With its odd mixture of Darwinian determinism, Jungian myth-interpretation and Heideggerian ontology (Being written with a capital B!), it was an unlikely self-help manual and an even unlikelier bestseller. But its dozen behavioural rules for leading a meaningful life rode a steep wave of frustration with the shibboleths of postmodernity.
– A extract from review of 12 Rules for life (by Jordan B Peterson) written by the guardian newspaper.
Lets be Frank. (Or maybe Harry) Ha ha. I have no idea what Jungian myth interpretation is. Or Heideggerian ontology. And I had to google what a shibboleth is. And really, I only have a dim understanding of postmodernity (as a concept). I think this passage may be an indictment though. Or maybe its a word salad?
I consider myself more of a blue collar scholastic… so maybe this is aimed at persons with more sentience, people that can pronounce Moët and can casually use archaic words in polite conversation (and sometimes even know what they mean). Wait… is this what discrimination feels like? Gah, it smarts.
I have no idea why I bought this book. I’d been to the iStore to buy a new MacBook (having broken my old one). It was a failure in consumerism because they didn’t have stock of the one I wanted. (No I don’t want to put my name on a waiting list) Having psyched myself up and having committed myself to a mall trip I was now adrift and wandering around aimlessly…
The bookstore had a big stack of Jordan B Peterson placed strategically in the center of the store, something that was difficult to avoid unless you skirted round the periphery. Plus there was a giant poster proclaiming its, eh… life altering magnificence. I’m probably misremembering that… but it was something prosaic and life affirming. Also, apparently Jordan is, ‘The most influential public intellectual in the Western world right now’…
I really didn’t like (or maybe understand is a better term) 12 Rules for life. I even bought the audible version thinking maybe that would somehow transfuse better into the grimy substrate that is my mind since I (for the most part) like Jordans oratory. Spoiler alert, it didn’t didn’t do anything for me and it seemed just as vapid as the book itself.
It took me a long time to realize that 12 Rules wasn’t written for me (as someone that is part of the target market I mean). Mostly because I am already awesome. Ha ha. (and also very conceited). But really, I’m GenX baby… we weren’t raised with the millstone of inferiority around our necks. I already stand up straight and do all those other common-sense things that need to be explained to people in 12 mandates and four hundred and forty eight pages.
Also fuck your rules. And really anyone who tells me what to do. And anyone who writes ‘self-help’.
So there’s that.
In any event. There were I was, in front of the ziggurat de Jordan…
I think I blacked out because the next thing I knew I was tapping my card on the Point of Sale device and ‘would I like a bag with that’. ‘What? Oh… no thanks I’ll just put it in my backpack’.
The first chapter… or maybe its a prologue… in any event, its a loooong kooky prattle about his opiod addiction and now it came to pass that… (somewhat unbelievably that this is the only place in the world where you can get decent treatment) he ended up in a Russian rehab facility that ‘cured’ him.
Enter stage left Mikhaila Peterson, who, fuck me, I don’t say this about a lot of people… is just the most awful person imaginable. Not only is she exceptionally dense, she also has the charisma of a decomposing forest log. That apple fell far from the tree. And then rolled down the hill… and into a river. And washed up on a deserted island beach across the ocean somewhere. If you can actually listen to one of her podcasts and after five minutes NOT want to self-harm with a rusty razor blade… you are clearly made of sterner stuff.
If you google nepotism, Mikhaila Petersons face should be in the top 10 search result. Along with Hunter Biden. Ha ha. People who have a negative skill set but manage (like pond scum) to rise to the surface because of the infamy of their forebears.
Anyways, its difficult for me to seperate Jordan Peterson from his idiot progeny. I mean he is partly responsible for that… stands to reason you should treat any rule set that produced that with suspicion.
So theres that little niggle.
And then the problem (some might say the bigger problem) that Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life is rubbish.
Okay, its not all rubbish. I highlighted some sections that I liked, but honestly, they were sparse and interjected with some real psychobabble that made absolutely zero sense to me, really weird esoterica mashed together with the Old Testament and Harry Potter.
I would often read a paragraph… and then have to flip back a page, re-read it… and then wonder, what the actual heck was going on here.
I mean I appreciate that I am a dumbass. But if I can grind my way through Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War with some semblance of understanding… I should be able to manage this. Right?
I kept wondering what some dude in his moms basement who starts his day off with a double dose of Louder with Crowder and Ben Shapiro would make of all this. And that worried me. How are they getting something positive and life-affirming out of this… and I’m just getting frustrated? What’s wrong with me? (besides the obvious I mean)
Jordan has some really good stuff. And I do mean really good! Especially the stuff at the beginning of his ‘new found’ fame. Before it became codified (for lack of a better word) to be… more easily marketed to those looking for a prophet (and maybe salvation).
I almost get the feeling that he was this relatively normal guy. Who had the presence of mind… or maybe just the chutzpah to stand up to a lot of the stupid stuff that was going on university campuses. But then he was rocketed into the lime light and then that ‘material’ wasn’t… deep enough to keep going with… so he went off piste a bit and this is his B-side stuff. And that stuff isn’t really all that great. I mean I suppose it could be… but it needs work. Its almost like he knew that there was a limited time window to make a metric fuck tonne of cash from the cultists… and he jumped in both feet first.
Fame. And the insane workload he put himself under… from academia to rockstar… yeah, its unlikely you’re going to come out the other side unscathed. And I don’t think he has.
I think what gets to me the most about Jordans writing is the complete lack of ANY whimsy… his writing is… hard. All humor has been expertly excised out of it with a scalpel. I think he really believes life is just suffering and hell. He’s an emo without the eye-shadow and his writing reflects that.
Maybe that’s the problem. I’m a coddled and spoilt dilettante, I can’t empathize with an facet of living that I have no experience with. And so I just presume it doesn’t exist. ‘Y’all need to toughen the fuck up and get over yourselves and you know… go get a job or something’.
Some people are finding real value in this stuff. And good for them. Its not for me though. I like to pretend I’m all cheerful and that everything is awesome. A MUCH better philosophy in my opinion.
Anyways. IMO and what not.