A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Monday, 17 September 2007

Negative Capability

After considering Keats yesterday, and his poem To Autumn, my mind now turns to his letters. In a famous letter dated Sunday 21 December 1817 he invents the term "Negative Capability": ...that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason...

This idea, this state, appeals to me a lot.

The Tao Te Ching says of the hollow space inside a cup or of the empty spaces in a house or room: Without their nothingness they would be nothing.

St John of the Cross writes about The Dark Night of the Soul, the state into which he plunged when he could no longer feel God's presence, and prayer could no longer inspire him.

The Via Negativa of mystical theology approaches God from a position of ignorance rather than one of knowledge.

Perhaps not-knowing is a necessary state of mind for learning.

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