10.22.2009

Re: Holy Authority

I don't know how I missed this as an undergraduate (yes I do; I was looking at a girl's legs), but Keats' "Negative Capability" is one damn clear expression of what I believe:

Negative capability

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Portrait of John Keats by William Hilton, circa 1822

Negative capability is a theory of the poet John Keats.

Keats' theory of "negative capability" was expressed in his letter to George and Thomas Keats dated Sunday, 28 December 1817.[1]

I had not a dispute but a disquisition with Dilke, on various subjects; several things dovetailed in my mind, & at once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in literature & which Shakespeare possessed so enormously - I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.

Keats believed that great people (especially poets) have the ability to accept that not everything can be resolved. Keats was a Romantic and believed that the truths found in the imagination access holy authority. Such authority cannot otherwise be understood, and thus he writes of "uncertainties." This "being in uncertaint[y]" is a place between the mundane, ready reality and the multiple potentials of a more fully understood existence.

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