Jim Harrison On a Writer's Negative Capability

"I never found myself in a dark woods in the middle of life's journey. I've been there all along for professional reasons. For a novelist and poet it is the "negative capability" that is to be valued, the willingness to hold before the mind the thousands of questions flesh is heir to without forcing an answer more questionable than the question. This position for a writer can easily become a posture so that rather than a lifelong dance with the multifoliate questions, one is a geezer who continues to mutter a sequence of no's that in themselves have become quite fashionable. The negatives are easily as mildewed as a museum cloakroom on a rainy day. Whitman thought that poets should 'move wild laughter in the throat of death'. And Yeats questions, 'What portion of the world can the artist have who has awakened from the common ream but dissipation and despair?'" - Jim Harrison, Off to the Side