Laurie Penny | Longreads | July 2018 | 20 minutes (5,191 words)
“Incredible! One of the worst performances of my career, and they
never doubted it for a second!”
– Ferris Bueller, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
“Now that’s a scientific fact. There’s no real evidence
for it, but it is scientific fact.”
– Brass Eye, “Paedogeddon” episode
“The eternal dragon is always giving our fallen down castles
a rough time.”
– Jordan Peterson, “Biblical Series III: God and the Hierarchy of Authority”
“We have this tree, and we have this strange serpent. That’s a dragon-like form, there—a sphinx-like form that’s associated with the tree… And so the snake has been associated with the tree for a very, very long time. The lesson the snake tells people is, you bloody better well wake up, or something you don’t like will get you. And who’s going to be most susceptible to paying attention to the snake? That’s going to be Eve.”
That’s Professor Jordan Peterson, offering the “realistic and demanding practical wisdom” endorsed by David Brooks in the New York Times.
“The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and his authority — people worshipped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast.”
That’s the Book of Revelation.
“I could not understand why there was a half-man half-chicken statue outside. I spent the next six hours screaming. Non-stop screaming as loud as I could. I’d become convinced I was a dead body lying in a forest. I was in the afterlife, and more than that, I was in hell.”
And that’s a man from Vancouver describing a mishap with magic mushrooms in Vice. Of the three excerpts, it’s the only one that can convincingly claim to be non-fiction.
The first time I waded through the collected polemics and YouTube punditry of Professor Jordan Peterson — the unthinking man’s televangelist, inflated to the status of serious truth-seeker by respectable newspapers around the world — I was expecting to be at least slightly dazzled by his rhetoric. But no matter how long I stared at the magic-eye picture of jumbled platitudes, masturbatory nightmares about being devoured by an all-consuming mother figure, and occasional sensible tips about making your bed, it failed to resolve into a work of epoch-defining insight. Instead, it reads as if St. John the Divine of Patmos settled down and got a job selling insurance but occasionally had flashbacks to when he used to lick blue fungus off cave walls and babble about the Great Dragon.
If every generation gets the intellectuals it deserves, we’re in serious trouble.