A Letter To Leonardo Da Vinci
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

A Letter To Leonardo Da Vinci

1112
A Letter To Leonardo Da Vinci

Dear Leonardo,

O, Leonardo, I wonder if you know how mysterious you are to us! Over the course of history, a myriad of decent men -- experts and ordinary people, alike -- have made numerous attempts to decipher the code of your life. Indeed, you created many unparalleled masterpieces that are celebrated all over the world, but many of your other works were left unfinished and scattered. What a pity!

The ideas you put forth through your masterpieces impressed me a great deal. The time in which you lived had seen a transition from the Classical concept of an extensive self as part of the whole universe, to the idea of an autonomous individual of free will. By celebrating the extensive self, your contemporaries also had their view of the world altered; in your time the world was seen in the relation to the self, and therefore, the world was and only was what human perceived through the senses. This idea was demonstrated clearly in your artworks since you yourself stated that. “Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind: […] Develop your senses -- especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”

Of all the five human senses, the eye played the most important role in assisting humans to get a grasp of what and how the world was because only vision could touch the faraway places that we could not touch, taste, hear or smell. Standing from a vantage point, we could use our eyes to discern the whole scenery, thus having the broadest view of the world. I could see this notion from your landscape drawings and paintings, which provided the viewer with an aerial view and a perfect proportion of the real topography -- something preceded by none.

The eye captured the world, interpreted it as somehow fitted with the mind, thus giving us the notion that we possessed the world. From what the eye perceived, an artist let his imagination take wings and created a world of his own which was expressed through his masterpieces. O, Leonardo, was that your idea when you said, “The painter has the Universe in his mind and hands.” With the eye as both the perceiver of the world and the supplier for the imagination, an artist knew about the world and could design everything that was within and without the known Universe according to his free will!

Indeed, in the end, the intensive, autonomous self was the main factor that had the power to shape the concept of the world in an artist’s mind. In other words, the world of nature depicted in a painter’s artworks represented not only the actual world but also his own mindset. The eye not only recorded the world but also reflected our own inner souls.

You once said, “A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.” With these words, did you mean that nature was but only what we perceived it? Did nature exist only when human’s perspectives shed light on it, O Leonardo? So what did you think nature was? Was nature just a mechanism for us human, who were at the center of it, to take advantage of, or was nature a living being with a soul of its own?

I understand that you were caught between the two schools of thoughts regarding the definition of nature: mechanism and animism. Because our view of the world also contained our own perspectives, different people had their own interpretations of the world surrounding us. However, as a scientist you analyzed and observed nature (and our own body as part of nature) to see what it really was, but as an artist you perceived nature with an aesthetic pleasure to see the subtle relationship between nature and human.

These two schools of thought -- mechanism and animism -- depended greatly on how we placed ourselves in the context of nature and how we discerned ourselves through the eye, as well. Sometimes, the eye could be misleading, since seldom was the truth bare for the eye to see. You understood this, did you not, O Leonardo, since you once said, “The greatest deception men suffer is from his own opinions”?

This led to the question of whether this world ever really existed as we saw it. How did we know if reality was real? Did our senses tell us the right things, was the world what we believed it to be, and was the world the same if our senses were different? There was a saying in my time which raised the question: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to see it, does it make a sound?” Indeed, no one can ever answer this question with absolute certainty, since we all perceive the world through our senses.

From,
The Future World.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Featured

The Boyfriends Of The 2000s

Thank you, J14, for the Posters

2101
J14 magazine

Every girl remembers her first crush. Even if your first crush was the boy in your kindergarten class that ate crayons, your first true love will always be the one that holds the key to your heart. Growing up in the 2000s, everyone knew who your dream guy was. Your family probably still give you grief and your best friends probably still reminisce, so it is impossible to forget your first celebrity crush. You bought a Tiger Beat magazine every chance you could just to read up about what your favorite celebrity was doing. Your room was fully decorated with posters of them, and it wasn't unusual to have fights with your best friends over who was going to marry him. If you were a 90's baby, lucky you because the 2000s were full of boys that were easy to love. I hope you enjoy a walk down memory lane and quickly realize that Bieber was definitely not the first guy with that hair cut. Here are 15 90's baby's first boyfriends.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

20 Things I Learned By The Start of My 20s

No one expects you to have your life together by the time you're 20, because honestly, they didn't either.

13642
Allyson Foutty

We are all often faced with many life challenges throughout the time leading up to our 20s. Before this time, and throughout it, we often look back at the things we've learned and how they've influenced who we are as people today. Some of my biggest influences were some of the challenges I've faced, but they've taught me 20 important things by the start of my 20s.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

The Boyfriend Recipe

The ingredients to build a relationship are a little more complicated than just a bouquet of flowers and a box of candy.

11165

Relationships. Long distance or not, significant others are much more than just that. I would be lying if I said I did not love the sweet gestures that only a boyfriend can give. The flowers, funny phone calls, hand holding, breakfast dates, and tight hugs are special but my relationship and many others out there exist on much more than just these little gestures. It is a tricky concoction that consists of one part boyfriend and two parts best friend and would not work without one part or the other. While having a relationship may not be quite as easy as baking a batch of cookies, it has its own recipe (with a few variations for flavor) to follow for a good match.

Keep Reading... Show less
google images

Fashion just keeps growing and changing and old trends are made new! Now, I'm no beauty guru, just a beauty guru wannabe, but personally I have compiled some stylish wardrobe must haves! These can be cute assets to go back to school or just to catch up on some of the latest trends...

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

There's More To A Relationship Than Netflix

Summertime is only 93 days of the year, Find something to do!

10181
Tallie Ammar

Summertime is ideal for more than just hanging out and binging your favorite TV series with your friends. Although summer does bring rain and thunderstorms which is perfect for those binging days, take advantage of those nice and sunny days. There is so many opportunities to get out of the house and enjoy the season before the snow starts to come back. Here are 25 interesting dates that are doable almost anywhere for any age.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments