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BOOK Maps of Meaning by Jordan Peterson

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Book Review

 

This book is an epic tome; a sort of magnum opus in which the basic philosophy and outlook for Jordan Peterson was crystallized.  It is pretty massive, not for the weak of heart, but in fact very readable.  I will talk about my impression of Jordan Peterson, the book, and how I think that it applies to game here.

I had heard about Jordan Peterson (JP from here on) from the community and found out that he is sort of a "youtube intellectual star", apparently because of some comments he made about left-wing policies.  Apparently now certain right-wing groups have taken Jordan Peterson to be their intellectual of choice.  JP has also become popular in this group for some unknown reason, perhaps because of his youtube popularity and stance with regards to western women (that many in here agree with).  I wanted to see just what exactly makes JP tick and what his primary philosophy is before I passed any more judgements about JP and the value of his teachings.

Maps of Meaning is basically a book about the problem of evil (why does evil exist, what is evil, etc), and is JP's personal struggle with answering that question. He answers it by combining neuroscience, mythology, phychology, some philosophy and anthropology into one coherent theory - it is quite an accomplishment in its scope and depth.  His basic thesis is: there is one basic way of human developement that has continued to thrive and be passed down through the generations, the way of the hero.  This way is going into the unknown (the terrible mother, chaos, the dragon)from the known (the father, civilization, safety, culture), taking the unknown into yourself, temporarily dissolving (or dying),  being reborn, taking the unknown into the known, and then returning to civilization to spread the new knowledge gained (saving the virgin, returning the maiden).  This is a VERY rough summary of a massive and complex work, but it is the best I can do.

The second level of analysis is he deconstructs this myth into various levels; procedural, episodic and semantic.  This is based off of neuroscience, which he refers to to support the theory and add a new dimension of analysis.  This, in my opinion, is the most original part of the work and is JP's main contribution.  Knowledge is sort of a pyramidal structure, with procedure (action) at the bottom, followed by images and analogies, finally followed by words, logic, reasoning, etc.  Thus, the way of the hero is passed on first through action, then through myth (imagery), then philosophy and religion.  This is key, because, as he goes to pains to describe, western civilization has basically denied the way at a philosophical level (god is dead) while maintaining it at a procedural level, causing some amount of chaos.

The final act of the book is to solve the problem of evil, which was in fact JP's main point in writing the book.  A proponderously large section of the book is devoted to this and especialy concentration camp recounts.  JP's solution to the problem of evil is; it is a denial of the way of the hero.  When you avoid the unknown and take refuge in the "known" (the city, culture, the group, etc) to avoid the unknown.  This is the most basic "lie" and results in either the decedant or the tyrant.  The decedant is one who revels in chaos and avoids turning chaos into beneficial knowledge and growth.  The tyrant is someone who avoids chaos and hides in the known (the group, culture, etc).  Both of these perverted paths deviate from the way of the hero, which is the only true way humans can overcome adversity, adapt, and give meaning to the tragedy of life.  Both of these ways result in hatred toward the world and thus toward oneself and one's inner weakness.

A theme that JP mentions is the basic inscrutability of "reality"; reality is only that which has valence.  Animals first interaction to newness is, in fact, anxiety, followed by curiousity if the thing has determined by exploration to be a non-threat.  The newness is incorperated into the known.  This is, in fact, the hero myth in its simpliest form, even present in all lower animals.  It is greatly exaggerated in humams, however, because the human mind can imagine multitudes of possibilities for an unknown (either good or bad possibilities), thus maginifying the potential horror or pleasure of the new object/experience.

 

Application for game

  Since this book is sort of a theory of everything, of course it can be applied to game, and has tons of implications.  Firstly, the myth of the hero is of course the path that the PUA needs to take.  This has been discussed many times here.  I want to talk about more specific applications, for example, daygame.

Target Anxiety

I think that daygame presents a clearer picture of the process of the hero and the interplay between chaos and the known more than anything else.  What can be more routine than our daily lives?  When we do daygame in its most raw form, we are directly introducing chaos and the unknown into other peoples' lives- especially as foreigners living in Asia.  This is a much clearer dynamic than night game.  In night game, it is clear why you are there, and girls have a decent impression of what you are doing.  You are already framed and contextualized.  In daygame, you are utterly and boldly denying and breaking a known structure and matrix of meaning.  Since you are more "unknown" in the day time (you are breaking someone's routine much more radically), your threat and promise is both raised in the eyes of the target.  Animals will feel anxiety unless told by the amygdala NOT to, thus the first reaction in most targets, unless they have previous experience or different set of valences and frames, will be to be on their toes, at least for a split second.  This feeling also lasts longer in my opinion in day game, because of the sheer quality and quantity of chaos that you are bringing into the picture.  

Approach Anxiety

Next, YOU are also going through your own contact with unknown / threat/ promise.  I will not talk about the hero's journey in regards to game, but I will talk about approach anxiety (AA).  This book proves that the final reason behind AA, just like any fear, is the unknown.  Thus, reducing AA means reducing the unknown, simple as that.  This can be broken down into two parts.

The first part of the unknown comes from the action itself.  Just like a mouse in a mouse cage suddenly having an iron block put in the cage, you will first feel anxiety and then, upon successful exploration of the object and incorperation of the unknown into the known and assingment of a valence value, when you see a girl on the street, she is actually NOT a girl, but an incarnation of the unknown.  You have never talked to a girl like that.  This action is totally foreign and unknown, just like the iron block.  To follow the hero's path, you must then incorperate the unknown into the known (open the girl).  

