Saturday, February 10, 2018

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

A book review from the Washington Free Beacon:
Circumstances and the audience living in them have changed since Lewis died in 1963. Peterson's West is much less churched—increasingly, to use an insipid but not insignificant formula, "spiritual but not religious." Cultural literacy has changed and deteriorated; we share fewer touchstones, and one seems more likely to be understood through reference to Harry Potter than to the Bible. Important to the Toronto professor's project and personal development, we have plumbed the abysm of horror that was the Holocaust, the fall of the Iron Curtain has shed light on the realities of Soviet Communism, and the world remains under threat of nuclear war. Less apparently influential on the good doctor, global markets and automation have ravaged American industry and small-town life, with opioids following fast behind. People live dragging debt like the ghost of Jacob Marley's chains. Society is split, polarized by fundamental questions of justice and human nature but waging a culture war with weapons of naked social power and empty language. In this digital age, we are all drunk on meaningless data at all times, too befuddled by the facts and fabrications fighting for our attention to stop and think. Not agreeing on what it means to be human, we do not agree on what it means to be American, or Canadian, or really much of anything else.

Lost in all that are young people wondering where they fit in, especially young men. Exposed only to vapid visions of faith and religious life, failing to thrive in an education system geared toward girls and narrow socialization when it isn't breaking down entirely, skeptical they can succeed in an economic system that seems stacked if not against them then for others, boys are retreating to prolonged adolescence—often to NEET status as not employed, in education, or in training—and to the navigable rules and community to be found online. There, in memes and trolling and vulgarly earnest discussion, many piece together the rudiments of a worldview and a life. Off YouTube, Reddit, 4chan, and the rest of the male-dominated web, the story doesn't seem to have a plot. (Read more.)

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