In Points of light book,
The real challenge for me, used as I was to academic and fiction writing, was the necessary brevity of the essays. The discipline of having to compress my ideas into a finite word count troubled me at first. Later, however, I was grateful for the experience because it forced me to get to the point and stay strictly on task. Instead of grumbling, I came to relish the challenge and to appreciate journalistic brevity as a special literary form more fitting for our hurried times than the ponderous writings of earlier, more leisurely times.
The themes treated are an entirely different matter. They are far-ranging, and the freedom I surrendered in linguistic spaciousness I gained back in the latitude I had to treat many topics as fairly and clearly in space permitted.
But there is method in what may appear to be unrelated themes. At a near or far remove, and from a variety of perspectives, all rest on the master concepts that undergird all my philosophical work: the uniqueness of human reality, the dignity, humor, and pathos of the person, and the possibilities of life that set it far apart and high above all other earthly realities.
A noted thinker once said that clarity is the courtesy an author extends to the reader. Insofar as my abilities permit, I have tried to add another kindness: word economy, which I understand to mean saying as much as possible in the fewest words. In those cases in which there is neither clarity nor economy, I alone take the blame.
Most of the essays in this book first appeared as newspaper columns and differ from the originals only in minor, editorial ways.