A section from Jordan Peterson’s 1999 book Maps Of Meaning, in which he narrates a dream he once had about his grandmother, has been circulating on Twitter recently.

Peterson himself read it aloud for the audiobook.

Routledge published Maps Of Meaning in 1999, when Peterson was 36 years old. The book took him 13 years to complete. 

Why is the dream Peterson had about his grandmother circulating on the Internet now, and how exactly does it go?

The Self-styled "Professor Against Political Correctness" Jordan Peterson Speaks To The Cambridge Union
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What did Jordan Peterson dream about his grandma?

The full text of Peterson’s dream is too long to write out completely, so what follows involves some minor summarisation.

“I dreamed I saw my maternal grandmother”, he narrates, “sitting by the bank of a swimming pool, that was also a river.”

She’d suffered Alzheimer’s disease in real life, and regressed to a “semi-conscious state”. In the dream, too, “she had lost her capacity for self-control”.

Peterson goes on to describe how, in the dream, his grandmother absentmindedly “stroked herself” before walking over to him “with a handful of pubic hair compacted into something resembling a large artist’s paint-brush”.

Jordan Peterson
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What happens next?

She pushes the clump of hair into his face. He deflects her hand away, then acquiesces, “unwilling to hurt her”.

“I let her have her way”, he writes. “She stroked my face with the brush, gently, and said, like a child, ‘isn’t it soft?’ I looked at her ruined face and said, ‘yes, Grandma, it’s soft’.”

But there’s more. After that interaction, an “old white bear” steps out from behind Peterson’s late grandmother. “It grabbed my left hand in its jaws. … I took an axe and hit the bear behind the head, hard, a number of times, killing it. It went limp.”

“I tried to lift its body onto the bank. Some people came to help me. I yelled, ‘I have to do this alone!’ Finally I forced it out of the water. I walked away, down the bank. My father joined me, and put his arm around my shoulder. I felt exhausted, but satisfied.”

And that’s the end of Peterson’s dream about his grandmother. It’s available to read in its entirety on page 135 of this pdf of Maps Of Meaning.

Jordan Peterson
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Internet users have been rediscovering Jordan Peterson’s grandma dream recently

The dream – or Peterson’s narration of it – periodically enters and exits the public consciousness.

It appeared on Reddit four years ago; it has been featured on Goodreads since at least 2019; and its popularity spiked in June 2022 when a YouTube user uploaded an audio clip of Jordan Peterson reading his grandma dream for the audiobook of Maps Of Meaning.

Note: they cut out the part where Peterson talks about his late grandmother’s experience of suffering Alzheimer’s. They also added the opening seconds of George Michael’s Careless Whisper, for dramatic effect.

Find the clip below.

How have people reacted to the dream?

Peterson is a divisive character as it is. He started to receive widespread attention as a public intellectual in the late 2010s for his views on cultural issues.

He has railed against identity politics, criticized people whom he calls “post-modern Neo-Marxists”, and argued that there is an ongoing “backlash against masculinity”.

All of which means that many are likely predisposed towards irreverence when hearing Jordan Peterson describe a dream in which his late grandmother strokes his face with her pubic hair.

Big Mouth | Main Trailer | Disney+

Big Mouth | Main Trailer | Disney+

“Imagine writing this,” writes one YouTube commenter, “then deciding it ought to go onto the final draft for publishing, then deciding it should be read out loud by you for your audiobook, then deciding that too should be published so the world can hear your own words in your own voice.”

“I feel speckledorfed,” comments another, “hornswoggled, bamboozled; violated emotionally, mentally and somehow physically. In summation, EEEEEEEEWWWWWW YICKY.”

A third says: “This is the greatest quote of all time”.