Expensive taste

So, I keep wanting to study things… and then realising I can’t afford it. Tomorrow I’m going to go down to the library and see if some of the books I want can be borrowed through interlibrary loans, because I know my local library doesn’t carry the books I’m looking for. Because of the types of books I’m looking for are the types that might not just take a long time to read, but might require me to read and re-read them after reading other books on the subject, I prefer to buy them, but … well, go do a search for ‘string theory’ on isbn.nu and you’ll see that the average list price for these books is between $115 and $250. Which means that a collection of two or three dozen of them to really get into the subject would be … far, far too much. Heck, one would be too much.

I can get a copy of ‘The Rules’ for a penny, but even a used copy of “An Introduction to Quantum Field Theory by Michael E. Peskin” starts at $50. What I’d really like to start with is “String Theory, Vol. 1 : An Introduction to the Bosonic String (Cambridge Monographs on Mathematical Physics) by Joseph Polchinski” (List: $60, Used: $39) and it’s companion “String Theory, Vol. 2 : Superstring Theory and Beyond (Cambridge Monographs on Mathematical Physics) by Joseph Polchinski” (List: $60, Used: $39). Ooh, and The Quantum Theory of Fields, Volume I: Foundations (List: $65, Used: $49.51), Volume II: Modern Applications (List: $60, Used: $42.99), and Volume III: Supersymmetry (List: $50, Used: $35) would be nice, too.

Plus dozens of other books on subjects such as Algebraic Geometry and Algebraic Topology, Complex Variables, Noncommutative Geometry, Differential Equations and Differential Geometry, all of which need to be learned to really understand String Theory.

You’re all: “Hey, aren’t you paying for a correspondence Art course? Shouldn’t you focus on that?” And you’re right. I haven’t been working on my correspondence art course lately. But, there are no strict timing guidelines on that front, so I should be fine. I just… I just wish information was more accessible. I wish that if I wanted to learn all about string theory it didn’t have to cost me thousands of dollars just for the textbooks, let alone the cost of all the classes I’m theoretically supposed to take along with them. Information wants to be free. I want information to be free. Science shouldn’t be something we have to pay an arm and a leg for, it should be publicly available. Especially science. If you look at my Amazon Wish List, there’s a couple dozen books I just put on it re: string theory, and before that a couple dozen re: learning Japanese, and before that a couple dozen re: the nature of consciousness, advanced holography, and quantum effects in the mind that analog holography. All subjects I still want to study, but … yes, these are mostly textbooks with prices ranging from $40 to $220, USED.

It’s the principle of the thing that I object to, that capitalism should rule raw scientific information to this degree is offensive to me. At the very least, this sort of scientific material should be available for free (or very, very cheap) online, where the cost of an additional copy is pennies of bandwidth, rather than all the expense that goes into creating a physical book or thousands of physical books. Sure, I have the library, and like I said I’ll go there tomorrow at lunch and see about requesting a couple of these books… but then I have to wait weeks to get them, and only get a couple of weeks to try to digest them. It’s fairly frustrating.

Why don’t I get drawn to pulp thrillers or cheap romance novels? Why am I drawn to advanced theoretical physics and difficult languages? I can get used romance novels ten for a dollar at the local thrift shop or any used book sale, but instead I fall in love with books about structures a billion times smaller than an atom and a language with three alphabets (one of which has over 3000 characters to learn).

I know. I need to find a Japanese girlfriend who is an advanced theoretical physicist.

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