12 Rules For Life: An Antidote For Chaos, by Jordan B. Peterson

So good, for all its verbosity.

My favourite passages here:

The foremost rule is that you must take responsibility for your own life. Period.

 

To straddle that fundamental duality is to be balanced: to have one foot firmly planted in order and security, and the other in chaos, possibility, growth and adventure.

 

When life suddenly reveals itself as intense, gripping and meaningful; when time passes and you’re so engrossed in what you’re doing you don’t notice—it is there and then that you are located precisely on the border between order and chaos.

 

Chaos and order are fundamental elements because every lived situation (even every conceivable lived situation) is made up of both.

 

No matter where we are, there are some things we can identify, make use of, and predict, and some things we neither know nor understand.

 

How could the nature of man ever reach its full potential without challenge and danger?

 

How dull and contemptible would we become if there was no longer reason to pay attention?

 

Question for parents: do you want to make your children safe, or strong?

 

Are you so sure the person crying out to be saved has not decided a thousand times to accept his lot of pointless and worsening suffering, simply because it is easier than shouldering any true responsibility? Are you enabling a delusion? Is it possible that your contempt would be more salutary than your pity?

 

Consider this: failure is easy to understand. No explanation for its existence is required. In the same manner, fear, hatred, addiction, promiscuity, betrayal and deception require no explanation. It’s not the existence of vice, or the indulgence in it, that requires explanation. Vice is easy. Failure is easy, too. To fail, you merely have to cultivate a few bad habits.

 

Consult your resentment. It’s a revelatory emotion, for all its pathology. It’s part of an evil triad: arrogance, deceit, and resentment. Nothing causes more harm than this underworld Trinity.

 

When should you push back against oppression, despite the danger? When you start nursing secret fantasies of revenge; when your life is being poisoned and your imagination fills with the wish to devour and destroy.

 

What you aim at determines what you see. That’s worth repeating. What you aim at determines what you see.

 

That’s how you deal with the overwhelming complexity of the world: you ignore it, while you concentrate minutely on your private concerns.

 

That’s human nature. We share the experience of hunger, loneliness, thirst, sexual desire, aggression, fear and pain.

 

You are telling the truth, instead of manipulating the world. You are negotiating, instead of playing the martyr or the tyrant.

 

It is an act of responsibility to discipline a child. It is not anger at misbehavior. It is not revenge for a misdeed. It is instead a careful combination of mercy and long-term judgment.

 

Proper discipline requires effort—indeed, is virtually synonymous with effort. It is difficult to pay careful attention to children. It is difficult to figure out what is wrong and what is right and why. It is difficult to formulate just and compassionate strategies of discipline, and to negotiate their application with others deeply involved in a child’s care.

Because of this combination of responsibility and difficulty, any suggestion that all constraints placed on children are damaging can be perversely welcome. Such a notion, once accepted, allows adults who should know better to abandon their duty to serve as agents of enculturation and pretend that doing so is good for children. It’s a deep and pernicious act of self-deception. It’s lazy, cruel and inexcusable.

 

We must be continually reminded to think and act properly. When we drift, people that care for and love us nudge us in small ways and large back on track. So, we better have some of those people around.

 

Success makes us complacent. We forget to pay attention. We take what we have for granted. We turn a blind eye. We fail to notice that things are changing, or that corruption is taking root. And everything falls apart.

 

Are you treating your spouse and your children with dignity and respect?

 

It’s not precisely that CO2 levels are irrelevant. It’s that they’re irrelevant when you’re working yourself to death, starving, scraping a bare living from the stony, unyielding, thorn-and-thistle-infested ground. It’s that they’re irrelevant until after the tractor is invented and hundreds of millions stop starving.

 

I cannot merely make myself over in the image constructed by my intellect (particularly if that intellect is possessed by an ideology).

I have a nature, and so do you, and so do we all. We must discover that nature, and contend with it, before making peace with ourselves. What is it, that we most truly are? What is it that we could most truly become, knowing who we most truly are?

 

Make that an axiom: to the best of my ability I will act in a manner that leads to the alleviation of unnecessary pain and suffering.

 

There are no atheists. There are only people who know, and don’t know, what God they serve.

