• On Freedom

  • Four Songs of Care and Constraint
  • By: Maggie Nelson
  • Narrated by: Gabra Zackman
  • Length: 10 hrs and 5 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (56 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

An expansive, exhilarating work of criticism by one of the most significant writers of our day.

So 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, 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 relation 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.

©2021 Maggie Nelson (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

On Freedom is ultimately a book that asks us to boldly and generously enter the minefield, to pick up what we find useful, to be pushed and provoked, to polish and discard and reinvent, and then to decide, alone and, ideally, in communion, where to go next.”―The Washington Post

 “[A] sense of optimism sits at the heart of On Freedom. What else is possible? it asks. . . . On Freedom is an argument for how we engage with objects of analysis―and one another―in a way that is principled but not rigid, that displays care for other people’s perceptions, pains and desires, and that has respect for what we cannot know.”―Ismail Muhammad, New York Times Magazine

“Precise and atmospheric, combining fierce intellectual kick with an openness to nuance....[Nelson asks] how to live in a world with crushing oppression, alongside people with cruel and violent beliefs, without giving into despair or violence yourself.”―Annalisa Quinn, NPR

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Just great

So much good fuel for thought and discussion. Also very much enjoyed the narrator. Highly recommend!

2 people found this helpful