Russia got Stalin and Dostoevsky. Who’s Canada’s most dangerous thinker? Professor Dad over here, yelling up the stairs about William Blake and the “overwhelming mystery of Being” and, hey, would it kill you kids to clean up after yourselves once in a while? Some of us have tenured jobs to go to.
This disconnect between the way Peterson is advertised and what he in fact writes is the most deflating thing here. If this is what the enemy looks like to you, you’re going to have to find a new war. This one is too boring to fight.
That’s the impression I got from his first popular book, too — it’s a lot of trite, boring trivialities recited as if they were Deep Thoughts, and what needs to be fought isn’t Peterson, but the shallow wave of ignorance rippling among his devotees.
This requires a lot of explaining, and even, God help us, some poetry. The ratio of sociology-term-paper-gobbledygook to English runs at roughly 2:1, yet we are introduced to “the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates.” This is deep thinking slimmed down for people who aren’t totally sure whether Socrates was the toga guy or the gyro guy.
Here are his 12 new rules:
- Do not carelessly denigrate social institutions or creative achievement.
- Imagine who you could be and then aim single-mindedly at that.
- Do you not hide unwanted things in the fog.
- Notice that opportunity lurks where responsibility has been abdicated.
- Do not do what you hate.
- Abandon ideology.
- Work as hard as you possibly can on at least one thing and see what happens.
- Try to make one room in your home as beautiful as possible.
- If old memories still upset you, write them down carefully and completely.
- Plan and work diligently to maintain the romance in your relationship.
- Do not allow yourself to become resentful, deceitful, or arrogant.
- Be grateful in spite of your suffering.
I do not need to read the book to know that that is incoherent garbage. It’s like being served up a load of bad fortune cookies.