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Q. After graduating from college, you spend five years in Europe studying literature and preparing to teach meditation. What does that preparation involve? How do you know when you’re ready to actually teach someone how to meditate?
A. I studied under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who had a structured teacher-training program lasting 9 months. Once I graduated from that program, I was ready and able to teach meditation.
Q. You’ve dedicated a substantial portion of your life to the search for permanent happiness and the goal of attaining human enlightenment. When did that shift in focus occur, and what prompted it? How far have you come in your personal journey to achieve permanent happiness?
A. The primary shift occurred in college, when I began to question whether the outward-oriented, societal-success model for life made sense. I began to turn toward studies in religion, psychology, philosophy, and anthropology for answers. I realized that I had a soul, not simply a body. The biggest change was getting initiated into meditation just after graduation from college.
Q. This needs to be a question unto its own: What do humans have to do in order to achieve permanent happiness?
A. Meditate regularly. While there are other avenues for spiritual evolution, meditation is the fastest. One should also practice kindness to others, eat healthy foods, sleep sufficiently, and exercise well. It is useful to spend time with the most evolved people you can find and to read spiritual literature.
Q. On the lines of spirituality, you recently released an ebook entitled “The Whisper of a Saint.” It is about a person’s path to enlightenment, from the perspective of a Western man. How does spirituality differ in the West versus somewhere like India, where some of the most important historical spirituality has derived from?
A. Maharishi's goal was to bring the wisdom of the East to the lifestyles of the West. We are busy, so he suggested short, 20-minute periods of meditation twice daily, morning and evening. We don't like a lot of ceremony, so he kept the practice simply. Ultimately, spirituality is the same wherever one goes. Finding one's true Self, Pure Consciousness, is easily done by anyone, anywhere. It is, after all, what we truly Are.
Q. If you could distill the message of “The Whisper of a Saint” to three bullet-points intended to draw people in to read more, what would those points be?
A. 1) The purpose of human life is to evolve toward Enlightenment.
2) Meditation and association with wise souls accelerates the pace of evolution.
3) The miraculous is actually quite ordinary as a soul evolves toward Enlightenment.
Q. Before “The Whisper of a Saint” you wrote “Remembering Eternity.” The series also addresses an attempt to achieve enlightenment, but it comes when the main character has hit rock bottom. He is recently divorced, has lost his family, his wealth and his reputation. He decides to seek lasting happiness instead of anything else. Do you think a stripping of all material things, whether voluntary or not, is necessary to achieve lasting happiness? Do you think that’s even a feasible goal in Western society?
A. No, it is not necessary. But so long as one views "happiness" as being something external to oneself, something to be gotten in the world of material objects or egoic success, then one will not make rapid progress toward permanent happiness. Everything external can disappear: lovers can leave, children can die, careers can end, money can be lost. Obviously, none of them is permanent. Establishing Pure Consciousness, realizing that one Is PC, means finding bliss that no one can ever take away. It is your essence as a human Being.
Q. A topic you broach in “Remembering Eternity” is the “American Elite.” Specifically, the issue of how those American Elite don’t like to discuss “hidden aids” that put the odds of the game in their favor. How did that topic overlap with the path to enlightenment?
A. While at Princeton, I came across the American elite and came to understand how the success game in this country is often rigged in their favor. Early on, I felt inferior to these wealthy, well-dressed aristocrats. But I came to realize that true wealth is something that rises from within oneself. "Remembering Eternity" functions not only on the level of an enlightenment story, but also on that of an analysis of the baby-boomer generation in America.
Q. If you were to create a spirituality/meditation to-read list, a curriculum if you will, what would be on that list?
A. 1) "The Science of Being and the Art of Living"
2) The "Bhagavad Gita"
3) "Yoga Vashistha"
Q. How much closer to enlightenment are you now than 10 years ago? 20 years ago? What is the most important change you’ve made in your life to get there?
A. One can never estimate degrees of distance from Enlightenment. Suffice it to say that I am happy with my progress. Establishing a twice-daily meditation practice, from which I never varied, was key to that progress.
