Reading an essay by John Ashbery and I encountered this heartening observation:
'[B]eing a poet seems to disqualify or disequip one for so many of the practical aspects and tasks of life. In my case, it is very difficult for me to answer letters or pay bills or even make plans for the immediate future, not because I am so very busy or even because I am immobilised by continually waiting for a poem to happen, like a fisherman sitting for hours on the bank of a stream. It is simply that poetry, in granting one a kind of power no poet would willingly give up, also disempowers, in ways that are ill understood. The resulting situation for the poet has been brilliantly defined by John Keats as "negative capability."
I will, henceforth, blame my persistent inability to function- on an acceptable organisational level- on poetry. Bills...money...social etiquette...commitment to a particular date...plans...technology...reliable time-keeping...yup, all prey to the swooping syndrome that is: "negative capability". I wouldn't want to further indulge the archaic and condescending assumption that anyone who professes to 'write poetry' must be, by all other accounts, a bit of a mess...but, well, I also wouldn't argue with Keats and Ashbery. In conclusion, it made me smile. In the way that recognising something familiar prompts a warm and fond expression...I chuckled inwardly-and further repressed any thoughts regarding bank accounts and the sensible numerical duties of adulthood. Until the heating bill comes in, my fond relationship with "negative capability" will prevail.
On an entirely unrelated note...some interesting pictures:
|Kevin E. Taylor|