 

Memory is a tool . Memory is the past’s guide to the future. If you remember that something bad happened, and you can figure out why, then you can try to avoid that bad thing happening again. That’s the purpose of memory. It’s not “to remember the past.” It’s to stop the same damn thing from happening over and over.

 

Thinking is emotionally painful, as well as physiologically demanding; more so than anything else.

 

That’s key to the psychotherapeutic process: two people tell each other the truth—and both listen.

 

Truth and humour are often close allies.

 

When we’ve been careless, and let things slide, what we have refused to attend to gathers itself up, adopts a serpentine form, and strikes—often at the worst possible moment. It is then that we see what focused intent, precision of aim and careful attention protects us from.

 

Don’t ever underestimate the destructive power of sins of omission.

 

Something is out there in the woods. You know that with certainty. But often it’s only a squirrel. If you refuse to look, however, then it’s a dragon, and you’re no knight: you’re a mouse confronting a lion; a rabbit, paralyzed by the gaze of a wolf. And I am not saying that it’s always a squirrel. Often it’s something truly terrible. But even what is terrible in actuality often pales in significance compared to what is terrible in imagination. And often what cannot be confronted because of its horror in imagination can in fact be confronted when reduced to its-still-admittedly-terrible actuality.

 

Overprotected, we will fail when something dangerous, unexpected and full of opportunity suddenly makes its appearance, as it inevitably will.

 

If you read the depth psychologists—Freud and Jung, for example, as well as their precursor, Friedrich Nietzsche—you learn that there is a dark side to everything.

 

I believe it was Jung who developed the most surgically wicked of psychoanalytic dicta: if you cannot understand why someone did something, look at the consequences—and infer the motivation. This is a psychological scalpel. It’s not always a suitable instrument. It can cut too deeply, or in the wrong places. It is, perhaps, a last-resort option.

 

Who decided, anyway, that career is more important than love and family?

 

Thus, not only is the state supporting one-sided radicalism, it is also supporting indoctrination. We do not teach our children that the world is flat. Neither should we teach them unsupported ideologically-predicated theories about the nature of men and women—or the nature of hierarchy.

 

When softness and harmlessness become the only consciously acceptable virtues, then hardness and dominance will start to exert an unconscious fascination.

 

And if you think tough men are dangerous, wait until you see what weak men are capable of.

 

Imagine a Being who is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. What does such a Being lack? The answer? Limitation .

 

What shall I do with my parents? Act such that your actions justify the suffering they endured.

 

For your information, the 12 rules are:

‌RULE 1: Stand up straight with your shoulders back
‌RULE 2: Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping
‌RULE 3: Make friends with people who want the best for you
‌RULE 4: Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today
‌RULE 5: Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them
‌RULE 6: Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world
‌RULE 7: Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)
‌RULE 8: Tell the truth—or, at least, don’t lie
‌RULE 9: Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t
‌RULE 10: Be precise in your speech
‌RULE 11: Do not bother children when they are skateboarding
‌RULE 12: Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street

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You say you want a revolution

There are two ways of changing the world. The utopian way, in which you have a model of a perfect world to which everybody else has to conform with, whatever the price, just because it’s high and right and the ultimately moral society.

Then there is the industrious way, in which instead of directing others to do or don’t do as your model dictates or forbids, you strive to do what others won’t do —invent artifacts, create materials, study black holes in the sky, confront or resist the powers that are, write stories or music, do mathematics, care for others and give them comfort and love, or whatever that creates or helps to create knowledge, wealth, order, justice or beauty —or at least not to do the opposite.

The thing is, what is utopia for the former becomes dystopia for the latter.

 

Skip the small talk (part IV and last)

This is the original post:

https://lamaalrajih.com/2019/07/24/skip-the-small-talk-part-one/

And here are my answers —I’m not skipping any.

  • What small gesture from a stranger made a big impact on you?

You mean good gesture, I believe, a random act of kindness, I assume, and of course and luckily I’ve experienced some of them, but honestly I don’t remember any in particular, so I assume none made a big impact on me.

Big impact is made by the bad gestures, and these don’t use to be random and they usually come from no strangers. I remember the first time I got used by a friend, wretchedly used as an object in a small situation. Role models are fine, but anti-role ones are definitely needed.

  • If you had a clock that would countdown to any one event of your choosing, what event would you want it to count down?

My son’s come of age.

