case of mistaken identity: but not in my backyard

Mistaken identity and false pretense. Mistaken identity has always been the source for arriving at some rich existential meanings.But, behind fervent religious belief, is it the will to meaning in the sense of Victor Frankl, or some twisted ideology arising from existential neurosis. The will to meaning is supposed to be more fundamental than the will to power or the will to pleasure. Its a short hop to Jonestown or the extreme Mormonism of Warren Jeffs, let alone ultra orthodox jewish cults insulated from the state.

Frankl asserted that frustration of the will-to-meaning or also termed existential frustration is a form of “spiritual” sickness,a kind of chronic pathology; Frankl clarified “spiritual” outside of a religious connotation, and connected to the specifically human dimension; being the individual’s need for meaning. In the case of religion, there is often the theme of sin, temptation and guilt co-existing precariously with an intense commitment to faith. But, when faith is in conjunction with sedition against the state and acts of kidnapping,property theft  and other crimes…

---It is an enclave of ultra-Orthodoxy in the midst of the Laurentian mountains of Quebec, and its family practices have sparked an international tug-of-war with Israel. Lev Tahor, a community of religious Jews on the edge of the forest north of Montreal, has carried on largely away from the glare of public scrutiny for years. Women and even little girls dress head to toe in chador-like veils and marry as young as the age of 16. Residents have limited contact with outsiders. But now the Hasidic sect in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts has become the focus of attention since two teenaged girls headed here were stopped by Canadian authorities and sent back home. The girls, aged 15 and 13, were detained by Canadian immigration officials in Montreal and returned to Israel apparently under order of an Israeli court. The girls' great-uncle had petitioned for the writ out of concern that the girls would be harmed by the group in Canada, that their property would be taken, and that they could be forced to wed male members of the Lev Tahor sect. In Israel, the sect is sometimes called the Jewish Taliban because of the way the women dress.--- Read More: image:

By way to response, the cult leaders can claim that solution to human problems is not feasible without the notion of violence, both as agent of change and enforcer of edict. That is, the issue, hardly consensual, of whether justified, legal, means should be used to reach justified ends fails to, or avoids considering the possibility where violence is imposed by fate,or destiny.This leads to the discouraging and pessimistic conclusion and discovery of the eventual insolubility of all legal problems. In short, messianism has to have a violent destructive component, and bringing the messiah is going to be a messy affair, bordering on nihilism and the apocalyptic.Reason itself does not dictate or define the justified means and ends and means are used only for a preconceived end, in this case enhancing the arrival of the messiah.So, what the secular world considers criminal and cruel is interpreted not as a means but a manifestation of deep rooted, from murky antiquity, as mythical violence showing itself to being virtually similar with all legal violence. If mythical violence is law creating then divine violence is law destroying and if boundaries are set by the mythical they are smashed to oblivion by the latter. The basis of the argument rests on that of guilt of mere life purifying the guilty, not of guilty, however, but of law. One can see the cult of Nazism dipping into the same waters…

---Zizek:This insight also forms the core of Hegel's notion of madness: when Hegel determines madness to be a withdrawal from the actual world, the closing of the soul into itself, its "contraction," the cutting-off of its links with external reality, he all too quickly conceives of this withdrawal as a "regression" to the level of the "animal soul" still embedded in its natural environs and determined by the rhythm of nature (night and day, etc.). Does this withdrawal, on the contrary, not designate the severing of the links with the Umwelt, the end of the subject's immersion into its immediate natural environs, and is it, as such, not the founding gesture of "humanization"? Was this withdrawal-into-self not accomplished by Descartes in his universal doubt and reduction to Cogito, which, as Derrida pointed out in his "Cogito and the history of madness", also involves a passage through the moment of radical madness? Read More: image:

…”Use force? We want everybody who is not 100 per cent happy … to leave us,” Mr. Elbarnes said in an interview on Wednesday in the book-lined room, about 100 kilometres north of Montreal. He said girls typically marry as teenagers, and partners are “suggested” for them. But he said marriages are not forced. “The women here choose of their own will.” Mr. Elbarnes was convicted in 1994 by a U.S. court of kidnapping a 13-year-old boy studying with him.

He fled to Canada in 2001 on a temporary visa and later obtained refugee status.He eventually brought followers of his anti-Zionist sect to the Laurentians, and the group in Sainte-Agathe has grown to about 50 families. The goal is to recreate strict religious observance in an “old-fashioned” way of life, he said. “It is necessary to keep our traditions.” Girls and women walk amid the partly unpaved roads and modest homes in flowing black robes, with head scarves tied tightly under their necks and capes covering long dresses. Only the women’s faces and hands are visible.

Two years ago, the woman leader of the sect in Israel, Bruria Keren, was convicted of severely abusing her mentally-retarded son and sentenced to four years in prison.When social welfare agents accompanied by police arrived to take the child away, a small riot broke out in the community….The group believes that the sight of women may excite men into sinning and the responsibility for preventing such sins rests with the women. Even in Israel, where almost everyone wears black, the “Taliban women,” as they are called, stand out.They are not popular.

