“I mean Negative capability—this is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after facts and reason.”
—John Keats, 12/21-27/1817 in a letter to his brother
Jeffrey, I say, it is beginning again. You have got that steel guitar in your heart and you are fed up. This is trouble, Jeffrey. You are headed for the depths and you do not swim well. Take hold, boy. Take hold.
Jeffrey is fed up, being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, etc. He cannot read his book, and he cannot write on his paper. Jeffrey boy, you are a good teacher, and a good teacher reads his book and writes on his paper. A good teacher would grab Mr. Keats and Mr. Shelley by the shirt collars and drag them into the classroom where the biscuit-brained students would nod and fall asleep as the wimpy old poets caterwaul in counterpoint.
What a good teacher does not do, is sit in some bar—no, not some bar—the very Rodeo Bar where you are now drinking that whisky listening to that jukebox and rolling dice with the barmaid to see who pays for the music. You are only pretending to write your lecture, and you are fooling no one. No matter how much you like watching those little plastic horses pull that little plastic wagon in the Budweiser sign, that is their work, which they are doing, not yours, which you are not. Get to it, boy. Now.
But I cannot do it. The heft of the Norton in its maroon cloth cover does not thrill me. And I cannot remember what it is you say to students about John Keats. They like the bright arterial blood, the coughing and the dying. . . . Read More.