Your Mother Wants You Home, Jordan, and She Wants You Mighty Bad

Call them the Hostile Brothers. Capitalism and Communism have been at each other’s throats since the birth of the Industrial Revolution, the Creation ex nihilo—certainly, it has the economists flummoxed how to explain it—of the modern developed world.

Capitalism—let’s call him Abel—makes something beautiful and useful that makes his life and the life of his family more pleasant and comfortable, and Communism—let’s call him Cain—burns with resentment at the thought that Abel has something he doesn’t because he doesn’t understand how Abel was able to make it. So Cain kills Abel, blaming his brother for the resentment he (Cain) felt at seeing Abel so productive and blessed.

And then Cain blames God—let’s call him the patriarchy—for rejecting his offering in the first place.

It is the founding myth of modernity, so engrained in our thinking that even Jordan and Milo believe it.

In Milo’s words: “The patriarchy, to put it simply, is Western Civilization.”

Jordan puts it archetypally, but it is the same argument: “Culture is symbolically, archetypally, mythically male. That’s partly why the idea of ‘the patriarchy’ is so easily swallowed.”

And, indeed, if you look at the statistics on the work men and women do, this argument would seem to be right.

As Milo notes:
According to...data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up less than 1 percent of the following professions: boilermakers, brick masonry, septic tank servicing, sewer pipe cleaners, and trash collectors. Amazing that we haven’t heard about it! We hear endlessly about the need for more women in cool, high-status jobs like technology and nuclear physics and video game design, but nothing about the lack of female sewage workers.
Try having civilization without good sewage workers. Or masons.

Likewise, Jordan, playing Devil’s Advocate, remarks:
[Even] if women contributed nothing substantial to art, literature and the sciences prior to the 1960s and the feminist revolution (which is not something I believe), then the role they played raising children and working on the farms was still instrumental in raising boys and freeing up men—a very few men—so that humanity could propagate itself and strive forward.
In other words, women make children, and men make things, including the institutions of culture that we inherit from the past.

I wonder what Cain and Abel’s mother Eve would have to say about that.

*

Here is Jordan’s theory about how culture works:
There are whole disciplines in universities [now] forthrightly hostile towards men. These are the areas of study, dominated by the postmodern/neo-Marxist claim that Western culture, in particular, is an oppressive structure, created by white men to dominate and exclude women (and other select groups); successful only because of that domination and exclusion....
Of course, culture is an oppressive structure. It’s always been that way. It’s a fundamental, universal existential reality. The tyrannical king is a symbolic truth; an archetypal constant. What we inherit from the past is willfully blind, and out of date. It’s a ghost, a machine, and a monster. It must be rescued, repaired and kept at bay by the attention and effort of the living. It crushes, as it hammers us into socially acceptable shape, and it wastes great potential. 
But it offers great gain, too. Every word we speak is a gift from our ancestors. Every thought we think was though previously by someone smarter. The highly functional infrastructure that surrounds us, particularly in the West, is a gift from our ancestors: the comparatively uncorrupt political and economic systems, the technology, the wealth, the lifespan, the freedom, the luxury, and the opportunity. Culture takes with one hand, but in some fortunate places it gives more with the other. 
To think about culture only as oppressive is ignorant and ungrateful, as a well as dangerous. This is not to say (as I am hoping the content of this book has made abundantly clear, so far) that culture should not be subject to criticism.
You’ve all heard the arguments. On the one hand, there are the postmodern Neo-Marxists hellbent (literally) on bringing down the structures of Western Civilization, while on the other, there are the valiant defenders—like Jordan, Milo, and me!—battling desperately on behalf of the good that, yes, straight white males have brought to human civilization: freedom, democracy, property rights; the idea that people should be judged by their accomplishments, not their identity with a group; the focus in Western thinking on reason and logic over feelings and opinions; the equality of the sexes as contributors to this culture; the importance of education.

What nobody talks about is where this civilization came from.

It wasn’t men.

Or, rather, it wasn’t just men. Nor was it just women. It was, as the Boston belle-lettrist and historian Henry Adams intuited, although he didn’t know why, the Virgin Mother of God, Eve’s daughter Mary—and her articulate Son.

*

“All the steam in the world,” Adams opined on the closing of the Great Exposition in Paris in November 1900, “could not, like the Virgin, build Chartres.” 

Adams and his friend Augustus St. Gaudens had made a visit the previous summer to the cathedral of Notre Dame (Our Lady) at Amiens. Still under the sway of the Enlightened (but anti-Christian) Edward Gibbon, Adams at that point “never tired of quoting [his idol’s] supreme phrase: ‘I darted a contemptuous look on the stately monuments of superstition.’” By the time he visited the Exposition with its great hall of electric dynamos, he had become more sensitive to the power that the Virgin exerted. 