Q. As you continue on your own spiritual path, what else do you think you will produce for the benefit of others?
A. My goal at this stage of my life is to be of service to others. My books were written not for money or reputation, but to help spread the word of Masters of Enlightenment. I try to pass their knowledge on every day, however I can. I will also release more books in the near future.
About the book:
A night out — a few hours of fun.
What could possibly go wrong?
SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE
"The Perfect Mother is a gripping page-turner that explores the pressures of modern motherhood as well as a mother’s absolute worst nightmare. At once wonderfully nuanced and compulsively readable, it keeps you guessing at every moment, up until the very end. I could not be prouder to be bringing this thriller to the big screen."—Kerry Washington
Some people are so good at making perfect look easy.
They call themselves the May Mothers—a collection of new moms who gave birth in the same month. Twice a week, with strollers in tow, they get together in Prospect Park, seeking refuge from the isolation of new motherhood; sharing the fears, joys, and anxieties of their new child-centered lives.
When the group’s members agree to meet for drinks at a hip local bar, they have in mind a casual evening of fun, a brief break from their daily routine. But on this sultry Fourth of July night during the hottest summer in Brooklyn’s history, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is taken from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but the May Mothers insisted that everything would be fine. Now Midas is missing, the police are asking disturbing questions, and Winnie’s very private life has become fodder for a ravenous media.
Though none of the other members in the group is close to the reserved Winnie, three of them will go to increasingly risky lengths to help her find her son. And as the police bungle the investigation and the media begin to scrutinize the mothers in the days after Midas goes missing, damaging secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are formed and fractured.
Unfolding over the course of thirteen fraught days and culminating in an exquisite and unexpected twist, The Perfect Mother is the perfect book for our times—a nuanced and addictively readable story that exposes the truth of modern mothers’ lives as it explores the power of an ideal that is based on a lie.
International bestselling author Liz Gavin’s books have made to #1 in countries as diverse as Japan, the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and her home country Brazil, collecting 5 and 4-star reviews. Nominated for a Summer Indie Book Award in 2016, and again in 2017, this RWA member constantly seeks new opportunities to improve her craft. This thirst for knowledge propelled Liz to leave the comforts of family and friends in Brazil and move to California to pursue a Master’s degree in late 2015. She lives in sunny SoCal, where she’s researching the writing process, for her thesis, in hopes to figure out why she creates in English instead of her native Portuguese.
Liz Gavin writes in contemporary, paranormal, and historical genres. In her sexy stories, one finds smart, independent women, who don’t need rescuing by knights in shining armor, but indulge in steamy action with swoony Alpha males with big hearts. She also writes about women discovering their sexuality and finding happiness in unconventional setups.
Prospective ARC participants should contact Liz via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to apply.
Cold. God, he couldn’t remember ever before being this cold, never ever in his life. Only one day and he was already beginning to regret his decision. His jaw was numb from the cold and his shoulders ached from hunching against it. The wind was blowing out of the northwest, sweeping snow under the brim of his hat, the beautiful new Montana peak he’d bought just two days before. It swept in, no matter how he tucked his chin or turned away from the blast, blinding him and taking his breath away.
Hell, it was April. It wasn’t supposed to be doing this in April.
His name was Ray Turner, seventeen on his last birthday, and he was bone weary from his first day working the line, his first day of fence duty. No one had told him what a pain in the butt working the fence would be. Where was the glamour? The lariat on the straying calf, the long gallop over the plain to turn the errant steer, the fact-to-face encounter (oh god yes, the encounter) with some angry Sioux warrior come to plague the herd? Where the hell was the romance?
He and Curly were walking their horses back through the snow toward the line shack where they’d stowed their gear after riding out from the main ranch. That morning the Montana sunrise had been beautiful, the prairie grass glistening with dew in the slanting sunlight, nearly blinding him as it glanced off the ground. April in Montana, the huge sky above, the buttes in dark silhouette against the western horizon, the rounded hills leading down to the Yellowstone. What more could a young man ask for?
Well, how about some glamour? A little romance? He knew they were there somewhere.
