The Art of Diving

Bookshelf: The Art of Diving

The Art of Diving – Nick Hanna & Alexander Mustard

The Art of Diving
The Art of Diving

Tony gave me this book out of his collection when I was lying in bed with a cold, needing entertainment. It’s hard to pinpoint the genre. The best part of the book is the magnificent photography by Alexander Mustard – not all of his pictures are to my taste (I don’t much like motion blur) but in general his contribution is magnificent.

The text deals with the history of scuba diving, as well as tips for improving your skills. These can be distilled into relax, slow down your breathing, and swim slower! Hanna meditates on different sea creatures that have been demonised in literature and film – sharks, rays, octopus, moray eels – and shows how these perceptions are wrong. Michael Rutzen, South Africa’s own shark man who free dives with great whites (when a very precise set of conditions are met – he’s extremely careful) also gets a mention.

Hanna also discusses the merits of touching sea creatures, and acknowledges that a complete prohibition may be the best thing given that not all divers have the knowledge and experience to determine when it’s a good idea to reach out or not. He does mention that many creatures, such as morays and groupers (e.g. potato bass) appear to actively enjoy the interaction.

Later sections of the book talk about the intersection of yoga with diving, the practice of yoga before and during dives, and an alleged PADI specialty called Mind, Body and Spirit (MBS) diving which advocates a more meditative approach (only available in the Carribbean – like they need it there!). I am prepared to acknowledge that (perhaps of necesstity – one tank full of air goes further than a lungful) our freediving friends get this right more often than us scuba junkies. Hanna talks about being more mindful underwater, cultivating an attitude of playfulness, and gives suggestions for changing one’s perspective when diving gets too much like a chore. I really liked this section of the book!

The section on free diving is beautifully written and illustrated, and even though the sport doesn’t appeal to me at all, I can see the magic of being so free to move, having to listen so closely to one’s body, and being able to interact silently with creatures who’d be scared away by scuba.

The authors’ official website for the book is here. You can order the book here or here.

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Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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