Dr. Peterson on Existentialism via Solzhenitsyn and the Gulag (2017 Personality course lecture)

That interesting lecture was brought to us by Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, esteemed professor at the University of Toronto. Some of the material he provided there from various authors, particularly that of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, I am familiar with from listening to past lectures by Dr. Peterson; plus, plenty of us internet devotees were already aware of the “Hugh Mongous” fiasco whereby Zarna Joshi made an ass of herself (and the most-modern Feminist movement she belongs to) while trying to demean a man out in public because she felt so entitled to do so. So, having viewed all of that, I personally found the most interesting portion of this lecture to begin shortly after the 1:15:45 mark where Dr. Peterson goes into the biblical story of the flood and then the Tower of Babel, followed by his thoughts on nihilism/existentialism and individual responsibility.

The latter is a topic many of us revisit time and time again as we struggle to get our lives under better control. He’s absolutely correct that a sizeable portion of the suffering we experience in this life is due to our own choices and stubbornly not following our consciences. We know this, and yet we often don’t live as if we know this. “To know and not to do is not to know” — to repeat a quote that dates back across the centuries.

He’s right that each of our lives have a ripple effect on our communities and that one’s own pathology impacts the pathological nature of wider society. It can be no other way since society is composed of individual persons — it’s an aggregate of all of us. That’s all it is and all it ever was. Though it’s very easy for us to try to hide within it, to attempt to blend in so as not to be noticed too distinctly, to shirk responsibility because we’d rather avoid the headaches that go along with that. And somewhere in that equation is where the so-called root of all evil likely resides, at least in its primordial form.

I think we know this deep down, though we like to dismiss it as somehow less relevant than continuing to go along to get along. “Don’t make waves,” some like to say. “The raised nail gets hammered down” — another proverb used to admonish us to not draw attention to ourselves by stepping out of line from the rest. And so the herd mentality gets reinforced…

The biggest problem we humans face is our own humanity and the reckoning it requires of us at this point in our psychological, spiritual, and sociopolitical development. It’s an internal struggle with external consequences, as we can clearly see.

So often we look to others to change so that we might be made happy. But that’s not how it works. Never has and never will.

That was an excellent talk by Dr. Peterson. Glad that I awoke tonight and stumbled back across his channel once again.

Had a lively discussion tonight with a Nigerian man

Struck up conversation tonight with a native Nigerian man whom I spoke with on one previous occasion. Very nice man. Very kind and accommodating. Last time we talked he showed me a slideshow of his children and their “family house” back in Nigeria. His children are doing well, as are all of his direct relatives. This time I decided to question more deeply into his native culture and legal immigration into the U.S.

Love that guy. What a sweetheart! Such a nice human being. Our conversation wandered onto differences between Nigerian educational expectations and typical American black expectations on to cultural differences that he’s learning to adjust to, etc. Now that’s an immigrant who has his shit together and who’s helping his kids to become the best they can be in the U.S. I am seriously impressed. He’s a working man of obviously modest means or he wouldn’t be hanging out in that bar and interacting so much with the neighborhood locals, all of whom seem to appreciate him. The only damper on the evening was the (white middle-aged male) bartender approaching me while Gus was away to say that our conversation might potentially encourage others to join in and cause a ruckus, which never occurred. We both remained perfectly respectful toward one another and had a very engaging and interesting conversation that no one else attempted to butt in on. I personally gained a great deal from our interactions tonight and am grateful that Gus was so open and willing to share his opinions with me. So no problems for the bartender to worry about ever arose.

He educated me this evening in greater depth about his native country and the riffs occurring there. I asked about the Boko Haram debacle and he provided his honest understanding on the matter, which is (by my paraphrasing) that it’s totally fucked up and the northern Muslims keep attempting to enslave and mistreat the southern Nigerian Christians.  Was interesting to hear about it firsthand from a man who visits the region frequently and yet has learned to assimilate into the U.S. culture overall.

I explained to him my own background., so far as I’m knowledgeable about it. And we discussed how arranged marriages tend to be the norm where he comes from.

Very lively and interesting guy. Glad to have met him. He requested my number so as to notify him when I’m back at that particular bar for future conversations on such matters. Told him upon leaving that I’d like to hear next time his opinion about the Black Lives Matter movement, to which he chuckled. Surely he’ll give it a bit of thought before our next interaction.

Wish I could spell out all we talked about tonight but it’s nuanced and the night is growing dim on me now. Will just say that he’s an excellent example of a migrant to the U.S. who has heart and concern and who works hard toward helping his (now college-age) children to prosper. And that’s what I love to see. That’s what America is supposed to be about, in a nutshell. Not immigrants coming here who don’t give a damn and who openly state detestation of our country and its laws.

Anyway, in short, Gus is a great dude and I’m grateful to have run into him again tonight.

“The Architecture of Belief | Jordan Peterson and Stefan Molyneux”

“Why Political Correctness Must End | Milo Yiannopoulos and Stefan Molyneux”

“Charles Murray — The Bell Curve Revisited”

From the Program on Constitutional Government at Harvard (March 14, 2014).

