Savage Messiah

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 21 Jan 2020

Member Reviews

This is a laughable, egotistical advert for the supposed genius professor of psychology who also worked as a clinical practitioner and is popular or controversial in some Canadian / U.S. circles as either a man ahead of his times or dogmatic and conservative. As the author elaborates, Dr. Peterson’s talks generate 200,000 paid attendees (Dr. Peterson gave Dr. Oz a figure of 2500 / session) and people pay an additional $200 to get a picture and a 15-sec chat with him. His youtube channel has more than 2 million subscribers. He has written a book that sold 2 million copies. But the author has gone way overboard in his praise of the professor, turning Dr. Peterson into some Russel Crowe gladiator, a man against the world and machines, a mythological sphinx rising from the ashes again and again only to fight the Goliath of what he considers to be illogical truth taught in universities and imposed in public discourse today, a lone ranger soldiering on in his quest to undo the scourge of political correctness and totalitarian socialism on campuses - all the while struggling with very real personal demons (his severe depression, daughter’s health crisis) - when all that the professor really has done is created a website and uploaded videos on youtube that generated thousands of eyeballs and clashed with his university! This hero-worship by the author equates some actions with sentences which will make you cringe and laugh e.g.s: (a) “It was his moment in the garden of Gethsemane, before his certain crucifixion” when the professor uploads 3 youtube videos! b) “Content to ignore these Marxist useful idiots on campus, Jordan returned to his studies buoyed by his flirtation with Tammy and relieved of his compulsion to attack fellow students. But bloody dreams still haunted his nights and a deep-seated fear of nuclear war shadowed his days.” c) “For a moment he put down his endless labors” d) “Gallows humor. We were condemned men, heads down on the chopping block, making fun of the executioner’s shoes.” etc.)

The story that really intrigues me - and must have its own book and narration - is the health crisis of Dr. Peterson’s daughter Mikhaila, who was on heavy medications (for severe depression, rheumatism, itching skin) since 3 years of age (at 22, she was on 20 meds) till she got better through dietary change; Dr. Peterson’s family history of severe depression (and his various inflammation-induced health problems e.g. psoriasis, uveitis, alopecia, weight gain) would make a good book too. 

However, as I watched his numerous youtube videos, I bloody failed to understand the fuss around him (pun intended), most of his rambling talks went through my head at the speed of light, the one that made a bit of sense was his interview with Dr. Oz in 2018 (where he spoke of personal responsibility, suffering and meaning in life, in all his gasbag glory, more noise than substance. His best teary-eyed line: "It's unbelievable how little genuine encouragement many people need and how they had none. No one ever said and meant it 'it's not okay for you to be weak loser, you could be way more than that. It is an ethical crime for you to allow all that necessary potential to go to waste. It hurts you, it hurts your family, it hurts the world'."). The book is full of transcripts of his youtube videos, heralded by the author as momentous revolutionary steps in history, in actuality nothing more than thinly disguised promotion of the author. And it is written by an eager-beaver fan, coming across as a marketable catalogue of biographical anecdotes brimming with inflated self-importance, and biased verbal diarrhea that reads like a sponsorship-catnip promotional campaign, all of which is off-putting to me.


Memorable lines: 

pgs 209-210: (against C-279/C-16, a gender identity bill also called Bathroom Bill, derogatorily) His opening gambit included three videos, the first with the innocuous title Professor Against Political Correctness: Part 1, unleashed a maelstrom of global hatred towards him, a private citizen not seeking office or personal notoriety, that was probably unprecedented in human history. He began humbly, “…..that I know something about the way that totalitarian and authoritarian political states develop and I can’t help but think that I’m seeing. a fair bit of that right now……..So I’m making this video because I don’t know what else to do. The changes to the law scare me because they put into the legal substructure certain assumptions about basic human nature that not only do I believe to be untrue, I think they’re also dangerous and ideologically motivated…..the doctrines behind the laws scare me…..the people behind the doctrines (i.e. Canadian minister of justice and attorney general Wilson-Raybould, the lawmaker, Ontario Human Rights Organization, the HR department in his University) also scare me. I think that generally they’re a very bad combination of resentful and uninformed…..their aims are destructive rather than constructive…..the claims are always for equality and diversity and that kind of thing and those kinds of words are very easy to say but a lot harder to put into practice.” The author then verbalizes Dr. Petersen’s fear that this is exactly like 1935’s Nuremberg Laws of Nazi Germany whereby a citizen had to demonstrate his faithfulness to Third Reich.

pg 60: Life can be meaningful enough to justify its suffering.

pg 121: ‘The individual who denies his individual identification with the heroic (the striving toward a deep, personal meaning in life as a flawed individual in an unjust world) will come to identify with and serve the tyrannical force of the past - and to suffer the consequences.“ - Petersen, Maps of Meaning.

pg 132: post-modern radical feminism

pg 132: “The exchange of ideas is nothing but a power game that’s played between groups of people who are opposing each other for predominance on the world’s stage.”

pg 132-133: Mythologically, these overbearing educators (radical feminists in University of Toronto) were also a twentieth-century incarnation of Jung’s archetypal Devouring Mother, represented in the East by the ferasome Hindu goddess Kali, and in the West by Freud’s Oedipal Mother. According to Jung, this is an all-powerful dominating mother who clings desperately to her children during childhood, controls them completely through adulthood, and insists on defending them, even against their wishes, as adults. In the process she devours every scrap of personal strength and individual initiative, and prevents her children from developing the ability to even defend themselves. She ends up killing them, either by making them too weak to survive, or by devouring them herself if they disobey.

