Subj: I absolutely love your book
From: Jonathan R. Armstrong
Fate herself seemed to cast your book onto my lap. This was one of the best books I’ve read in the past several years, and I read quite a bit. I’m currently a software developer who’s trying to get into medical school; going back to school and taking “post-baccs” has been a degrading and humiliating experience. Not that I was lacking in the humility department, but after a grueling 60-hour work week + move last week I just found out that I flunked my test. I’d just started reading your book at this time and it just makes so much sense to me. I consider this book to be a masterpiece that I hold in the same high regard as Erich Fromm’s Escape from Freedom.
It is disheartening to realize that there are so many of us who probably get “filtered out” due to our little “detours” into things like wanting to satisfy our intellectual curiosity before we get a chance to make a difference. I do volunteer work at a hospital and am well aware of the “idealistic” versus “buttkissitic” pre-med archetypes you talk about. I’m currently so burned out of my corporate job here, and was contemplating going back to school full time, and have no illusions about the obstacles being presented. Thanks for letting me know what I’m up against. But if you run into a tall eloquent Subway sandwich shop employee next time you’re in Denver, you might want to say hello.
[From a subsequent message...]
...What hit home to me the most in your book was how students who take a reductionist, servile approach to the material are the ones most bound to succeed in the current system. I’m certainly not arguing that there isn’t technical material that needs to be mastered ¾ I don’t think anyone is. But as an undergraduate, a lot of my “problem” was that I had extensive interests in my chosen field of study (sociology) OUTSIDE of the material presented in class. This knowledge proved to be invaluable, but it might have meant that because I stayed up late one night and read some extracurricular material instead of spending yet another hour overlearning the banalities that needed to be regurgitated on the next test, I might’ve only scored the second or third highest on the final versus being the top student. I was more under the impression at the time that these phenomena were a little less confined to the hard sciences and more in the liberal arts, but now that I’m back in school studying biochemistry it seems as though I’m having the same “problem” again.
Anyway, I’m on “stolen time” right now myself. Hope things work out for you, it means a lot to us young’uns that there are people out there who never did sell out.