Category Archives: Fiction

Negative Capability Defined: Walking in Mystery—And the Shoes of Others

In a letter dated 22 December, 1817, the poet John Keats coined the term “negative capability” and defined it this way:

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.
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Planological Fiction: In the Desert

California is turning to tinder, a Chinese dust bowl looms. Both the Northwest and Northeast Passages are becoming viable marine transportation routes due to the rapid melting (and lack of refreezing) of arctic sea ice. Hypoxic oceanic “dead zones” are springing up like Starbucks cafes. It seems most models designed to predict the results of global warming agree that increased evaporation rates across the continental interiors of currently tropical and temperate climatic zones will lead, eventually, to irreversible desertification. Cheery.

Everything said above is old news to most people, or should be, and without anything new to add to the conversation I wasn’t sure how to engage it. So I thought I’d make something up. Fiction can go places and do things that science can’t, and so long as it resists morality its transportive qualities can help us see the world as it might be. Fiction is a mode of exploration, not of judgment, a way of slipping into shoes and looking through eyes that are both simultaneously familiar and exotic. Hopefully it makes us think. Continue reading

Posted in Fiction, Josh Grigsby | 1 Comment