Wesley Yang in Esquire:
The encouragement that the fifty-five-year-old psychology professor offers to his audiences takes the form of a challenge. To “take on the heaviest burden that you can bear.” To pursue a “voluntary confrontation with the tragedy and malevolence of being.” To seek a strenuous life spent “at the boundary between chaos and order.” Who dares speak of such things without nervous, self-protective irony? Without snickering self-effacement?
“It’s so sad,” he says. “Every time I go to these talks, guys come up and say, ‘Wow, you know, it’s working.’ And I think, Well, yeah. No kidding! Nobody ever fucking told you that.”
In these moments, Peterson is filled with frustration that so many need his message, for want of what had once been common wisdom. At the refusal to address men in the language that summons them to embrace their better instincts. (Yes, Peterson is one of those problematic figures who believe that men have a nature that is best appealed to in ways consistent with that nature.) Why has no one ever set these young men straight before? Where were their fathers? Where were their teachers? Why have they left it up to him, a YouTube personality, to roust them from their hiding places and send them out into the world?