Friends Like These (A Comico-Political Essay)
Response to Vivian Liska, »Jewish Exile in Modern Thought: Predicamentand Paradigm«
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Exile, a joke that stages exile, seems as good a point of entry as any into − and perhaps also away from − the Jewish question, the question of Jewish friends and the narcissism of whatever differences (our »echo chambers,« in today's parlance). Freud describes the joke, the Witz, as a story of friendship and of enmity, with a twist. For the scheme of the joke is not dyadic (friend, enemy; us, them), nor is it quite dialectical. The joke rather calls for three people: in addition to the one who makes the joke, there must be a second who is taken as the object of the hostile or sexual aggression, and a third in whom the joke's aim of producing pleasure is fulfilled. Inspired by Robert Meister, in this paper I rephrase or translate Freud by invoking the lexicon of perpetrator, victim and beneficiary.