Sunday, May 30, 2010

So in between reading Keats's letters to Fanny and mouthing the words to "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" or "To Autumn," another missing piece has tumbled out. It's not quite the grand secret of pretty prose that I'm looking for--though, now that I've been re-reading the book, it's not terribly written--could use a little more variety sentence-wise and word choice-wise. I haven't made much progress on the synopsis--my right wrist and by extension, my entire right arm aches.

Here's the missing link: It's called negative capability. Keats was a prolific letter writer. Seriously, if he was alive now, he'd be blogging it up and Facebooking, emailing, and IMing like the rest of us distracted, procrastinating writers. He wrote a letter in 1817 to his brothers, where he discussed and defined negative capability: "When a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason." It's the ability to accept mysteries without looking for a resolution--and knowing that a resolution won't be found.

I had what Oprah would call an "aha!" moment the other night. I know how Eva and Jade switch bodies and how they switch back out. I now know the paranormal concept behind the why of what happened and Eva reads a lot about reincarnation, nirvana, meditation, undergoes hynotherapy, has her tarot read, realizes that she had a few instances where she may have seen things that normally wouldn't occur, thinks long and hard about her friendship with Brix and her mother's murky death and the faith she's grown up with...

I'd written on top of the first outline that this story is about how jumping over the edge into something scary and unknown is necessary sometimes. Then I pondered negative capability last night (while watching Avatar, of all things) and realized that's what Eva really has to ponder as she goes on this trippy journey I've sent her on. She's not a person who likes mysteries, yet she's surrounded by them.

I don't know that negative capability is the overall idea of the book, but it's a theme I couldn't put a name to and now I can. It just makes sense to me. It might a "hippy dippy writer thing" but, yeah, there are lots of things we can't understand in this world--but can we accept them, knowing they'll never be conclusively solved?

I think some people might get their wish for random bits of philosophy to float around in this book.

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