"Freedom, Maggie Nelson admits while introducing this quartet of extended essays, is a problematic word. In part that’s because it’s been co-opted by rightwingers – as fuck-you, neo-Confederate freedom in the author’s embattled United States – and in part because the left can’t agree on what it means. Personal freedom and collective freedom can seem antonymic (Hannah Arendt thought so; James Baldwin didn’t), and in 2021 freedom as a notion might feel spent after such lengthy struggles for it – freedom from racism, or sexism – haven’t achieved the desired results. Against all this, in four tracts that examine prismatic spaces where freedom might, if complicatedly, be possible – art, sex, drugs and, no, not rock ’n’ roll but climate anxiety – Nelson skews to nuanced, nonbinary thinking, and the conviction that freedom is a process: that there is no liberatory moment but an ongoing, near-ambient movement towards. She seeks to demonstrate that, per Foucault, people are freer, or potentially freer, than they know; and that, per David Graeber, revolution lies in acting like you’re already free."