Negative Capability and Indeterminacy

I attended the class of a beloved teacher. I’ve never had him as my own teacher, but have heard the stories, and I interrupted his class (by existing there) to see him in action. Something personal had happened to him on that first day, something which is still a mystery to me, and so it was the wildest class I’ve ever witnessed, rooting me to the fact that I must, I must attend his class again. Since this class was after my first, and last, class of the day, it happened every so often.

I’ve gotten the same circumstance this last semester of my Bachelor’s for Foreign Language. And this time, I learned two sets of words from John Keats personal letters, as the class has read “Ode to a Nightingale” that day. Four gifted speakers read aloud the poem and I settled comfortably on the closely related topics that the teacher had presented: Negative Capability and Indeterminacy.I was comfortably with them because they explained my since of spirituality, or lack thereof.

When he first explained what he meant by those words, I felt the words resonate with my personal philosophy, and it is always exciting to know that someone from the past, someone bombarded with stringent Christian views that would easily get you killed (by Christians), someone who may have agreed with these actions, someone absent of all the resources and information I have available at my fingertips, someone then and there, years ago, thought of not “reaching after fact and reason”.

mc escher
Mc Escher indeterminate stairs with people of awesome negative capability descending/ascending/anything in between

And I would like to point out that a emphasis should be made on irritable. I believe Keats believes there can be reaching, simply for its on sake, but trying to determine “facts” and “reasons” is something that creative people shun, people of genius, like Shakespeare, shrug at and say, “I think there’s rather something more in the question”.

And I feel the real reason why people can act within negative capabilities is because there is no ‘right answer’. There’s no fact to give, or reasons to put in a list and put any and all matters to rest.

That is not to say that no one can be wrong- I find the constant argument of who’s wrong and right in and of itself a wonderful indeterminacy. Can you imagine how boring the world with be with only one tried and true way to do things everywhere? Can we call ourselves thinking and reasoning beings if a question isn’t brought up to every affirmation or negation?

There’s nothing I love more than solid rebuttals to my beliefs and knowledge. I don’t want to know where I’m going and am simply enjoying the ride there.



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