Dear Mark,

Thank you for your kind words yesterday.

Thank you also for your offering of the notion of tactician (and for the ensuing discussion it led to). So, put simply the difference between tactic and strategy is that the latter is planned and maybe considers a broader theatre of engagement whereas tactics are much more focussed and reactive. I assume though that one can have a strategy to be a tactician?

The word tactic and its resonances have some very appealing elements for my research. The word’s etymology is found in the Greek taktike (or tekhne) meaning “the art of arrangement.” There seems to be then a paradox in the word as this military reading of a reactive response sounds a little less thought out or is it a case of being ready for the ‘unknowns’?

As I raised yesterday, the idea of tactics as reactive contains a possibility of a sort of feedback. There would surely be some sort of reciprocity in there but if so it is asymmetrical…transverse?

Apparently both Foucault and de Certeau suggest that tactics are the “art of the weak.” This statement comes from the idea that the weak, the poor have no place, no position (to be strategic from). This point to me then fits nicely with the models of the Romantic and the Cynic that I have been trying to flesh out. For the Cynic their only place (apart from a hazy ‘beyond society’) is their pera, their bag,…their world that they carry with them. How do you defend a territory you don’t have…through tactics it seems.

One further twist for the moment is that my dictionary tells me that an archaic meaning is (of course) to do with touch. Coming through a Latin root-route this time (tangere – “to touch”) that leads us to today’s ‘tact’,’tactile’ and ‘tact’. There’s something interesting in the idea of a tactor-tactician (including the alliteration!).

Sorry not to have caught up properly for a while. I’ve been a bit preoccupied…it will pass. I hope all is well with you—I thought of you recently (four times!) as I passed near Palmer’s ‘valley of vision’ and looked across from the train.

Yours taciturnly,


PS I leave you with this image of a cartwheel I took recently at Acton Scott farm in Shropshire. Apparently wheels like this are constructed from three different woods: the hub is of elm, the spokes are of oak, and the felloes (rim) is of ash. In each position the wood plays to its strength: the contorted fibres of elm are strong enough (it’s difficult to split) to accept the multiple mortices, the oak has lateral strength so the wheel doesn’t crumple under load and the ash has give in it and so provides some shock-absorption. I wonder what new surfaces Simon’s colleagues would ‘hear’ in this?


2 thoughts on “Dear Mark,

    • Johnny, thanks for the comment. It looks a bit truncated though…Can you give me more after the ‘how’ to respond to? Or should the ‘how’ not be there?!


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