But first the reality of a long day riding the fence, re-stapling sagging wire, straightening posts, re-attaching supports to the “deadmen.” Curly had thus identified for him the glacial boulders to which the tension wires were strung. By noon his fingers were numb from too many misdirected blows, his hands bloody from handling, mishandling, the barbed wire. By three his back was screaming from all the bending, lifting, pulling—using muscles he hadn’t used before, at least not in the way he was using them then.
And now the reality of a late spring blizzard as only Montana could know it, the Canadian low sweeping out of the north to turn the blush of April back to January scowl.
So much for glamour and romance.
With visibility near zero, they were following the fence back to the line shack. Finally, topping one last rise, there it was, barely visible below them. The slope leading down to the Yellowstone was irregular, with low hills and hollows north and south along the river, and the line shack was built into the side of one such hollow.
It was a sorry affair the color of Montana mud, almost indistinguishable from the rest of the landscape. The back wall and half the two side walls were earthen with cottonwood poles for the front, sides, and roof, the roof then covered with cowhides and sod. But it looked like a palace to the boy.
They dismounted at the shed on the north side, unsaddled their horses and turned them into the fenced enclosure. Then they hauled their gear into the shack.
The line shack was primitive in construction, but it had everything they would need while they were there on fence patrol. One room facing east, fifteen feet square with a plank floor, a window in each side wall, and a door that opened outward and was covered with cowhide to keep out the drafts. There was a pot-belly stove in the middle of the room with a wooden table and four chairs in the south half, then two sets of bunk beds along the north wall with the window in between. Near the door, hanging from a nail, was a water bag, and hanging from nails in the south wall were the sacks of provisions they’d brought with them.
Curly lit the lamps and turned to Ray. “Chips outside,” he said pointing north. Curly was not one to waste words.
Ray came back with an armload of cow chips, deposited them, the put some in the stove. On the chips Curly poured oil from one of the lamps and then dropped in a match. Soon the room was warmer as well as smokier, most of the smoke going up the stovepipe, but not all. And the air was pungent with the mixed aromas of coal oil, steaming saddle blankets, and burning cow chips. Ray didn’t care. He could hear the wind outside but he no longer felt its cutting edge, and the odors were a small price to pay for being warm again.
Curly took off his coat and hat and placed them on one of the upper bunks along the north wall. His head, shining dully in the lamplight, gave the lie to his name. Ray assumed he’d acquired it years before, in the days of his youth and curly locks. Or maybe it was the same mentality that called circus elephants Tiny. Using that logic, the boy thought, Curly should be Gabby. Curly McCoy, Ray guessed, was somewhere in this late forties or early fifties, one of the old-timers in Montana cattle ranching, and a man from whom Ray could learn much. And even though Curly seemed a bit slow with anything other than cows, horses, and fences. Ray could learn by example rather than word. Could learn from him, that is, if Ray was going to continue to pursue his career as a cowboy. After today, he wasn’t as sure of that as he’d been the day before.
He followed Curly’s move, putting his coat on the other bunk, then carefully placing the new hat on top. He’d paid too much for it, he knew, about half a month’s wages he hadn’t yet earned. But it was worth it. He loved the way he looked in it when he stood before the bureau mirror in his hotel room in Miles City where he’d bought it just after signing with the Bow and Arrow. It had taken too much of his meager savings but he didn’t care. No self-respecting cowpoke would be without a proper hat. And that raggedy old cap he’d worn there from home just wouldn’t do.
“You scrounge up some grub ‘n I’ll go tend the horses”, Curly instructed, putting his coat and hat on again.
In the gunnysacks they had provisions for a week: four loaves of bread, coffee, a half-gallon of baked beans, potatoes, carrots, onions, a slab of bacon, a ham, and two chickens. Though Ray had never before done any kind of cooking, he’d watched his mother do it often enough at the Ismay Hotel to believe he could pull it off. After all, a stew’s a stew. How tough could it be? He’d show Curly he was no greenhorn. At least not when it came to cooking.
He found a kettle big enough for more stew than the two of them would need, rinsed out the dust, filled it halfway with water from the water bag, and set it on top of the stove.
That morning, at Curly’s instructions—Curly wordlessly handed him the bag and pointed—Ray had gone down to the river, filled the bag, brought it back and hung it on the wall to be ready for them when they returned that evening.
