Keats on Negative Capability

The advantage of Negative Capability is that your identity isn’t an obstacle. You can step outside of yourself and not be Stephen or Helen, be wrapped up in one’s biology, or psychology, or social/environmental situation, but as a pure human being untainted by the products of what made one. If this is truly possible is up for debate, but upon reading Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, it seems plausible.

“[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. This pursued through volumes would perhaps take us no further than this, that with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration, or rather obliterates all consideration.”