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Americans have a perverse relationship with exuberance. The spirit of industriousness, inventiveness, and Manifest Destiny upon which this country was built (and continues to sprawl) requires a sense of overabundance. Still, there lingers a Puritanical sense of the distastefulness and embarrassment of excess—even as we suck down 42-ounce sodas in our SUVs and deify borderline-manic historical figures. In her new book, Exuberance: The Passion for Life, psychiatrist Kay Redfield Jamison explores the causes and effects of ebullience in humans and other animals. Jamison cites the collaboration between larger-than-life conservationists Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir—which led to the protection of many of this country’s natural treasures—as positive. But the thing about this kind of energy is that it works in all directions: A community of humans will work to preserve itself and its surroundings even as its members harbor those pesky intellects that sometimes drive them exuberantly toward war and destruction. Jamison is in town at 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Anne Marson)