Each temporary job, each transition, each pitiless leap, is a small death. And all the while beneath the surface, all your family’s pets die, your grandparents die, your newly-barren parents may move out of your hometown, your friends leave your hometown, and every marker of life and spirit you’ve felt for the past 20 years is rendered into the same dull American town or city as any other place. The specificity of childhood is all dead.
The tree of life, in its evolutionary extension across time and space, can be described on its most fundamental level as an algorithm. This is the ultimate crisis of faith: that the natural world, and thus ourselves, can be described, at the most reductive level, mathematically. What need do we have for God, after all, if evolution is an algorithm? If natural selection could, on a powerful enough computer (the universe), retrace every single mutation of species that has occurred in this pocket of cosmic dust, our blue planet, can’t we dispense with everything that is not numerical?
When we seek the honest perspective, the eyes which see the other as self and the self as other, we can no longer function in this world. Now that we see power for what it is, and how it blinds our conscience, we cannot be content with it. And yet this entire world is made in the image of power. It is power, from the rapist on the street to the thugs who compose our corporate state, which leads us to our ruin. And yet, all organisms need power in order to survive. Power is at once our only hope, and our final reckoning. It is in this paradox that we find the cross, a symbol most absurd and most beautiful, perhaps the one true legacy of our aborted Christian heritage. The cross recognizes the paradox of power, and it seeks to transcend it. How? By surrendering all power, and dying. By being crushed. But in the insanity of the cross, the absurdity of the resurrection, the message of this symbol becomes clear: the dead shall live, and the powerless shall transcend all.
The fluidity of gender is a positive development, an attempt to create ‘one’ where previously there were two. In Catholic symbolism, the presence of ‘two’ is always a fundamental problem. Reflected by a devil’s twin horns, where two concepts exist, they necessarily go to war. Nature and technology, for example, and men and women, are binary oppositions currently forced into spiritual war.
But the only good outcome of that war is a synthesis. Man-woman together, as one entity. Nature-technology together, as the same fundamental force. That is the aspiration I move toward, as I must write, despite the seeming decay of the written word, I have known no other future for myself. Perhaps it would have been easier a century ago, and that is the source of many of my biases – perhaps I resent the spoken word of YouTube and the micro-literature of Twitter, and yearn for the classic age of the novel, simple, uniform. But reality cannot be denied – the world is moving into infinite forms, before it can ever possibly lay claim to ‘one’.
(The original interview can be found here)
Jordan Peterson recommends the Christian dictum from Matthew 3:16 – “Be as wise as serpents, and as innocent as doves.” That passage is the summation of Peterson’s recurring idea that true virtue is possessed only by those with the capacity to destroy others, but who out of their depth of character alone, opt not to. Critics of Peterson must face one reality: if even one angry young man has been convinced to not undertake violent and impulsive action due to the life-affirming theme of his lectures, then Peterson’s influence on the net good of the world has been undeniably more positive than the life’s work of a million well-intentioned spirits who neglected the demons rising in their own communities.
Specific place, personhood, culture and individual context are all being savagely assaulted by the omnipresence of the internet and the fracturing of Western societies into total anticulture, places where there is no commonality between people. This must be said, until it is understood: we are all phantoms, everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
Far from being a darling of the alt-right or secretly promoting fiendish racist ideology, the largest contradiction in Jordan B. Peterson’s sprawling intellectual enterprise is simply the notion that capitalist classical liberalism is the only game we can successfully play on Earth, even as it contradicts the depths of Christian symbols.
To truly understand how lost the anti-capitalist of the 21st century is, consider how Jacobin or any socialist publication distributes its ideas. The magazine publishes repeatable type, mass-produced, through the machinery of a commercialized printing press. In other words, those advocating for the commune must spread their ideas via a mechanical, depersonalized process of infinite repetition. The exact qualities that the anti-capitalist finds reprehensible about capitalism are the methods by which they transmit their ideas. Now do you understand what is meant by ‘the medium is the message’?
1. Why is there something rather than nothing?
2. Can my individual choices aid in either the ‘something’ of the universe or aim for absolute nothing?
3. What is the relationship between Christianity and power? What does it mean to invert all hierarchies and bring union between man and God?
The modern world, at its bedrock technological character, could be considered a Tower of Babel. The common tongue of our modern techno-digital world is rather simple – speed. The language of speed has seized the Western world, most perceptibly since the election of Donald Trump. In our Babel, news that would have once taken months of time to fully process instead comes and goes in the span of a single week. In recent weeks, the United States has experienced three mass shootings spread across Las Vegas, Texas and California, and dozens of major celebrities and politicians revealed as alleged sexual predators or pedophiles.
In this short span of time, what we choose to remember, or even can remember, becomes limited and fraught with error. The human brain, overwhelmed by countless situations of immense complexity with major ramifications for the order of society, becomes blurred, imprecise, and recalls only one essentially shared characteristic: the speed at which these events are proceeding.