Now, to reiterate my title, this is what is wrong. This is the huge modern heresy of altering the human soul to fit its conditions, instead of altering human conditions to fit the human soul…it is the huge heresy of Precedent. It is the view that because we have got into a mess we must grow messier to suit it; that because we have taken a wrong turn some time ago we must go forward and not backwards; that because we have lost our way we must lose our map also.
Lawrence THE HANDLE, which varies in length according to the height of its user, and in some cases is made by that user to his or her specifications, is like most of the other parts of the tool in that it has a name and thus a character of its own.
I call it the snath, as do most of us in the UK, though variations include the snathe, the snaithe, the snead, and the sned. Onto the snath are attached two hand grips, adjusted for the height of the user.
On the bottom of the snath is a small hole, a rubberized protector, and a metal D-ring with two hex sockets. Into this little assemblage slides the tang of the blade.
This thin crescent of steel is the fulcrum of the whole tool. From the genus blade fans out a number of ever-evolving species, each seeking out and colonizing new niches. I also have a couple of ditch blades which, despite the name, are not used for mowing ditches in particular, but are all-purpose cutting tools that can manage anything from fine grass to tousled brambles and a bush blade, which is as thick as a billhook and can take down small trees.
These are the big mammals you can see and hear. Beneath and around them scuttle any number of harder-to-spot competitors for the summer grass, all finding their place in the ecosystem of the tool.
None of them, of course, is any use at all unless it is kept sharp, really sharp: You need to take a couple of stones out into the field with you and use them regularly—every five minutes or so—to keep the edge honed. And you need to know how to use your peening anvil, and when.
When the edge of your blade thickens with overuse and oversharpening, you need to draw the edge out by peening it—cold-forging the blade with hammer and small anvil.
Probably you never master it, just as you never really master anything. That lack of mastery, and the promise of one day reaching it, is part of the complex beauty of the tool.
Etymology can be interesting.
Scythe, originally rendered sithe, is an Old English word, indicating that the tool has been in use in these islands for at least a thousand years. But archaeology pushes that date much further out; Roman scythes have been found with blades nearly two meters long.
Basic, curved cutting tools for use on grass date back at least ten thousand years, to the dawn of agriculture and thus to the dawn of civilizations. Like the tool, the word, too, has older origins. The Proto-Indo-European root of scythe is the word sek, meaning to cut, or to divide.
Sek is also the root word of sickle, saw, schism, sex, and science. Some books do that, from time to time, and this is beginning to shape up as one of them.
By his own admission, his arguments are not new. But the clarity with which he makes them, and his refusal to obfuscate, are refreshing.
I seem to be at a point in my life where I am open to hearing this again. Here are the four premises with which he begins the book: Technological progress is carrying us to inevitable disaster. Only the collapse of modern technological civilization can avert disaster.
What is needed is a new revolutionary movement, dedicated to the elimination of technological society. I have a tendency toward sentimentality around these issues, so I appreciate his discipline. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, if I do end up agreeing with him—and with other such critics I have been exploring recently, such as Jacques Ellul and D.
|Licensing ›||November 01, I thought today would be the perfect day to review this unicorn of a book.|
|Reprints ›||Cancel List of Bookmarks We should never be more vigilant than at the moment a new dogma is being installed. Bush, who signed on at the end of May.|
Lewis and Ivan Illich—I am going to have to change my life in quite profound ways.The draft class Rashaad Penny (RB) Rasheem Green (DE) Will Dissly (TE) Shaquem Griffin (LB) Tre Flowers (CB) Michael Dickson (P) Jamarco Jones.
There's no shortage of biographies available on Alexander the Great, but Peter Green's Alexander of Macedon is one of the finest. The prose is crisp and clear, and within a few pages readers become absorbed in the world that made Alexander, and then the story of how Alexander remade it.
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We chose the Prosciutto di Parma, Saucisson Lyonnaise, Chorizo Olympia and the Mt. Alice cheese.
We shared the Salty Pig.