Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger

Your favorite books and links
User avatar
jennypenny
Posts: 5061
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:20 pm
Location: Stepford USA

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger

Postby jennypenny » Sat Jul 16, 2016 7:37 pm

https://www.amazon.com/Tribe-Homecoming ... ian+junger

Image

Has anyone read it? It's an easy read. Well, parts are difficult to read, but it's a quick read. It was fascinating. I particularly liked the discussion of gender roles, the reduced rate of mental illness during wartime, and the need for men to prove themselves.

I read it because I wondered how our ERE tribe might be defined and what role it might serve. We all take pride in our independent natures, but in some ways we're also hurting ourselves by disengaging with traditional tribes. I wondered whether our virtual interaction could fulfill our need for a tribe. Junger's opinion is that modern life has stripped away all vestiges of tribes and the benefits of belonging to one.

Junger is making the podcast rounds ...
Ferris
Martenson
AOM

User avatar
jennypenny
Posts: 5061
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:20 pm
Location: Stepford USA

Re: Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger

Postby jennypenny » Sun Jul 17, 2016 10:51 am

I should have mentioned that there's a big section on PTSD in the book. Junger discusses some of the new studies and conclusions about the causes of PTSD and who's more susceptible to it. It's always been an interest of Junger's, but it's related to the book because a lack of tribe after returning home is part of the problem.

Just FYI in case anyone is interested in the topic.

User avatar
Ego
Posts: 3746
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:42 am

Re: Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger

Postby Ego » Sun Jul 17, 2016 3:27 pm

Reserved the book at the library. #73 for 9 books so it will be a while.

User avatar
theanimal
Posts: 944
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:05 pm
Location: Gates of the Arctic
Contact:

Re: Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger

Postby theanimal » Wed Nov 30, 2016 3:01 pm

I've been thinking about the concept of Tribe a lot over the past few months. It is something that I lack. Today, many are able to find a tribe through work, following sports or religion. Personally, I don't watch sports or believe in the concept of organized religion. This leaves me without a tribe. I think that virtual interactions serve as a placeholder but they don't replicate real life interactions. I'm left pondering what is the best means in building or joining a tribe. My difficulty is compounded by the fact that I live in a very remote setting, which I find somewhat ironic.The places today where human tribes/people have existed for much of history are the least likely now in which one is to build a tribe. In any case, I plan on reading the book sometime soon.

Does anyone here consider themselves part of a tribe? Anybody working to actively build one?

User avatar
jennypenny
Posts: 5061
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:20 pm
Location: Stepford USA

Re: Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger

Postby jennypenny » Thu Dec 01, 2016 8:48 pm

@theanimal -- If you get a chance to read the book, it might change your mind about how to go about building a tribe. Even if you only have time to read chapter 1, you'll see what I mean.

I can't tonight, but I'll try and write up a longer post about the book soon.

User avatar
theanimal
Posts: 944
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:05 pm
Location: Gates of the Arctic
Contact:

Re: Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger

Postby theanimal » Fri Dec 02, 2016 1:46 am

Jenny- My library had a digital copy for loan so I had the chance to read the book this evening. You were right about it being a quick read, I thought it'd be longer. I enjoyed it, I love material along these lines. I think I may understand what you mean. Junger talks about the selflessness of tribes and how through giving solidarity is established. Is that what you were implying in your post? That it may be better finding out how to give in some way or another to others? if you are willing to elaborate I'd be interested in hearing what you have to say.

Much of this desire is fueled by past experiences. Looking back on my life so far, the two instances that I look back on as the best points of my life were tribal. The first was my NOLS course, where for 3 months I traveled, cooked, slept and lived with 13 other people in the wilderness. Hardships were endured and we were in close proximity to each other throughout the experience. Upon returning, I fell into a state of depression. I encountered that cultural shock that Junger describes many Peace Corps members and war veterans experiencing on their return to American society. While luxurious and affluent, societal life is alienating, lonely and meaningless. The other event was a similar occurrence, being the wilderness race I completed this past year. I completed that alone, but still felt solidarity with the other competitors.

American Society does not offer that type of experience to those who don't seek or cultivate it. I'm seeking to cultivate a tribe, where I can hopefully attain many of the qualities I found in the events mentioned above on a regular basis, instead of just achieving it every few months or more.

