Knifemaking: appearances, politics, and the Buffoon

‘Mr. Croup smiled. “You find us funny, Messire Marquis, do you not? A source of amusement. Is that not so? With our pretty clothes, and our convoluted circumlocutions—“

Mr. Vandemar murmured, “I haven’t got a circumlo . . . “

“—and our little sillinesses of manner and behavior. And perhaps we are funny.”

Mr. Croup raised one finger then, and waggled it at de Carabas. “But you must never imagine,” he continued, “that just because something is funny, Messire Marquis, it is not also dangerous.”

And Mr. Vandemar threw his knife at the marquis, hard and accurately. It hit him, hilt first, on the temple. His eyes rolled up in his head, and his knees buckled. “Circumlocution,” said Mr. Croup to Mr. Vandemar. “It’s a way of speaking around something. A digression. Verbosity.” ‘

Mssrs. Croup and Vandermar- from Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere

I’m not really one for politics.  I usually avoid topics of political discussion- my emotions sometimes consume me and I end up angry.  Meaningful political conversations can be difficult because generally they involve two realms: the realm of compromise and the realm of conviction.  Politicians work in the realm of compromise.  Their job is to look at the bigger picture.  There is no way any humble public servant can make everyone happy- in fact some groups are inevitably going to end up disenfranchised, alienated, and quite unhappy.

The people who elect these civil servants operate in a different realm, the realm of conviction.  There are things that people, or certain groups of people, will absolutely not bend on.  Ultimately, as a free citizen, you want what’s best for you, your family, your business, your fiscal sensibilities, and your life.  However misinformed, morally skewed, or bad for the rest of the world it may be, you are entitled to this.  For better or worse, this is your right.

The two of these realms do not go together.  They are like oil and water.

There are times when oil and water do appear to go together.  By adding heat, you can create an environment where these two unlike substances will mingle closely together.  Like a ragu, it needs to be served hot, as this intermingling is not sustainable.

We will be electing a new president soon and we are bombarded with candidates who all say they are right for the job.  They come at us with slick PR campaigns, manicured and practiced public personas and circumlocutions so eloquent that on the surface it’s hard to see what they actually stand for.  All these are part of carefully maintained appearances to bring the oil and water together long enough for them to get elected

The particular candidate that was the inspiration for this blade has no political experience whatsoever.  He has a list of ex-wives and an even longer list of failed business ventures.  He tells his constituency exactly what they want to hear, to the point of absurdity bordering on hyperbole.  With one hand he calls to make this country great (again) and with the other he stokes the flames of misogyny, xenophobia, intolerance, and selfishness.  He gets up in front of the country and talks of how ample his manhood is, and threatens violence against countries weaker than we are, should he be elected.  According to his butler, the man just makes shit up.  Then there are the fake tans and the awful hair.  It’s all rather comical.

The scary thing is that underneath all of the buffoonery, this man is terrifyingly smart.  He sleeps about four hours a night and wakes up and reads half a dozen newspapers.  If you look carefully at his business model, you will notice, that while his businesses fail quite often, he still manages to profit.

This is the lesson of the Buffoon.  No matter how comical something may appear, or how meticulously those appearances are curated, it can still be quite dangerous.  Notice not just the the surface, but what lies underneath.  Awareness of these things in ourselves can help us to notice just how much energy we pump into maintaining our own appearances, energy that could be reallocated into putting something meaningful and beautiful into the world.

This blade is based on a Wharncliffe design.  Say it again.  Wharncliffe.  It’s kind of funny.  There is a martial artist named Michael Janich who popularized this blade shape as a self defense weapon.  The geometry of this blade profile focuses the energy into the tip of the blade to rip, as opposed to the slicing achieved by a more traditional design.  This makes it effective at breaking apart whatever the wielder chooses to plunge it in to.

1095 spring steel

I hardened this after grinding about 2/3rds of the way through.  I planned on grinding him rather thin and didn’t want to risk warping during hardening…
Deepening the plunge…

I have this buffoonish shirt that I don’t think I’ve ever worn…



After the fiberglass resin…





The Buffoon:  1095 spring steel, homebrewed linen Micarta handle scales, Kydex spacers, and brass hardware






Be mindful of how we present ourselves to the world, and be wary of what those presentations may conceal.  There could be something deadly underneath.  This is the lesson of the Buffoon.

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