Negative Capability

I'm not a big fan of Bob Dylan, but I'm grateful for him being sort of responsible for me learning about Keats' concept of Negative Capability. Apparently, Bob Dylan with his elusive character is a good example of the concept, at least if you are to believe Anthony Decurtis (in The Cambridge Companion to Bob Dylan) and others.

According to Wikipedia, Keats introduced this concept in 1817

"to characterise the capacity of the greatest writers (particularly Shakespeare) to pursue a vision of artistic beauty even when it leads them into intellectual confusion and uncertainty, as opposed to a preference for philosophical certainty over artistic beauty. The term has been used by poets and philosophers to describe the ability of the individual to perceive, think, and operate beyond any presupposition of a predetermined capacity of the human being."

Keats' Kingdom points out that Negative Capability "is a sublime expression of supreme empathy". By using it we can become better at understand different points of views or different cultures so that we might be able to express them.
Known to be a keen reader of the classics, Barack Obama has also been recognised as a person applying Negative Capability by for example by Santi Tafarella and George Packer. When he received the Nobel Peace Prize, Obama said in his speech: “We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice. ... We can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace.”

I think my former boss Lena Blomberg also can be considered to practice Negative Capability. She always emphasises to consider if reconciliation can be achieved, to find a way to choose both alternatives instead of only one.

I also like the notion of the possibility of something being completely logical and still magical.

Darkness at the break of noon
Shadows even the silver spoon
The handmade blade, the child's balloon
Eclipses both the sun and the moon
To understand you know too soon
There is no sense in trying

Bob Dylan, It's Alright Ma

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