He got out three potatoes, a half dozen carrots, and an onion. With his jackknife he peeled the potatoes and carrots, then cut them in chunks and dropped them in the water, which was by this time beginning to steam. Next the onion, in generous slabs. He took out one of the chickens from the other sack. It was already plucked and gutted so all he had to do was cut it up and put it in with the vegetables. Legs, thighs, wings, then the carcass in four chunks.
It was all bubbling nicely by the time Curly came back. He sniffed once and nodded. Ray took that to mean it smelled good. Curly brushed snow from his shoulders and beat his hat on an arm. “Nasty un,” he said. “Probly no work tomorrow.” He put coat and hat on the bunk, then sat in a chair with a long sigh. Then, “Thet’s probly okay with you, huh, Ray?” he said, smiling, already knowing Ray’s answer.
Ray assured him it would be better than okay—would Curly believe great, wonderful, heavenly? Even being cooped up for a day or two with Curly, no great conversationalist, beat having to go out to work the fence again. They sat with legs outstretched toward the stove and waited for the chicken to get done.
When Ray awakened, at first he didn’t know where he was, thinking he was back in Ismay still dreaming of being a cowboy. Then he remembered, and looked to see if Curly was laughing at him for falling asleep, like some kid exhausted from men’s work. He was relieved to see Curly slumped in his chair, hands folded over his belly, chin tucked in his chest, snoring vigorously. He looked older now in the lamplight, his features sleep-loose with deep creases in chin and cheeks, lines raying out from eyes that had squinted for too many years into too many Montana suns, his forehead and scalp a smooth white contrast to the heavily weathered face. Then Ray noticed the jagged flesh bunched and puckered from just above the left eye and running across the temple to a point above his ear. When Curly was a young man just learning the trade, he’d been bucked off a frisky mustang and then kicked into a three-day coma. Some of the Bow and Arrow cowboys unkindly suggested that was the reason Curly said so little: the kick had addled his brain and he just didn’t know what to say. But Ray hadn’t been around long enough to have heard the story of the mustang and the kick. Sometime, he promised himself, when he knew Curly better, he would ask him about the scar.
He got up to check the stew. He spooned out a potato chunk, blew on it, and popped it in his mouth. Oh yes, just like his mother’s—no, he decided, better than his mother’s.
He gently shook Curly awake, and they scooped out stew in their cups and ate together in silence. The vegetables were delicious, the chicken the best Ray had ever tasted. They ate it all, sopping up even the last drops with chunks of bread.
“Oooooeee,” Curly cooed contentedly, “mighty fine, boy. I cain’t remember any better.” For Curly, that was a speech, and Ray glowed with the praise.
Curly took out a sack of tobacco and a paper and rolled a smoke, licking the edge, twisting the ends and lighting it, then blowing out a stream of smoke. He extended the bag to Ray, who declined, not so much because he wouldn’t have liked to try it, but because he was certain he’d never be able to get the tobacco in the paper without scattering it all over the shack. While Curly smoked, Ray cleaned the pot out with some water and then hung it on a nail by the vegetable sack.
Just then, even over the moaning wind, they heard the sound of an approaching rider, then a horse’s snort and an answering whinny from one of the horses in the corral. Curly got up and went to the north window. He shrugged and sat down again.
“What is it, Curly? Who’s out there?” Ray asked.
“Too dark,” Curly answered.
Moments later the door opened and a man entered in a swirl of snow and wind, saddle in one hand, bridle and blanket over his arm. He pulled the door shut, threw his gear down in the corner, took off his hat and slapped it against a leg.
“Howdy do, boys,” he said. “We got us a good un out there.”
He took off his coat and put it and his hat on a bunk. Then he pulled a chair up to the stove, holding his hands out and rubbing them together. “Nice to hear yer sweet voice again, Curly. Who’s this young feller? Don’t believe we met before. Name’s Bob Atkins, Texas Bob to my friends. So what’ll it be, young feller—Bob Atkins or Texas Bob?”
Curly snorted his amusement.
Ray wasn’t sure who the man was or why he was there or how he should respond to him. “I’m Ray, Ray Turner,” he said, extending his hand. “I signed on just a couple days ago.” The man took his hand and they shook. “You work for the Bow and Arrow, Bob?” Ray asked. “Texas Bob,” he corrected himself.
