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Jordan Peterson Live

Jordan Peterson Live

April 17, 2019 11:53 pmComments are Disabled

I was invited by a friend tonight to see “JP” (as he calls him) live at the Beacon Theater in New York. I had just finished his book so I was curious what hearing the author in the flesh would be like. I’ve heard so many things about how reviled this man is, but also (secretly, in hushed voices) from several people how powerful and engaging a speaker he is.

Truth be told, I was underwhelmed on both counts.

The theater was full. Given how much the Upper West Side liberal type hates this Canadian psychologist-turned-public-intellectual, I was shocked to see how big the turnout was, in the heart of the Upper West Side. The crowd was also extremely diverse. I would be surprised if more than 40% of the audience was white. This was surprising to me, given how much I had heard about how Jordan Peterson was perpetrating white supremacy. I did notice, however, that the audience was heavily male.

His entire lecture was, frankly, kind of boring. He comes across as passionate but mild-mannered, talks a lot about personal responsibility (which is maybe one reason liberals hate him so much) and relationships. Far from being a Nazi firebrand he is often portrayed as, he spends a good deal of time renouncing totalitarianism in all its forms.

If I had to describe him, it would be a self-help guru, marriage counselor and therapist rolled into one. In this lecture, at least, he wasn’t very political, at least explicitly. He did spend a great deal of time, as he does in his book, talking about Christian mythology and implications for how one might live a modern life. One thing he certainly didn’t come across as was right-wing. As a Canadian professor with fairly conventional liberal bona fides, he maybe would qualify as a moderate Democrat in the American political spectrum.

As with my journey into his book, I found it curious but I wouldn’t say I’m on the Jordan Peterson train–or, at least, I don’t really see what the big deal is. What did occur to me, though, is how important it is to read / see something for yourself before you form an opinion about it. The media is so determined to shape the narrative on everything, and the only way to truly educate yourself is to dive in and learn from the primary sources directly. I haven’t turned into a mosque shooter by reading his book, nor have I burst into flames watching him speak live (nor I have I particularly changed my own views on anything either). But I now have an actual, grounded basis of experience I can speak to if he ever comes up in conversation.

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