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Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life by…

Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life (original 2021; edition 2021)

by Jordan B. Peterson (Author)

Series: 12 Rules for Life (2)

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262480,481 (4.43)None
Title:Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life
Authors:Jordan B. Peterson (Author)
Info:Portfolio (2021), 432 pages

Work Information

Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson (Author) (2021)


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I had forgotten about Peterson until Jonathan Sacks mentioned him in a post online. Thus, it ended up on my shelf.

This one didn't seem as polished as the first. I strongly disagreed with some of his statements and methods. However, I was incredibly surprised by his ability to dig through the mess and clarify other points that I had mused about for years. It's a mixed bag. I'm not sure his method of delivery works. Perhaps his tone would be less harsh sounding than the words make it seem. And perhaps not. ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
Jordan Peterson is back after a life-threatening illness and a coma, and his new book is an extension of the"12 Rules for Life" that put him on the literary map. And again, this book is arranged in 12 chapters devoted to 12 new rules.

Despite a theological error in the last chapter, Peterson provides wise advice for young men and women. He's a bit more clinical than mythical this time around, and 'Beyond Order' lacks the edgy urgency of '12 Rules For Life', but Peterson does a good job of defending inherited values and permanent things after they've lost the tradition-based philosophical and religious moorings needed to sustain them.

If you enjoyed '12 Rules For Life', you'll undoubtedly appreciate this moderate follow-up. ( )
  wyclif | Sep 22, 2021 |
Just as good as – if not better than – 12 Rules for Life. Beyond Order presents twelve new 'rules', expressing ideas that Dr Peterson has developed through his lecture series, podcasts and YouTube videos. The book is framed as a contrast, as well as a companion, to the first volume of rules, seeking to counterbalance the opposing notions of order and chaos. While much of the material will be familiar to Dr Peterson's followers, the more formal style used in this book allows him to cement his ideas more thoroughly in terms of theory and practice. The spoken, rather than the written, word is Dr Peterson's natural medium, so the audiobook edition of Beyond Order could prove rewarding. ( )
1 vote Lirmac | Mar 30, 2021 |
"I believe even more deeply that people have the ability to transcend their suffering, psychologically and practically…" (pg. 355)

The black cover of Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life was already planned. Given Jordan B. Peterson's professional interest in the Jungian concepts of chaos and order, the striking dark sleeve was always intended – a yin/yang counterpart to the white cover of the first, wildly successful 12 Rules for Life. But, in light of developments in Peterson's life since 2018, the concept proves to be a prescient and appropriate symbol of the author's status as you open his new book.

When I went to see Jordan Peterson at the Manchester Apollo in October 2018, he was at the top of his game. He was undertaking a 160-venue global speaking tour, delivering an unscripted, freewheeling lecture that was different each time; an experience he recalls fondly in Beyond Order. He was, on that particular night in Manchester, riveting. Even as a low-ranking lobster watching from the cheaper seats at the back of the venue, it was clear to me that everyone in the audience was engaged. Though he writes in Beyond Order that what you want from an engrossed audience is "dead silence" (pg. 160), he was surprisingly funny, making us laugh frequently. The hall was filled with goodwill and a sense of purpose.

Fast-forward a little over two years and the world has changed: unprecedented chaos out of China has resulted in the imposition of similarly unprecedented order around the world. For his own part, Jordan Peterson is, if not broken, then certainly recovering tentatively after being beaten down by the chaos of life. As he relates in Beyond Order's raw and humbling introduction, or 'Overture', his wife of thirty years (whom he has known for fifty, since they were children) was diagnosed with a rare, near-incurable form of cancer. His daughter, whose horrific health problems were discussed in the first 12 Rules book, had to have another operation. And he himself was blindsided by a growing benzodiazepine dependence, taken (with a doctor's recommendation) to manage a long-standing tendency towards depression and the anxiety of his controversial public profile. This resulted in a hellish trap, a dark maze with no exits – as anyone will recognise, providing they ignore the tawdry hit-pieces and the big-brains on social media, and look sincerely at what 'dependence' is. Drastic treatments in Russia and Serbia, including a medically-induced coma, eventually forced a crack of light at the end of the tunnel.

