Thoughtpad

Contrasting Slavoj Zizek with Jordan Peterson

I first watched Slavoj Zizek when he debated Jordan Peterson in ‘The debate that was not’. Most of the debate was Slavoj and Jordan discussing their commonalities than actually debating on their differences. Yet as personalities both these individuals are starkly different.  

Slavoj challenged a few of Jordan Peterson’s rules, especially about personal responsibility. They were not hotly debated topics but were more akin to discussions. In many ways, Slavoj is the antithesis to Jordan. A vey basic and obvious distinction was Slavoj’s appearance in the debate. He wore a regular t-shirt and pants whereas Jordan wore a suit with immaculately combed hair. I even remember that Slavoj’s hair was slightly messy. His general demeanour was laid back and quite casual. In many of his talks I do not see him stand or sit straight.

Contrast this to Jordan and we see that Jordan is a product of the rules he preaches. He follows each of his rules. His appearance in most of his public talks is sharp, and his body language is positive. He gives off an alpha dog vibe and it definitely feels as though he is close to the top of the social hierarchy. He is authentic and his advice comes from his experience and learnings as a psychologist.

Slavoj Zizek is quite imprecise in his speech. He starts on topic A, says that he will talk about topic B, diverges into topic C, cracks a hilarious dark joke and continues with ‘so on and so on’. Nonetheless he ends up explaining the larger topic he intended to talk about. His entire speech would be aimed at illustrating his thoughts on this topic and his imprecise speech is not a hindrance but rather an advantage. It helps chalk out the nuances in his arguments. In the course of his talk he will convey many profound thoughts and will explain the origin of those ideas. In many senses, he does not play by the ordinary set of rules.

He is both uncharming and charming at the same time. Ordinarily one would not put him on top of a social hierarchy yet one cannot downplay his appeal. He takes Jordan’s rigid set of rules and bends them creating his own identity and persona.

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