Jordan Peterson Interview

Jordan Peterson interviewed me last year (Seder-Masochism was not yet finished when we spoke) and finally the video is up. We talk about the Old Testament, religion, art, inspiration, and copyright, among other subjects.

13 comments to Jordan Peterson Interview

  • The Dark of Princeness

    Hey there! I had a whole lot of fun watching your interview with JBP. I remember seeing ‘Sita Sings The Blues’ ten years ago, though I’m sure it’s older than its IMDB birthdate of 2008? I’m sure I saw it around 2006 or so. Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel like IMDB is wrong. Anyway just wanted to say I totally think you’re super cool, I love your perspective on copyright (spit!) and Adobe (spit!) I have been through the same things in many ways. Same same but different. Can’t wait to read and learn more about your ideas and experiences.

  • Heather Harris

    Dear Nina,

    I just discovered you today. I find your work mesmerizing. Your copyright message reminded me of this video and I was dying to share it with you.

    Thank you for everything you do.

  • Oh the irony of holding a discussion in which (I’m guessing based on the “copywrong” tag and having read your previous insights about copyright) is rightly critical of copyright: has YouTube’s DRM on it.

    May I suggest uploading the video to and using an HTML video element to inline view it on your blog instead?

  • I didn’t post the video; Jordan Peterson did, on his own channel. The DRM is ironic, but he’s not the outspoken critic of copyright (yet?), I am. Give it a watch, it’s interesting how he responds to my anticopyright arguments. He’s remarkably open to them, but I think they’re pretty new to him. It took me a long time to find my way out of copyright, I don’t expect anyone else to rush.

  • Nina, This is such a good interview, omg, I am stunned. Finally watching it all.

  • zac

    Your beautiful Jewish sole shines through and through, please nourish it with some delightful Jewish wisdom.

    Please check this for a start:

    with deepest respect for you.

    I’m gobsmacked and speechless.

  • zac

    Consider this a private mail, so it does not need to or should not be published as a comment here.
    You are an incredibly talented person, and a great asset to the world and to the Jewish World in particular.

    Please check the site below; they do good flash animation to elucidate the Jewish ideas based on authentic Jewish sources, may be you can work with them. Your work is much more sophisticated and your talent can help them bring their site to a much broader audience and much more sophistication.
    There are other ideas as well.
    please contact me via email, thanks.

  • John E. Peters

    Dear Ms Paley,

    In the course of your conversation with Jordan Peterson you mentioned that you’ve found it difficult to account for the historical ascendency of the masculine over the feminine. I’m thinking you might view this as the replacement of a fruitful, creative, holistic, unifying mother goddess by a domineering, manipulative, and otherwise problematic male god.

    If so, you might find some intriguingly possible answers in The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World by Iain McGillchrist, in which he explores the evolutionary development and significance of the bi-hemispheric brain, an anatomical feature not unique to humans but shared by the entire animal kingdom.

    McGillchrist posits that this is not accidental but came to be in response to two very distinct and real challenges, i.e. the need to view reality in two radically different, almost totally opposed, modes. As we evolved we needed the ability both to take in what surrounds us as a whole (initially to protect against approaching predators) while at the same time focusing narrowly on a demanding task at hand (like finding food or using tools).

    A significant part of evolution has been about the development of this capacity to remain alert and vigilant while at the same time going about our daily routines. The result has been the split brain, wherein the right hemisphere is in charge of taking in (intuiting if you will) the world as a whole while the left brain is in charge of breaking reality down into its component parts and then manipulating them to our advantage.

    The right brain is the more “open” hemisphere It receives the world, with all of its ambiguity and complexity, into itself without trying to impose anything of itself upon it. It’s world is one of the implicit not the explicit, or the metaphorical rather than the categorical. It is the deep source of the mystical, creative art, music, dance and all those aspects of reality that escape verbalization or idealization.

    The left hemisphere can be thought of as the “tool using” part of the brain. It atomizes reality, breaking it down into its explicit “component parts”. It then analyzes these in an effort to make use of them. It is by nature utilitarian. Its defining characteristics are language and reason, both of which rely on reducing reality to commonalities – i.e. to the distillation out of a complex class of things those elements they share so that they can then be comprehended consciously and communicated as words or ideas employable to some end.

    This left brain function involves the extraction of the explicit from that which is implicit in reality; this involves a narrowing of focus that gives us things like science and technology. The downside to this is that in order to name and conceptualize reality it is necessary for the left brain to overlook the unique and individual. Whereas art intuits reality as a complex, unique, and ever-changing dynamic that it then attempts to express in fluid and ambiguous terms, science and technology must isolate and freeze reality in order to systematize, consciously understand, and exploit it.

