Vox Day just published an appendix of his own set of life rules to go along with his book Jordanetics, which is a critique of the popular writings/speakings of pyschology professor Jordan Peterson. As a caveat, I haven’t maintained sufficient interest in Peterson to purchase his book of 12 rules to live by, but they appear to be a compilation of too-basic ideas (stand up straight) and too specific (pet a cat/don’t bother children when they’re skateboarding). Granted, I’m sure he wrote lengthy chapters that detail what these rules actually mean…but that’s Peterson’s problem. People remember basic lists, but they don’t remember nuanced descriptions. Furthermore, people tend to — if you’re lucky — remember the last two or three points in a list of instructions. If you’ve ever been in management, you’ve probably learned this the hard way. Jordan’s last two instructions are the specific yet irrelevant head-scratchers I already mentioned: don’t bother children when they’re skateboarding; pet a cat. If I walked away from his book with those pieces of advice stuck in my head, my life wouldn’t demonstrably change much. I already give wide berth to skateboarders when I’m walking, and I’m not likely to take up a new hobby of petting stray cats. I already coo at babies and wave at puppies, but violating a cat’s personal space just isn’t who I am. His advice which comes third to last (I had to look it up because I couldn’t remember) is to be precise in your language. But if my goal were to emulate Peterson’s success, I would do the opposite. Have you ever heard Peterson ramble on his videos?
Now I’ll move on to Vox Day’s rules. He has five available at the link above. The rest you will find in Jordanetics, also linked above. Caveat: I haven’t read VD’s book either because I already have a backlog of books on my Kindle. However, he’s a known quantity. By that, I mean that he is actually precise in his language. He’s not likely to get cute in his rules and advise you to pet a random cat when what he means is that you should get in touch with the beauty of nature/fleas. And I’ve never thought to myself, gosh, Vox is a regular Thoreau; i.e. I doubt he would advise getting in touch with nature. [My insertion: Why would you have to? You’d have to construct a rigid an artificial life to avoid going outside, in which case, you’d need more than a list of rules.] Vox’s rules are, rather, principles that you should know instinctively by the time you reach adulthood, and that you should only need to be reminded of by a person you respect — the right words at the right time to get your life back on course. If each one requires a lengthy diatribe to understand it, chances are the list isn’t going to be helpful.
I’m writing about this because at one time, I did find Peterson interesting. However, after listening to him for hours and reading his life rules and maxims, I have nothing to hang my hat on with him. Of course, his audience is primarily composed of young males, so perhaps I don’t get it. I also have a personality quirk in which I prefer people to speak directly. Maybe some people need a softer, more roundabout approach just to get them to the point where they can stand up straight. But — I protest — pumping iron (Vox’s first rule) fixes the inability at the foundation of the problem. Actually, my favorite point “Envision perfection and pursue excellence” (number 4) is even more foundational because it touches on every other life rule. For that, it’s the most motivating and simultaneously frustrating rule there is. And that’s what I’m looking for always: a foundation. A core. What is Peterson’s? I still don’t know.