Friday, April 6, 2007

Curious genius


Up early to walk the dog, who is limping occasionally...I guess dogs are just like kids in this way, and always manage to have medical issues on long weekends....we are just letting this rest for now.

Leonardo Da Vinci was an absolutely amazing man. This is not exactly an original comment, but one of the things that was fascinating about the exhibit we went to was that it was a collection of random papers from his workshop put together by an admirer after his death....actually they were divided into two folios...the Windsor codex which is in the Royal Library, and the Atlantic Codex, facsimiles of which we saw today.

OK, everyone knows he was a brilliant painter. A fantastic thinker in many many fields, military engineering, mathematics, optics, he came up with the method to discover the radius of the earth at a time when the idea that the earth was round was still a highly questionable idea both intellectually and politically. I could go on and on and on....but one of the things that amazed me is, not just that he came up with enough ideas to make the patent office busy for months and months, and which we are still using today as the core for our technology, but the sheer astounding breadth of his thinking.

On any one sheet of paper he will have exquisite botanical drawings of such profound beauty your teeth hurt, next to military plans for a tank, next to a design for building chains, an anatomical study, and a plan for a lens to enable seniors to read better....

Most of us just look scattered when we do this random sampling on a sheet of paper, as most of us cannot perform at his level in ever ONE of these fields....and I would give a lot to produce one or two drawings of the qualities of his sketches in my lifetime....but to be able to produce at this level at the same time in so many fields....he must have been blinding to talk to.

Part of it is of course that paper was boundlessly precious, and so any piece would be used over and over, but please bear in mind that this is the scrap stuff left over after he died...you know that written-on-one-side-already-but-I-can't-throw-it-out-yet stuff. He didn't put it together for publications. There are racy jokes, lists of apprentices and their pay...and these astonishing thoughts.

I cannot summon the slightest particle of jealousy. I might as well be jealous of the sun for all it can do.

I know a few people, and have met a few people of truely luminous intelligence, a very few. It is a treat, even if they're jerks, which some of them are, but the idea of meeting and speaking to someone of this depth of brilliance.

The show is called curious genius. It fits.

I love curious people.

4 comments:

Terrie Thompson said...

Chris
I just have to say that Im glad its not raining today. And add that it rained here last night about 1/4 of an inch. This is the first drops in a solid month. Our lawn is sighing.
Love Terrie

Beth said...

I love your line - "I might as well be jealous of the sun for all it can do."

We can only admire the brilliant, the geniuses and be grateful for all they can do. I don't envy them - so many I know have emotional and/or mental problems.

I'm happy being "average!"

Joanne PL said...

I saw da Vinci exhibit in Montreal 20 years ago-and it totally and absolutely blew me away! Still remember it -and have been to a lot of exhibits since.. Happy Easter by the way!

oreneta said...

Terrie: So glad it rained. The weather does run to, well, extremes down there doesn't it.

Beth:I have a friend who is doing a show RIGHT NOW in Toronto on that topic, madness and genius...Erika Batdorf, the play is "The Red Horse is Leaving" She got a very good review in the Nat'l post. It is very edgy modern dance/theater, but if it is still running. GO....

Jpl: I must have gone with you....in Mtl anyway, I also remembered being blown away by so much of it. This was also good, but I think not as geared to a general audience, although I may have that impression because the info was in Catalan and Castillian. That's not true actually, a lot was in English as well....maybe it was just an older audience.