"You know, every time I do an interview, the interview is always political. It's always political..." says Jordan Peterson, as he's charged once again with appealing specifically to young men.
"Well, we are the Daily Politic," quips the BBC host, appropriately enough. Peterson concedes that, but continues:
"The fundamental news that's important about what I'm doing isn't the political element, and the people I talk to don't talk to me politically."
I discovered Peterson through Sam Harris's Waking Up podcast, and immediately took issue with his amorphous definition of truth. I remain on Harris's side in terms of that concept, but I've since come around substantially on Peterson, who I personally regard as a sage of sorts. I read his book 12 Rules for Life: an Antidote to Chaos, and loved it. I've consumed lots of his lectures and public appearances, and confess: I am a fan. (Though I do think he could improve his agreeableness and clarity with which he dispenses cumbersome thoughts.)
Like Peterson, I don't actually want to get bogged down in the realm of politics. My primary desire is to make sense of my life and find my place in this world. I also want the world to make sense. Unfortunately, so much of that is a social negotiation, and what more is politics but that? My deepest desire is to be understood, and what I find so compelling about Peterson is that he may in fact get me, and get it. His narrative structures do indeed ring true, regardless if dragons literally exist or not.
I like clear thinking. I like calmness in the face of adversity (often in the face of adversarial people), and the methodological way in which some minds process thoughts. I don't like the messiness or the prescribed talking points in-groups talk of some things, the way indoctrination sounds. I like people thinking out loud - I am writing these words in that same vein.
There are so many tricky issues out there: the obvious inequalities of the world, the painful truths of nature, the way in which rights and responsibilities are doled out, that which is there for the taking and the fights that inevitably surround a world of scarcity. I have my own pet causes, but generally I just like the process of thinking, and the way in which critical thinkers can share the same mental space on any topic. I can't stop consuming intellectual dark web podcasts and YouTube videos!
It brings us to the pernicious role of Facebook in our lives, and how it reveals deep misunderstandings between us. I've stopped most activity there because it's simply too easy for tribalism to run rampant, and I'm trying to avoid that pitfall. I like hanging out with friends and softly negotiating personal politics through fun activities. Online, it's too clear how people think, and I find myself at odds with the inner lives of other people. Almost everyone I know comes from what I will call "the compassionate left", and yet there is so much disagreement these days, even among the politically similar.
A colleague friend posted this, for instance, and I couldn't help but chime in. I was curious exactly what his angle was. He was being soft-footed, but I suspected he wanted to take aim at some of Peterson's talking points. I was baited! I clicked on the article and read some of it - it was way too long and I don't recommend. Its author meanders through a labyrinthine mess of emotions and doubts about Peterson... suffice to say, *people get a weird feeling* from the guy... That seems like the message.
The real divisive topic IMO is that of identity politics and the marxist lens of oppression through which to view *everything*. Lots of my friends are happy to dismiss ideas that challenge that, but there actually is a lot of evidence against some main liberal talking points, and a multi-layered analysis is necessary with complex issues. Instead, we have in-fighting amongst the left over virtues and identities.
The New York Times piece is a total hit job, and has made things far worse for the left. There is a clear divide now on this well-meaning figure, made by a woman with a clear crusade. These are the real repercussions of such a thing:
And since when did white people have to be so self-hating? It's so weird to me.
So instead of working on my visual art or my future goals, I've spent the time writing this post, photoshopping the facebook thread and presenting it now to you, for your consideration. Perhaps I've wasted my time. I'm just so damn distracted by politics!