Negative Capability

No ads, no compromises, no kidding

Negative Capability

No ads, no compromises, no kidding

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But Wait, There’s Still More

Part of why Negative Capability works for me is because I discovered it by accident and have always had the ability to keep contradictory ideas in my head at the same time. The fact that I didn't discover the deeper meaning until well after my first issue came out is probably more fate than chance, if you believe in that sort of thing. I remember back when I discovered the original meaning I e-mailed the copy to myself to use someday. Well that some day is today.

John Keats on “Negative Capability”

Keats thought of the artist's proper relationship to the external world as essentially passive, and his role as that of an onlooker. Where for the neoclassic poets, the word “poet” meant “maker” (as it did in Greek), for Keats the poet's ability to see and feel is more essential. In his letter of December 21, 1817, to his brothers, he identifies one of Shakespeare's qualities as, “Negative Capability”—“that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason”—and goes on to cite Coleridge as one who “would let go a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half knowledge,” which is perhaps a little unfair to Coleridge. Nevertheless, the distinction he is making is important. The most obvious example from his own poems is “On Looking into Chapman's Homer,” where “stout Cortez” and all his men, seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time, look at each other with a “wild surmise,” but stand silent. Likewise, when Porphyro finally creeps out of his hiding place in Madeline's chamber (in “The Eve of St. Agnes”), he does not take action but instead does everything he can to prolong the anticipation of her waking.

When I did my audiozine [now available as a free download] I recorded some of the unused titles I came up with for the zine. The last track of OCDs that I did was for the name Negative Capability and I have decided you can hear me explain the name by clicking here.

But Jøsh, what does it mean to you? I will tell you later but first click here to see what Wikipedia has to say about it.

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