The Transcendent Reader

According to this postage over at Hooting Yard: ‘an eighteenth-century subscription library in London divided its readers into four categories: the Sedate, the Historian, the Theatrical Amateur, and the Gay and Volatile.’

More work needs to be done, clearly, on the precise features of these four categories, although I can already say for sure which of the types I would like to see pushed off a rocky promontory into a shark-strewn sea. I refer, of course, to the ‘sedate’ reader.

Now I’ve got nothing against sitting down, or sitting still. An action-packed life is not for all of us. Nevertheless, seeing the word ‘sedate’ placed next to the word ‘reader’ makes me choke. Reading is a journey, is movement, is progress, is exploration, is momentum, is activity. A ‘sedate’ reader is not a reader at all: it is just a person looking at words.

A quick glance at the remaining categories makes me wonder whether they hold any more promise. Probably not. Categories can be pitiful things – and it would be dangerous for any reader to slot themselves into any one of these. The true reader is transcendent. They must slip into no and into every category. They must burrow like moles, soar like kites, scuttle like crabs, glide like eels, bounce like kangaroos, trot like ponies and dance like a cowboy’s daughter. They must transcend.

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8 thoughts on “The Transcendent Reader

  1. In the words of the great bard (I forget which) ‘is not the ooze mightier than the dribble?’ (a line which has caused much debate amongst academics, many of whom think the reference is actually to two rivers [the former being The Ouse] rather than the words in themselves)

  2. Interesting. I hadn’t really thought of it so much in terms of force as viscosity.

    And, you know, I’ve heard the Ouse is lovely this time of year. Particularly if you have a taste for southern snout bass or silver bladderfish.

  3. It’s a little known fact that the Common Reader was desperate to become an Active Reader

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