Nathan Starr, “Negative Capability
in Keats’s Diction”
To Keats (negative capability) came to be
interpreted not as an injunction to content
oneself merely with objectivity, in the literal
sense – a condition not only too restrictive but
virtually impossible for a man of Keats’s
temperament. It meant rather a great expansion
of experience, an identification with the wide
area envisage by Shakespeare, and a
determination to see the individual in its proper
relation to this vast field, so that personal
difficulties could be subordinated.
That this inevitably meant some surrender on the part of
the individual goes without saying, but that was not the
first consideration. This creed emphasized Keats’s
concern with particulars outside himself, which inevitably
caused a kind of tug-of-war between his inner and the
outer world. His passion for the pehnomena of
experience, his extraordinary perception of sensuous
delights, led him to a kind of universal kinship not only
with all beauty, but even with the vividly active elements
in experience. This resulted in an empathy quite
extraordinary, of a degree and intensity scarcely ever
equalled by an English poet...he says “I feel more and
more every day, as my imagination strengthens, that I do
not live in this world alone but in a thousands worlds.”
He fount it impossible to be a negatively
capable poet completely, to be a spectator
only, for the world was constantly with him
whether in the form of exquistie delights,
or obsessive suffering.
Keats: “I never can feel certain of any truth
but from a clear perception of its Beauty.”
I have clung
To nothing, lov’d a nothing, nothing seen
Or felt but a great dream! (“Endymion”)
Pain had no sting, and pleasure’s wreath no
O, why did ye not melt, and leave my sense
Unhaunted quite of all but nothingness?
(“Ode on Indolence”)
Eugene Thacker, In the Dust of
This Planet: Black Metal Theory
First black can mean Satanism, which "is
governed by a structure of opposition and
inversion" (Thacker 2011, 12); this can be seen in
the way that Satanic rituals are structured as the
opposite of canonical Christian ones. Second
black can mean Paganism, which is governed by a
structure of "exclusion and alterity" (15); this can
be seen in a difference or alternative to
Christianity, in the form of polytheism or a
valorization of nature, rather than a reaction
against it.
Third, and most important, black can mean Cosmic
Pessimism, which consists of a "dark metaphysics of
negation, nothingness, and the non-human" (20); in
distinction to the first two kinds of black, Cosmic Pessimism
can be seen as an attempt to think of the world before,
beyond and after humanity, where "There is only the
anonymous, impersonal 'in itself' of the world, indifferent to
us as human beings, despite all we do to change, to shape,
to improve, and even to save the world...Its limit-thought is
the idea of absolute nothingness, unconsciously
represented in the many popular media images of nuclear
war, natural disasters, global pandemics, and the
cataclysmic effects of climate change" (17).
The best example that Thacker can find of Black Metal as
Cosmic Pessimism is not a heavy metal act at all but
Japanese experimental musician Keiji Haino's 1997 album
So, Black is Myself, which features only Haino's voice and
a tone recorder. What makes this record an example of
Cosmic Pessimism is that "Sometimes the tone generator
and Haino's voice merge into one, while at other times they
diverge and become dissonant. Haino's voice itself spans
the tonal spectrum, from nearly subharmonic chant to an
uncanny falsetto perhaps produced only by starving
banshees" (21).