“Me ‘n Curly been workin’ fer the Bow fer more years’n I’d keer to say. How many now, Curly? Gotta be . . . damn near thirty. Right, Curly? Just nod, Curly. I know how it pains ya to open yer mouth.”
“I was out checkin’ fence to the north, ‘n when the damn storm blew up. I figgered to come here ‘n spend the night with you boys. This un looks like that blue norther we had in, what, ’92, right, Curly? You ‘member that un, Curl?”
Curly was in the middle of rolling a cigarette, but he nodded as he licked the paper shut. He remembered. He wasn’t simple, after all. He knew what the others said about him, but he chose to ignore them.
“So, Ray, how’s ol’ Curly been treatin’ ya? He talkin’ yer ears raggedy?” He laughed. Then he frowned, having thought of something else. “Ya like ridin’ fence?”
Before Ray could respond, he went on. “Gol dern bob wire anyways. Curly ‘n me remember the days when this country was open—no fences, just God ‘n buffla grass ‘n cows ‘n open range.” He produced a corncob pipe and a pouch of tobacco and proceeded to fill it, tamp the tobacco in, and light it, puffing mightily with blue smoke billowing around him. He sighed when he got it going to his satisfaction, and slumped in his chair remembering the old days, the good days.
Ray considered him in the yellow light from the oil lamps. He was about the same age as Curly, medium height, but lean and tough as old cowhide. His hair was black streaked with gray, and his cheeks and chin were black with a day’s growth of beard. Another one he could learn from, he decided. And this one loved to talk.
“You boys already et, I spose. Yeah, I was afeared I’d get here too late. Well, I kin always rustle up somethin’ in a bit.” He punched down the tobacco with a blunt thumb, then struck a match and sucked the flame down into the pipe bowl.
“How old er ya, Ray? Look a little green to me.”
Before Ray could tell him he was twenty-one and no greenhorn, Bob went on.
“But then I ‘member Luke Sweetman, outta Texas, back in ’86. He’s only eighteen on the big spring roundup that year ‘n he’s headin’ up one of the big outfits in District Eight, Circle Dot, it was. Or mebbe N-Bar-N. I dunno. Which was it, Curly? You ‘member?”
“Yeah, well anyways, don’t much matter how old ya are, long’s ya know what yer doin’.”
The fire in the stove was down, so Ray added several more chips. He was happy to be sitting there, listening to the talk, even though only one of them was doing any talking.
“Them were the days, all right,” Texas Bob went on. “I ‘member when the XIT drove herds all the way from Texas to Montana range. Now we got ‘steaders all over the dern place. Everthin’s fenced now. Short-horn Herefords now ‘steada them mean-eyed, stringy, pisshead longhorns. Probly short-peckered men ‘n boys now too.” He looked at Ray and smiled. Curly was nodding off by the fire, Bob’s patter like an old, often-heard serenade.
Texas Bob got up and stretched. “I’m gonna find me some grub ‘fore I hit the sack. What’s left over here?’
He went to the south wall to the provisions. When he saw the pot hanging nearby, he turned to the others and said with hands on hips, “Gol dernit, Curly! What in sam hill’s the pisspot doin’ hangin’ over here?”
Ray never cooked chicken after that. Ray never ate chicken after that.
Don't worry, it's not over for Monsieur Bourdain. That son of a bitch was just running out of places in the world to show us. I mean, he went to West Virginia for Christ's sake.
I started writing this and immediately had to stop after the intro. Not because I was sad or emotional. Really to get my bearings to figure out where I was going with this. I took some trash out to the backyard and saw such a subtle thing, but so poignant in this situation. I have these rectangular, green plastic planter boxes that I've never been diligent enough about filling with flowers. One of them sits in my backyard, slowly accumulating weeds around it until I inevitably become sick of seeing the mess and clean up around and under the box. Rinse, wash, repeat--this crap has probably been going on for three or four years. (Reminds me: The things you own begin to own you. A thought for another time). Anyways, here's the point.
