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Margo Jefferson's Constructing a Nervous System is 7.8 x 5.2 x 0.9 inches & 191 pages.
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Jefferson puts the art she loves under a trial by fire, to see if the art makes it through. It comes away, each time, burned (Willa Cather’s Song of the Lark) or burnished (also Willa Cather’s Song of the Lark). Each time, it’s an insightful, rigorous, intricate satisfaction.
Constructing a Nervous System is series of essays and a self-portrait of someone detangling themselves from their influences. Jefferson has a particular eye to the place of Blackness in American culture. In her analysis about how art shapes her and how art shapes her world, Jefferson revisits and she reexamines and doesn’t let things rest:
When something is presented too easily, to Jefferson, the subject is doubly worth the investigation. As she writes:
She also makes fast and confident declarations, in her extremely stylish way, and then darts off and all they do is just ring out, correctly.
P.S. One of the things I remember just simply loving from Margo Jefferson’s memoir Negroland is this potent combo of: efficient description + sweeping cultural categorization. The stuff I really go for. Anyway, many abound in Constructing a Nervous System too, really liked this one: