"Writing well consists of thinking, feeling and expressing well, of clarity of mind, soul and taste . . . The style is the man himself" ("Le style c'est l'homme même"). It is worth requoting this from my last post. As I said therein, the author of these insightful words was one Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, for information on whom see my last post or the wonderfully accessible on-line Wikipedia.
Notice how much depth and breadth is in this seemingly simple definition. One must think clearly and precisely, feel deeply and be open to those feelings and finally be able to express these appropriately and well. One needs a clarity of mind, a depth of soul and finally good taste. Clarity of mind or precision of thought needs much training and practice, while depth of soul and feeling would require an openness of heart and a deep sympathy and empathy with one’s fellow beings. Good taste is often a matter of common sense, a sense of place and a sense of timing. Some people never get this latter. I call to my mind a “professional” gentleman of a certain standing whom I know and he has absolutely no good taste – he is his own crude and unashamed self in all company, using only the crudest of toilet talk – it doesn’t matter whether it is the Pope himself or the local handyman in whose company he might chance to be.
There are as many different styles as there are human beings in this world. As a teacher perhaps one of the most rewarding professional returns is witnessing the growth of young human beings. One notices each person’s tentative and sometimes awkward attempts to get to know who he or she is. One begins to see the marvellously individual growth of personality and character. One fourth year boy comes to mind as I write and I shan’t, of course, name him. He has style – a unique style all his own, and to use a term from counselling he is one of the more congruent young men I have taught in many a long year. He is a leader of others – a good thinker, a deeply feeling and a sensitive young man. As well as that he has great self-confidence, a lot of this learned at home and at his martial arts. He is well able to teach junior pupils these martial art skills. As well as that he has a marvellous sympathy and empathy for others – probably learned through helping a sister who has a certain disability. In short he has style.
The picture centred above is one of me on the extreme left, then my brother Gerard and our friend Ger Fitzpatrick. It was taken in Roscrea, Co. Tipperary in Summer 1962 or '63. It does have a certain style, does it not?