The potter and writer Edmund de Waal is among the most subtle and eloquent of artists at work today. His international bestseller The Hare with the Amber Eyes (2010) is celebrated as one of the most extraordinary memoirs ever written. What lies at its core is his masterful handling of details and silences: a rare kind of tact with a particular power.
De Waal warns that tact is a dangerous virtue. As a wise man once said, tact ‘is the ability to make a person see lightening without letting him feel the bolt.’ One poorly judged move and we’re in trouble. We need to be at our most diplomatic when the stakes are high. But, in our fast-paced high-pressure culture, where we fire off blunt messages without a second glance, we're at risk of losing this vital art.
De Waal will share with us what he has discovered about the art of tact from an adulthood spent exploring the delicacy of porcelain alongside the difficulty of the unsaid. He will draw on examples from the fields of poetry, music and the visual arts, as well as everyday life, to take us on a life-enhancing journey along the fine line that separates the tactful from the tactless.
This secular sermon was recorded at Conway Hall on 14 October 2012.