He’d slap you happily

It turns out Jordan Peterson isn’t just a man of facile deepities, he’s also a man of noisy threats.

Jordan Peterson joins the club of macho writers who have thrown a fit over a bad review.

The New York Review of Books, which is famous for drubbing high-profile authors, was particularly harsh on Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson in a review published online on Monday. Surveying 12 Rules For Life, Peterson’s new book, critic Pankaj Mishra warned that the self-help guru “may seem the latest in a long line of eggheads pretentiously but harmlessly romancing the noble savage,” but that he draws on a tradition of writers like Carl Jung who were prone to—as the headline put it—“fascist mysticism.”

Peterson’s elegant but forceful response:

Apart from everything else wrong with that response, there’s the oddity of (apparently) treating “noble savage” literally rather than as a reference to a very familiar literary/philosophical trope originating with Rousseau. Mishra doesn’t mention Charles Joseph, so “That’s how you refer to my friend Charles Joseph?” is mystifying.

Then he expands on the point.

Who wouldn’t want to learn timeless wisdom from that guy?

Nesrine Malik pointed out the mismatch:

The dissonance is comical in a Judd Apatow movie kind of way, where a human oxymoron is the punchline. Jordan is The Angry Guru, The Pissed-Off Yogi, The Totally Untogether Psychiatrist. A fragile authority who spends his time dishing it out but just can’t take it. A brittle ego who exhorts his fans to find peace by accepting that life is tough – while losing it completely every time he steps barefoot on a metaphorical piece of Lego. A tragic physician who cannot heal himself. It’s so jarring. Reading Jordan is, according to the writer Hari Kunzru, “like being shouted at by a rugby coach in a sarong”.

How about if Judd Apatow makes him the next Seth Rogen, and then we could all forget about him.

Jordan reminds me of the youngish Muslim preachers who became all the fashion in the Arabic-speaking world after the proliferation of satellite TV in the 90s. They just wanted youth to live a better life by following the simple rules of submission to the natural order of things – the pain was in fighting it. These preachers, always men, and always appealing to other men to shoulder their responsibilities, had the preternatural calm of the faithful but when challenged, the temperament of the hysterical. They derived their status from the hierarchy, and so once it was questioned, they were all fire and brimstone. They had little intrinsic value to offer, and even less original thinking.

I think we’ve found a match!

H/t Maureen

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