User avatar
jennypenny
Posts: 5061
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:20 pm
Location: Stepford USA

Re: Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger

Postby jennypenny » Fri Dec 02, 2016 8:38 am

I'm under the weather so I apologize if this is fuzzy or rambling ...

What I took from Junger's book is that we develop our tribe with people with whom we share an enemy or have a common bond that's based on a significant shared need or challenge (lower on Maslov's hierarchy) -- in a way, sensing that our personal survival is linked to the survival of the group. Looking for similar interests isn't enough, nor is being neighbors or 'mom' friends or school mates. And while I think giving can be deeply rewarding, it doesn't automatically help develop a sense of tribe. Your NOLS example is a good one for showing how a shared journey can produce those feelings. It's similar to the vets Junger described.

Sports is a good substitute and it's popularity is unsurprising when viewed through Junger's lens. I can also better understand the SJW fever on college campuses when I consider it as tribe-building. Most of those kids are helicopter kids who probably didn't face much adversity growing up, or if they did they didn't face it alone. They never got the chance to bond in that way with anyone. (not in the way of say a group of kids from an old Stephen King novel) I'm sure the shared outrage over a common enemy -- even if the 'enemy' is a social construct -- touches them deeply and helps them experience that unique tribal feeling that Junger described.

Even for adults, our world is so comfortable (even at the lower rungs of the economic ladder in the developed world) that it's hard to connect with other people at the tribal level. Look at all of the concocted ways of doing it, from tough mudder runs to charitable walks. I wonder if some of the political hysteria this year (some, not all) comes from people connecting through shared political foes. I imagine that if a person elevates a political affiliation to the tribal level, then losing to the enemy would be deeply upsetting.*

I've been wondering if people can feel that tribal bond through more intellectual pursuits and/or Maslov's higher levels. The thread on collaboration and Lewis's new book about Kahneman and Tversky got me thinking about it. I'm not sure. Maybe if the need is great enough or not met any other way? Or if there's a shared 'enemy' even if it's only public ignorance about a topic? I'm going to read The Undoing Project next week to see what Lewis's thoughts are on it. Maybe it comes down to the subject matter and whether it produces the feelings a shared quest, even if it's only for truth or enlightenment.

@theanimal--In your first post you said "Today, many are able to find a tribe through work, following sports or religion." I'm starting to wonder if that's really true. I've been thinking about this a lot since I read the book. It's forced me to reevaluate some of my associations. I think I derive a sense of community out of those groups, but I'm not sure if it goes as deep as 'tribe' in the Junger sense. The sense of quest or journey is missing, at least for me. There are occasional shared 'enemies', but they are usually of the political or contrived sort so I can't really buy into the notion enough to connect deeply with people in the group. I also never see people with differing opinions as enemies (too much Christian programming maybe) so that might be what's limiting me personally.

It may sound weird, but I've always avoided being friends with people who have special needs kids because I was afraid that I was self-labeling and condemning myself to a life that focused too much on our issues. Looking back, I think that was a mistake. While I don't want our family issues to become our identity, I think the shared experience of dealing with the same difficulties might have produced stronger bonds than I've experienced with other people. It's a little late now I suppose, but I'm keeping that lesson in mind as I reconsider which groups are worth my time.




*On the forum, I thought we bonded over our quest for independence and our shared feelings of being rejected by mainstream society. I'll admit that for me, that made the bonds feel tribe-like. That's partly why the recent discord unnerved me. I didn't understand how other issues that I deemed less important could challenge and sometimes sever those bonds. Maybe it's that we're all on our way to ERE now and don't feel the same need for ERE companions? Maybe we all just got swept up in the hysteria? I don't know. Political differences aren't that important to me when judging people, so I'd never bond with someone deeply over that. I also wouldn't reject someone over that either. Maybe others feel differently and find certain political affiliations beyond the pale.

My sense of tribe here came from sharing more global values like anti-consumerism and our open-door policy toward people irrespective of their various affiliations. People were judged based on their words and actions, and IMO judged fairly, even if not always favorably. In turn, people shared an amazing level of detail in journals and elsewhere about themselves. Some have questioned what we really know about each other in recent political discussions and intimated that we can't possibly 'know' other forumites. I wholeheartedly reject that. Many of us have shared details and thoughts that we wouldn't feel comfortable sharing with anyone IRL. We let our real selves show because we sensed that we would be accepted on this island of misfit toys. In doing so, we also opened ourselves up to the criticisms of the group because we felt it would benefit the group and ourselves -- that our goals were aligned. That (to me) is the essence of the kind of tribe to which Junger was referring.

