5 thoughts on “The Jordan Peterson Moment: Seeking Dialogue on the Left

  1. Excellent discussion. To be perfectly honest, I was on the left in the last presidential election. But slowly I’ve felt that rift in my own psyche about the issues pushed by the left. I could not in my own conscience support those issues based on my own gut level reactions. I sort of accidentally ran across Peterson almost 2 years ago around the beginning of the C-16 bill, because I don’t watch mainstream TV and exclusively watch Youtube. I had no idea that the Peterson phenomenon would snowball into what it is today. Needless to say, the more I listened to Peterson, the more I was able to put my gut feelings about my leftist politics into perspective. I began to question some of the ideologies I had formally embraced. I was challenging Peterson on several levels as well, since I am basically a Whiteheadian philosophically. As I investigated Peterson’s basic philosophical and intellectual orientation, and how he was neither a militant atheist nor a religious zealot, and he was intimately familiar with deep understanding of Jungian psychology, as well as a deep understanding of where we are with respect to our understanding of consciousness, my admiration deepened to the point that I was sure that he was on the right track as far as taking us to our next level of planetary evolution. There is much more to this but I think I will leave it there. Thanks very much for the discussion.

  2. The one-after-another is a bearable prelude to the deeper knowledge of the side-by-side, for this is an incomparably more difficult problem. ~Carl Jung, CW 14, Para 206

    Thank you for this thoughtful conversation. I’ve forwarded it to many, posted in various places in hope that your reflections will create similar elsewhere and bear real practical fruit in the polis.

    I discovered Peterson before the current media storm quite by (happy) accident. Several years ago I googled for a particular passage by C.G. Jung and was offered top of the page a youtube Peterson link, part one of a two part lecture on C.G. Jung as part of his semester course, Personality and Its Transformations [I highly recommend it]. Within minutes of watching his full-bodied efforts, the contorting, the grimaces, the long silences, his pacing, his voice excitedly labile from low tones to high pitched squeals, much of which delivered in many ways, I was hooked. I am a Jungian-oriented counselor for over 20 years now, with years of personal Jungian analysis under my belt (belt being a depth image of sorts what what lurks and percolates beneath), I gained some new and insightful takes on Jung and his psychology from a man of passionate intensity who offers up real meat, not fluff, for think and integration.

    I don’t agree with some of his views but I realized I could learn much from him (re: evolutinary psychology which I did not get exposed to when I was a student and then in my training as a counselor, I also benefit from P.s integrating, attempts thereof, various psychological approachs which, first and even ongoing glance appear to cancel out others) and so listened to his entire Theories series taught, all 5 years of the same course, in a row. From the beginning I soon saw links re: Peterson and his controversies re: gender pronouns, free speech, and more, watching those coming from naive and ideal projections on Peterson on my part viz. “how can he be Jungian AND politically conservative [and has he undergone a personal Jungian analysis where one gets one’s Jung from the inside out via ordeal, disintegration, reintegration, etc.]; the bulk of Jung’s early and middle work delves/dives into anima, animus, shadow shadow and more shadow and the projections thereof upon those ever present “others”/aliens/suspects, etc.

    Watching the media slowly and locally (Canadian, some conservative am talk radio shows) pay attention to Peterson I knew that he, to say it the wrong way, “would soon belong to the collective”, that he would “blow up” and no longer could I or his students have their “own private Peterson (and their personal Self projections upon him)”. And Peterson too would “blow up” or might (how can one not be inflated from all the attention whether positive or negative?). And that is what has happened. And Peterson has orchestrated all that masterfully since, it has been noticed, he knows what he knows what he knows and knows it cold and will articulately argue and demonstrate his points and patiently (for the most part) wait for others counter views (the way he handled the BBC reporter who made him notorious and famous) is a case in point. Peterson, let’s not forget this, is a Trickster and much of his mana derives from that activated archetype of media, communication, shapeshifting, a protector of thieves and liars as well as their victims all at once, etc. Trickster is familiar with all counter arguments and came embody one or the other or many all at once. Peterson forces one to know what they know what they know too. Or at least have some well-thought out and, yes, felt-through views on presenting issues (the “growing edges” where postive grown occurs in self and culture).

    As a very left progressive I have managed to hang on to Peterson in ways that you 3 have discussed. I long ago learned that with any teacher, guru, parser of or after “truth” one must “take the money and run” while not drinking the proverbial Kool Aid offered. What helps is to at least have the target consciousness Jung speaks of in the epigraph above. The amount of inner work implicit in getting to this “side-by-side” consciousness is humbling.

    In closing, since Philip Roth, American novellist, has just passed, I provide this quote from his novel, American Pastoral, which is now even more pertinent than ever as Roth describes the “manifestation of the indigenous American berserk”. A client read this passage to me during session at least, what, 20 years ago, a young man, lost, suicidal, desperate for some, “one real thing”, the kind of young men Peterson apparently is addressing in his bestseller book and pitches thereof:

    “You fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people without unreal expectations, without an overload of bias or hope or arrogance, as untanklike as you can be, sans cannon and machine guns and steel plating half a foot thick; you come at them unmenacingly on your own ten toes instead of tearing up the turf with your caterpillar treads, take them with an open mind, as equals, man to man, as we used to say, and yet you never fail to get them wrong. You might as well have the brain of a tank. You get them wrong before you meet them, while you’re anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you’re with them; and then you go home to tell somebody else about the meeting and you get them all wrong again. Since the same generally goes for them with you, the whole thing is really a dazzling illusion empty of all perception, an astonishing farce of misperception. And yet what are we to do about this terribly significant business of other people, which gets bled of the significance we think it has and takes on instead a significance that is ludicrous, so ill-equipped are we all to envision one another’s interior workings and invisible aims? Is everyone to go off and lock the door and sit secluded like the lonely writers do, in a soundproof cell, summoning people out of words and then proposing that these word people are closer to the real thing than the real people that we mangle with our ignorance every day? The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It’s getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That’s how we know we’re alive: we’re wrong. Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride. But if you can do that–well, lucky you.”

    — from Amercian Pastoral, a novel by Philip Roth, p. 35

  3. Forgive some glaring typos, etc. in the above but I think/hope the reader can self-correct my mistakes while writing on a train between Philadelphia and NYC.

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