  • What are three of the most significant numbers in your life?

I’m puzzled here… Am I supposed to have significant numbers in my life? Well, yeah. Two I know: 1966, 2002. The other one is yet to come and a little bit annoying…

  • Which of your personality traits has been the most useful?

I have a quick eye for bullshit and little patience with it —that’s been useful to me.

I can see through most of people (not all), know how they’re feeling and why, why they’re acting out the way they are, for reasons that are obvious to me but hidden to them —that’s been useful to them, without knowing.

  • Imagine you have a closet full of robots at the ready. Which of your various obligations would you assign to a robot? Which tasks and activities would you keep to yourself, because you enjoy them too much to delegate them to even a robot who is better than you?

Assign: do the shopping, do the cooking, clear the table, clean the windows, drive the car

Keep: drive the motorbike, do the chores other than the damned windows (but not by the because), file my files.

  • What is the best measurement of how an idea is absorbed into culture?

The way it’s misunderstood, misapplied, grossly abused and put to serve spurious ends.

  • Do you think you’re undervalued as a person? If so, why?

No, I don’t think so. But I lack the virtue, when done well, of selling your own achievements. If I understand them as that at all.

  • Why are some people so addictive?

So addictive, what do you mean? Perfidiously addictive, like narcissists with a pound of psychopathy, or respectable leaders of whatever ideology that want you to feel part of a something larger than your miserable egotistic self by surrendering it to them, in flesh and blood and money and spirit? Harmlessly addictive, because they’re bright and deep and broad in their knowledge, or good, or funny, or calmed and silent and have no urge of directing you? Stupidly addictive, where the stupid is you because you know you’re wasting your time there but won’t go?

C’mon Lama, be more precise…

  • What color best describes your personality?

This one’s easy for the last one —blue.

Skip the small talk (part III)

This is the original post:

https://lamaalrajih.com/2019/07/24/skip-the-small-talk-part-one/

And here are my answers —I’m not skipping any.

  • What is the most significant thing you’ve changed your mind on in the last year? Why did you change your mind about it?

I’ve realized that freedom means very little to most people… That the more lip service it gets, the more dispensable it is. Truly liberty lovers are, and always will be, alienated. People don’t give a damn about liberty. But I read Jonathan Livingston Seagull as a teenager I should’ve known better.

  • Which fictional character would be the most boring to meet in real life?

Gatsby.

  • What’s the closest thing to real magic?

Define real magic.

I think the closest is the Thomas Theorem,

If people define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.

  • If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question, what question would you ask?

Is global warming man-made, or women-made?

No, seriously. Am I gonna die, really?

  • Which question can you ask to find out the most about a person?

Do you miss your father? Did your mother let you go?

(sorry, two questions)

  • What do you want your epitaph to be?

He he, if I just might borrow from someone I know’s list…

Best epitaph ever is that of that poet Neruda, Confieso que he vivido.

Own’s favourite is Lie no more, and forever.

  • There are two types of people in this world. What are the two types?

Intelligent and dumb.

  • What is something you are certain you’ll never experience?

Menage a troi, I’m afraid…

  • Who is/was your most interesting friend?

TF was very interesting as a brainless youngster —but he’s quite boring now that he’s respectable (I think I should add an emoticon here, ;-) for what it’s worth…

JC used to be more interesting as well when he was a beacon of individualism in a world of ideological idiots (that was me). He’s quite high these days in esoterism, which always detracts from interestingness.

JG comitted a fatal mistake when he dropped the linux console for the mac of no-rain… He matured.

Can you spot the trend here?

Nope —I’ve got merit, I’ve been a bore my whole life…

[To be continued]

Skip the small talk (part II)

This is the original post:

https://lamaalrajih.com/2019/07/24/skip-the-small-talk-part-one/

And here are my answers —I’m not skipping any.

  • What simple thing still blows your mind?

That the whole of human knowledge is reenacted in every generation.

  • What sparked your curiosity in whatever you’re most curious about now?

Nowadays, I’m most curious about how it is that we’re consciously and deliberately abandoning the main ideas whose historically painful putting into action made us free and prosperous —that men and women are equal in law and in human dignity; that you’re responsible for your actions, but only for yours; that everyone is innocent until proved guilty; and that freedom of expression is the ultimate right, along with the right to provide for oneself, that may keep us away from tyranny.

