Today's entry is by guest author Robert Genn. You can find out more about Robert Genn by follwing the links at the bottom of this entry.
The Da Vinci Mode by Robert Genn
[Originally sent May 23, 2006]
Leonardo da Vinci's life was a living demo of his "seven virtues." For those artists of life and of art who might plot to develop higher levels of accomplishment and greater self-realization, here are his seven virtues, as I understand them:
"Curiosita"--an attitude of curiosity and continuous learning. What, when, where, why, and how?
"Dimostrazione"--an ability to learn and to test knowledge by experience. Experimental nature.
"Sensazione"--a development of awareness and refinement of sight and other senses. High sensitivity.
"Sfumato"--a tendency to embrace and accept uncertainty, ambiguity and paradox. Free thinking.
"Arte/Scienza"--a development of balance between science and art, logic and imagination. Whole-brain thinking.
"Corporalita"--a calculated desire to achieve poise, fitness and ambidexterity. Physical action.
"Connessione"--a recognition that all things are connected. Systems thinking.
"How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day," by Michael J. Gelb, and, "The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci," edited by Pamela Taylor, are two of the noteworthy sources of Leonardo insights. In the latter, the first chapter, "The Painter," is particularly valuable. For example, Leonardo neatly divides perspective into three types: "Linear perspective"--scientific diminution of objects as they recede from the eye; "The perspective of colour"--variations in colours as they recede from the eye; and "The perspective of disappearance"--the increasingly unfinished rendering of objects as they become more remote. Could anything be clearer?
In my daily evangelizing, I'm constantly devising ways to press creative people into thinking about things in a Leonardo mode. Whether we're talking about flying machines, military engines or easel paintings, we are led to a greater realization of our potential through personal, self-generated knowledge of the what, when, where, why and how. Perhaps because of Leonardo's charming admissions of personal weaknesses (procrastination, for one), we feel the uncanny presence of a contemporary who's just dropped in from the local Brotherhood and Sisterhood. For many of us, an evening curled up with The da Vinci Mode would not be a waste of time.
PS: "Nothing is more apt to deceive us than our own judgment of our work. We derive more benefit from having our faults pointed out by our enemies than from hearing the opinions of friends."
(Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519)
Esoterica: The last time I looked, our own Resource of Art Quotations had 69 quotes from Leonardo. Now it seems that contemporary psychological research has revealed Leonardo-like info about the extent of our potential. Our brains are much better than we think. They are more flexible and multi-dimensional than any computer. They can learn seven facts per second, every second, for the rest of our lives--and there's still plenty of RAM to go. If used properly, our brains improve with age. And this is not just in our heads--it's in every cell of our bodies. Mona Lisa is winking at us. How totally Renaissance!
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(c) Copyright 2006 Robert Genn.
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