Sunday, 11 January 2009

Negative Capability.

"I had not a dispute but a disquisition with Dilke, on various subjects; several things dovetailed in my mind, & at once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in literature & which Shakespeare possessed so enormously - I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact & reason." John Keats.

A classic example is the way in which Shakespeare manages to interweave entertainment for the masses and the few in such a way that improves the whole - the inherent self-contradictions of plot in Hamlet, for instance. Hamlet is both mad and pretending to be mad. The ghost is but a figment of his mind, but the guards and Horatio see him too. We can read/experience on two (or more) contradictory levels simultaneously.

The sooner we all realise that we are all simultaneously both mad and sane, the better for us all. After all, the definition depends on the framing, and in society the framing of the definition depends all too often on the utility of the individual to society. The bastards!

Well, now I've got that off my chest, to more personal matters.


The Depakote is still making me feel crap, but the sleeplessness has returned. Full moon? One of the aspects I hate most about it and any of these sedating drugs is the way they rob you of love. I look at my children and don't feel that special father's fondness - they are like 'other people's kids' - they lose their cuteness. It is a side-effect that makes me feel extremely angry, and makes me want to take my psychiatrist by the ears and shake him until his brain falls out his left nostril. My wife can never bear me when I'm on the pills either for the same reason. It is not that I am cold: I'm just not alive to the degree I have always been. Medical compliance is rather difficult in this house for that reason. Perhaps she is wiser than me? The last dose of hypos over xmas were getting thoroughly out of control though. No life-reasons for it. What to do? What to do?

On that blunting of love, I'm reminded by this from Coleridge, from his Ode To Dejection:

And still I gaze -- and with how blank an eye!
And those thin clouds above, in flakes and bars,
That give away their motion to the stars;
Those stars, that glide behind them or between,
Now sparkling, now bedimmed, but always seen:
Yon crescent Moon, as fixed as if it grew
In its own cloudless, starless lake of blue;
I see them all so excellently fair,
I see, not feel, how beautiful they are!


I see, not feel, how beautiful they are... That says it all. Logic dictates I love; logic dictates I find them beautiful; but the heart is dead. Quality of life, eh?

New Year's Resolutions... not too bad. One glass of wine last night. Kept the cigarettes within the limit, and the early teens once or twice. Been taking the foul brain poison like a good boy. Even managed to do the cards* once a day. The most recent reading told me that at the moment I was Ordered and Disciplined (woohoo), and if I carry on I will have Confidence, Security, Honour, Good Faith, etc. If I change tack, then I get Pleasure, Gaiety, Enjoyment and Satisfaction. Hmmm. Seeing as how I can't avoid Mourning, Sadness and Affliction (apparently), I'm in a quandary (he said, preparing the ropes and tiller and stilling the cry of Gybe-ho! in his throat).

* Lest any of you think I believe in this mumbo-jumbo, I don't. Not in the slightest. However, I enjoy the way the random meanings make you examine your life and motives in a vain hope of making them fit the lie of the cards. (Good pun on Lie of the Cards there, if I may say so myself).

Oh well, enough. I've been rambling to little purpose. Have a good week everybody.

p.s. Boring housekeeping notice: just re-merged last year's posts back in here. I'd stopped feeling paranoid about it.

p.p.s. It's been cold up here. This was yesterday. It's just thawed out after god knows how long.

5 comments:

Lola Snow said...

I was the same on the Lamictal most of the time, before I started losing the plot again. My Mum said I was robotic, and switched off. I'm sure it fueled my anorexia no end. No emotions, no reason to consider the effects my behaviour was having on anyone. Like when my Mum burst into tears on first seeing me, and I just didn't react. I sort of just sat watching her cry, and not really feeling a great deal about it.

Lola x

LoopyKate said...

1. I love 'Negative capability'. It's the only thing that's sustained me(academically at any rate) and managed to fool the world into beleving I am highly intelligent.
2. Depakote - sounds grotty and I'm avoiding/dreading it for the very reasons you state. I would shrivel up and die without my capacity to love and appreciate beauty.
3. Well done on the resolutions. I read the cards from time to time - in the same way you do. Just to confabulate and construct some sense or pattern from the mire. True/false or otherwise - it gives you something to go on.
Hope things feel better soon.
K.x

Marian said...

A friend of mine told me about a relative of hers, who was put on an SSRI. She stopped taking it when she realized, that she didn't even care anymore, if the crosswalk lights said "walk" or "don't walk"... But well, that's what all of these pills are supposed to do, isn't it. Make people indifferent.

Some people, like Jim Gottstein, are successful just taking a benzo, something, once, to get a good nights sleep. It breaks the vicious circle for them. Have you tried that?

There's also the caffeine-problem. You do drink coffee, don't you? Ever tried to do without? Nasty idea, I know... But it works for some.

Hannah said...

supreme empathy {sigh}
I'm reaching for Keats once I've signed off xxx

Abysmal Musings said...

Thanks all - the worst of that has worn off for now thank goodness - just feel very old and tired. K said I looked like the world was on my shoulders a minute ago.

Take care all. Dx