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Chapter Six: Jazz and Its Mothers and Non-mothers
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“The sense of knowing when to stop is a learned thing, and I didn’t always have it. It was probably not until after I wrote Song of Solomon that I got to feeling secure enough to experience what it meant to be thrifty with images and language and so on. I was very conscious in writing Jazz of trying to blend that which is contrived and artificial with improvisation …. I was always conscious of the constructed aspect of the writing process, and that art appears natural and elegant only as a result of constant practice and awareness of its formal structures.” (Morrison, Con II, 81–2).
In 1971, as we have seen, Morrison wanted to displace discussions of “women’s lib” with an emphasis on concerted efforts that might improve the general human condition. She quotes Representative Shirley Chisholm in calling for “a woman’s political movement.” (Nonfiction 30). By 1985, however, Morrison had moved closer to developing a gendered self-consciousness. In “A Knowing So Deep,” she said,
“I think about us, black women, a lot. How many of us are battered and how many are champions. I note the strides that have replaced the tiptoe …. I think about the Black women who never landed who are still swimming open-eyed in the sea.” (Nonfiction 31).
Morrison establishes the black woman figure at the center of the world through describing the woman’s life force: “you carried inside you all there was...
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