The downward mobility of intellectuals

This passage from Ian McEwan’s Machines Like Me (pg 108) resonated horribly with me at a time when universities are freezing their recruitment:

There were a lot like me in the neighbourhood, but thirty or forty years older. I had seen them in Simon’s shop, reaching for the quality journals from the top shelf. I noted te men especially and their shabby clothes. They had swept past some critical juncture in their lives many years back – a poor career choice, a bad marriage, the unwritten book, the illness that never went away. Now their options were closed, they managed to keep themselves going with some shred of intellectual longing or curiosity. But their boat was sunk.