Philip Pullman and comfort with mystery

There are so many wonderful things in this interview with Philip Pullman, it’s hard to know where to begin. But one part near the end struck me:

Previously, we’d talked about John Keats’s description of Shakespeare’s ‘negative capability’ — the ability to experience ‘uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason’. Pullman had compared it to being in twilight and seeing things in shadows: if you turn on the light, you’ll miss the mystery and banish the shades. Then he tells me about the scientists who inadvertently killed the world’s oldest living creature, a 500-year-old clam, by analysing it, and I joke that this is what critics and academics do to writers. He chuckles again, maybe agreeing, maybe not quite.

There is something truly unfortunate about over-analysis.