Negative Capability

By zimadorizinger

Imagine a man walking down the street with a smile on his face and not a single stumble in his swagger. He's wearing a blue dress shirt with a loosened red tie swinging back and forth in rhythm with his step.

Think about where he might be coming from.

You may assume that it's around five in the evening, and he's just gotten off of work. The ad campaign him and his team have been working on for the past three months has finally been put into effect, and they've all received very handsome raises after a rise in sales and production as a direct result of the campaign. He swells with pride, and can't wait to catch the C train home to tell his girlfriend that they can pay off their student loans earlier than expected, and begin saving for a down payment on a house.

The loosened tie might trigger a scenario to unfold in your mind in which the man has, for the past four years, been working as a waiter in an expensive, fine dining restaurant. Just the night before, he's won the lottery for 2.5 million dollars, and he's just finished the final shift of any job for the rest of his life. He's smiling as he thinks of his grand farewell and goodbye he just made, which consisted of telling Fran, the general manager, that she can rightfully take the next loaf of bread not fanned out to perfection in a basket with no more than six or seven crumbs on the rim, and wedge it ever, ever so firmly up her fat, self-righteous ass. It's possible he's daydreaming of buying a house in the country, and living out the rest of his days there. Both scenarios varying in circumstance, but ending ultimately in the same way.

Maybe he’s destitute, new to the city, living with his friend until he’s able to get going financially. He’s walking, thinking of nothing more than a great conversation he just had with some random stranger. A conversation sparked by nothing more than them accidently bumping into each other, saying their apologies one second, sitting down and sharing life stories the next.

For the time in which you don't truly know how or why the man is acting this way, all the different possibilities as to how or why he is run concurrent, and are therefore existing all at once. There may not be any concrete evidence or proof of parallel dimensions or universes (quantum mechanics, observer effect, etc etc), but as long as you never ask the man how or why, all of these parallel dimensions exist, within your mind. The second you ask him why he’s so happy, and you find out, you're given an answer which sentences any previous ability you had to imagine or speculate to life in prison with no chance of parole. The answer may be better than you expected, or may be the most boring thing you've ever heard. I can't give an example as to what a good or bad answer might be for you, because your idea of what might be good or bad may not be the same as my idea. It's a mathematical formula with numerous variables and a relative solution; it just feels right within someone’s context.

Whether or not someone decides to solve the mystery behind the man says a lot. Those who would rather be with not-knowing, and allow the man to stroll past them are most likely in love with the concept and potential of mystery. Something which is mysterious allows those different scenarios to unfold in our minds, thus creating a kind of new frontier of endless possibility. Your mind forks into an unlimited number of different paths, and you can't help but just drift along with the journey amongst all of them as you're rendered nearly immobile.

The dividing line between the two camps regarding this is whether or not they want to stay in the shadows, and not really ever know the answers for sure. The argument to support not wanting to know goes something like, "Most mysteries lose their appeal once they are revealed, so I'd rather bask in not-knowing than lose interest."

In the large scale of the universe, life, this makes sense.

How would it feel to let the man keep walking until he’s out of sight?

What would life be if you knew the answers to everything?

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Negative Capability

Created: Jul 20, 2010

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