Maybe I'm just being naive. I've never been good at understanding people, individually or as a group.

User avatar
Dragline
Posts: 4043
Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2011 1:50 am

Re: Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger

Postby Dragline » Fri Dec 02, 2016 10:23 am

Nah -- you're good. ;)

Reminds me I haven't read this yet, although I think I heard a recent podcast about it.

User avatar
Chad
Posts: 3677
Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2010 3:10 pm

Re: Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger

Postby Chad » Fri Dec 02, 2016 11:55 am

I listened to Junger on Ferriss and AOM. Both podcasts were really good, but I do think Ferriss does it best. Though, I think I may need to actually read this book and think about this topic more.

@JP
Yeah, the discord, being one of the people producing the discord, has been surprising on multiple levels, including my own. I wasn’t, and I’m still not, entirely sure how to process it all properly.

I agree. I don’t find a strong bond with others over political similarities and, in the past, I could say the same about differences. However, this time around I’m having a harder time with the differences in a broader context. That feeling does spill over slightly on to the forum (that title sounds so damn formal, like it should be capitalized).

I know I have been looking for a new tribe for twenty years and there is some of that feeling here, but it is still lacking.* Though, it’s not because of the people on the forum, it’s because most of this is online and we mostly don’t experience our trials as intimately as we would in person.

This might actually be the real problem behind all the big issues. I know it’s the biggest issue in my life. I struggle to find new people I believe are worth the time, which, is probably a problem on my side I need to fix...among other things.

*I will never understand the desire to make soap!It's so cheap.

User avatar
jennypenny
Posts: 5061
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:20 pm
Location: Stepford USA

Re: Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger

Postby jennypenny » Fri Dec 02, 2016 12:07 pm

@Chad--Junger narrates the audible version. I know you like those, so I thought I'd mention it. I think it adds to the text, but if you heard him on the podcasts you can decide for yourself.

User avatar
Chad
Posts: 3677
Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2010 3:10 pm

Re: Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger

Postby Chad » Fri Dec 02, 2016 12:10 pm

Thanks. I'm trying to listen to The Obstacle is the Way and the author, Ryan Holliday, is the narrator. I'm not entirely sure if I like him or not, but Junger seems like he might be really good at it.

User avatar
theanimal
Posts: 944
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:05 pm
Location: Gates of the Arctic
Contact:

Re: Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger

Postby theanimal » Fri Dec 02, 2016 3:17 pm

Jenny- Thanks for the post. I agree with you about my error in deeming sports, religion etc as tribe like. Those can create a sense of community but a tribe is at a much different level and with stronger ties. In many ways I'd agree that this forum could serve as a tribe, though I think it misses a few fundamental aspects. The lack of physical presence and intimacy being the major one. Another would be the lack of constant connection. The examples in the book detail groups that are always with each other. I'm only connected to those in ERE when I'm logged in here. I may still be connected on an intellectual level when away from the computer, but there is no physical presence. I think that's pretty close to being alone.

Thinking on this, there seems to be a few opportunities in modern society that offer a chance to join a tribe. Military is one, start ups are another and one could also include something like my NOLS experience. But the problem that I see, is that all of these are ultimately short term. After leaving those experiences, one is back among the masses in the society of the individual, unless one cultivates their own tribe apart from their occupation. How do we cultivate this tribe, day in day out?? This seems to be the ultimate question. Junger doesn't seem to have the answer as he didn't detail any solutions in the book. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the only advice he offered in terms of a solution was the town hall meetings for veterans. Helpful, yes, but not a means of creating a tribe.

As an aside, another thing that has come to my mind in thinking on this topic is the concept of flow. I can't find it now, but I remember reading somewhere how flow states can increase to higher levels when reached with others. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong or making this up). If this is true, yet another reason to cultivate a tribe.