But, as Ernest Hemingway wrote, a man can be destroyed but not defeated. Peterson's wife's cancer was cured, and his daughter's problems resolved sufficiently to the extent that she could shoulder the burden of managing her father's recovery – something which must, in light of his teachings, give him inestimable pride. Peterson has returned, tentatively, to the public spotlight – noticeably frailer and less energetic, but with his mind increasingly sharp. His plight, however, hasn't stopped the vitriol from his detractors, who revel in his misfortunes, or the wilfully ignorant hit-pieces (including a particularly clumsy one from the London Times, who should know better). (As a sidebar, if you are familiar with Peterson's work and have any gift for writing comprehension, read one of those hit-pieces for a prime example of how, with seeming benignity, language and structure can be manipulated for mendacious effect.)

All of which is a long way of saying that the black cover of Beyond Order is very much appropriate cladding for this stage of Peterson's ongoing conversation with his audience. The trials of the past two years are reflected in all the lines of his prose. Even when they are not addressed directly, they present an elephant in the room, and Peterson does well to confront this. "Who am I to tell people to clean up their rooms… when, apparently, I cannot do it myself?", Peterson writes on page 202. Should we listen to someone whose life unravelled so spectacularly? Whose shouldering of a great burden was handled in part by a growing drug dependence, even if this was prescribed and taken in good faith? Put your house in perfect order before criticising the world, the first 12 Rules book said to us. Surely, the last two years show, Jordan Peterson's house wasn't in perfect order?

To answer this – and refute it – it is worth reminding ourselves of what Peterson's message has been. It's a difficult one to hold in your mind sometimes (though Peterson's clarity and consistency in delivering it is a great help), because it is, if not counter-intuitive, then at least not how we instinctively and superficially yearn for the world to be. It requires effort to hold it there. It is a message that benefits from being unpacked – which is partly why Peterson's lectures are so riveting – but I was searching for a concise passage in Beyond Order that might do the work for me. This is as good as any I could find:

"Question: Who are you – or, at least, who could you be? Answer: Part of the eternal force that constantly confronts the terrible unknown, voluntarily; part of the eternal force that transcends naivete and becomes dangerous enough, in a controlled manner, to understand evil and beard it in its lair; and part of the eternal force that faces chaos and turns it into productive order, or that takes order that has become too restrictive, reduces it to chaos, and renders it productive once again.

And all of this, being very difficult to understand consciously but vital to our survival, is transmitted in the form of the stories that we cannot help but attend to. And it is in this manner that we come to apprehend what is of value, what we should aim at, and what we could be."
(pg. 58)

Accept chaos, accept order; learn from the benefits and the suffering that both can bring. You can begin to intuit this from careful consideration of the stories that resonate deeply with us, which have endured to become "the fundamental narratives that sit at the base of our culture. These stories… are at least in part a consequence of our watching ourselves act across eons of human history, and distilling from that watching the essential patterns of our actions" (pg. 256). With this understanding in mind, you can try to chart the way between both, to the benefit of yourself, those around you, and, ultimately, the world. "With careful searching, with careful attention, you might tip the balance toward opportunity and against obstacle sufficiently so that life is clearly worth living, despite its fragility and suffering" (pg. 108). Adoption of responsibility is where "the meaning that most effectively sustains life is to be found" (pg. 113).

Reading Beyond Order, it was at first difficult for me to parse Peterson's continuation of this message. Peterson remains a more gifted speaker than he is a writer, and the early chapters of Beyond Order struggle to get going. The book takes a while to warm up, and it is easier to lose the thread of argument than it is in his lectures and podcasts. There is something about his dynamism in speaking, perhaps his cadences or – I suspect – his emphasis, that remains largely unharnessed in his writing. Once the book does warm up, however, it takes off, and entire passages – sometimes entire chapters – are revelatory, and gratifying to any reader disturbed by the "modern crisis of meaning" (pg. 165). It takes a long time to read the book, but that's in large part because you will be having a conversation with yourself as you read it – a deep and meaningful (and often long overdue) one. Nevertheless, it's strange that I've reviewed (and loved) all three of Peterson's books so far (two of which are bestsellers), and yet I still feel certain that his lectures and podcasts are the best first port of call for those looking to approach the man's work.