Electricity or faith: which was more potent? Adams was no longer sure. 
When Adams [like Breitbart MILO, Adams liked talking about himself in the third person] was a boy in Boston, the best chemist in the place had probably never heard of Venus except by way of scandal, or of the Virgin except as idolatry; neither had he heard of dynamos or automobiles or radium; yet his mind was ready to feel the force of all, though the rays were unborn and the women were dead.
Here opened another totally new education, which promised to be by far the most hazardous of all. The knife-edge along which he must crawl, like Sir Lancelot in the twelfth century, divided into two kingdoms of force which had nothing in common but attraction. They were as different as a magnet is from gravitation, supposing one knew what a magnet was, or gravitation, or love. The force of the Virgin was still felt at Lourdes, and seemed to be as potent as X-rays; but in America neither Venus nor Virgin ever had a value as force—at most as sentiment. No American had ever been truly afraid of either....
Before this historical chasm, a mind like that of Adams felt itself helpless; he turned from the Virgin to the Dynamo as though he were a Branly coherer [radio signal detector]. On one side, at the Louvre and at Chartres, as he knew by the record of work actually done and still before his eyes, was the highest energy ever known to man, the creator of four-fifths of his noblest art, exercising vastly more attraction over the human mind than all the steam-engines and dynamos ever dreamed of; and yet this energy was unknown to the American mind. An American Virgin would never dare command; an American Venus would never dare exist....
Symbol or energy, the Virgin had acted as the greatest force the Western world ever felt, and had drawn man’s activities to herself more strongly than any other power, natural or supernatural, had ever done; the historian’s business [Adams means himself] was to follow the track of the energy; to find where it came from and where it went to; its complex source and shifting channels; its values, equivalents, conversions.  
 Before such a force, what could the historian do but kneel?

*

Adams was not the only one writing in the early twentieth century to sense that Western civilization with all its technological marvels had its roots not in “patriarchy,” but in the Virgin. 

Erich Neumann, collaborator of C.G. Jung and author of the book that Jordan cites regularly on the archetypes of the feminine, would concur. 

According to Neumann, culture is not archetypally masculine, but feminine. 

Culture is the realm of the Mother, most particularly the Nourishing Mother who gives birth to the Word—and, therefore, to ritual and law, science and art:
The study of depth psychology has shown that consciousness with its acquisitions is a late “son” of the unconscious, and that the development of mankind in general and of the human personality in particular has always been and must be dependent on the spiritual forces dormant in the subconscious. Thus modern man, on a different plane, discovers what primordial man experienced through an overpowering intuition; namely, that in the generating and nourishing, protective and transformative power of the unconscious, a wisdom is at work that is infinitely superior to the wisdom of man’s waking consciousness, and that, as source of vision and symbol, of ritual and law, poetry and vision, intervenes, summoned or unsummoned, to save man and give direction to his life.
This feminine-maternal wisdom is no abstract, disinterested knowledge, but a wisdom of loving participation. Just as the unconscious reacts and responds, just as the body “reacts” to healthful food or poison, so Sophia is living and present and near, a godhead that can always be summoned and is always ready to intervene, and not a deity living inaccessible to man in numinous remoteness and alienated seclusion.
Thus the spiritual power of Sophia is living and saving; her overflowing heart is wisdom and food at once. The nourishing life that she communicates is a life of the spirit and of transformation, not one of earthbound materiality. As spirit mother, she is not, like the Great Mother of the lower phase, interested primarily in the infant, the child, and the immature man, who cling to her in these stages. She is rather a goddess of the Whole, who governs the transformation from the elementary to the spiritual level; who desires whole men knowing life in all its breadth, from the elementary phase to the phase of spiritual transformation.
Neumann goes on to claim—pace Adams—that in the “Judaeo-Christian West, with its masculine, monotheistic trend toward abstraction, the goddess, as a feminine figure of wisdom, was disenthroned and repressed,” but Neumann, even though he was right about culture, was wrong about the West.

Horribly, desperately wrong. Just like Freud, who hated his father almost as much as Marx’s friend Engels hated his.

*

Mary, the Mother of Wisdom, was not “disenthroned and repressed” only to return in the Renaissance (as Neumann claims; he is wrong there, too). Throughout the Middle Ages, she was hailed in exactly the terms in which Neumann describes her: as “living and present and near,” “always ready to intervene,” “a goddess of the Whole, [governing] the transformation from the elementary to the spiritual level.” This is why she was represented in the way that she was in the images of the “Vierge Ouvrante,” which Neumann cites and Jordan often shows, as the Mother who reveals God to the world.