There's a hole in the middle of the planter box for water to drain out. What do I see on my brief walk to the trash cans? Three leaves of some random weed have grown up and through that hole. That dumb little weed found a way to grow in the trampled darkness under that planter box, without moisture from above, and through the only hole to the sun's light. Then, I let my myopic gaze broaden to all of the trees, bushes and other growth around my backyard. That's when it struck me. Basically everything in the world around us is fighting like hell to live. Life, life, life, blooming in places that we wouldn't dare set foot. Fighting in places where life has no business existing.
Yet, here we are on a daily basis, dull to life's existence. Complaining about life's existence. Struggling. Questioning. Doubting. Ending the lives of others. Ending our own lives.
Why are we so at odds with such an integral part of the universe? If a weed can grow without any of the conditions necessary to do so, if fucking barnacles can survive on hot geyser discharges in the bottom of the ocean, why can't we just live? And, if not just live, thrive like that damn weed?
I can tell you where the answer doesn't lie. The accoutrements of society. The crowns and robes and scepters we work so hard to adorn our lives with. Look at Bourdain. Rich as you could ever want to be. Comfortable (from a material standpoint) as you could ever want to be. Beautiful daughter. The apple in the eye of all types of people around the globe. Traveling the world, with quite possibly the best damn job in the world. A job most of us would die for.
Still not enough.
As I sort through Twitter comments lamenting Bourdain's suicide, there is the consistent refrain that depression is a mental illness. Call the suicide prevention hotline if you feel the symptoms of depression. Yes, totally absolutely YES. But, to me, to really honor Bourdain's life, this has to be about something more than mental illness. There's a tendency when we hear "mental illness" to shut down the probing questions. It's a disease, out of the control of even the strongest people. We're not mental health experts. Do you just have to take medication to make that illness go away? The term stops the underlying existential questions begged of us in moments like this. God knows, Bourdain would be cursing us out if we didn't touch on the existential questions.
Back to the weed, and back to most of life around us. We share basic needs with the rest of life. Food, water. But, we think we need a lot more. We think we need a spouse. We think we need a family. We think we need cars, houses, jewerly, shoes, hats, vacations, fame, success, recognition. The hard truth is people around us with all or most or some of those things are killing themselves. They're killing others (think Las Vegas shooter). Even the love of family and friends and children and the world wasn't enough to stop Bourdain from hanging himself. In that case, what's left?
Pretty simple. Loving yourself. We talk so much about the caustic and life altering effects of not having the love of your mom, or your dad. Or both. Of course, that's sickening and damaging. Imagine then, how damaging it is if you can't love yourself? For everyday of your life. That's potentially, presumably, where someone like Bourdain was for a very long time. (Setting aside the theory that he just wanted to go out on his own terms. Seems unlikely given what we know at this point, i.e. shooting a new Parts Unknown, still creating on a daily basis). It makes sense that if you don't love yourself, hearing it from people outside of you, even very close, endearing people won't change that. It makes sense if you don't love yourself that nothing from the material world will change that perspective.
How do you go about loving yourself more? Damn, beats me. I'm not a mental health professional. All I know is when you strip everything else away--that's what we're left with. It has become clear through Bourdain's death, and Spade's death, and Cornell's death that truly, nothing else matters.
I'm not giving up on Bourdain. Anthony, we expect reports back from the greatest unknown part of our universe. We expect to know if people have transcended their divisions. If love rules. If the sixth level of hell is really worse than cooking in a NY kitchen. We especially expect to know what the penis tastes like, and if you found a way to love yourself as we all loved you.
Reblogged from "Andrew T. Austin," whose blog can be found by clicking HERE.
About the book:
Humorous, surprising and informative, Dr. Peterson tells us why skateboarding boys and girls must be left alone, what terrible fate awaits those who criticize too easily, and why you should always pet a cat when you meet one on the street.
