In the college she had briefly attended, [...] she had quickly realized that intellectuals seemed to think that their life --the life of the mind, the endless self-examination, the continuous autobiography afflicted upon all comers-- was somehow higher than the repetitive, meaningless lives of the common people.
Virlomi knew the opposite to be true. The intellectuals in the university were all the same. They had precisely the same deep thoughts about exactly the same shallow emotions and trivial dilemmas. They knew this, unconsciously, themselves. When a real event happened, something that shook them to the heart, they withdrew from the game of university life, for reality had to be played out on a different stage.
In the villages, life was about life, not about one-upmanship and display. Smart people were valued because they could solve problems, not because they could speak pleasingly about them.
(p 298-299, hardback edition.)