Jordan B. Peterson (JBP) is an acclaimed clinical psychologist who has reshaped the modern understanding of personality, says the book starting with the question: ‘What are the most valuable things that everyone should know?’ JBP has the answer. He has worked out 12 such things, described as profound and practical principles, to help us all lead a meaningful life. Should he be seen as modern-day messiah with a message of his own? Is he inspired by someone who is neither clinical nor a psychologist? The book calls JBP as one of the world’s most influential public thinkers, with lectures on topics from the Bible to romantic relationships to mythology… Now the connection is starting to make sense. 12 principles for you and me, whether you’re in the USA or in Ethiopia, whether or not you want the same things he wants. The foreword, by Dr. Norman Dodge (DND), thankfully, resonates with the same question that I turned the page with. But, like a boomerang, comes back to me after taking that beautiful flight towards logic. We shall see: The foreword begins with the irony that a clinical psychologist – whom one might see as a servant of science and a friend of humanity – is issuing 12 rules, very much like the 10 commandments, or its like in some other book. So DND starts with calling this out, of course, in good humour. He makes it almost through the point right up to the logical rainbow but alas, doesn’t stay there. Instead, he swiftly makes a turn back into the realm of darkness. How? He begins by asking: Isn’t life complicated enough, restrictive enough, without abstract rules that don’t take our unique, individual situations into account? In my wonderment for this question of his, I only have one response: These lines by D.H.Lawrence (https://hellopoetry.com/poem/73460/self-pity/ ) – It’s called Self-Pity and this is what it says: I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a boughwithout ever having felt sorry for itself. I think people who, when they think of life, can only think of how complicated, restrictive it is, will always see misery everywhere around them and then go ahead to make 10 rules and 25 commandments, and 555 laws… and more… It makes them feel safer from all the uncertainties, some of which may include such pleasant moments of joy, fun, and even self-actualisation. Thereby, shutting out some of life’s grandest, most joyous potentialities. Such people, aren’t they lower than the wild thing in DHL’s poem? At least no one will say the small bird didn’t live up to its full potential. The opposite can be said about most of us human beings, and thanks to what? Some pithy 12 rules? Commandments? Truths? How does DND explain his view? Through a Biblical story involving Moses. He, who has come down from the mountain with 10 commandments, only to see the Children of Israel in revelry in front of the Golden Calf. How dare they celebrate after having been slaves to the pharoahs! So Moses took to subjecting them to harsh desert wilderness for 40 years, to purify them from their slavishness. It’s as if being slaves was a dirty toy they had been lugging around for centuries; and so he sacrificed all compassion, fellow feeling, and inner joy of finally being free, at the altar of purity. What is this obsession with purity, I often wonder. Why is there only one view of purity. Who is he to tell others about what is pure? Now free at last, they were all dancing… so Moses said, I have some good news and some bad news. When DND calls him the lawgiver I take it on authority that he must have had a reference for saying so. I’m looking at the story in all its incredulity, hoping for some major logical breakthrough. This is what I get: Moses the lawgiver (why are so many people giving out laws to others I’ll never understand. Besides, who was Moses. Besides, why is JBP doing the same thing today centuries down the line? And now, will JBP also subject us all to harsh desert wilderness?): I’ve got some good news and bad news. The hedonists replied: The good news. I wish there had been some liberals around to have told him ‘stop with the labelling’. “I got Him from 15 commandments to 10.” Hmm, negotiating with HIM. He must be pretty desperate. I see that these are the same people who will laugh at stories from my culture where deities talk to common people. Maybe DND wouldn’t, his ancestors and his peers certainly did. And continue to do so. Besides, even DND and JBP realise the power of storytelling in driving home the point, a point that’s not valid if Hindu cultures do it but the Word of God if ‘They’ themselves do it. In the interest of moving ahead, I must set aside the rampant hypocrisy. So the gathered public moves on to the bad news and Moses replies: “Adultery is still in”. Nothing brightens my day like coming across a cheap crack used by a liberal as a point of debate. And that’s the very end of DND’s grand questioning – where he says, So Rules There Will Be. The clinical psychologist equivalent of “And it was good”. He explains away his lack of rigour with: We are ambivalent about rules, even when we know they are good for us. If we are spirited souls, if we have character, rules seem restrictive, an affront to our sense of agency and our pride in working out our own lives. Why should we be judged according to another’s rule? I see him go really close, so close to the truth, which will solve the whole case but he turns his back on it right when he sees a smoking gun. He goes on: And judged we are. As if a mere acceptance of a fact. What about all that education he must have received? He adds further: ‘After all, God didn’t give Moses “The Ten Suggestions”, he gave Commandments; and if I’m a free agent, my first reaction to a commandment might be that nobody, not even God, tells me what to do, even if it’s good for me.” – Again you see a flicker of light. And then darkness at the end of the tunnel when he says: But the story of the golden calf also reminds us that without rules we quickly become slaves to our passions – and there’s nothing freeing about that. “Slave to our passions” is nothing but highly ignorant way of talking. We are slave to our passions because we do not invest in aiming higher as people. Your 10 rules may prevent baser nature, they’re not creating enlightenment. So that’s that. In my next post, I’ll examine the story of the golden calf. But this book is beginning to look a lot like some religious text and maybe that is what it is, a modern-day religious text. In fact, the 2nd last para on page viii says exactly this: Just like Bible has weaved in its laws for mankind through stories, so does JBP. Wow, the analogy is complete. This is hardly clinical in any way! You’re basically trying to tell people that we’re not good enough, not mature enough to think for ourselves, understand our priorities, and learn from our experiences. You are, as a doctor and as a psychologist, trying to tell people that they need some pithy 12 rules to feel they’re leading a meaningful life. A meaning that you’ve made up yourself. Just like the guys that preceded you. Your basic understanding of your fellow humans is that left to their own devices, they’ll be reduced to their baser nature. Is that how much you value this magnificent opportunity called life? For a world-renowned psychologist to think this way is, at best, disappointing.
