adaptation of Torah is that the life of the people that befits their standing before God is totally reflective of that being-before-God, and that it is not restricted to any single group or any single place. It is a remarkably useful philosophy for the diaspora, for example. For the Golah, who lived the exile in the absence of the Temple and the Land -- but no less before God. And indeed for Judaism after 70 and the 130s, as well as for Judaism (but not Christianity) after the failure of Julian "the Apostate" in 363.

It is basically a philosophy of the notion that nothing is outside of the text, but that says something Derrida does not. To say what Derrida says, we must understand that it is a philosophy that exempts nothing in the world from the world of the text, that uses the text as the referent by which the world lives. That places no pre-text above the text, or permits a normative authority from beyond the text to determine the text. And at the same time, that adapts the text to the world just as it adapts the world to the text, reading the two things not merely contiguously, but continuously and consistently.

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All that, and I still haven't said that I find in Pharisaism one of the best interpretive keys for the reading of the text for moral judgments, against the reading of moral judgments into the text. And that remains my project for now.