Leonardo's Script - John C. Wunsch, P.C.
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Leonardo’s Script

His notebooks provide a window. There we see a mind capable of combining science and art, observation and imagination, to create images that to this day cast their spell. His work is foundational, part of our earliest time horizon, speaking to us today with surprising urgency. In some manner, due to his omnipresence, Leonardo can be thought of as a natural force or sound (the verb “transcend” comes to mind) that still resonates at a pitch just outside of normal range. A careful look into a new area, an ultra-precise drawing using pen and ink on a page, an explanation written in fine mirror script––a simple practice taken to another level entirely.

“Just as Leonardo’s anatomy informed his art, so was the reverse true: his artistic, sculpting, drawing, and engineering skills crossed disciplines and aided his anatomical studies,” writes Walter Isaacson in his superb biography of Leonardo da Vinci. Walter Isaacson, Leonardo da Vinci, pg. 403 (Simon and Schuster 2017). One aspect of that ability to integrate––Leonardo invented or discovered new methods in various areas that he then used in other areas. Throughout his life he continued to build on that which he himself had created. Perhaps that particular skill needs to be rediscovered––inventing a new framework from the ground up, then building on that using one’s own tools and methods.

Leonardo was capable of seeing the world with a preternatural clarity, finding designs and patterns others would miss. “In most of his studies of nature, Leonardo theorized by making analogies. His quest for knowledge across all the disciplines of arts and sciences helped him see patterns. Occasionally this mode of thinking misled him, and it sometimes substituted for reaching more profound scientific theories. But this cross-disciplinary thinking and pattern-seeking was his hallmark as the quintessential Renaissance Man, and it made him a pioneer of scientific humanism.” (Isaacson, Pg. 401). Clear sightedness, we assume we’re seeing with accuracy and precision until we realize how easily we can miss what the world presents.

His genius was recognized by others in his time. It encompassed many areas. It left behind not only visually striking, otherworldly works of art but almost a challenge to the human race––“Will there be any others who can surpass this?” “For more than two decades, beginning around 1490, Leonardo investigated, with an unusual degree of diligence, the flight of birds and the possibility of designing machines that would enable humans to fly.” (Isaacson, Pg. 181). “As he traveled across the mountains, Leonardo looked for fossils.” (Isaacson, Pg. 455). “He applied it with brush-strokes so delicate that they are imperceptible, brushing on, over time, up to thirty fine layers.” (Isaacson, Pg. 483) “In addition, he liked to pick people’s brains. He was constantly peppering acquaintances with the type of questions we should all learn to pose more often.” (Isaacson, Pg. 173).

Leonardo was willing to tolerate discomfort if such could lead to a breakthrough. He harnessed his immense talent, and came to be at one with what he himself was capable. He painted the human form, combining men, women, angels, children––all placed into ultra-transparent focus with scientific precision based on his investigations of light, perspective, and optics. We can learn a great deal from him, most fundamentally the breathtaking potential of the human eye and hand. We look closely at his paintings and simply pause in admiration––“So this is what’s possible?

There’s one painting, of course, that can be admired from afar. But the Mona Lisa, like other iconic images, can also be made to serve one’s personal ends. She can be perceived as an oracle––someone to whom one can silently ask the most basic questions and receive the correct answer. She can be viewed as a prophet, a sage, a counselor. Not only her voice but da Vinci’s voice can be heard through her. He knew he could not have his own facial features prominently displayed, but he could let posterity know through her calm and knowing glance his dictates for humanity. She watches us to this day.