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How to Go Mad without Losing Your Mind

How to Go Mad without Losing Your Mind

Madness and Black Radical Creativity

La Marr Jurelle Bruce
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“Hold tight. The way to go mad without losing your mind is sometimes unruly.”

So begins La Marr Jurelle Bruce's urgent provocation and poignant meditation on madness in BBlack radical art. Bruce theorizes four overlapping meanings of madness: the lived experience of an unruly mind, the psychiatric category of serious mental illness, the emotional state also known as “rage,” and any drastic deviation from psychosocial norms.

With care and verve, he explores the mad in the literature of Amiri Baraka, Gayl Jones, and Ntozake Shange; in the jazz repertoires of Buddy Bolden, Sun Ra, and Charles Mingus; in the comedic performances of Richard Pryor and Dave Chappelle; in the protest music of Nina Simone, Lauryn Hill, and Kendrick Lamar, and beyond.

These artists activate madness as content, form, aesthetic, strategy, philosophy, and energy in an enduring black radical tradition. Joining this tradition, Bruce mobilizes a set of interpretive practices, affective dispositions, political principles, and existential orientations that he calls “mad methodology.” Ultimately, How to Go Mad without Losing Your Mind is both a study and an act of critical, ethical, radical madness.


  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (April 23, 2021)
  • Language:‎ English
  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • ISBN-10: 1478010878
  • ISBN-13:‎ 9781478010876
  • Item Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Dimensions:‎ 6 x 0.75 x 9 inches
  • Series: (Black Outdoors: Innovations in the Poetics of Study)
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