12 RULES FOR LIFE: AN ANTIDOTE TO CHAOS
Reviewed by Adam A.J. DeVille
The real danger in 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos is its apologia for social Darwinism and bourgeois individualism covered over with a theological patina.
I was a high-school student in 1990 when Robert Bly’s Iron John: A Book About Men came out. I ordered a copy and read it in a couple of evenings confined after foot surgery. It was a runaway bestseller then, just as Jordan Peterson’s book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos is today.
Shortly thereafter, in 1991, Sam Keen’s Fire in the Belly: On Being a Man came out, and I read that as well. It was very similar in content and approach to Bly. The two of them, over a quarter-century ago now, claimed to have discovered that “today’s” young men were lacking direction and wondering about their identity, much as Peterson claims now.
Then as now it all seemed so gimmicky and cleverly packaged, lacking substance and having only one purpose: to sell books. But that’s not quite fair. What I found in all three are attempts at theologizing in a Jungian fashion. And none has done that more than Peterson, whose many Christian fans seem blithely unaware that what Peterson advocates today is merely third-rate recycled gnostic paganism rejected by the Church in the fourth century. (READ MORE)
BRAVE PIANIST: MARIA YUDINA
by Jim Forest
Armando Iannucci’s recent film, The Death of Stalin, briefly filled the two Moscow cinemas where it was being shown, but then was abruptly banned. The movie was described as an “unfriendly act by the British intellectual class” by Nikolai Starikov, head of the Russian Great Fatherland Party, and as part of a “Western plot to destabilize Russia by causing rifts in society,” by the head of the Public Council of the Russian Ministry of Culture.
In fact the film provides, in the form of a Dr. Strangelove-sort of black comedy, a remarkably accurate portrait of the end of Stalin’s ruthless reign and the subsequent battle for leadership among those in his inner circle. Though only Stalin looks like his historical self, the casting is superb. My only disappointment was the portrayal of the great Russian pianist, Maria Veniaminovna Yudina (Мария Вениаминовна Юдина). (READ MORE)
CRAZY BRAVE: JOY HARJO
By Jack Shakely
JOY HARJO’S SAD and insightful little chapbook of a memoir, Crazy Brave, brings one of our finest — and most complicated — poets into view. And in an era when all poets are hard to see and Native American poets are invisible, it couldn’t come at a better time.
Muscogee/Creek Joy Harjo is an Indian writer. Those two words tongue-and-groove easily these days, but for all of the nineteenth and most of the twentieth century, there were Indians and there were writers, but no Indian writers. Well, there was Will Rogers, of course, but despite his ready acknowledgement of his Cherokee heritage, we thought of him as a cowboy, not an Indian. And then Kiowa author N. Scott Momaday changed everything with his 1968 masterpiece, House Made of Dawn, when he explored what it means to be an Indian in modern society.
Harjo burst onto the literary landscape in 1983 with her remarkable collection of poems She Had Some Horses. Often writing in a chant-like cadence, she uses deceptively simple declarative words that echo the verse of Emily Dickinson, whom Harjo admires. It is unlikely, however, that Dickinson could have imagined a line like this one: “She had some horses who licked razor blades.”
Readers new to Harjo might begin with She Had Some Horses before tackling Crazy Brave, which is less memoir than it is a diary carelessly (or not so carelessly) left open. It is full of non-linear events, dreams, and people — some of whom are named, some not — and is often cryptic until juxtaposed against her poems (the “licked razor blades” might be more than simile, we discover). In fact, Crazy Brave is the key that unlocks many of the coded poems in Horses, The Woman Who Fell from the Sky, and In Mad Love and War, among others. (READ MORE)
METAPHYSICS AS A PERSONAL ADVENTURE:
Christos Yannaras in Conversation with Norman Russell
Christos Yannaras is a philosopher, theologian, and political thinker widely regarded as one of the most important Spiritual thinkers of the twentieth century. He sees theology—along with philosophy—not as an academic enterprise, but as a serious approach to reality in all the dimensions vital to life today. A controversial figure, he castigates much of what passes for Christianity in the East as well as in the West, calling it a religionization of faith. In this book he responds to searching questions concerning his work, setting his thinking as a whole in an integrated vision of knowledge, truth, relationship, and spiritual enlightenment.
CHRISTOS YANNARAS is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the Panteion University of Athens. He is also well known in Greece as a public intellectual through his newspaper columns and television appearances.
NORMAN RUSSELL is an honorary research fellow of St Stephen’s House, Oxford. He is a noted patristics scholar and the English translator of several of Yannaras’s books.
KEEPER N ME’: RICHARD WAGAMESE
‘Keeper N Me’ by Richard Wagamese, is a novel based on the necessary balance between life and the culture in which one belongs to. This is a necessary aspect in order to maintain a steady relationship with one’s self. In this novel passing on traditions or a certain way of life from generation to generation is one of the most important aspects of guiding someone of the Ojibway culture, as the Ojibway people have very strong beliefs and take their culture very seriously. The people of the Ojibway culture believe that through storytelling and dreams one can realize the importance of tradition and its influence on their identity. Wagamese throughout his novel tries to teach the readers the power of one’s community and traditions as he reflects a positive view of Native life. Passing on traditions is a very important aspect of guiding someone of the Ojibway culture in this novel, but to stick to a certain way of life has its challenges as everyone receives different views and opinions from the many different people they encounter throughout their life.
The author’s concept in Keeper ‘N Me is much more than just someone who provides guidance but it is how storytelling and the teaching of traditions are used to help guide. Garnet Raven, being isolated from the rest of his family, has struggled with knowing his true identity. Furthermore, the author shows not only the significance of finding a place to belong, but rather the importance of one’s actions and emotions in finding a balance in life but at the same time not letting the presence of dominate views overlook the power of one’s self.