Author Topic: Simple Simon knot  (Read 4270 times)

Sweeney

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Simple Simon knot
« on: October 14, 2009, 08:36:47 AM »
Some time ago Professor Roger Thurling wrote to the Guild asking whether a knot he discovered back in 1969 whilst teaching sailing was in fact a new knot. The correspondence was unfortunately overlooked but Roger wrote to me recently (as Guild Secretary) with the same question. The knot described was the Simple Simon published by the late Dr Harry Asher in 1989 in his book on his new system of knotting in which he said that the sytem was developed over the previous 5 years. However Roger sent me a document dated 1979 in which a drawing of the knot was referred to (interestingly it was proposed as part of a coat of arms though not actually used) so I think it right that Roger should be given the credit for his discovery of this useful bend which he developed as an alternative to the reef or square knot to give better security. He left me with a question (arising from a discussion we've had about whether a knot can be called "new") - given its fairly simple (sic) construction was this knot used in the past, and perhaps it still is, but has not come to our attention? In other words can anyone point to a reference before 1969 (the date the knot was discovered by Roger)?

Barry

Dan_Lehman

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Re: Simple Simon knot
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2010, 05:50:04 AM »
With some recent remarks intersecting aspects of this post
--which stands in need of some company  ;) --,
it's appropriate to comment here.

Firstly, there is confusion re Asher's publications:  he first published
Simple Simon in the cited work but that copyright is 1986, not '89;
his 1989 publication was The Alternative Knot Book.  I don't
find the paraphrased ("5 years") comment in either (on a quick check),
so cannot put that into context -- but in either case, it is well later
than 1969.

Quote
I think it right that Roger should be given the credit for his discovery of this useful bend ...

Meaning what, though?  And correspondingly/complementarily, must/should
we (and how) take away the credit given to Asher?
(And be prepared to do the same for Thurling should it be later learned
that he too came late to the knot!)

--dl*
====
« Last Edit: February 14, 2010, 01:58:43 AM by Dan_Lehman »

DerekSmith

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Re: Simple Simon knot
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2010, 10:15:37 AM »
History is at best an interpretation of available information and so the process is fraught with opportunities to 'get it wrong' - missing information, wrong information, lies, misinterpretation...  However, despite these hurdles, historians do a pretty decent job of constructing the probable time line of our past, while accepting that they need to keep looking and always need to be prepared to revise interpretations in the light of new information.

Against that framework, I cannot see any reason why the Guild should not publish what it believes to be the discovery / usage timeline (i.e. History) of any particular knot.  Indeed, in time, this might even prove useful as a means of evaluating why particular knots fall into regular use and why they fall out of use (fashion ?).

I Believe that there is merit in considering making a historical record of knots and this stems from the transient nature of our materials and the knots themselves.  Make a knot and it exists and functions - undo that knot and it is gone leaving no trace, without even an echo of its existence remaining.  We have all seen how poor a tool language is at communicating a knot, so consequently in history knots existed either in short lived cordage or in even more fragile human memory.  I hate to think how many times I have forgotten how to tie the jug sling, and the Fiador totally escapes me.  I only have the repertoire of knots I have today because of the availability of images (and of course, the internet) - but from history, the only records tend to be of decorative or ceremonial knots recorded in stone or gold, while the work horses of knotting live only as long as the cord they were tied and then lost in.

One can imagine all the shepherds and herdsmen throughout time guarding their flocks and whiling away the hours twiddling cord and discovering again and again every knot ever seen by man - then, because there was no means of recording the knot, no one to show it to, it was gone in a flick of the cord, as ephemeral as the flight of an arrow or a perfect sunset.

Yes, I believe that there is value in recording the when, where, who, how and why of knot discoveries and usages - but that is only half of the process - the other half is finding someone to actually do it...  Do we have anyone within the Guild with a strong historical motivation, or do we know any historians with an interest in bindings?

We have a lot of information and we have the means to record it, but without a historian or historical group, then it is just going to be good intentions and wishful thinking.

NOTE - - provided this forum is well preserved (backed up etc) it is starting to become a significant resource of knotting information - including history.  Perhaps ANOTHER area specifically to record post content such as this post might e a good starting point ? ?

Derek

Dan_Lehman

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Re: Simple Simon knot
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2010, 02:25:38 AM »
One can imagine all the shepherds and herdsmen throughout time guarding their flocks and whiling away the hours twiddling cord and discovering again and again every knot ever seen by man - then, because there was no means of recording the knot, no one to show it to, it was gone in a flick of the cord, as ephemeral as the flight of an arrow or a perfect sunset.

No, this is the beyond-the-pale behavior that one should NOT imagine,
as there is no evidence of such highly prodigious "twiddling" even today,
under the current lights of inspection, and no reason thus to fantasize
that it occurred under dimmer vision!

R.H. Dana's Two Years Before the Mast is a classic on
life as a sailor, and there is scarcely any idle twiddling of rope
reported by him in it -- the crew was worked hard on doing
productive things, or busy work at times it might seem, but
productive to the captain (he'd a bit of a task master initially).
Eric Newby's beautifully photo-illustrated Learning the Ropes
similarly shows, visually, a snapshot of sailor life aboard a fast
4-masted barque, Moshulu (now moored as a restaurant at a
dock in Philadephia, in much different look & feel, alas); there
is no evidence in it of rope twiddling knots invention activity
there, either.  (Rather, two of the crew work on miniature models
of the boat, some play chess, some read -- when the wind's down.)

One can also take stock of how much interest there is in general
to such invention, of a population, and consider that for many
of such folk "learning the ropes" is challenge enough, and after
hard time at it aboard ship, one just might care to do something
else than mess around w/more darn rope!  -- which is not
to deny the extant examples of fancy work.  But in those preserved
knotted items do we see evidence of knots invention of the scale
being imagined for all these ancients?  (no)

 - - - - - - -

In response to concerns about recognition of "invention",
we might avoid some pitfalls by being rather objective and
just saying "<whoever> presented the knot <where/when>".
E.g., I'm happy to see that someone might "invent" the Bowline
today, though of course there are other ways to learn that knot.
And I see Wright & Magowan as discoverers of the Butterfly,
even though it is known to have been otherwise discovered
and used prior to their invention.

It is of interest to see where, and how, knots pop up.  (And
how they might fall from knowledge, or just not gain currency
& use.)

--dl*
====