"If there is a single theme that joins the essays in this book, it is my attempt to defend, and, as well as I can, to enact, a certain conception of the self. It is one that I have come to think of as the modern self, a self that emerged in the Renaissance, reached its zenith in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and appears now to be passing into history. In other words, the individual: developed in solitude, in fearless dialogue, by reading, through education as the nurturing of souls; embodied in original art and independent thought; beset by the online cacophony, by education as the manufacture of producers, by groupthink and the politics of groups. To be an individual, the years have taught me, takes a constant effort. These essays are an offering to those who wish to be one, too."
- William Deresiewicz