I wake up to this Gillette ad, which has kicked up a much bigger storm than the Kardashian Pepsi commercial did more than a year ago. I guess that ad was the start of brands taking on the role of SJWs – Social Justice Warriors. SJW is by definition a derogatory term which means a person who expresses or promotes socially progressive views. In a normal world there would be a few thumbs ups for this person but in reality, which is neither normal nor reasonable, the reasons for this are the fact that we have to hold SJWs responsible for having boundary issues. I digressed there. But that is the point. SJWs will stop at nothing. Such as pedophilia being termed as a condition rather than a pathetic scourge of the mankind. They want pedos to be included in the ‘queer’ category to be represented on the gay pride flag. Because, there is such a thing as a non-practising pedophile. So anyway, this is a small example of why SJWs don’t get a lot of respect. What happened then with the Gillette ad was a classic design problem I learnt about during a brief ‘knowledge-share’ session at my workplace – That when instructions are printed in a font that’s harder to read, the reader/user confuses that difficulty with the difficulty level of the task itself. Apparently, Ikea knows this. So thank you Ikea. My male friend had no problem assembling that beige double bed. Moving on to males. They’re exploding the dislike button on Gillette’s YouTube link. Here it is again in case you’d like to have a go at it too. They’re doing so just for suggesting that they are better than the toxic messages they receive from the likes of: Harvey Weinstein Donald Trump Charlie Harper Woody Allen Ramsay Bolton Karl Marx Don Draper Hitler Frank Underwood O J Simpson Aurangzeb John Eric Armstrong (Know more here ) Jack The Ripper List of all the men outed under the Metoo movement. Does not include the stalwarts back in India. Top names though: Alok Nath. Rajkumar Hirani. Vinod Dua. M J Akbar. All renowned ones. Saddam Hussein Jordan Belfort Vladimir Lenin Pol Pot Genghis Khan Geobbels Che Guevara Robert Mugabe (Let me throw in THIS link detailing the respective rules of these powerful men from Africa) Know that some of these characters are fictional but most are not. I trust you to know which is which. But I can tell you this: we haven’t even got started. The men who’ve gotten all riled up with this one ad that is the only sliver of good parenting they have / ever will receive, are the ones for whom this ad was made in the first place. It talks about not waking up to a world where bullying is justified with ‘boys will be boys’. And God knows it’s the males who are the worst sufferers of it. Instead of saying “yeah, we do have a problem; glad someone is speaking out”, they’re swearing off of all P&G products. Good going. Yes, a brand’s job is to sell. And trust me, sell they will. Gillette has moved on. It’s talking to my 25-year-old brother who knows that if his dad shouted at him, that’d be wrong. My 50-plus ‘Millennial at heart’ friend who hates boys night out where they crack sexist jokes all night long. My friend & ex-colleague whose husband is a hands-on dad who cooks like it’s his duty as much as hers. Did you know that brands were acting as SJWs when they asked you to wash your hands 4 times a day, for 30 seconds each time? That you needed to wear a deo. That you need to floss your teeth. Brush it twice a day. They you need to get your vitamins. That you need to safeguard your heart health with MUFA-PUFA loaded oils. That you need life insurance for your families. Well, dear men, you need to give up bullying for a healthy society.