What does the nervous system of the lowly lobster have to tell us about standing up straight (with our shoulders back) and about success in life? Why did ancient Egyptians worship the capacity to pay careful attention as the highest of gods? What dreadful paths do people tread when they become resentful, arrogant and vengeful? Dr. Peterson journeys broadly, discussing discipline, freedom, adventure and responsibility, distilling the world's wisdom into 12 practical and profound rules for life. 12 Rules for Life shatters the modern commonplaces of science, faith and human nature, while transforming and ennobling the mind and spirit of its readers
It seems that from every generation emerges a number of highly intellectual thinkers who go about upsetting the masses by their astute observation of that which hides in plain sight. They appear to be able to articulate that which we all knew, but we just didn’t know that we knew it. As a result, they quickly acquire a substantial number of followers and a substantial number of detractors. Jordan Peterson is one such thinker.
Many of the followers follow until they get bored and then after a short lull will often go and find the next thinker to follow. Many of the detractors detract simply until the fashion ends. The fashion ends usually by the mere passage of time, enough of them grow up a little and move on to other things that begin to occupy their attention. A tipping point is reached when there are too few “likes” to be had from their virtue signals and, as a result, interest wanes, and waiting for the next trend begins.
It seems that the Jordan Peterson phenomenon is another example of this pattern.
Now, I have a bit of an awkward confession. I hope JP forgives me for this, and I don’t accidentally insult those who look to me for help and support. But here goes…
You see, people often send me their books and CDS and DVDs. I think this is because I am open about my own successes and failures in terms of my therapy practice and in terms of the business end of this same practice. I try and help others where I can, but the problem is that the majority of what I get sent via the post is perfectly awful.
This is awkward, because I know how much work and how much social risk it takes to produce a book or an audio recording and I don’t want to discourage people. But then I don’t want to encourage mediocrity or just plain awfulness either. Sometimes I simply don’t know what to say, so regrettably I sometimes say nothing at all.
So that is the backdrop, now here is the background. In the past few months, I started to become aware of a guy, a psychologist or something, who was causing a bit of a stir. It appeared that the alt-right had claimed him as one of their own, and the looney-left SJW scene had themselves a new hate figure. And that was pretty much all I was aware of.
This awareness grew owing to a small merry band of SJWs declaring me to be a “racist neo-nazi” and “Tory scum” following a simple ambiguous joke I made on Facebook about the Brexit referendum result. I become aware of some of my humourless brethren displaying a major left-wing meltdown and various stories began to reach me about what was being said in the bar after lodge meetings.
I began to pay closer attention to the SJW phenomena.
It was around about this time that I received a message via Twitter asking me if I would be interested in receiving a new book. This is not uncommon, so I simply said yes thank you and gave my postal address. I thought no more of it.
A book arrived in the mail a short while later and when I opened it, my wife commented, “Oh, what’s that?” to which I half-jokingly replied words to the effect of, “…another book I’m never going to read” and I put it aside somewhere.
Time passes. Then one morning my social media feeds explode. Two names kept being mentioned over and over and over and over: Jordan Peterson and Cathy Newman. The now infamous interview had happened.
Now, as someone who doesn’t watch television, I had not heard of either of these people consciously. Both names seemed somehow familiar, but I had no idea why. I hadn’t yet seen the interview, but the social media noise was amazing. The names took root in my brain.
Then over dinner, a thought occurred to me, “Laura,” I said, “do you know what I did with that book I got the other day?” She didn’t and neither did I. My brain hadn’t caught up with why this thought occurred to me, but it seemed most important to find the book.
It took 2 hours of rummaging and I found it.
Oh. My. God.
The title, “12 Rules for Life, The Antidote to Chaos” by Jordan B. Peterson.
Ah. Oh. Oh.
The book was relocated to the bathroom where I do most of my reading (yeah, whatever).
The following evening my father-in-law came for dinner. He began to talk about the Peterson-Newman interview, I hadn’t seen it so I found it on youtube and we all watched it together. Peterson had become a bit of a hero to my father-in-law so I casually mentioned, “Oh, yeah, Jordan sent me his new book the other day” like, you know, we were on first name terms and stuff. I will further confess since I am going to be outed on my nonsense anyway, that I dropped the same line into a couple of Facebook discussions with my peers in the following days.
Yes, well. I’m an awful person. And now I am humble boasting again by confessing. It’s a wonderful life.
