May 24, 2011


Recently I learned about Keats' idea of negative capability.

In its simplest form, Keats' theory describes the ability to accept uncertainty--the capacity to have two opposing ideas in your mind without trying to choose one over the other. It's the ability to believe that two contrasting things are true, both of them, and that they can exist side by side.

Or, in other words, being satisfied with things that are unresolved.

And, well, wow. It struck a chord with me, this theory. How often I find myself trying to sort between black and white, yes and no, this way or that--when really, at the end of the day, what I'd actually like to settle on is both. Yes and yes. True and true. 

Because it's possible, it is, to both love and loathe. To both admire and pity. To both appreciate and--just as truly, just as ardently--regret. It's possible that what's right is not just a matter of either/or, that it's not somewhere in-between--that it's simply both.

For whatever reason, it's difficult to accept ambiguity; it can be a struggle to embrace that sort of doubt. And yet it happens. To all of us.  At some point or another, we know in our hearts that it's not A or B. 

It's C: All of the above.

(Photo: Bourne Wu)


Allie said... [Reply to comment]

Beautifully said! :)

Ana* said... [Reply to comment]

"yes and yes. true and true." Everything in this post rings a bell right here.

Stephanie said... [Reply to comment]

Very good insight, thanks for sharing!

vintch said... [Reply to comment]

first, that picture is stunning and captivating...and this post is perfect. i love the idea that not everything is cut and dry. it is such a relief and sanity saver.

Nicole Marie said... [Reply to comment]

oh my gosh yes! so true! sometimes it is both but why can't we let ourselves believe that i can be both!

Sarah McCabe said... [Reply to comment]

I love this. Sometimes I get so confused about what I actully want or how I actually feel. I never really consider that I could pick C.

Kelly said... [Reply to comment]

This is so wonderful. I read blogs to see pretty things and be happy, but every so often, I'm really touched by a post. And I love the ones that make me think and question - it's so liberating.

Laura Marie said... [Reply to comment]

@Kelly Aw good, I'm so glad it struck a chord :)

Lemons Don't Make Lemonade said... [Reply to comment]

I really like the post.

Interesting theory.

Never really knew that before. :)

ChinkyGirLMeL said... [Reply to comment]

That's so true. I have always been stuck in the middle about some things. Been there too I have both appreciated something and yet regret doing that certain thing. nice post sweetie!

wilybrunette said... [Reply to comment]

i love this. life isn't black and white--the more i accept this, let go of the need for it to be--the better i get.