So, since I have glossophilia, this news is something I always look forward to: OED i.e. the Oxford English Dictionary has come out with its list of new words added this year. And every year round, a couple of Indian expressions find their rightful place and it helps us continue to look on to the Englishman with regard. This time, Aiyoh has made it to the hallowed rolls. With another discovery looming. Backstory: I’m a Gujju who finds it utterly normal to utter Aiyoh when expressing shock, awe, or surprise. And that’s not normal at all. So when my fave Aiyoh made it to OED, imagine my sense of vindication (Aiyoh in OED) ! Then imagine my sense of disappointment upon finding out that all this time I had been speaking Chinese. Kudos to my multilingual self but still! Turns out, Aiyoh is of Mandarin origin and Aiyah, Cantonese. So, quite literally the most used word in the South, almost like a punctuation mark, isn’t Indian at all. BTW – glossophile is one who loves languages. Which brings me to another observation: Almost all of our languages have some entirely versatile words that can mean an entire range of emotions, and interpretation of which depends on who employs it, how, and when. Like Achcha in Hindi. Achcha literally means ‘good’. As in, How are things? – Achcha hai! As in… Achaha, so you think you’re so smart! I’ll show you! | Achcha? Is that what happened? | Achcha, I thought so. | Achcha, okay, I’ll do it. So, basically, it’s a reflection of a very pluralistic culture here. These are the Indian words that made it: Langra (the Mango variety), Tithi (dates in the lunar calendar) Very much like the head wobble we Indians do, which also could mean anything from okay to good, to yes, to I don’t know, my bad… and whatever else you want. Are there any such words in your language that mean a whole spectrum of things?
So ‘The Print’ has found its cause celebre – free speech. And has mounted this initiative in collaboration with the legend… wait for it… dary ‘Facebook’, which itself is mired in controversy over #Fakenews, along with BITS Hyderabad. I am sure The Print and FB have India’s best interests at heart. There can be no doubt. The fiery Richa Chadha, whose fame came riding on the back of some very interesting roles in Gangs of Wasseypur, a grimy epic saga of mindless violence and toxic masculinity, Fukrey, a crazy comedy, and Masaan, a tragic love story of blackmail and emotional survival, is known for her feminist stance. And may her tribe increase. So, when she appears at #DemocracyWall, it is newsworthy, at least for The Print anyway. https://twitter.com/ThePrintIndia/status/987637568136073217 And this is what she said at the event, among other things. Richa is right that movies are blamed for rising crime. And she’s quick to dismiss the role that films might play in impacting the psyche of its audience. She calls it simplistic to draw that connection. This is where I have a problem. I hope Richa has conducted a study to prove that audiences are not impacted by the content they consume. She will be surprised, to say the least. Whatever Richa might say, there is ample evidence otherwise: If the movies had no impact on the audiences, why would the government mandate the insertion of anti-smoking advisory? Going by Richa’s logic, the advisory can be removed because the public is discerning enough to know that showing SRK smoking and looking cool doesn’t mean they can start radiating SRK vibes just by smoking. You see, the movies are just mirroring the society. Okay, let’s take another matter: family values. You know the Sooraj Barjatya kind of movies? That’s mirror too. In our Sanskari society therefore, there should be no rapes. Bah, you’ll say. Finally, advertisements. If movies or advertisements did not have any impact in creating a desire or aspiration, where is the point in those millions of product placements and those glamorous ads that market everything from a sports car to a ceramic tile with the image of a scantily clad woman? Is this also a case of mirroring? So my ultimate question is, Richa, where do you get off? Where does Bollywood get off? Why do you think Pink, English Vinglish, Drishyam… and movies of this kind, even your own Masaan, make such an impact on the audience? And was it because you were just holding a mirror to us? Who draws the line between “hey, this is to cause an impact”, “this scene to mirror the society”, and “this is just for a lark!”? Who? You? You, who thinks Bollywood is the one that spoke up against #KathuaRapeCase, finally pressuring the PM to make a statement? When do you speak up against the rampant sexual abuse of women and men in the industry you so coldly defend? When you say movies get blamed, aren’t you just defending your cronies who insert titillating scenes of violence and abuse just to provoke people? What do you think Gangs of Wasseypur was all about? I admire you for what you have said (Link here ) on Section 375 and your comments on rape culture are truly commendable. But, that does not take away from the fact that movie makers have a responsibility to the society. It doesn’t serve any purpose to hide behind this mask of “Oh, I’m only showing what’s happening, not contributing to it”. Just like you and your industry shows that great deal of restraint in criticising certain religions, and it really really shows restraint in doing so to ensure the safety of its members, that same degree of concern for responsible filmmaking is absolutely essential. Just watch any of Kanti Shah’s films and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Here’s a link to the report of a student that committed suicide after watching 3 idiots, and a cluster of suicides were reported as a result. Here’s a link to the report of another such incident. Now, let me give you a short list of what your movies do not mirror: Ramanujan, the Indian mathematical genius. Shakuntala Devi, the human computer. Abbakka Chowta, the first Tulvuva Queen of Ullal who fought the Portuguese in the latter half of the 16th Century Jhansi Ki Rani, Indian women scientists who took India to space and many, many more such stories. If you really think movies mirror our society, I hope you guys get waaaayyyyyy better at your jobs because this argument will not fly until we hear the likes of you coming out against the abuse going on within the industry… we know it’s there, under the carpet.