20 JUL

All but seven intended to major in a mathematical science

by Lottesco

All but seven intended to major in a mathematical science

Francis Murphy, the Prescott seГ±orita sitio de citas de viajes Street proctor, was a graduate student who had studied for the Catholic priesthood, and to Kaczynski it seemed the house was intended to be run more like a monastery than a dorm. Whereas other freshmen lived in suites with one or two roommates, six of the sixteen students of Prescott Street, including Kaczynski, lived in single rooms. All but three came from high schools outside New England, and therefore knew few people in Massachusetts. They were, in Murphy’s words, “a serious, quiet bunch.”

Most public high schoolers at Harvard in those days, including Kaczynski, viewed the tweedy in-crowd as so many buttoned-down buffoons who did not realize how ridiculous they looked

Much has been made of Kaczynski’s being a “loner” and of his having been further isolated by Harvard’s famed snobbism. Snobbism was indeed pervasive at Harvard back then. A single false sartorial step could brand one an outcast. And Kaczynski looked shabby. He owned just two pairs of slacks and only a few shirts. Although he washed these each week in the coin-operated machine in the basement of the house next door to 8 Prescott, they became increasingly ragtag.

But it is a mistake to exaggerate Kaczynski’s isolation. And the evidence is that Kaczynski was neither exceptionally a loner nor, at least in his early years at Harvard, alienated from the school or his peers.

Harvard was a “tremendous thing for me,” Kaczynski wrote in an unpublished autobiography that he completed in 1998 and showed to me. “I got something that I had been needing all along without knowing it, namely, hard work requiring self-discipline and strenuous exercise of my abilities. I threw myself into this. … … Feeling the strength of my own will, I became enthusiastic about will power.”

Freshmen were required to participate in sports, so Kaczynski took up swimming and then wrestling. He played the trombone, as he had in high school, even joining the Harvard band (which he quit almost as soon as he learned that he would have to attend drill sessions). He played pickup basketball. He made a few friends. One of his housemates, Gerald Burns, remembers sitting with Kaczynski in an all-night cafeteria, arguing about the philosophy of Kant. After Kaczynski’s arrest Burns wrote to the anarchist journal Fifth Estate that Kaczynski “was as normal as I am now: it was [just] harder on him because he was much younger than his classmates.” And indeed, most reports of his teachers, his academic adviser, his housemaster, and the health-services staff suggest that Kaczynski was in his first year at Harvard entirely balanced, although tending to be a loner. The health-services doctor who interviewed Kaczynski as part of the medical examination Harvard required for all freshmen observed,

I thrived on it

Good impression created. Attractive, mature for age, relaxed. … Talks easily, fluently and pleasantly. … likes people and gets on well with them. May have many acquaintances but makes his friends carefully. Prefers to be by himself part of the time at least. May be slightly shy. … Essentially a practical and realistic planner and an efficient worker. … Exceedingly stable, well integrated and feels secure within himself. Usually very adaptable. May have many achievements and satisfactions.

The doctor further described Kaczynski thus: “Pleasant young man who is below usual college entrance age. Apparently a good mathematician but seems to be gifted in this direction only. Plans not crystallized yet but this is to be expected at his age. Is slightly shy and retiring but not to any abnormal extent. Should be [a] steady worker.”



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