A snip at $1500

When I was a kid my brother and I liked to entertain the adults after a large meal with suggestions of gross-out combinations to make them squeal in disgust. Anchovies in chocolate sauce, cherry pie with a scoop of chopped herring; that sort of thing. Here’s another one:

If you want tickets for the forthcoming showdown between Jordan Peterson and Slavoj Zizek, which will be held later this month in Toronto, better act fast: There are two left — as of this writing, anyway — and they’re $1,500 apiece. The unlikely and unshaven pair will square off at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto, which seats about 3,000, where they will debate whether capitalism or Marxism leads to happiness.

Ooooooh no I really don’t. I don’t want tickets, I don’t want to go, I don’t want to hear, I don’t want to see. I’d rather eat anchovies in chocolate sauce.

[I]t’s hard to deny the rubbernecking appeal of the spectacle. How often do two garrulous, ill-tempered, theory-spouting academics fill a venue usually reserved for musicians and comedians?

It’s not hard for me to deny that. I’ve been to enough conferences that included a garrulous, ill-tempered, condescending, smug male academic or two, so I feel zero need to go anywhere to see more of that. Showstopper: two guys peacocking. Nah, thanks, I’m good.

The debate came about after Zizek criticized Peterson in a column for The Independent, poking at “the paranoiac construct which he uses to interpret what he sees as facts” and his “crazy conspiracy theory” that sinister Marxist forces lurk behind progressive social movements. The essay, though, was largely focused on what Zizek views as the failures on the left that help bolster Peterson’s popularity. When it comes to postmodernism, Zizek and Peterson are often singing from the same hymnal.

But prickly narcissistic Peterson was ruffled anyway so he challenged Zizek to a debate. Game on!

While their meeting is more UFC fight night than plenary panel, Zizek and Peterson remain very much creatures of the university. Despite the best attempts of his harshest detractors, Peterson continues to be a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. Zizek holds a bunch of academic appointments, including professor of philosophy and psychoanalysis at the European Graduate School, and international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities at the University of London.

Despite all that respectability though, they both love to brawl.

Then again, it’s a mistake to read any of Zizek’s proclamations as necessarily earnest. His rhetorical style is ironic rapid-fire adamance — he speaks as if he’s trying to squeeze in one last insight before a buzzer sounds — and he obviously loves to provoke.

So does Peterson. He revels in sharp back-and-forth and appears to thrive on eviscerating would-be-challengers. Search YouTube and you’ll find that Peterson has “destroyed” or “obliterated” the following opponents: Overconfident Leftist Interviewer, British Feminist, and Entire Panel on Transgender Pronouns.

Laugh if you want to, but this stuff pays.

Such performances have helped garner a sizable, cult-adjacent following for Peterson. He has not been shy about monetizing that appreciation, recently debuting his own line of merchandise, which includes lobster-themed leggings, socks, and pillows (Peterson used lobsters once in an analogy to explain social hierarchies).  For $44.99, you can order a hoodie emblazoned with his much-repeated injunction to “STAND UP STRAIGHT WITH YOUR SHOULDERS BACK.”

Lobster-themed leggings!

collapses in helpless laughter

11 Responses to “A snip at $1500”