I haven’t read C. Wright Mills: Letters and Autobiographical Writings, but on a tip from Karl I flipped through to this passage, in which Mills tells Dan Wakefield about a party of Columbia grad students he went to in the late 1950s:
On the one hand, it’s important to believe your work is relevant to the social world, and maybe even important. On the other hand, it’s also good to be nice to grad students. On the third hand, I’d love to have that conversation with him now and hear his reaction to what I do. I’d like to think I could take it.