“You’ve ruined it,” she says.
“Ruined it?” he says, hurt. “No, that’s just because—No, kibble, this is a hell of a lot better than whatever edge Grandpa put on there. That grindstone, it’ll put a perfect edge on that blade, a hundred microscopic serrations, that’s what really gives the blade a cutting edge. The razor edge you had on before, that’s just the vanity of patient men—that’s no good for the real activity of cutting, kibble, which is to saw through things. A mirror polish like that—that’s only good for a push cut, you know what that is, kibble?”
Turtle knows what a push cut is, but Martin can’t resist.
He says, “A push cut, kibble, is the simplest kind of cut, when you lay the knife down on a steak and press without drawing the blad across it. That, what you had before, was a glorified straight razor. In life, you drag a blade across something. That’s the business of cutting, kibble, a rough edge. That mirror polish is meant to distract from the knife’s purpose with its beauty. Do you see— Do you see—? That razor edge, it is a beautiful thing, but a knife is not meant to be a beautiful thing. This knife is for slitting throats, and for that you want the microscopic serrations you get from a rough grindstone. You’ll see. With that cutting edge on there, that thing will open flesh like it was butter. Are you sad that I took your illusion away? That edge was a shadow on the wall, kibble. You have to stop being distracted by shadows.”
— My Absolute Darling, Gabriel Tallent