I can’t stand Jordan Petersen. I can’t stand his remorseless humourlessness first of all. His self-righteousness, his grandiosity and megalomania, his boastfulness about how learned he is coupled with his preparedness to wade into subjects like what he calls cultural Marxism as if he is doing it as an intellectual. No problems with his objecting to what our culture (and our economy) has made of critical theory, but to speak as if he even understands its intellectual content — well you don’t have to know much about it to know that, for all his bravado, and all his apparent meat only diet self-belief, it’s not his forte.
Then again, complaining about Peterson in those terms is like his complaining about ‘cultural Marxism’ — that is it’s focussing on what’s worst about him. I recall when he first came up on my feed a year or three ago, I thought he was a breath of fresh air. I still do, it’s just that when one gets blown by exactly the same breath of fresh air every other day for a few years, it ceases to be quite so fresh. That’s the stage I’m at with Peterson.
In any event, that’s my #ItWasTheBestOfTimesItWasTheWorstOfTimes intro. Check out this fabulous lecture back in Peterson’s pre-famous days. What’s so good about it? He’s crafted his bullets brilliantly and aimed them viscerally into the nihilistic heart of our culture. And he spoke from what he knew and what he felt and, so was able to speak directly to that same place in millions of actual, channel surfing, wondering, struggling, suffering human beings.
Good on Jordan Peterson for the magnificent contribution above, one of finest reports from the front of modern times. I’ll be interested to see if he’s got anything new to offer us in another few years. But I’m not optimistic. Few people emerge intact from the belly of such an all-consuming beast, especially one so assiduously cultivated. As George Harrison observed, “They gave their money, and they gave their screams. But the Beatles kind of gave their nervous systems”. But he gave what he had. Who amongst us can say that?