Much of the criticism of the group focuses on the women’s dress, described by most people here as being Islamic-style. However, a booklet distributed by the group argues that Jewish women were covered in this way long before Muslim women. “They copied it from us,” the literature says. Israeli Judge Rivka Makayes found “there is some defect in the parents’ perception of ways of life,” and ordered that the girls be returned to Israel.( Martin, Peritz ) Read More:

Turning Dostoyevsky’s famous quotation from The Brothers Karamazov on its head, Zizek claims that with God everything is permissible.
More than a century ago, in “The Brothers Karamazov” and other works, Dostoyevsky warned against the dangers of godless moral nihilism, arguing in essence that if God doesn’t exist, then everything is permitted… This argument couldn’t have been more wrong: the lesson of today’s terrorism is that if God exists, then everything, including blowing up thousands of innocent bystanders, is permitted—at least to those who claim to act directly on behalf of God, since, clearly, a direct link to God justifies the violation of any merely human constraints and considerations. In short, fundamentalists have become no different than the “godless” Stalinist Communists, to whom everything was permitted since they perceived themselves as direct instruments of their divinity, the Historical Necessity of Progress Toward Communism.

---Zizek:Illusionary are both extremes: pure excess as well as pure finite order would disintegrate, cancel themselves... This misses the true point of "madness," which is not the pure excess of the Night of the World, but the madness of the passage to the Symbolic itself, of imposing a symbolic order onto the chaos of t

eal. (Like Freud, who, in his Schreber analysis, points out how the paranoiac "system" is not madness, but a desperate attempt to ESCAPE madness – the disintegration of the symbolic universe - through an ersatz, as if, universe of meaning.) If madness is constitutive, then EVERY system of meaning is minimally paranoiac, "mad." Read More: image:

Did you catch the subtle twist in his logic? Dostoyevsky was arguing on the substantive level, taking the authoritative Word of the Creator to the current situation of modern man. Zizek, on the other hand, would rather argue emotionally by claiming that the actions and behaviors of professing believers are what prove the religion itself to be right or wrong. Of course, in order to demonize “fundamentalists” of every stripe, Zizek must presuppose the laws of logic, a metaphysical necessity for which his atheistic worldview of materialism can’t account. He must also smuggle morality—value statements about what “should” or “should not” be—out of the trunk of the Cadillac of Christianity that’s parked beside his paper palace of materialism (an beachfront property nestled securely in the sand). Read More:

---Zizek:Recall Brecht's 'what is the robbing of a bank compared to the founding of a new bank?' - therein resides the lesson of David Lynch's Straight Story: what is the ridiculously-pathetic perversity of figures like Bobby Perou in Wild at Heart or Frank in Blue Velvet compared to deciding to traverse the US central plane in a tractor to visit a dying relative? Measured with this act, Frank's and Bobby's outbreaks of rage are the impotent theatrics of old and sedate conservatives... This step is the properly "Hegelian" one – which is why Hegel, the philosopher who made the most radical attempt to THINK TOGETHER the abyss of madness at the core of subjectivity AND the totality of the System of meaning. This is why, for very good reasons, "Hegel" stands for the common sense for the moment at which philosophy gets "mad," explodes into a "crazy" pretense at "absolute knowledge"... So: not simply "madness" and symbolization – there is, in the very history of philosophy (of philosophical "systems"), a PRIVILEGED point at which the hyperbole, philosophy’s ex-timate core, directly inscribes itself into it, and this is the moment of Cogito, of transcendental philosophy. "Madness" is here "tamed" in a different way, through "transcendental" horizon, which does not cancel it in an all-encompassing world-view, but maintains it. Read More: image:


---Zizek:Cogito, madness and religion are interlinked in Descartes (génie malin), in Kant (distance from Swedenborg, who stands for madness, etc.) Simultaneously, Cogito emerges through differentiation from (reference to) madness, AND Cogito itself (the idea of Cogito as the point of absolute certainty, “subjective idealism”) is perceived (not only) by common sense as the very epitome of the madness of philosophy, crazy paranoiac system-building (philosopher as madman – (not only) late Wittgenstein). And, also simultaneously, religion (direct faith) is evoked as madness (Swedenborg for Kant, or radical Enlightenment rationalists, up to Dawkins), AND religion (God) enters as the solution from (solypsistic) madness (Descartes). Foucault and Derrida: polemic, in which they share the key underlying premise: that Cogito is inherently related to madness. The difference: for Foucault, Cogito is grounded in the exclusion of madness, while, for Derrida, Cogito itself can only emerge through a “mad” hyperbole (universalized doubt), and remains marked by this excess. Before it stabilizes itself as res cogitans, the self-transparent thinking substance, Cogito as a crazy punctual excess.Read More: image menahem kahana:


The leader of the Lev Tahor community calls himself Shlomo Elbarnes. From Jerusalem’s Kiryat Yovel neighborhood, this charismatic figure began forming extremist Orthodox groups in the United States some 20 years ago. His followers are said to heed his authority entirely.

Elbarnes brought his followers to Canada after U.S. authorities expelled him due to charges that he coercively asserted control over a 13-year-old minor. Elbarnes settled with his group outside of Montreal, where they are said to be fervently religious, holding prayer services that last nearly the entire day. Rituals of the Lev Tahor community reportedly involve lashing anyone considered a “sinner,” and sending 14-year-old girls to the wedding canopy. Read More:


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