Anyway, what struck me in the Cathy Newman interview was not just her inability to differentiate opinion from evidence, but the sheer differential in intellectual capacity. I couldn’t understand why Cathy Newman didn’t say, “tell us more about that” instead of trying to argue with someone who was clearly her intellectual superior. Also, what was most interesting to me was how well Peterson maintained his cool and good humour throughout. That, right there, is a quality I’ve never managed myself and is the main reason why I could rarely maintain steady employment. I’ve always avoided live TV and radio for this very reason too.
An incoherently frothing psychotherapist on live TV is definitely not a good look. The video remixers of youtube could have a field day.
Before reading the book I began to watch some of his youtube videos. The news and media interviews about politics etc were ok, but not really my interest, but what I saw of his lecture series was astonishing. At the time of writing, I’m still working my way through them all, mostly watching 20-minute bursts in order to cope with their information density (I’m pretty clever and creative, but my goodness, this guy is out there in terms of his detail and depth of knowledge).
So, to the book. Now, before even reading the book, something I had become aware of was how many people on Facebook were reposting and sharing any negative book reviews they were able to find. I asked some of these people if they had read the book themselves, and weirdly none of them had. “So why share the negative book review?” I would ask. But I rarely received a polite or a non-reactionary answer. At the time of writing, this is the one that is doing the rounds: Jordan Peterson & Fascist Mysticism
It is just awkward. I suspect the writer of that piece was trying to come up with a slur that is opposite to “Cultural Marxism” and then designing his writing around that.
As a result, I was keen to see what the lobster thing was all about. I just didn’t get it, how can evidence of culture in another species create so much madness in podgy blue hair people with facial piercings? These lobster behaviours emerge because we move towards order or else we have chaos, and to say this is to invoke the madness of the crowd?
It’s a modern day witch burning. And given the behaviour of the SJW community, to try and suggest that the witch is not a witch at all is to risk a forced invitation to the bonfire.
As a therapist occupying a particular niche in the modern therapy world, I have become all-too-familiar with the move away from a systemic and existential therapeutic framework and towards a framework that is much more procedurally orientated towards symptomatic relief (i.e. “basic techniques”). I think this is regrettable, as much adherence to brief techniques is merely a counter-reaction to some of the old schools of ineffective long-psychotherapy, and not necessarily any better.
The problem is, there are too few modern-day brief therapists in their various guises who wish to think long and hard about existentialism, preferring instead to think and talk about spirituality. Spirituality amongst therapists, as far I can see, seems little more than some silly superstitious nonsense, whale music, positive thinking and a denial of the reality of suffering. These are some of the people who need trigger warnings lest their fragile beliefs get challenged without sufficient warning and enough time to grab the crystal of protection.
A clear message in “12 Rules…” is that suffering is very real, life is dangerous, and it is not all love, light and unicorns. Only when we can acknowledge this reality are we able to do something about it.
This is something I have seen with the SJW scene: a preference to pay attention more to how things should be, rather than how things actually are. To simply state how things actually are is to be branded as a supporter/promoter/creator of said thing.
These are people stuck in their “shoulds” or, more importantly, stuck inside what other people “should” do, rather than paying attention to what other people actually do and how things actually are. This is Cathy Newman’s error – an inability to differentiate between an opinion about something and actual evidence of something. Citing evidence is not necessarily an opinion or an endorsement and I wish Peterson well in getting people to understand this, his patience appears to be far greater than mine.
“12 Rules…” partly covers how things are, and partly covers what we can do about them. This is not about a set of pop-psychology techniques or another alphabet therapy. The answer, of course, is something that has never been particularly popular: take some responsibility.
This isn’t good news to SJWs who are of course trying to get everyone else to take responsibility. Protest and social constructivism is so much easier than looking in the mirror of one’s life and taking a dynamic action.
Jordan Peterson is the man I wish I’d been aware of a long time ago, and it is entirely possible that without the SJW tantrums on Facebook, I would have missed his work entirely, and so for that, I am grateful to the people with blue hair and bottles of gender fluid.
“12 Rules for Life – An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson” is an essential read for anyone observing the chaos of the social-political landscape in these current times. It could just as easily have been subtitled, “An Appeal to Sanity.” I also add this to the list of required reading for all alphabet therapists and YARVIS clientele and hope they actually read it.