Back to the anology of the mouse.  Imagine that another block is put in the cage.  And another one.  After time, the iron block will be assinged a valence value by the mouse (postive, negative, neutral) and the mouse will have a standard reaction to it.  This is exactly the same process as AA. As you open more girls, incorperating more unknown into known, over time the girls in their respective situations will be assigned a valence value that is different from the anxiety produced by the threat of the unknown.  In the case of game, since we are running proper game, the girls will almost never have threatening reactions (they won't hit you, scream, etc... this is extremely rare to nil), and you will have success with some.  Thus, the emotion of curiousity and possibilty will REPLACE anxiety (a more primary emotion) and the girls and their respective situations will be assigned a postive valence value, literally CHANGING  YOUR REALITY (there is no "reality", only valence values).

A corrolary of this, however, is that each girl has to be dealt with in their respective situation.  Essentially, each girl and their situation is a sort of "object" that has to be assigned or learned new valence values.  This is why there is more AA in day game than night game. Apart from the fact that you are causing more chaos to yourself and others (there is more variance in situations, more conflict with what they expect vs what you are going to do, etc), there are more situations in daygame to worry about.  Each situation must be treated on its own.  Girl in mall, that is a situation.  Girl in subway, that is a situation.  Each of these are seperate for the mind and must be overcome and assinged valence values.  However, I would imagine (and it is my experience) that there is a spillover effect from situation to situation.  If you are not afriad to open a girl on the street, you probably won't be that afraid to open one in the subway either, but these situations are still seperate for the mind.  Thus, day game has more AA because there are more situations, and more chaos involved.

HOWEVER, there is still one unknown left in the equation even AFTER all of this has been eliminated, tons of girls have been approached, etc.   The reaction of that particular girl!  This can never be eliminated, only dealt with through the hero's way.

How to deal with AA

The answer is clear; reduce chaos.  Reduce unknowns.  Master material, know what to say.  Approach the same types of girls for awhile, etc.  Don't deny fear; follow the hero's path; recognize unknown, incorperate it into you, build a new you and a new reality.  As I mentioned earlier, some AA will always be there because of the reaction of the girl is always unknown.  This contains both threat and promise, but as you approach more girls, the width of the spectrum of threat will decrease and the that of the promise will increase, since your skills are better and you realize that getting rejected isn't that big of a deal.  But it is there regardless.

Also, creating models, theories, and ideas about the anxiety you are feeling is also helpful since it reduces the chaos.  This is, in fact, what I am doing now and what I do continuously.  Perhaps everyone has there own way.  Categorizing approaches, analyzing them by writing FRs, seeing patterns...all of this takes chaos out of the equations and allows your conciousness to absorb it into the field of knowledge quicker.  It also has the dual effect of seperating the outcome from your ego.

Conclusion

The theory in the book is massive and can be applied to tons of situations; the one above is only an example.  I look forward to other opinions and thoughts!  

As for whether I recommend the book, I think that if a summerized version of his ideas can be found that would be ideal for someone that just wants to get the gist of the theories.  The content of the book is essentially what I layed out and summerized here, but with tons of extra material, quotes, and knowledge and tangents.  Although JP got repetitive at times in the book and sort of started repeating himself, even summerizing Carl Jung like a college student writing a book report toward the end, the massiveness of the material presented makes up for it.

Edited by L.O.G.O.S.
added more content under "how to deal with AA"

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Hahaha

I like your criticisms.  I haven't read Maps of Meaning, but it is on my list.  I'd be keen to see how the book differs from the lecture.  He adds in new material regularly, so I imagine that the lectures are more interesting.  

I think that you missed one key aspect of what he teaches though and maybe that's because it wasn't emphasized in the book or maybe that's because of what you just didn't think was very important.  One of the best insights as far as I'm concerned is how our actions are aims nested within larger aims, nested within larger aims that become more abstract.  

So that successful person, has good career, good friend, good brother, good sister, etc nested inside and then each of those has other aims nested until you get down to particular actions.  I thought this was a great way to look at your life and allows people to constrain their negative emotion better by making clear distinctions between parts of your life that aren't going well and those that are and being able to analyze things at the most useful resolution levels.

So his concept of "resolutions" for me, has been one of the most valuable tools I've started using.

The other part of his model that I found very useful, you also described but quite differently from how I took it in from watching the lecture series.  The dual positive and negative aspects of the individual, society and culture, and nature.  Thinking of this as the world that we have to navigate and essentially when you encounter chaos, it is because one of those things has manifested what we see as an anomaly because our existing mental model didn't account for that particular phenomenon.

I like the process of analyzing which of those things is the cause of whatever misery you might be experiencing and then reconstructing a new mental model based on the information you got from that phenomenon.  The fact that evil can be broken down into those categories, makes it far easier to contend with because it means that problem is somewhat constrained.

As far as your application to game, I agree with everything you've written and I glad that you took the time to share this with all of us.  I'm looking forward to your write-up on Nudge, too!

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Thanks for the reply.

Yep, the "resolutions" part was not contained in the book at all.  I learned that from you, actually, and it's very important!  I'll definitely check out those lectures when I have time, I just hope that I can find stuff about that theory elsewhere, because I find watching videos and lectures too slow.

Maps of Meaning is ideal if you are very interested in these theories and want lots of in depth analysis, meaty material and tons of examples/quotes from the continuum of western thought.  If you just want the essense of the theories to apply immediately, best to move on to his later stuff probably.

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On 7/20/2018 at 1:20 AM, L.O.G.O.S. said:

I find watching videos and lectures too slow.

Though I generally agree with you, I think that in the case of Jordan Peterson, his material is so dense that I don't find it slow at all.

And here's the link:

 

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