Thank you all for your kind comments. They mean a very great deal more to me than you might imagine.
Jerry, if you have seen the great old 1941 movie The Hustler, with Paul Newman, George C. Scott, and Jackie Gleason, I can tell you exactly how it feels when the writing is going well. Newman plays Fast Eddie, a pool hustler who is taken under the wing of George C. Scott, a manager or promoter. Eddie finally gets a game with the legendary Minnesota Fats [a real person], played by Gleason. Fast Eddie is in good form as the game progresses. Playing him, Newman moves around the table like a great cat, making shot after shot. At one point, he says to Scott, "I can't miss."
That is what it is like sometimes as I write. The words flow, the most unlikely but perfact associations come to mind, it feels as though the words are being dictated by something in me to which I have only the slenderest access. I am more fully alive when I am writing like that than at any other time in my life. Leaving to one side the result and speaking only of the subjective experience of the activity, it is how I imagine van Gogh felt when he was painting or how Mozart felt when he was composing.
This, I think, is why I do not really care very much what critics say about the books I have published. My writing is not a performance, and it is not, lord knows, scholarship. It is an expression, the externalization of an idea that begins life inside me and is actualized on the page. Once I have captured the idea as I sought to, I am done with it. That is one of reasons why I have moved from field to field so restlessly. Kant? I have had my say. I don't really care what more recent scholarship has said. Hume? The same. Anarchism? I have embodied my idea in a short book. I am not really interested in trying to persuade people that I was right. Marx is a bit more complicated. That has been a forty-year involvement, culminating now with the course I am teaching.
This blog has offered an opportunity to continue writing. It has therefore quite literally been a gift of life to me. There are times when I struggle with it, my hands as it were writhing like Garson Kanin's, but there are also times when I am moving around the table like Fast Eddie, and when those moments arrive, I am fulfilled.