Today we should consider delicacy as the art of public speaking, as opposed to lying and oppression. The term “delicacy” does not refer to mere good manners but involves a discipline of thought. So what is its usefulness in public discourse, so often tainted by incompetence and distortion? A selection of enlightening arguments drawn from literature and philosophy reveals a sense of delicacy that nevertheless has jagged edges, just as the surgeon’s hand is delicate and firm when it cuts and rips flesh. Precision and reasonableness are the features of a speech posture that rejects histrionics and improvisation. True dialogue arises from listening to oneself and others, not from efforts to achieve pointless success at any cost.
Michele Dantini teaches History of Contemporary Art at the University for Foreigners in Perugia and the School for Advanced Studies in Lucca.