In The Mind Of A Genius
Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest minds of all time, is a pragmatist. Unlike educated men of his time, he has not been to university and does not know Latin, which are published in the classics and humanities. While it defines itself as an uneducated man, a man without letters, as he says himself, he refuses to be disqualified by his lack of erudition. This deficiency, however, led him to develop a revolutionary way of thinking. A new study from his diary and his notebooks - called codex - reveals his curiosity, his obsessions and personality. His notebooks, scattered in different collections, are six thousand pages, which, if they had been discovered earlier, would have saved a lot of time to progress. Today, one of its codex can be estimated at several million dollars. Arte presented an interesting documentary about the exploration of the 'Codex Atlanticus' (1119 manuscript pages), the largest of its books kept in the basement of the Ambrosiana Library in Milan. Thanks to the beautiful manuscripts, commented by experts, we plunge into the mind of the Renaissance genius.
Born in April 15, 1452 in Vinci, a small village nestled in the hills west of Florence, the illegitimate son of a renowned lawyer, Leonard was raised in the country, by his grandfather. Once adult, he wrote an average three pages a day in his diary. Leonardo spent more time writing his books than painting. Most of the time, he wrote from right to left so that only he and some of his students were empowered to understand. This writing is natural for a southpaw like him. Even though he knew perfectly how to write from left to right, the act of writing in the mirror and the use of many abbreviations made deciphering more difficult and helped to protect his many discoveries.
HIS MASTER CARD: CURIOSITY
Everything passionates Leonardo: engineering, geology, biology, anatomy. It queries on everything he sees, feels, tastes, touches. For example, he observed that distant mountains appear blue, not green like the others painted them. He knows that in reality they are not blue, he understands that this is the consequence of the reflection of the sun on water vapor.
His way of combining art and science is extraordinary. He defines himself as a philosopher painter. And for him to philosophize is to seek to understand the world. His first subject of study, water, fascinates him because it is very difficult to reproduce accurately in a drawing or painting. It raises the question 'What is water?' His earliest known drawing, preserved at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, is a representation of the Arno valley whose central subject is a large waterfall. In his book, he writes that water is a continuous amount that ranges from the sea to the river, the river to the sea... Water breaks, springs, dives, squirts, whispers, falls drip. Water is bubbly. Water gargoyles, crashed, bangs...
Leonardo studied spirals and swirls of water. This inspires him a revolutionary theory - questionable for the time - in which the movement of water is comparable to the movement of hair, which can move in two ways depending on the weight of the hair or the orientation of the loops. It analyzes the water in terms of lines of force.
He then sees the same energy in the movement of plant leaves, he is always looking how things work. He wants to decipher the laws behind appearances. As a painter, he must understand the laws of nature to reproduce them. From Leonardo, we can all learn by observing nature.
The more he observes and understands the movement of water, the more he is convinced that the human body is governed by exactly the same laws as nature.
HIS MOTIVATION: AMBITION
Leonardo da Vinci is haunted by the fear of failure and obsessed by his desire to leave a lasting memory in the world. In his codex, he states very clearly the ambition that drives him to distinguish himself from ordinary mortals. He wants to access to fame in his lifetime and posterity after his death.
Around the age of twelve, he left Vinci for Florence. Hired as an apprentice by Andrea del Verrocchio, the man in charge of adding the final touches to the Cathedral of Florence, Leonardo quickly learns to exceed the master. Legend said that Verrocchio, after seeing a painting by Leonardo, would have stopped painting. From 1495 to 1498, he was commissioned by the Duke of Milan to make a painting on the wall of the refectory of the monastery: The Last Supper, known as one of the greatest masterpieces of all time. Although he gets his fame by painting, at that time, the painters were not superstars. Architects and engineers hold the top of the social ladder pad. Until his death at the age of 67, the project held closest to his heart and he thinks that will make him more famous than Brunellschi is to make humans fly. His drawing made in 1494, The Vitruvian Man is now the most famous picture in the world. In his earliest memory, he writes about having seen in a dream, a bird of prey descends on its cradle and open its mouth with his feathers. It inferred that his destiny was to study the large birds. The memory of the dream of a bird with huge wings will be the trigger for his research.
It makes a giant leap, the day he found that air reacts exactly like water. He then attempts to estimate the number of air turbulence that made a flying bird and how much it would take to a man to successfully fly. Again, after the famous physicists Einstein and Bohr, here's another genius, to be a lucid dreamer. His accurate way to describe what would feel a flying man is striking for its time. Since the feather wings would be much too heavy, he tends more towards the wings of the bat and the eagle. His first prototype, nicknamed the helicopter does not work, but he continues to study with passion until the end of his life. About 1503, Leonardo da Vinci, as we know, applies the result of all his research on movement, nature, geology, atmospheric effects, distance, proportion, body language and human anatomy, everything is brought together in this single painting: The Mona Lisa.
THE PASSION OF THE INVENTION
Be in the flight of a bird, the functioning of our body or mathematical patterns prevailing in nature, it still has the same obsessive desire to know everything. His immense ability to understand the surrounding world and passion of translating what he observes in nature in various innovations is simply breathtaking.
What to learn from Leonardo da Vinci?
Attention to conformity. In wanting to do too like others, we lose our creative and inventive abilities. We need to re-learn how to see the world around us with new eyes, a look of a child. Invent our own codes. Several centuries after Leonardo da Vinci, nature is always inspiring. It is our best guide.
As I always advise: Keep a diary to note your feelings, your observations, your learning... and to draw your ideas.
The Dreams Logbook is the most valuable tool of creativity. Kept close to your bed, a notebook of dreams is an unlimited source of inspiration and paths to follow.
A SIMPLE PROCESS
1. OBSERVATION (Cultivate a meditative look, attentive, deep.)
2. QUESTIONS (Wonder why-why-why and again why.)
3. DEMONSTRATION (Conformity is full of false beliefs. Identify the inaccuracies.)
4. EXPERIMENT (The 'doing' is essential to see if it works and discover how to improve the invention. Becoming a disciple of experience.)
A last thing. I would like to congratulate the director Julian Jones and the teams of Arte. They produce the most extraordinary TV programs, on-going learning so well and creatively presented. An example to follow...
Source: ARTE Documentary. Ledonard de Vinci, Dans la tête d'un génie, by Julian Jones