Standards have declined a lot and in particular there is much less scope for autonomy. I thought of the best sort of university career as absolutely necessary to provide me with living circumstances which would enable me to get something out of any independent research or writing which I would have enough freedom to do in addition to what was required by the salaried university appointment.
Professor Eysenck had the same sort of approach, but in spite of his top position and status he was able to do very little of what he would have done if he had been free to do it.
The concept of research studentships and supervised research have come in increasingly over the last century. It is now exceedingly difficult for the very restricted supervised ‘research’ to lead to any opportunity of anything better, salaried appointment or research grant.
So I think everyone now should seriously question the value of degree-taking; the fact is that the modern ideology is against the able, and there are not really any suitable openings in modern society.
I think people with families who have any recognition of their disadvantaged position should move to be near us, and it might well be the case that their offspring could do better for themselves by making a career in association with us; there are many possibilities and cooperation could be advantageous, but we cannot make specific proposals except in relation to specific individuals whom we know well enough.
Of course many nowadays go to university for the sake of the social life and ‘spending a few years not doing much work’ as a public school leaver said to me. This, of course, implies an attitude of indifference to the debts acquired in those few years, which, if they knew us, they would find was not compatible with our outlook.
Although most of what goes on in universities is now rubbishy, I do still need a top academic position, because without it, especially in the modern world, one has no hope of support for research, or anything but censorship and suppression for one’s books.
I need an academic position because I did (and still do) need to do certain kinds of things, regarded as academic, within an institutional (hotel) environment for myself in the first instance.
I imagined at first that my continuing to work towards such things, in such exceedingly grim circumstances, might be taken as proof of my extreme deprivation in being unable to progress within a normal (high-flying) academic career, and that my doing anything at all in such circumstances might be taken as justification for rewarding my pathetic efforts with a salary or funding for my independent research institute. But (as I found out) not on your life!
My struggling in such painful circumstances was taken as evidence of my enthusiasm for lucid dreams and such; I was regarded as ‘free to follow my interests’, and hence, of course, not needing help of any kind. A university appointment, people wished me to believe, would make me less ‘free’.
My original objective, when I found myself cast out, was to set up an independent university surrounded by a business empire. That still has to be the case, as we appear to be no closer to funding on an adequate scale or even a minuscule scale from any outside source, institutional or individual.
I do not think that most of the able people who find themselves adrift and increasingly squeezed in the modern world realise what they have been deprived of or how to work towards it, and most of them do not have the same highly determined need as I do for academic status. Mine is quite specific to an expansive and multi-channel person, with a lot of drive and a strong sense of purpose.