I got a note from an editor of Contemporary Authors, a reference work that lists 130,000 people who managed to get something published. They want to include me. Among other things the note asked some questions that were supposed to add up to a statement about why, how, and what I write. Here’s my response, if anyone’s interested:
I write because the world is puzzling, and getting the puzzles wrong
means big problems. I mostly write for myself—it’s disconcerting not
to understand basic points—but naturally hope that what I write will
help others in their own efforts.
My interest in writing started with a certain intellectual alienation
in college and law school. Why were the people considered best
informed so convinced they were right about politics? What was the
nature of the knowledge they thought they had? And why did their views
seem both irrefutable and plainly wrong?
My studies also affected what I write in a more constructive way. From
mathematics I learned the value of correctly stating principles, and
from the law I learned to study a line of developments to find the
principle that always wins. So I look for key points that explain as
much as possible about the direction of events and try to formulate
them as clearly as I can.
An unexpected thing about writing, at least my kind of writing, is
that on a day-to-day level it is a lot like mechanical tinkering and
invention. You set something up—a theory or book—in a way that seems
to do a job, at least in principle. Then you spend endless hours
adding, subtracting, adjusting, and reconfiguring the thing so it does
the job efficiently, effectively, comprehensively, and in as many
settings as possible.
It’s very absorbing, but lots of work. Also, the difference between
politics and mechanics is that in politics you can never be sure how
well you’ve succeeded. You need good sense as well as clarity and
logic, and who can judge his own good sense?