Thursday, July 14, 2016

Wonderment

In our world, with humanity having reached the moon and the deepest sea, we rarely encounter mystery unless we are looking for it.  Not often is the thing that is a surprise also a mystery.  We read a book about a detective and anticipate a mystery.  We go to a movie that is a Whodunit and encounter a mystery just as planned.  We wander out into the backyard late at night, look into the heavens and are curious as we expect to be.  We as human beings seek out mystery.  But rarely do we find it when we don't expect it.

To encounter mystery by surprise is so fun, so delightful, that the only word I can think of to describe the sensation is wonderment.  And when, fellow gearheads, has a piece of kit filled you with wonderment?

I recently ended a long wait for a Scott Sawby Swift.  It was so long a wait I actually forgot I placed the order.  But when it came up, I was delighted.  A month and ten days later when I took the knife out of the USPS box I was truly blown away.  It was like switching from a bike to a motorcycle in terms of speed.  I did not realize what the true knife elites were capable of and what it would look like sitting in my sweaty hand.  The Swift shares qualities with knives we are used to--its sharp, it folds, it has a lock, but it many ways its pure, insane polish pushes it beyond what I have dealt with thus far on this site.  I have handled a lot of great blades.  This knife redefines what great is, so much so that everything that come before looks a bit poorer by comparison.

The Shirogorov Neon was spectacular.  It was smooth in ways I didn't know knives could be, but its really just a very nice version of a knife we have all seen and held before.  The Swift is something different entirely.  Let me give you an example.  Looking at the Swift, holding it in my hand, and analyzing it closely I still can't tell you even basic things about it.  How is it constructed?  Beats me.  How does the lock work?  I dunno.  Does it have a backspacer?  I think so.  The knife is so spectacularly made and designed that it is a mystery right there in my hand.  It is like a bit of well done close up magic--the closer you look the more awed you are.

In the end, the Swift reminds me of the Arthur C. Clarke rule about technology--any sufficiently advanced technology appears to be magic.  And the Swift is that much more advanced than the knives we are used to.  It is magic.

It is heartening to know that even after six years of close and intense watching, the gear world can still blow me away.  The Swift has changed how I see knives and how I understand the tiers of makers.  It has also challenged my long held, but heretofore undisclosed belief that knives cannot be art.  The Swift is art.  My old notion was wrong.  Good thing I didn't say anything before. 

What an amazing craftsman Scott Sawby is--he gave me an object that filled me with wonderment...not just about how it was made, but how it is that a human being could make it.

What more could you ask for from a blade?

Or to summarize this entire post in one simple phrase: even Grayson would be impressed.

Here is the overview:

6 comments:

  1. Hmmmm... Didn't someone on here say they were the nicest folders they saw at Blade by good margin?

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  2. That knife is just gorgeous. I'm glad that there is gear out there that even a highly-experienced reviewer can find so stunning and different.

    If I might ask, why wouldn't you have considered knives art before this one? Or put differently, what was your previous definition of art that excluded knives?

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    1. The pop culture debate around what is art has become such a fallow field, it is not worth having. That's one reason. The other is more straightforward--very few knives were something I found worthy of appreciation on an aesthetic level equal to something like a great painting or a great statute. Too much adornment and baloney and not enough focus on line, proportion, and visual balance.

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    2. Your first point is very true, and well taken. But I have to disagree with the second point; art, to me, is any form of self-expression or creation, even if I don't like it. So while I don't like the appearance of many gilded custom knives, I still think they're art. Or at least the design itself is art, even if the physical manifestation of it might not be.
      And I can also agree with the idea that some art is more worthy of note objectively by way of requiring more skill and labor, regardless of aesthetics, like your painting and statue examples.
      I think art can be considered like a gear review: there are certain things that are objectively more or less than other things(ex. Cryo G-10 is better objectively for grip and weight compared to SS). However, there are other aspects that are weighed, to some degree, with subjectivity. One reason many of us enjoy this site is because you lay out your subjective preferences very clearly, which allows us to then weight your review towards our own preferences.
      I don't really care for modern abstract paintings(subjective), but I still think they're art because someone is expressing themselves, and appreciate the labor and skill that went into making them(objective).

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  3. I'm not entirely convinced I've earned this reputation, but just in case, I'll walk around with a jewellers loupe if I'm ever at Blade.

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