Points of Light

These Points of Light centered on the beauty, humor, and mystery of human life present many perspectives flowing out of the unifying philosophical premise that life, not physical reality, is the foundational reality in which all others are rooted.

Most of the essays in this book first appeared as newspaper columns and differ from the originals only in minor, editorial ways. 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.

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