Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  420 / 142 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 420 / 142 Next Page
Page Background






double “dispossession” in which he is trapped. As Butler goes on to

analyze such an experience of “aporetic dispossession” undergone

by many contemporaries, she proceeds to call for “a conception of

reflexivity in which the self acts upon the terms of its formation

precisely in order to open in some way to a sociality that exceeds

(and possibly precedes) social regulation. . . . So this form of

reflexivity seeks to resist the return to self in favor of a relocation of

the self as a relational term” (Butler & Athanasiou, 2014:


The alternative kind of dispossession that Butler discusses

in which

one is dispossessed of himself or herself by virtue of being moved or

disconcerted by the encounter with the other

is a prelude to one’s

arriving at and opening up some “new modes of sociality and

freedom” that will once again bring one back into “being-together”

or “being-with” the other.

In a way, both Landsman and Mendel are exiles in their home

communities, and both have to apologize constantly for their pitiful

lives. Whereas Landsman is defined and then excluded by a statist

form of biopolitics, Mendel is delineated and exiled by a biopolitics

informed by religious fervor. Landsman, as a residential immigrant,

finds himself excepted by the US, whose American exceptionalism

collides with Jewish/Zionist exceptionalism. Mendel, on the other

hand, embodies the ultimate paradox inherent in any discourse of

exceptionalism. As a Messiah-to-be, one who is chosen by God to

speak for and inspire Diasporic Jews, Mendel has, and needs to

retain and maintain, his exceptional status, as he is divinely favored,

uniquely talented, and indescribably charismatic, to serve the needs

of Zionists in their efforts not only to forge a nationalism, but also

to actualize this nationalist aspiration by establishing a Jewish state

on earth. In other words, Mendel has been dispossessed and

rendered unintelligible by the discourse of Jewish exceptionalism.

The discourse itself is promoted by Zionist ideologues as it is infused

with nationalistic fervor. To those who promote exceptionalism,

Mendel is either a Messiah or a “husk” (140), a living corpse. There

simply isn’t any other option available for him. As a figure that