“The elite are masters of the basics.” Wherever this sentence came from, it is profound. It certainly applies to knifemaking, as well as every other discipline.
It leads directly to the next question: “What are the basics?”
In the cutlery world, at least in the realm of working cutlery, the first and foremost element is sharpness.
Then come other elements. Cutting efficiency–accomplishing the most work with minimum effort–goes beyond sharpness proper. This is why steel blades out-perform obsidian or glass blades, even though the glass is just as sharp. And cutting efficiency is what puts another “basic” to the test–steel quality.
Probably the next “basic” of cutlery is ergonomics— the link between the human hand and the tool. This is affected by the nature of the materials, but even more by the expertness with which the materials are shaped. And, it is closely linked to aesthetics.
Another “basic” is durability. Included in this category, is choice of material. Blade material, blade thickness, handle material, rivet type, adhesive quality and surface preparation, and the finish put on the materials, all affect durability.
Safety is always a basic. While most things are inherently dangerous, there are ways to reduce dangers.
Carrying comfort is basic to the utility of most of my knives. This is why I often design the knife to fit the sheath, the sheath to fit the person, and then the sheath to fit the knife.
Accessibility is closely related to carrying comfort, but is a separate “basic.” It is linked closely to the issues of ergonomics and retention, or security. A great knife is no good if you lose it, even if it is easy to access. But, if it is so secure that it is hard to access, it is far less useful. (Like the undercover officer who taped his gun to his leg. It was secure, but he had to cut it loose before he could use it.)
Genius has been described as doing a simple thing very well. In many ways, cutlery is very simple. Yet, anyone who really applies their mind to perfection in this field will quickly realize that each basic element mentioned above is a science in itself. But beyond that, they must all be coordinated. It is like the difference between a piccolo solo and a symphony orchestra.
Likewise to the customer. A discerning consumer will see flaws in very good work, just as a skilled musician will hear the imperfections in the orchestra; whereas a person who is less trained will never know the difference–most of the time. However, it is possible for the orchestra to crash. The best marksman can miss anything. And the best knifemaker can eventually have a real blunder slip past.
Scripture speaks of “them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:14. This takes exercise, discipline, focused attention. It takes time and sweat, often conflict. But this is how the elite get their skill. They earn it.
We have dwelt at length on the cutlery field, and how basic the basics are. But let us consider the larger field of human existence. Let me point you to the best training tool available–the Bible.
People fault the Bible for failing to tell them how to build computers or space ships. But they ignore the basics. Why do you need computers and space ships?
The Bible starts with the basics. In a few minutes, it answers the questions that skeptics spend a lifetime speculating about. Those who will tentatively accept these answers, can save all kinds of time. Then, as experience progresses (unimpeded by a need to re-invent the wheel), a better understanding of those basic answers is gained.
Let me suggest that the reason the world–both religious and secular–is so confused, is that we have tried to focus on the fine points of “rocket science” without mastering the basics.
The Bible is a masterpiece in focusing on the basics. Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? What am I doing? Where am I going? and most importantly, Who engineered it all? Who is the director of the symphony? And who is causing such pandemonium in the orchestra?
Today, it seems that Christians tend to spend 90%+ of their time listening to each other talk. Then, when the Bible is finally opened, a few familiar passages are read, and we hear a lot more talk. 99% of the book is seldom heard. Jesus put it this way:
“Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.” Luke 7:31, 32.
Where is the conductor? If the orchestra forgets about the conductor, what will happen? If the strings forget about the first chair, and follow whoever, then what? If the drill team has no central rhythm, and each man just tries to keep step with the man next to him, we all know what will happen.
“The seed is the word of God.”
“Then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” Luke 8:11, 12. When this central drum-beat, this vital pulse, this organizing principle, is removed, everyone falls out of step. Just as when the “word” was “mixed up” at the tower of Babel, so today. When the word of God is removed from one heart, that heart falls out of sync with the universe.
Every one of us has the choice. Will we retain God in our knowledge (Romans 1:28)? Or is this orchestra of humanity going to be an evolving train-wreck? We can choose to focus on the great Conductor of the universal symphony, or we can join the pandemonium of humanism, trying to jump over the moon by tugging at our bootstraps.
It is the fashion in scientific circles, to believe that all religion is unscientific. Of course, everything we see around us, in all its complexity, is an accident. Nobody planned it. Nobody coordinates it all. And if you think that there is any kind of plan or order behind the facts of nature, you can’t be a real scientist! Personally, I am not interested in that explanation of nature–human or otherwise. I believe it to be an organized effort to eliminate God, not an effort to find knowledge–science. In addition to eliminating God, it seeks to replace God with a “scientist” who controls everybody else because he is “educated,” and “knows what is best” for everybody else. If you disagree with this egotist, you are a threat to humanity! (Or else humanity is a threat to the environment. But why?) Well, who is to decide which expert is the biggest threat? I’ll let God handle that problem.
“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4.
Yes, there is a very real war between the gods. Will you choose the Creator, or the Usurper and Destroyer who wants to deny the existence of a creator, so that he will have no competition?
Remember: The Elite are Masters of the Basics.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
In the beginning was the Word.
By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
For he spake, and it was; he commanded, and it stood fast.
The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
Genesis 1; Psalm 33; John 1; Colossians 1; John 3.