Daniel Becker: The Rhyme and Reason of Uncertainty and Doubt

This is a classic.

Vox Populi

The poet and medical school drop-out John Keats, in an 1817 letter to his brothers, described a conversation with a friend after seeing a performance of Shakespeare:

…several things dove-tailed in my mind, and at 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 –

About a year before Keats died of tuberculosis he coughed up some blood.He knew the color of arterial blood and announced to a friend he’d be dead in a year.He was right.Negative capability does not make it easier to die.His gravestone, composed by him, states “Here lies one whose name was writ in water. “He was 25 when he died, 54 published poems to his name…

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