In lieu of writing reviews of their own books – with the exception of Walt Whitman, who did that with Leaves of Grass – writers often write introductions or prefaces. The purpose of such introductions is to give the prospective readers a sense of what to expect in the pages that follow, as if the author knew exactly what he was writing when he was writing it, as if he weren’t waylaid by words along the way, or could possibly know what a reader may experience when reading them. In a way, I too have done that, even while knowing that all writing, if it is any good, is a leap into the relative dark, both for the writer and the reader. We can’t know beforehand how either will affect us. What changes us in life and in books is always surprising.
The following is the Introduction to my new book, Seeking Truth in a Country of Lies. I offer it here as an invitation to consider joining me in the book so we may seek together. Sort of like Whitman’s invitation:
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,/ To jump off in the midst of the sea, and rise again and nod to me and shout, and /laughingly dash with your hair.
In putting together this selection of essays, I was reminded of what Albert Camus once wrote:
“A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.”
While I do not claim that all these essays are art, they are my efforts to say in the most eloquent way I can what really has mattered to me in recent years, not just politically but personally, since they are entwined. Upon reflection, I see that what matters to me now is what mattered to me when I was young. Although the issues have changed in certain ways as they must, I have not—unless, or because, my wanderings through life with all its changes have paradoxically meant, in Nietzsche’s words, that I have been becoming who I am.