I’ve mentioned my high-school choir teacher David Pool once or twice before; a Juilliard grad, he was known for taking insecure nerds, geeks and social outcasts and turning them into self-confident young men and women, starting by treating us first as men and women, not children. Right out of the gate he’d hold us to higher standards — but teach us how to attain them, too.
Think of a drill sergeant making you a man (or woman) but referencing classical music and art and literature in between barking at you to “FIX it, [enter your name here]!” That command might have applied to hitting a note or sorting out your love life. Great advice in all cases.
I’ve not seen Mr. Holland’s Opus, but my mother said Richard Dreyfuss’ character reminded her of Pool.
Well, Jordan Peterson reminds me a bit of Pool, and he’s made quite the recent splash, viz,:
Now, this bit is certainly entertaining, and reminds me of the way Pool would work us through a music piece at a certain level, but Peterson’s skills at forensic combat aren’t enough to explain why young men are devouring what he says and writes and thinks as though they’re intellectually and emotionally starved for meaning. Given the state of discourse in society and academe, I expect they are. Men like Pool were few and far between when I was a child, perhaps less so now. Yet nowadays one man can have a greater reach than ever before. Who took up that baton? Arguably, Peterson’s running with it now.
The wife and I recently downloaded Peterson’s popular self-help 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos on Kindle, and the cool thing about the Audible version is that Peterson reads it to you himself.
I really like his approach in this book — it is a useful practical introduction to concepts that I understand are part of his larger project, which seems to be nothing less than saving Western Civilization, as discussed here in the Weekly Standard.
(An aside: I follow the article’s various Twitter feeds, and it was gratifying to watch his tweets sort of talk through the idea of the article, and then get enough feedback that he had something valuable to say that he turned it into the Weekly Standard piece within a matter of days. That, I think, is the best sort of Twitter.)
One lesson of Sidney Hook’s The Hero in History was that great men rise to the need of the times. I’m cautiously optimistic, just three chapters in to 12 Rules for Life, that Peterson and his work may be part of the antidote to our great civilizational malaise.
UPDATE: Well, I guess the ‘Standard article is behind a paywall or something, so here’s the author’s own summary and further discussion of his Grand Theory of Jordan Peterson. Worth a read.