Mary, as her medieval devotees—and the architects of what we now call Western civilization with its freedom, democracy, and property rights—understood her, was not the humble peasant girl raped (as modern feminists like Mary Daly and Lesley Hazelton so often claim) by an overpowering Father. She was the Holy of Holies where God became present, the ark, throne, temple, and city of God, through whom the Maker of heaven and earth entered into his creation. Mary was the creature who said “Yes” to God so that the whole of creation might be reborn through her.

As the archbishop of Canterbury, Anselm of Bec (d. 1109) put it in the most famous of his three prayers to her:
O Lady, to be wondered at for your unparalleled virginity;
to be venerated for a holiness beyond all reckoning—
you showed to the world its Lord and its God
whom it had not known.
You showed to the sight of all the world
its Creator whom it had not seen.
You gave birth to the restorer of the world
for whom the lost world longed.
You brought forth the world’s reconciliation,
which, in its guilt, it did not have before....  
The world was wrapped in darkness,
surrounded and oppressed by demons under which it lay,
but from you alone light was born into it,
which broke its bonds and trampled underfoot their power.
Anselm’s younger contemporary and fellow Benedictine monk, William of Malmesbury (d. ca. 1143), quoting Anselm, concurred. As William explained in the prologue to the collection that he had made of Mary’s miracles—her interventions into the life of her devotees—Mary, the Mother of the Lord,
built a temple to the Lord God in her own body.... No one had more understanding than her, for so clear was her mind, and so aware was she of God, that she fully understood all the good for the present that was involved in the birth, Passion, and Resurrection of the Lord, and the incomparable fruit that would follow in the future.... 
Into this young woman, decked like this with a diadem of virtues, the Son of God poured all of Himself.... Finding a young woman possessed of wisdom, the wisdom of God preserved her in that state, that is, kept her safe and pure in heart and body. For it is written: Wisdom will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sin (Wisdom 1:40).... 
So, just as God is the Father and Creator of everything, so this virgin is mother and re-creator of everything, because just as nothing exists except what God made, so nothing is re-created except what the son of Holy Mary redeems. Let therefore the faithful soul ascend to the lookout place of the mind, and see, so far as it can, how lofty is Mary’s position. All nature was made by God, and God was made from Mary. God, maker of everything, made Himself from Mary, and so re-made everything.... 
God begat Him through whom everything was made, and Mary bore Him through whom everything was re-made and saved.
As Henry Adams would put it, without understanding why: “All the steam in the world could not, like the Virgin, build Chartres.”

*

I worry about Jordan. I worry that he is trying to carry the whole of Western civilization on his own shoulders. 

He talks in his new book about the need to put your room in order before criticizing the world and about how men—and women, but mainly men—are called to sacrifice and to remake themselves and thereby alleviate the pain and suffering of the world. 

He talks about the sacrifice that Mary was willing to make of her Son, her willingness to give birth to him knowing (as she did) the kind of death that was to come. 

And he talks about the dangers to the self of being consumed by the Terrible Mother, the Oedipal mother who devours her young. 

The feminine, by his definition, is not culture, but “nature outside the bounds of culture, creation and destruction,” the unconscious matrix out of which the masculine consciousness “struggles upward toward the light.” 

At no point of which I am aware does he talk about the feminine as nourishing, the Alma Mater who gives birth to Wisdom, as Mary gave birth to her Son, the living Word.

This is why I wish very much that he would be willing to talk with me. Mary wants me to teach him about the nourishing feminine. It is the only way we can remake the world—and save it from the murderous combat of the hostile brothers, the fratricidal sons of Eve.

Your Mother wants you home, Jordan, and she wants you mighty bad.

Michaelangelo, Pietà (1498-1499)

Sources

Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (Random House Canada, 2018), 302-303.

Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams (New York: Barnes and Noble, 2009; first published 1918), 302-310.

Erich Neumann, The Great Mother, trans. by Ralph Manheim (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1963), 330-31.

Anselm of Canterbury, Prayers and Meditations, trans. by Benedicta Ward (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973), 118.

William of Malmesbury, The Miracles of the Blessed Virgin Mary, ed. and trans. R.M. Thomson and M. Winterbottom (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2015), 3, 5-6, 9.

Paul Dresser, sung by Richard Jose, “Your Mother Wants You Home, Boy, and She Wants You Mighty Bad” (1904)

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