What sparked my curiosity about that, you bet.

  • What’s the most useful concept you have that doesn’t have a name?

You don’t allow yourself to lie, so that you’d better do the right thing now or then you’ll have no easy escape afterwards. It’s kind of methodological, self-protecting use of truth.

  • What’s something you believe but can’t defend?

I believe you have the right, even the moral duty, of taking care yourself at avenging any wrongdoings you or your loved ones have been victims of. I wouldn’t defend that idea, though —mediated, indirect, organized, institutional justice is a far much better way to handle that —for all its shortcomings, that are not few.

  • What taste do you have that most people don’t have, where does it come from, and how has it helped you?

Taste… I don’t know what you mean by taste here. I’ll take it as inclination or state of mind or trait of character… The most useful for me is that I don’t pretend. I know fairly well what I’m worth, and don’t feel any need to try to pass for what I’m not or make believe that I know what I don’t. That’s a big release —people put a lot of mental and practical effort in disguising their true selves or conceal their shortcomings. Not having to do that saves me time and trouble, makes me less dependent on other people’s opinions, lets me focus on my agenda, and makes me know them better.

  • What is your most radical belief?

That what I do, or don’t do, what I think or don’t think, is none of your business.

EDIT.

That you owe me nothing, and that I owe you nothing.

  • Do you think it’s more important to follow the “written” rules or the “unwritten” rules? What is one unwritten rule that you’ve learned?

The unwritten, of course. Also, it’s more important to break the latter than the former, if rules must be broken.

One unwritten rule that I’ve learned? But there are hundreds of them, you can’t become a functional adult without learning them, starting as a toddler.

Well, one of my favorites, one that’s increasingly under attack, that they try to undermine because it detracts highly from the absolute power they want, is that you don’t snitch.

[To be continued]

Skip the small talk (part one)

This is the original post:

https://lamaalrajih.com/2019/07/24/skip-the-small-talk-part-one/

And here are my answers —I’m not skipping any.

  • If you were going to be frozen tomorrow for a one-way 1000-year interstellar voyage, what would you most want to communicate (and to whom) before you leave?

I assume voyage like death and leaving as dying. Whom is obvious: my wife and my son. What: Mourn me for a month most; from then on, I’ll be watching you, and every time you smile, laugh, enjoy, or achieve I’ll beatifically smile in comfort and joy —you’re happy, I’m happy; you’re not, I’m not.

  • What do you think you’re most likely to regret on your deathbed?

As the song goes, “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention”…  No, no, or yes. What first comes to my mind when thinking about this are paths in life that I’ve not taken, but you can’t never regret that —life is choosing, and all that could’ve happened is imaginary. Decisions are not regrettable —wrongdoings are, and mistakes sometimes. What have I done wrong, then, that I’ll regret on my deathbed, or what mistakes have I made that I did because of laziness in action or thought?

My biggest mistake, I think, is having been complacent in regard with my way of life, taking for granted that my job was stable enough and my income good enough to provide for myself and my family, and that everything else would be guaranteed and provided by the state.

  • What do you miss most about your past that could be recreated today?

Nothing can be recreated.

  • What’s the most important thing to remember daily that you haven’t been able to?

That you cannot change people.

  • What help could you most use that you haven’t asked for?

Please don’t talk to me or when I’m around about illness, symptoms, pains, conditions, sensations, afflictions, operations, wounds, infections, syndromes, epidemics, pandemics, fevers, procedures, blood tests and results.

  • What is your one piece of advice to everyone here?

Beach, fun, sun, and peace of mind.

  • What was the last thing you fell in love with?

My bicycle.

  • When was the last time you felt unbounded optimism?

Unbounded, never. Optimism, I felt optimistic about my chances of finishing it when I started my degree in Mathematics at a very late age —it proved wrong.

  • Who was the last person you felt inspired by?

Toni the waiter at the Bar Espanya (antic Can Vinagre) who speaks so loudly to clients that I can hear him all the time —in the eighteen years I’ve been living in my house now I’ve never heard him complain, swear, not to say hello to people, not to greet children with fanfare; he works plenty and well; he’s a happy and contented man, a daily inspiration for me truly.

[to be continued]