“It is also a mistake to conceptualize nature romantically. Rich, modern city-dwellers, surrounded by hot, baking concrete, imagine the environment as something pristine and paradisal, like a French impressionist landscape. Eco-activists, even more idealistic in their viewpoint, envision nature as harmoniously balanced and perfect, absent the disruptions and depredations of mankind. Unfortunately, “the environment” is also elephantiasis and guinea worms (don’t ask), anopheles mosquitoes and malaria, starvation-level droughts, AIDS and the Black Plague. We don’t fantasize about the beauty of these aspects of nature, although they are just as real as their Edenic counterparts. It is because of the existence of such things, of course, that we attempt to modify our surroundings, protecting our children, building cities and transportation systems and growing food and generating power. If Mother Nature wasn’t so hell-bent on our destruction, it would be easier for us to exist in simple harmony with her dictates.”
Peterson, Jordan B. 12 Rules for Life. Penguin Random House, 2018
I am weary of anyone who articulates a codified rule-set for ‘life’, that and I am generally more appreciative of Mr. Peterson’s oratory than any of the stuff he’s written down. Still, I really liked this passage.
It struck me as analogous to Marcus Aurelius’s ‘Contemptuous expressions’, where the former stoic exemplar would remind himself about the true essence of a thing. Your food is just the body of a dead pig or bird. Wine is merely fermented grape juice etc.
‘This should be your practice throughout all your life: when things have such a plausible appearance, show them naked, see their shoddiness, strip away their own boastful account of themselves. Vanity is the greatest seducer of reason: when you are most convinced that your work is important, that is when you are most under its spell’ – Marcus Aurelius
As a personal aside I never finished 12 Rules for Life. It started feeling like a chore early on, and really, fuck other people and their pronouncements on living a good life. Maybe I’ll take another stab at it… one day… when I’m big.