pg 178: It was now possible to graduate from UCLA Berkeley with a PhD in history without ever studying American history.

pg 184: The irony of a government-controlled RT host accusing an American Fox News host of being corporately controlled was apparently lost on Minkovski. The further irony of Minkovski being more honest and patriotic than Beck, a publicly recognized patriot, widely trusted, even though controversial public figure, might also be attributed to her overly wrought emotional state. As Jordan might have predicted, this was the emergence of the shadow side of Internet explosion….online character assassination, threats of violence, exposure of private information (doxing), and deplatforming were becoming powerful weapons on both sides of the progressive / conservative divide. 

pg 184-185: “It’s extraordinarily dangerous to drive hate speech underground. There are a lot of terrible things that people shouldn’t say, but that does not mean you should stop them from saying them, because you want to know who is saying them and you want to bring discourse to bear on their perspective.”

pg 188: “My arthritis is back, my skin is breaking out, I have body odor, my gums are bleeding, my face is puffy and I’m on the verge of hallucinating.” - Mikhaila Peterson

pg 189: “Inside the collective is a beast and the beast uses its fists. If you wake up the beast then violence emerges. I’m afraid this continual pushing by radical left wingers is going to wake up the beast.” - Jordan Peterson

pg 193: “He appointed females to 50% of his cabinet…he says, well because it’s 2015. Your job was to pick the most qualified people period - regardless of their genitalia, because they’re leading the country. (He) steadily abdicated his responsibility to make those difficult decisions and then wallpapered it over with this casual virtue of well, I’m going to promote women. It’s like, no, you’re going to promote competent people, you weasel.” - Peterson on Canadian PM Trudeau

pg 202: Jordan’s most recent research on dominant personality traits of artists versus scientists.
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Savage Messiah: How Dr. Jordan Peterson Is Saving Western Civilization  was just an okay read for me. I am giving it two and a half stars.
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I recommend it for those who like  Peterson  . It will give you greater insight into his mind and teachings
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Synopsis according to Goodreads:

This book was given to me by St.Martin's Press through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

"A fascinating biography and in-depth look at the work of bestselling writer and psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson, by award-winning author Jim Proser.

Who is psychologist, professor, bestselling author, and YouTube personality Dr. Peterson? What does he believe in? Who are his followers? And why is he so controversial? These are among the many questions raised in this compelling, exhaustively researched account of his life—from Peterson’s early days as a religious-school student in small-town Canada to his tenure at Harvard to his headline-making persona of the present day."

I will give a disclaimer and say that I am a huge fan of Jordan Petterson. I have read his 12 rules for Chaos book, and even had my fiancé read it. We are both huge fans and probably have seen every youtube video out there of his. That being said this was a wonderful insight into Jordan from the eyes of Jim Proser. The philosophical pages filled my days and I was fascinated having a lot of trouble putting it down. There was politics in this book and a lot of tearing down current affairs that can be controversial, but if you are on the conservative side you will do just fine, other than the religious aspects. 

Some pages were confusing and the timeline seemed off. I guess that is the flaw of the style of writing that the author chose. I would recommend this book to fans of Jordan. However, if someone had never heard of him before, this wouldn't be were I would start. At times the writer depicted Jordan "less intelligent" than how he really portrays himself in real life. With opening lines like "He probably couldn't even hit at such a nerdy idea with his friends.", it was a times hard to believe that Jordan may have actually felt that way or this was a little bit of the author's take on Jordan's beliefs.

Overall, good book to supplement what a fan already knows about Jordan, but can't wait for Jordan to actually make his own biography!

This review will be up on my blog www.booksandstilettos.com and on my IG: @books_and_stilettos on Pub day 1/21/2020
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I’ve been hearing and seeing more of Jordan Peterson lately so I was excited to review this biography by Jim Proser. Mr. Peterson is a fascinating person, but I found many sections of this book confusing. I believe it may be more because of the writing style than the subject. The chain of thought was disjointed, causing me some confusion as I moved through the chapters. But I think the author did a good job of putting a human person behind the Jordan Peterson façade. He talks about the strong supporting relationship between Jordan and his wife and Jordan’s struggles with depression.  I found it interesting that Mr. Peterson’s daughter, Mikhaila suffered from debilitating rheumatoid arthritis since her youth but has found a diet high in meat is helping her to overcome it.
A couple of years ago I watched “The Physiological Significance of the Biblical Stories: Genesis” and was able to follow, more or less, Mr. Peterson’s points. He’s light-years ahead of me in his thinking, though, obviously a very intelligent and challenging mind to follow. This may have been part of the struggle for Jim Proser, like trying to explain the Black Hole in Cliff's Notes. I’ll continue to watch for books by Proser, though. It’s obvious he dedicated a lot of time, energy and thought into this biography. The subject gets 5 stars; the disjointed writing style gets 3 stars.
(I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for making it available.)
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Wow, I'm so glad I read this book. I began following Dr Peterson when l seen him in an episode of Tucker Carlson. I was instantly intrigued by Dr Peterson opinions and teachings. This book gave me a  deeper insight on what has helped form Dr Peterson 's views.  As well as a better look at his personal life. I think any followers of Dr Peterson will enjoy this book.
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