Instructions for Keeping out of the Ocean of Reading


Reading is an immersive activity, and reading is also an active immersion. But it does not have to be this way. Reading can be a mere paddle, a comfortable stroll, a shallow wading amongst familiar pools and rocks, safe from danger, cold, wind, and depths. There are instructions and steps to follow to keep your reading life exactly where you want it. Pin these notes to the nearest sand dune and refer to them when feeling unsure.

  • If you must read then choose a rock pool instead.

During the monsoon season that is your life, there is much noise, activity and alarm in your environments. It is best to read quick instructional and devotional tracts only. There are endless pools of such reading material. These explain clearly how to achieve just about anything as quickly as possible while the activity of your life and mind rains down and down. Of course the monsoon season of your mind can never end if you tend it carefully enough.

  • Choose a safe pool.

The people that hire out these tiny glittering shell filled pools are courteous and enthusiastic. There is no space for swimming in them, but that is ok because you can take one of the shells home. Those that do dive to retrieve a shell will find, sadly, that they are mere reflections of light on the sand anyway. If you do not dive for one at all, well that is your own fault. Watch carefully the sailors from the publishing ships that come out out in the early morning. They will check the shark nets for rogue literature and re peg the best seller lists for hopeful profits. Then they will re glitter the pools of shallow hopes and retreat back to the ship deck to read the How to get Rich Quickly best seller that they sold to themselves last week

  • Choose a shallow pool.

Some people read for entertainment and to cool off. They dip quickly and with pleasure into known shallows, find out what they already knew, emerge with satisfaction and hurry on to the next task. They return to the same tepid bath consistently for a thousand years. Eventually the bath silts up with the sand of repetition. The next swim will be in the dry wind, also entertaining.

  • Choose a small pool.

Reading without risk means that points of entry begin to shrink. Soon any point of entry is just a mere ankle bath but this can still feel dangerous and exhilarating.

  • Choose a sheltered pool.

Then you can read without discomfort whilst also checking for danger. Eventually, everything you do not immediately recognise will seem dangerous.

  • Choose a noisy pool.

Reading for distraction means that the monsoons rage more and more loudly beyond the sand hills. These readers are forced to select books that can produce noise equal to or noisier than the current prevailing winds.

  • Choose a pool with a handle.

Because reading for reinforcement means hanging onto the jetty pier even though there is no current. You must also continue reading books about the strength of that particular jetty.

  • Do not look away from the pools.

Away from the pools there are things to consider such as the weather, the wind, the sun, the depths, the currents, the sand, the salt, the isolation and the monsters of the deep.

Perhaps though, you are looking seaward over the pages of your current recommended beach read.

In this case, a guide should take you out to the known atolls. There you can gaze at the catalogued and labelled tourist attractions at no risk to yourself. Consider a condensed version of the reefs or even a tiny authorless sea sample to take home and put on the wall. There is no need to read the entire book. Many swimmers take picnics to Reviewers Reef where you can stroll the edges and collect everything you need to without going in. Here also are The Shoals of Interpretation and although crowded with quarrelsome fishing boats is none the less also a lively place to visit.

Do not swim too closely to the islands of curriculum, as the seabird colonies there are overcrowded, tired and inclined to argue. If you do, make sure you swim a safe path and at a safe depth. On no account emerge from the water and make your own silly campsite there. For if you do you will find in the morning that the formalists have been and examined your ideas for textual references during the night. Note the Bay of Deconstruction that lies between the School of Resentment at the eastern end of the island and The Canon at the westernmost point.

Other places of interest include Camp Kindle: a thriving nudist camp for readers without books. Around the corner is Glum End, a sheltered and beautiful corner of the island set aside for kindle refusers and for predicting the future.

The Oulipo Straits, an outlying rocky channel which features an elite diving school called Prisoner’s Constraint is located further out than most readers are prepared to go. Experiences offered here include the seeking of new submarine structures and patterns, and deep sea mathematical hilarity. Members are rarely visible as they are consistently preoccupied with palindromes, lipograms and the deep diving needed to avoid ascenders and descenders. Apparently the deepest divers here have encountered seventh nouns. Obviously not for the faint hearted.

But if you still find yourself edging the older rock shelves and looking into the emerald depths at books sitting on the bottom, unregarded but intact, then it is important that you know the catastrophic size of the world that you are going to enter. The safety rules for entering the library of consternation are unfortunately always written in the language of difficulty which prevents many swimmers from leaving the jetty. However, it is possible to ignore these and simply make your own.

  • A warning about associating with the swimmers of contempt.

Avoid watching the way these swimmers, probably your children, flounder, float and fly your beach.

Ignore how they, while regarding the surf with terror and anticipation, can enter regardless, with all eyes ready, goggles and snorkel clutched and uncomfortable,  anticipating deeper waters and the step away from the sand shelf, the skin ecstatic and the mind swung wide and breathing toward new marine stories.

Note how they can abandon the water at any time and do not time their swimming sessions or count the number of pages that should be read. They can start a new book at any time, end an old book at any page, and will wade excitedly across to new rocky areas, gleeful in all depths, unregarding of sand, salt or of completing a dull swim just because it was begun.

All significant books completed contribute to the formation of an exhilarating and personal marine atlas. They are not deleted from reading lists just because they have been read. Cartographers of the library of consternation rarely carry reading lists.

These swimmers also do not read the instructions for keeping out of the ocean.

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