The Yiddish Policemen's Union The Yiddish Policemen's Union discussion


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Chabon, John Keats, & F. Scott Fitzgerald....

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Mike I've always been a HUGE fan of the poet John Keats's description of "Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact & reason."

And then of course F. Scott Fitzgerald riffed on that with his famous maxim: "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless yet be determined to make them otherwise."
(--from The Crack-Up ,1936)

I just discovered a similar, fun, even newer version of this concept in Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union: A Novel (2007). At one point, its fictional narrator describes another character's having "the kind of mind that could hold and consider contradictory propositions without losing its balance (p. 121)."

I sure hope the same might be said of me from time to time....!


Steve Chaput I was taken by Chabon's description of that one character. Thanks for the references to the other writers, although the Fitzgerald quote does sound familiar.


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