Certainly, Beyond Order shouldn't be the first port of call, as remarkable as it often is. As the subtitle suggests, these are 12 More Rules for Life, and if the written word is your chosen medium to first approach Peterson, that first 12 Rules book is the place to start. Peterson does well in Beyond Order to re-introduce what he built in that first book, but this second one is very much an expansion on the framework of the first. I do wonder if my relative ease in slipping back into Peterson's conversation here is because I have already read and listened to so much from him. Even much of what will be new here to some readers is stuff I was introduced to in Maps of Meaning.

Once the reader gets used to the message – which, given how fascinating it becomes in its many psychological and philosophical layers, is not too difficult (except, perhaps, for corporate journalists) – then Peterson's personal plight in the last couple of years starts to be recognised not as a mark against his 'Rules', but in favour of them. Peterson's advice has always been based on his long experience as a clinical psychologist, and his deep reading of the relevant literature. It has never been based on any personal embodiment (that, I think, would be to fall into the trap of the 'cult-like' slur the journalistic hit-pieces like to deploy), even though his peculiar charisma helps. One of the most striking phrases from his first 12 Rules book, and in his lectures, is that you should get yourself together so that "when your father dies, you can help plan the funeral". When everyone is bereft, you can be someone people can rely on, which makes the suffering more bearable, and not – as it can so easily be – much worse. When the waves come crashing in, ensure you have prepared strong foundations. Peterson's house was in sufficient order that when chaos came – in waves – it was strong enough to endure.

Even at the Manchester Apollo in October 2018, when Jordan Peterson was still riding the apex of that strange wave which had emerged around him, he was always open about how these 'Rules' apply to himself too. Those who frame events of the last two years as a dose of overdue humility for the man are shockingly ignorant. Humble, sincere and lucid, and with his background in clinical psychology, Peterson has always been clear about helping people get their lives together: "I find it heart-wrenching to see how little encouragement and guidance so many people have received, and how much good can emerge when just a little more is provided" (pg. 159). When he delves into the political discussion, it is (beyond offering his personal opinions to a friendly podcaster) only in response to this desire, such as when he makes the case for abandoning ideology in general (one of the twelve new rules in this second book), or when he makes the case against trendy, low-resolution conceptions of 'patriarchy' and 'toxic masculinity': "the increasingly reflexive identification of the striving of boys and men for victory with the 'patriarchal tyranny' that hypothetically characterizes our modern, productive, and comparatively free societies is so stunningly counterproductive (and, it must be said, cruel: there is almost nothing worse than treating someone striving for competence as a tyrant in training)" (pp26-27).

Indeed, the struggle in Beyond Order is not so much for humility but something even more profound: gratitude. The final two rules, "Do not allow yourself to become resentful, deceitful, or arrogant" and "Be grateful in spite of your suffering", are ones that Peterson finds especially potent in light of his personal trauma, and this potency shows through in the writing of them. He describes himself as an optimist, arguing that optimism retained after suffering, as opposed to naïve, childlike optimism, is a valuable thing (pg. 357). Gratitude is a difficult state of mind to achieve in response to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, perhaps second only to forgiveness. After such a durable and revivifying book, it was always likely to be a compelling ending. It likely seemed so even back when that black cover was greenlit. But in light of Jordan Peterson's own personal journey in the last couple of years, to end this book in this way is a considerable feat. ( )
2 vote MikeFutcher | Mar 7, 2021 |
Showing 4 of 4
The opening rule is, in part, an explicit acknowledgement of how difficult it is to make something, as opposed to tearing it down: “Do not casually denigrate social institutions or creative achievement.”
added by SaintSunniva | editUnHerd, Jenny McCartney (Mar 2, 2021)

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A Note from the Author in the Time of the Pandemic. It is a perplexing task to produce a nonfiction book during the global crisis brought about by the spread of COVID-19.
Overture. On the fifth of February 2020, I awoke in an intensive care ward in, of all places, Moscow.
Rule 1. Do Not Carelessly Denigrate Social Institutions or Creative Achievement. Loneliness and Confusion. For years, I saw a client who lived by himself.
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