Sebastian Junger: Freedom
Sebastian Junger returns, in person, to The Commonwealth Club to discuss the ideas in his latest book, Freedom. Throughout history, he says, humans have been driven by the quest for two cherished ideals: community and freedom. The two don’t coexist easily. We value individuality and self-reliance, yet are utterly dependent on community for our most basic needs. Junger examines that tension—which lies at the heart of what it means to be human.
For much of a year, Junger and three friends—a conflict photographer and two Afghan War vets—walked the railroad lines of the East Coast. It was an experiment in personal autonomy, but also in interdependence. Dodging railroad cops, sleeping under bridges, cooking over fires, and drinking from creeks and rivers, the four men forged a unique reliance on one another.
Junger weaves his account of this journey together with related digressions on primatology and boxing strategy, the history of labor strikes and Apache raiders, the role of women in resistance movements, and the brutal reality of life on the Pennsylvania frontier. Written in exquisite, razor-sharp prose, Freedom is a nuanced examination of the primary desire that defines us.
The Commonwealth Club of California
noon–1 p.m. program
(all times PDT)