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Garret Keizer: Privacy (Essex)

Event date: 
Thursday, September 6, 2012 - 7:00pm

“Acclaimed essayist and Harper’s contributor Keizer conducts a philosophical meditation on the nature of privacy and finds that the ‘right to be let alone’ is a lot more complex than many may think…. With unyielding analytical scrutiny, Keizer raises plenty of doubt about the primacy of so-called private lives…. The consequences of such revelations are vast, and readers will be left considering the implications long after the last page is turned. A provocative and unsettling look at something most take for granted—but shouldn’t.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Keizer ably describes the disturbing and ever-diminishing expectations of privacy…and makes a cogent analysis of the threats to privacy that accompany smartphones and other digital devices. Keizer’s commentary reaches deeply into the fabric of post 9/11 America and finds a landscape that has compromised the fundamental human need for privacy, and argues passionately for the value of privacy in a democratic society” —Publishers Weekly

“[A] thoughtful examination of the concept of privacy… Though debates over privacy tend to be driven by technological developments—Facebook and the like—Keizer reminds us that our personal and cultural “privacy settings” or lack of them have political, environmental, and even spiritual valences that are ignored at the expense of democracy and social justice…. Keizer’s cautionary wisdom is informed by a deeply felt humanism and presented with eloquence and wit.” — Brendan Driscoll, Booklist

“Very few writers combine thoughtfulness and rage as satisfyingly as Garret Keizer.” —Naomi Klein

“Without a decent regard for privacy,” writes Garret Keizer, “the drive to achieve justice rushes us to the brink of totalitarianism. Without privacy, liberty becomes the license to pry, exploit, and oppress. Privacy is the missing word in the Pledge of Allegiance. Privacy is the chivalry of the citizen. Privacy is the modesty of the state.”

Here, in eighteen short chapters, Garret Keizer considers the moral dimensions of privacy in relation to issues of social justice, economic inequality, and the increasing commoditization of the global marketplace. Though acutely aware of the “digital threat” to privacy rights, Keizer chooses not to view the issue in purely technological terms or as an essentially legalistic value. Instead, he asks: What happens to our private selves when we cannot escape surveillance? What happens to our public personas when they pass from our control? Keizer’s questions are compelling—his answers often startling—as he makes us see anew the essential role of privacy in a functioning democracy.

Garret Keizer is the author of six books, including The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want. His September 2011 Harper’s essay “Getting Schooled” will be included in Best American Essays 2012. He is available for interviews. For more information about Garret, please visit

Event address: 
21 Essex Way Ste 407
05452 Essex Junction
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