    Within each of our heads there has been and continues to be a constant battle between these two views of reality. On the one side you have the holistic, unifying, creative view (the feminine?), while on the other you have the atomizing, manipulative, utilitarian view (the masculine?). While the goal of the right brain is beauty, that of the left is power, i.e., the dominance that comes with being able to make and use various tools to manipulate (exploit) reality to our advantage.

    McGillchrist does an excellent job of exploring how, over the course of evolution and human history, our two very distinct brains and persons have continuously struggled to establish a harmonious relationship. The evidence he presents is both clear and persuasive that we are at our very best when our split brains work together, with each half offering its unique and valuable contributions to our physical and mental well being. However his evidence also convincingly shows that things are much better when the right brain (the Master) manages effectively to control the left brain (its Emissary).

    Alas, this is not an easy thing to bring about. For the most part, and at various points in our history, one or the other has exerted a greater or lesser influence.

    Evidence for this can be found in the history of philosophy, the arts, science and the distinct, often contradictory characteristics of the various “periods” through which they have “advanced.” For example there is a world of difference between Pre-Socratic philosophers and Aristotle, or between Romanticism and how it is expressed in art, poetry, drama, and philosophy, and how the Enlightenment approached the same realities. For McGillchrist the former is clearly right brain driven, while the latter is the archetype of the left brain’s approach to reality. These are just two of the many fascinating examples he presents and explores.

    Where does that leave us? Unfortunately, not in a good or reassuring place. McGillchrist believes that our post-Enlightenment period shows a very definite, highly problematic, and ultimately dangerous ascension of the left brain view over that of the right. He sees this unrelenting increase in the dominance of reason as a “fruitful catastrophe” in which reason has provided an undeniable abundance of good and useful things, but it has by necessity done so at the expense of a deeper, more profound sense of the world as a whole in which we are embedded.

    So maybe this is the answer to your question: the feminine has been and continues to be superceded because we’ve come to prize the utilitarian and strictly rational to an unhealthy degree. The left brain has given us our abundance of wonderful things. It has made our lives safer, easier, healthier, longer, and more productive. The left brain has given us heart transplants, contraceptives, astrophysics, iPhones and computer games with which to distract ourselves from what I think you and I would agree is a better, more profound, more beautiful, and even healthier world view.

    In short, the left brain with its reasoning powers has given us a certain domination over reality. It has given us the power to take charge of our development. It has given us the freedom to make of ourselves what we will. It has given us progressivism with its near adoration of reason.

    Given these preferences, what chance does a mother goddess stand? She can not produce the technological advances, devices, and entertainments that we have come both to rely on and demand. She is without doubt beautiful and influential in her own way, but she is unable to hold her own against the onslaught of a rational, enlightened, materialistic, and production oriented humanity.

    Forgive me, but this has turned out to be longer than I intended and I fear I’ve not done adequate justice to McGillchrist and his insights. Nonetheless, my hope is I have done enough to encourage you (and maybe others) to read The Master and His Emissary. It is clearly and very well written, but it is not what I would call an easy read. However, for someone willing to take on Erich Neumann, it should present no problems.

    My final hope is that it may offer some useful insights into why and how it is the masculine has over the course of human history displaced the feminine. If McGillchrist is right, the balance has shifted many times and may very well shift again. My personal sense is we are growing increasingly skeptical and uneasy with what we have wrought in the name of reason. Many people seem to be searching for a way back to that fruitful and productive balance in which the feminine once again exerts its influence. Let us hope that is so.

    Like many others I am struck with wonder by your art. Clearly you are attuned to and receptive of reality as it presents itself to the right brain and do not try to force it into the straight jackets preferred by the left. The result is a thing of beauty and depth. You are certainly doing your part to shift the balance. Thank you for your work.

    Very sincerely,

    John E. Peters

  • Adriana

    Good! (the little prayer, specially). Dense interviewer.

  • Adriana

    I transcribed it, the Muse’s Prayer.
    English is my second language. Revision and corrections will be appreciated.

    Our idea which are in the ether
    that cannot be named,
    thy vision come,
    thy will be done on earth as it is in abstraction.

    Give us this day our daily spark.
    And forgive us our criticisms, as we forgive those who critic against us.

    And lead us not into stagnation,
    but deliver us from ego.

    For thine is the vision,
    the power and the glory, forever.


  • John E. Peters: What a giant load of evopsych bullshit. And you haven’t even shat it out yourself! Instead, you have to present someone else’s… “production.” Sad.

  • Jason

    The wall of text on John E Peters post was too daunting to get through. If you have an essay, do your own blog post and link to it.

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