The Pain of Lending a Book

A fellow I know was interested in category theory.  I said I might have a book for that.  I found Conceptual Mathematics by F. William Lawvere and Causality by Judea Pearl (because it also looked interesting) in my personal library and handed them to my friend.  He lives seven hundred miles away and might not get them back to me for a while if ever.  He and I know this.

The principle is clear.  The books were gathering dust on my shelves and books are meant to be read.  But I felt a painful twinge.  The books contain ideas that I will never master or marvel at or use.  They were on my shelves.  I had read them – at least parts and scanned the rest but their ideas and their author’s organizing vision will never be part of my life as great, as interesting, as wonder-full as they are. By lending the books I was admitting that I could not know all things mathematical (of course), that I was limited in time and energy, that I was getting old.  The lending act was evidence that I was giving up and it hurt.


About jrh794

I am a sixty-five year old math instructor at Southern Oregon University. I taught at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed California for twenty-six years. Prior to that I worked as a computer programmer, carpenter and in various other jobs. I graduated from Rice University in 1967 and have a MS in Operations Research from Stanford. In the past I have hand-built a stone house and taken long solo bicycle tours. Now I ride my mountain bike and play golf for recreation.
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2 Responses to The Pain of Lending a Book

  1. suszann says:

    All of that and generous. Never give up.

  2. Zzin says:

    Prêter un livre est difficile comme se séparer d’un être cher mais c’est aussi un sentiment de satisfaction et de fierté car le livre sera utile et peut être mieux protéger .
    Donner un livre à quelqu’un qui n’a pas les moyens financiers ou d’accès surtout à un élève n’a de prix que le sourire et la joie qui s’exprime sur son visage .

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