Cover of Billie’s Bent Elbow by Fumi Okiji
Billie’s Bent Elbow
Exorbitance, Intimacy, and a Nonsensuous Standard
Fumi Okiji

January 2025
200 pages.
from $25.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503640467
Paperback ISBN: 9781503641235



Deeply informed by jazz, Billie's Bent Elbow explores the nonsensical and nonsensuous in black radical thought and expression. Extending the encounter between black study, Frankfurt School critical theory, and sound studies staged in her first book Jazz as Critique, and, crucially, bringing Yoruba aesthetics into the conversation, Okiji attunes to various sites of intemperance and equivocation in thought and music. Billie's Bent Elbow eschews the parsimonious tendencies of the Western philosophical tradition, in its contribution to a shared project of improvised correspondence that finds its criticality in its heterophony of approach and intention. The book ranges from Haitian revolutionaries' rendition of "La Marseillaise," to Cecil Taylor's synesthetic poetics, to the aporetic mien of the orisha Esu, to Billie Holiday's undulating arm. What is more, by way of her intense fascination with these sites of fantastic noise, Okiji brings our attention to a galaxy of intimacies that flash up in her experiments in array and correspondence. The nonsensuous standard Okiji cultivates in this musical and essayistic book, in concert with a host of theorists, musicians and artists, is as much a statement of non-citizenry as it is preparation for intoxicated gathering.

About the author

Fumi Okiji is Assistant Professor of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Jazz as Critique: Adorno and Black Expression Revisited (Stanford, 2018). She arrived at the academy by way of the London jazz scene and draws on sound practices to inform her writing.