In a recent conversation with Mark Argent, I learned about the concept of “negative capacity” — a term initially coined by the romantic poet John Keats and later adopted by philosophers, psychotherapists and even practitioners of Zen.The phrase means the ability to perceive, think, and operate without preconceptions. Or, to put it another way, it’s that capacity of being open, without judgement or sense of outcome. This is the capacity that’s present in true, deep conversation and when an artist approaches h/her canvas, not really knowing what’s to happen, but hanging out with a relaxed sense of creative uncertainty.
The concept particularly resonates with me in today’s political climate, where often people talk over one another, not really hearing each other, but instead intent on converting the other person to h/her point of view.
Anyway, somewhere in my recent podcast interview with Mark we talked about this and admittedly a lot of other things – such as spirituality and contemporary politics).
If you have the patience to listen to my rather long conversation with Argent, you can find it here:
Or visit wikipedia to get a 101 take negative capacity and let me know what you think!