On freedom Four songs of care and constraint

Maggie Nelson, 1973-

Book - 2021

"Drawing on a vast range of material, from critical theory to pop culture to the intimacies and plain exchanges of daily life, Maggie Nelson explores how we might think, experience, or talk about freedom in ways responsive to the conditions of our day"--

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Subjects
Genres
Essays
Published
Minneapolis, Minnesota : Graywolf Press [2021]
Language
English
Physical Description
288 pages ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 255-279) and index.
ISBN
9781644450628
1644450623
Main Author
Maggie Nelson, 1973- (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

At few times in our nation's history has the concept of freedom been so dissected and debated as it is today. Broadcast across cultural divides and political parties, espoused by political pundits and university scholars, the notions of "freedom to" and "freedom from" are parsed in discussions ranging from pandemic health-care policy to critical race theory, by everyone from pastors to police officers. Such disparate arguments form the crux of Nelson's profound examination of the subject in wide-ranging essays analyzing freedom as it relates to the arts, sexuality, addiction, and, perhaps surprisingly, climate change. Juxtaposing the concept of liberation with the construct of restraint, Nelson also delves into freedom's antithesis, and the result is a heady mix of erudite analysis and personal revelation. A poet, professor, and author of the acclaimed memoir, The Argonauts (2015), Nelson brings a critically nuanced appreciation of individual and societal freedom to her mapping of the minefields involved in simultaneously embracing liberty and jettisoning habits of control and paranoia that threaten liberation. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

How do we talk about freedom in a world where extremists sometimes use the term in ways that seem prejudiced, perverted, or narrowly focused on self-interest? Author of the New York Times best-selling and National Book Critics Circle Award—winning The Argonauts, University of Southern California professor Nelson excavates the nuances of the term in four key areas: art, sex, drugs, and climate. With a 75,000-copy first printing. Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Critic Nelson (The Argonauts) traces the limits of liberty and the call to care in this expansive and sharp-eyed study. Exploring "structural questions" about freedom, Nelson exposes instances where conventional uses of the term—for instance, the "intensely American" idea "that liberty leads to well-being"—clash with the contradictions of human nature. Skillfully reading the works of such critics as Eve Sedgewick and Hannah Arendt, Nelson outlines the complexities at the heart of her subject: the paradox of sexual freedom, for example, means "many of our most basic and hard-earned sexual freedoms... are legally dependent on principles of individual liberty." On climate change, she probes the costs of personal liberty when humans are changing the planet in "genocidal, geocidal" ways. Patient and "devoted to radical compassion," Nelson turns each thought until it is finely honed and avoids binaries and bromides. While the literary theorizing is rich, this account soars in its ability to find nuance in considering questions of enormous importance: "We tend to grow tired of our stories over time; we tend to learn from them what they have to teach, then bore of their singular lens." Once again, Nelson proves herself a masterful thinker and an unparalleled prose stylist. (Sept.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Drawing on a wide variety of material, from critical theory to pop culture to intimacies and plan exchanges of daily life, the author, in this timely book, explores how we might think, experience or talk about freedom in ways responsive to the conditions of our day. 75,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"Drawing on a vast range of material, from critical theory to pop culture to the intimacies and plain exchanges of daily life, Maggie Nelson explores how we might think, experience, or talk about freedom in ways responsive to the conditions of our day"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Named a Most Anticipated/Best Book of the Month by: NPR * USA Today * Time * Washington Post * Vulture * Women’s Wear Daily * Bustle * LitHub * The Millions * Vogue * Nylon * Shondaland * Chicago Review of Books * The Guardian * Los Angeles Times * Kirkus * Publishers WeeklySo often deployed as a jingoistic, even menacing rallying cry, or limited by a focus on passing moments of liberation, the rhetoric of freedom both rouses and repels. Does it remain key to our autonomy, justice, and well-being, or is freedom’s long star turn coming to a close? Does a continued obsession with the term enliven and emancipate, or reflect a deepening nihilism (or both)? On Freedom examines such questions by tracing the concept’s complexities in four distinct realms: art, sex, drugs, and climate.Drawing on a vast range of material, from critical theory to pop culture to the intimacies and plain exchanges of daily life, Maggie Nelson explores how we might think, experience, or talk about freedom in ways responsive to the conditions of our day. Her abiding interest lies in ongoing “practices of freedom” by which we negotiate our interrelation with—indeed, our inseparability from—others, with all the care and constraint that entails, while accepting difference and conflict as integral to our communion.For Nelson, thinking publicly through the knots in our culture—from recent art-world debates to the turbulent legacies of sexual liberation, from the painful paradoxes of addiction to the lure of despair in the face of the climate crisis—is itself a practice of freedom, a means of forging fortitude, courage, and company. On Freedom is an invigorating, essential book for challenging times.