This was written in a white heat some years ago and probably is incomprehensible.

[A]t once it struck me what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in Literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously - I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason - Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge.

Byron was wrong, it was the internet killed Keats. It kills the capability of "remaining content with half-knowledge" for long enough to get the feel of things in fog or dusk. We're all Coleridge now (your cell phone is the portable Person from Porlock). "Half-knowledge" has the taint of shrill ignorance in 2013, but that's not what Keats means in 1819 or whenever it was.


When you've gathered enough of life and all, as Shakespeare had, then you ought to let your mind go up and monkey in the branches, blow soap bubbles or skip stones over the lake of it, for once not having Google (or Etymonline) open in one tab while you unspool your thought. It's what I love best in Stendhal and Pound, but that sort of writing can't be published honestly now. Once upon a time, being stuck in some small town without a decent library was apology enough for writing insights without footnotes.


Latest stories