Joe Rogan is a fair interviewer
The first applause breaks out onto the still empty stage. Anyone who disturbs has to leave the hall, the loudspeakers boom. Then Jordan Peterson steps into the spotlight. For him, the appearance in the Canadian provincial city of Saskatoon is the 68th of his book tour, but for many of the 2,000 visitors a dream has come true. "The man changed my life," says Nick Caldwell. He dropped out of university at the age of 19 and found himself in a "dark place" before discovering a lecture by the psychology professor at the University of Toronto on YouTube. Then he read Peterson's "12 Rules for Life" guidebook, which said it aloud New York Times made him "the most influential intellectual of our time". The book will be published in German in autumn.
The hopes of many conservatives who want to counter the supposedly overpowering left-wing thinking in the media and universities rest on Peterson. Then he's on stage, 56 years old, wiry, made-to-measure suit, pocket square. "Pull yourself together", he demands and means the young men, his most important target group. If women reject them, it is because they have too little to offer. For Peterson, life is suffering, and readers should not blame others but seek something that will give "meaning" to their lives. So easy.
Much of his advice is banal and can be found in many self-help books: "Stand up straight", "Tell the truth or at least don't lie", "Clean up your house before you criticize the world". And yet: two million copies have been sold since January, part of a real Peterson cult. Vanity Fair called him the "gateway drug for the alt-right movement", essays such as "Why the left is so afraid of Jordan Peterson" appear every week Atlantic.
One magazine called him a "father figure for the generation that hates political correctness"
The weekly videos and podcasts are more important than the book; Peterson's YouTube channel alone has 1.4 million subscribers, Peterson, according to Washington-based Insider magazine Politico, is a "father figure to the generation that hates political correctness", one of the "50 most influential political figures".
Conservatives do not worship him because he praises capitalism and doubts climate change, but because he questions the ideas that dominate universities. in the Atlantic Caitlin Flanagan describes how her sons cried when Trump won the election, but now consume a lot of Peterson: "He talks about everything that is taboo because of identity politics and in the protected rooms. You suddenly notice that history, philosophy, mysticism and Religion is allowed to speak. "
These topics are also included in "12 Rules for Life". Peterson mixes the advice with personal anecdotes, study results on evolution and neurology, and examples from his time as a therapist. He often goes back to his idol, the dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and recalls the millions of dead who were murdered in the gulags - something completely new for young Americans. He advocates strict child-rearing practices, including the occasional slap in the face. Marriage is important for stability in everyday life, as is punctuality. Yet the insistence on manners and its beliefs, while conservative, are neither new nor radical. So what is it then?
First of all, Peterson is a master of the spoken word. Anyone who listens to a lecture or the audiobook perceives it differently. Jumps in thought that tire you while reading appear more natural. With a lot of pathos he brings structure to the chaos out there. And: He uses the media of the present perfectly. He describes the boom in independent podcasts, in which he talks about his topics for hours, as the "Gutenberg moment".
His agent declined an interview request. In return, Peterson enjoys the role of the star guest with Joe Rogan, Ben Shapiro or Sam Harris, the other stars of the "intellectual dark web". When the psychologist Peterson and the philosopher Harris discussed their theses for ten hours, 20,000 people paid admission to one of the live broadcasts in Vancouver, Dublin and London.
"Nowadays people can get two hours of training every day, which was unthinkable in the past."
"The problem with books is that you can't do anything in parallel. But if you're listening to a podcast, you can do the dishes or drive the truck at the same time," says Peterson . " And of course it is clear who should take on the role of teacher.
He has been recording his lectures for years, and newcomers will find enough videos to follow his 15-part Bible lecture series. The entire material is freely accessible, and so his fans put out short videos every hour with titles such as "How to silence a Marxist" or "Peterson dismantles a feminist reporter". On YouTube in particular, the Canadian rebukes other professors for spreading their "murderous ideologies" of Marxism and deconstructivism.
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