Last week, I was researching the history of mathematics because for some reason I, an English major, decided to write a book about a budding scientist. Have we talked yet about how I had to relearn trigonometry for this book? Well. I did. I'd rather not talk about it, actually.
Okay, it was fun, but it's important to preserve the notion that writers can't do math because otherwise someone will make us get real jobs.
That's a joke, writing is actually hard work. It's not mining, but as far as non-manual-labor jobs, it's pretty hard.
Anyway! I was researching the history of mathematics and I found this book on the Internet Archive, which I'm deeply indebted to, called A History Of Mathematics In America Before 1900. I clicked on it and read the first words. This is what they were:
I did a double-take.
My experience of the Internet Archive is that most books are scanned. This book was not scanned, it was transcribed somehow. Because apparently it was not in good condition. It was . . . drenched. As if the librarian or cataloguer or whoever literally pulled it out of a fish tank and it was still sopping wet as they tried to shove it into the cables that get it onto the internet. And the person in question, asked to account for why it was transcribed and not scanned, wrote a note at the top that was meant to be factual and reserved but speaks volumes of outrage:
THE BOOK WAS
It's beautiful. It's like a found poem. I laughed a lot, but the joke was on me. For the last week, about every ten minutes, I hear the voice of Dame Wendy Hiller playing Mrs. Harris from Anne of Avonlea. Aggressively rolling her R's, she tells me, over and over again, "I said drrrrrrenched and I meant drrrrrrenched!"
Dear ghost of the librarian who wrote that note: you're right, people should treat books better. Please stop haunting me now.