I just finished reading my new hardback copy of “12 rules for life” by Jordan B. Peterson that I bought at Wal Mart last week. The front of the book has two very bold statements on it. At the top it says “Over Four Million Copies Sold” and on the bottom it says “The most influential public intellectual in the Western world right now”. Now, the first statement is just an objective fact – which makes It impressive. It’s not easy to sell 4 million physical books; so you know it’s got to have something great in it. The second statement is more of a subjective opinion; but since it is coming from the New York Times (a very liberal with a lower case “L” publication) one can almost defer sarcasm in the words. I find after reading this amazing piece of literacy that it may in fact be the other way around.
I think this is a more truthful way to put it: Jordan Peterson is the most Western-ly influenced public intellectual, right now. Peterson did not march forth from the abyss and creatively throw together some rules that magically make life worth living – but he did something actually even more impressive than that. He stood on the shoulders of intellectual giants (with solid footing, in my opinion); all that came before us and he truthfully and genuinely and expertly guides us through his discovery process of how to put that knowledge to practical and satisfying use in order to make the world better. He doesn’t just stand on the shoulders of giants (as we all do , whether we know it or not) – he actively invites you to stand on his shoulders and explore the ideas presented in the book even farther.. There is not one chapter in the book where Peterson’s writing loses focus from it’s purpose of helping you, the reader. Perhaps this is a byproduct of his career as a clinical psychologist – or perhaps his politeness is just due to the fact he is Canadian.
That last sentence was a joke, by the way. Actually- a joke isn’t any good if it has to be explained; so let’s pretend it was in fact a segway into my next point about why Petersons’ book is so compellingly brilliant: It’s an eye opener about the commonly propagated myth that hierarchy’s exist and are enforced solely by those at the perceived “top” of said hierarchy. Here’s a hint: that’s not why they exist. Truthfully, no one really knows why they exist other than the fact that they do exist – not only outside of ourselves but inside of ourselves, too. Instead of calling nature unfair and paradoxical ; Peterson invites the reader to objectively ask the question “What can I actually do about it?” The answer comes in the form of 12 rules. Each rule is the name of a chapter and each chapter has many stories and examples of techniques and solutions and individual can use to the advantage and betterment of themselves, society and truth in general.
As refreshingly and revolutionarily “manly” as this book is touted to be in the media; the words are very carefully stitched together and the messages and parables are delivered with careful compassion. The message in this book over and over is not “man up” or “grow up” – it is instead consistently a message of “wake up”. Peterson doesn’t start with the premise that “life is good” and work from there – instead he truthfully admits that life is both chaos and order; and then invites the reader to ( brutally and honestly ) ask themselves the question “Am I seeking chaos, or order – and why?”.
This was a thought provoking book that I feel brought me closer to a more accurate understanding of the world we live in – not the “good” world or the “bad” world; but the real world. Not just the one inside my head. Or the one inside yours. The REAL world; that we all exist together in. The heart of this book is “be honest”. Tell the truth. You may not even know what you’re really even aiming for…but if you are brutally honest – chances are you’re going to hit your target. Even if you can’t “see” it. That’s the nature of the universe as we understand it.
The lines of the real world were drawn long ago – we cannot re-design the fabric of nature or re-draw those lines and maybe that’s not our job. Maybe our job is just to do our best to map out and study those lines and what they might mean together- because then at least through life’s harshest tests- we will never be alone.
Thanks for reading my review of 12 rules for life by Jordan Peterson!