User avatar
jennypenny
Posts: 5061
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:20 pm
Location: Stepford USA

Re: Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger

Postby jennypenny » Fri Dec 02, 2016 4:06 pm

@theanimal--I wasn't trying to say you were wrong necessarily, only that it's not automatic. There needs to be an extra element to it to make the relationships more tribe-like. And I agree that ERE doesn't necessarily rise to the level of tribe-like either unless some effort is put into taking the relationships further. What I found encouraging about the forum is that it gave me hope that there was the potential for me to find people with whom I could connect on that level. Up until then, I assumed I was a tribe of one.

User avatar
jennypenny
Posts: 5061
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:20 pm
Location: Stepford USA

Re: Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger

Postby jennypenny » Wed Dec 07, 2016 5:54 pm

jennypenny wrote:I've been wondering if people can feel that tribal bond through more intellectual pursuits and/or Maslov's higher levels. The thread on collaboration and Lewis's new book about Kahneman and Tversky got me thinking about it. ... I'm going to read The Undoing Project next week to see what Lewis's thoughts are on it.

The Undoing Project is not the book to read for insight into lasting bonds. It was very good, but bittersweet.

User avatar
Dragline
Posts: 4043
Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2011 1:50 am

Re: Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger

Postby Dragline » Thu Dec 08, 2016 10:34 am

I finished reading this last week. I liked it thematically and the ideas behind it, but I thought it might have been a little bit too romantacised to necessarily draw too much from it analytically.

There were some factual predicate issues, for example. The biggest one was the assumption that the native american tribes of the 18th - 19th centuries had been "like that" since time immemorial and only recently corrupted/challenged by Europeans. In fact, if you compare this description with a book like "1491", you'd realize that those tribes were almost remnants of the societies that once existed, which were not the roaming warriors, but more ordered agricultural settlements that did not involve a lot of roaming. Those societies were largely wiped out by waves of disease in the 1500s, leaving a wild and relatively unpopulated land into which the new tribes with new traditions emerged that mixed old and new technologies. In effect, they were akin to the "bands of people sticking together" that are the stock and trade of modern post apocalyptic novels.

There are, in fact, other places in the world where natural agricultural and hunter-gatherer societies exist in close proximity, notably in New Guinea as described in Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel." But you don't seem the same kind of cross-overs as described in Tribe. Nor did that happen in Australia (as far as I know).

The other -- and I am sure unintended -- issue was the survivorship bias, because the author only focused on examples of people banding together in the face of adversity. You could probably also find examples of societies falling apart in the face of adversity and compare what worked and what didn't -- i.e., when do you end up with the "Lord of the Flies" scenario instead of the "coming together" scenario? There was some analysis of this as to military unit cohesion, but what I'm talking about is beyond the scope of the book.

Beyond the "what makes a cohesive group a cohesive group" dynamics, I think what he is ultimately talking about is called "hedonic adaptation" on a group scale. This is the human tendency to regress to the mean of life satisfaction. Thus, when things are going well and resources are plentiful, people find ways to be miserable and create conflicts. But when things are going poorly and all hope seems lost, people exhibit surprising resilience and coping mechanisms.

Finally, I also kept cross-referencing in my mind the differences between hunter/gatherer, agricultural and modern industrial societies as described by Ian Morris -- egalitarianism is a featured value of the first and third, but generally completely rejected in favor of hierarchy by the second. But a sense of community is found mostly in the first and second and is lacking in modern liberal societies in favor of individual choice. We seem to want to skip back to the values of the first (and romanticize it forgetting about the high murder rate, for example), but community can only reappear in the face of hardship where individual choice becomes more-or-less unavailable.

I was glad I read it -- it is well written and obviously thought provoking.

black_son_of_gray
Posts: 213
Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2015 7:39 pm

Re: Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger

Postby black_son_of_gray » Mon Jan 16, 2017 3:47 pm

Just finished this book from the library. Quick and interesting - some ideas to chew on for a while. Certainly a different framing of PTSD than I had before, so that is useful.

A completely different style and angle, but for those that liked Tribe, I would recommend The Great Good Place by Oldenburg. It discusses various aspects of community relations and the well-being of individuals around the central theme of a "third" place.

User avatar
Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 795
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger

Postby Gilberto de Piento » Mon Jan 16, 2017 6:01 pm

I didn't read everything above but I want to say I also recently read this and would recommend it.

In a few places the themes reminded me of fight club.


Return to “Resources & Recommended Reading”