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My Intellectual Journey with Jordan Peterson

7 Months, 30+ hours of podcast recordings over 25 books, 15 poems, dozens of hours of lectures, numerous essays, 13 notebooks filled and I have finally finished my reading of Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.

I've thought a lot about what value my sprawling exploration may have for you. Likely very little.

However, should you seek to explore with me, here is some of what you will find.

  • The over 25 books I read to help me study Peterson's work

  • 15 Poems including all the poems in Peterson's book

  • 30 hours of my own podcast recordings

  • A discussion with a friend on Rule #1

  • 20 movies discussed in the recordings

  • Essays I read to understand Peterson's work

  • New and unique insights into Peterson's philosophy and literary analysis techniques.

I recorded these podcasts with the goal of exploring Peterson's ideas to the best of my ability. This is a record for my future self.

To an audience I suspect that the value really lies in the extensive reading and viewing list below. Or, perhaps you will be the few persons interested enough to take one autodidactic's journey into the intellectual work of a very impactful contemporary thinker.

My initial aim with this series was to use a classic poem to bring out the themes within each of Peterson's 12 Rules for Life. After all, he includes several poems, so why shouldn't I expand on that to help my audience? I soon discovered this to be much more difficult than I had initially assumed.

Peterson's book is very unique for a "self-help" book. First, though it purports very simple rules, the underlying argumentation is excruciatingly complex. There are psychological principles, philosophy, Christian theology, ancient mythology, anthropology, evolutionary psychology and Disney movies all used to explain a rule as simple as "stand up straight with your shoulders back."

Each of the rules were enlightening for me. But nothing compared to the world shift I felt in reading and studying rule 6: "Put your house in perfect order before criticizing the world."

I had just graduated 8th grade in 1999, when the Columbine shootings occurred. I'll never forget sitting in my father's home office staring at a tiny 12 inch TV for hours as they played and re-played the footage. My freshman year of high school was coming up and I was not unsure I wouldn't be shot. I didn't go to a bad school, but a school very similar to Columbine. Most schools are like Columbine, I think.

In studying Rule 6, where Peterson discusses school shooters, particularly Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, I felt all the anxiety and fear rushing back. For this rule not only did I read an entire book (listed below), but I dove into everything I could on