EXCELLENT talk! Loved how Dr. Murray outlined what the book actually stated and what can reasonably be inferred from it (and what yet cannot), as well as discussing the backlash his book received. Sad about his co-writer/co-contributor not making it to see the release and response of their research in their book. Fascinating topic with so many possible implications that we really do have to be reserved in our speculations, as Murray definitely is. It’s unfortunate that so many people chose not to actually read these men’s book yet still feel the need to trash their findings. I admit to not having read it yet, but I have watched a good many lectures/speeches from Dr. Murray, including part of this one before, and grasp his findings enough to appreciate the value of them, upsetting as they may appear to some folks.

The Truth is what what is, our opinions and desires be damned. That’s how Nature rolls. There comes a point where we have to come to grips with that, my fellow social sciences enthusiasts. Because some people’s assumptions proved wrong doesn’t mean it’s all over and that more interesting inquiries don’t exist on the horizon. And this right here points to the problems with the “social sciences” — inability or unwillingness to be flexible in light of new and substantiated data. Welcome to scientific inquiry! Learn to roll with it! Quit investing yourselves in particular outcomes. That’s called an ideology. Not true empirical Science. We have no choice but to accept that fact, lest we wind up on the wrong end of the Copernican controversy, as Dr. Murray mentioned. He’s right there. Absolutely is. See more and in-depth information on biology, physics and anatomy to start grasping the larger picture. It’s necessary for human development that we all learn to grapple with the information being presented to us and to not hide or simply dismiss it because it may not conform to our prior expectations.

Very important that we come to grips with this life lesson. Much as I love aspects of the field of Sociology, I still stand firmly on what I’ve stated here.

“The Truth About South Africa and Apartheid”

Very interesting. Worth paying close and careful attention to.

I feel here Stefan actually did a good job of being as objective and fair as he could.

Learning about Eldridge Cleaver, former Black Panther

Archived speech at UCLA (10/4/1968):

Was a colorful figure, to say the least. Started out committing petty crimes and was sent to reform schools. Then graduated on to raping black women, honing his skills until he felt comfortable attacking white women as well, which he openly admitted to in his essays written during his time served at Folsom state prison. Those essays were later published as a book titled Soul on Ice.

Wound up involved in a shooting between the Black Panther Party and Oakland, CA, police officers. Then skipped out on bail and left the country, headed to Cuba and then Algeria and then France. Came back to the U.S. years later with a different attitude about communism after witnessing it up close and personal abroad. Came out as a Republican by the early 1980s and spoke out in support of Ronald Reagan, despite his expressed disdain for the man in the past. Was actually permitted to teach students at a California university after all that too.

Over time he switched from Islam to Christianity, then to Mormonism specifically, then back to evangelical Christianity later in life.

Then he got involved in using crack cocaine in the late ’80s and ’90s and faced a couple charges related to that plus burglary. Then somehow got his head bashed in, presumably by another crackhead, and was found wandering the streets bleeding and incoherent with crack in his pocket.

His wife divorced him, stating that he had changed ever since leaving Algeria and basically wasn’t mentally stable. He died in 1998 at age 62.

So, that’s Leroy Eldridge Cleaver in a nutshell. Some folks still glorify him as though he was a quality role model. I’m not understanding their enthusiasm over this character.

Following are quotes from Eldridge Cleaver:

We would go out and ambush cops, but if we got caught we would blame it on them and claim innocence. I did that personally in the case I was involved in.… We went after the cops that night, but when we got caught we said they came after us. We always did that. When you talk about the legacy of the ’60s, that’s one legacy. That’s what I try to address, because it helped to distort the image of the police, but I’ve come to the point where I realize that our police department is necessary.

  • Interview by Reason magazine (1986), referring to the death of Bobby Hutton

I can understand J. Edgar Hoover, because he wasn’t inaccurate.… He said that we were the main threat. We were trying to be the main threat. We were trying to be the vanguard organization. J. Edgar Hoover was an adversary, but he had good information. We were plugged into all of the revolutionary groups in America, plus those abroad. We were working hand-in-hand with communist parties here and around the world, and he knew that.

  • Interview by Reason magazine (1986)

From his book Soul on Ice:

I became a rapist. To refine my technique and modus operandi, I started out by practicing on black girls in the ghetto — in the black ghetto where dark and vicious deeds appear not as aberrations or deviations from the norm, but as part of the sufficiency of the Evil of the day — and when I considered myself smooth enough, I crossed the tracks and sought out white prey. I did this consciously, deliberately, willfully, methodically — though looking back I see that I was in a frantic, wild and completely abandoned frame of mind.

Rape was an insurrectionary act. It delighted me that I was defying and trampling upon the white man’s law, upon his system of values, and that I was defiling his women — and this point, I believe, was the most satisfying to me because I was very resentful over the historical fact of how the white man has used the black woman. I felt I was getting revenge.

[bold emphasis mine]

Why people choose to pedestalize this man, I do not understand. He may have been intelligent, but that does not in any way minimize the severity of his crimes. Why he was allowed to later on teach college students is beyond me. All I can really appreciate him for was his honesty after-the-fact.

“Gold nugget highlights from Jordan Peterson on the Joe Rogan Experience #877”

Love this talk.