Leonardo in London, Surfing: How would da Vinci react to today's internet? A response to a Challenge

The Challenge

This challenge came from dzymslizzy. You can see all the details at http://dzymslizzy.hubpages.com/hub/Contest-on-an-Interesting-Question but the basics are these:

Create a Hub answering this two-part question that asks you to time travel in your mind, and project forward on behalf of another:

Part 1) "Do you think Leonardo da Vinci would be comfortable with the Internet?"

Part 2) "Why, or why not?"

My mind went totally blank, then gradually an idea emerged and I came up with a light-hearted look at the master should he be dragged into the present day. I don't think it would be kicking and screaming. I've stretched history a little and ignored the fact that he was apparently vegetarian.

Here we go!

Leonardo da Vinci

An outstanding mind!
An outstanding mind! | Source

Enigmatic Mona Lisa

La Giaconda (Mona Lisa)
La Giaconda (Mona Lisa) | Source

Leonardo in London, Surfing

“Hey, Mona, you seen this latest stuff here? All you gotta do is push a few letter buttons and you can see anything you like and I mean anything!”

Leonardo was sitting at his desk and talking in hushed tones to his creation on the wall above him. He carried her everywhere with him. What did you say? That thing in the Louvre Gallery? That’s only a copy! D’you think he’d give up his only surviving portrait for everyone to chuck stuff at? Get a life!

He had to keep his voice down. It was past midnight and his flatmates wouldn’t thank him for disturbing their well-earned sleep. They’d been out on the town, daubing walls with Banksy and observing London’s architecture with the parkour club.

Come to think of it, he might join them next time, just to experience a different perspective on the world. After all, he could visualise most of the buildings of Florence and sketch them from memory, inside out. London’s architecture would present a challenge. Not so pretty but solid and dependable.

“Look at that ‘Buckingham' thingamajig, Mona. Ugly as the monarch’s backside but tourists fight to get to the railings and gawp. What’s that? Pay to look inside? You gotta be joking, old girl! Give me the plans and I’ll fast sketch the interior for free.

In fact, I’ll just bring it up on this screen for ya.”

A lucky find

Leonardo, unwashed, matted hair to his shoulders, was hunched over what he referred to as ‘a contraption’. He’d found it when he’d moved into his salubrious quarters in Mayfair. No, of course he couldn’t pay the rent! Why should he care? Never stopped him before. It was central, it suited his travel purposes and there was a graveyard nearby. “Lots of anatomical notes to finish off, details to add to drawings,” he’d explained to Mona who always listened patiently with a wistful smile.

The contraption had been discarded in a corner of this poky room, amongst a pile of dirty socks and underwear which made him feel at home. He’d opened the lid. Bit like a book but it had an umbilical cord leading to nowhere. The three-pronged end seemed to fit into those three-holed fixtures in the wall so, using his ingenuity, he’d experimented and finally worked it all out. Someone else’s great invention made him jealous. A contraption and power on tap! He’d have to develop that.

“Wow, Mona! You seen this?” he’d said. “Made to measure. I’ll never have to write again. No more long hours figuring out how to spell these cursed words, wasting precious time recording it all when no one can read what I’ve set down. What did Verrocchio mean, my writing was backwards?! I’ll give him backwards!

Just imagine! All the architects who’ve never seen my work, all the patents I can get for my inventions! Well, when I’ve finished them that is. I’ll have to arrange my papers in the relevant piles. Started it last week but then I had this new idea.....”


Machine for grinding Convex Lenses
Machine for grinding Convex Lenses

Freedom at last

Each day his agile, fluttering brain would demand he set down drawings, ideas, diagrams. One idea sparked off a tangent and off he’d go down that road, on another piece of paper. Now he could realise his ideas on his steady contraption; it gave him the means to draw lines and curves but they stayed neat, they stayed on a file which disappeared deep into the recesses of this machine but, hey presto, surfaced again when he wanted them. He had to try to keep them in order, though, make sure he divided them into subject headings; all a bit much for this scatterbrain who couldn’t organise a pig in a poke.

Most of all, he didn’t need to put pen to paper; he didn’t need to split his head trying to remember which way round the letters went so that his ideas drifted into the clouds and remained woolly. He could spend more time with his beloved sketches, drawings and paintings. How he loved his new-found freedom. He wished he could thank the fellow-inventor who created his saviour.

Anatomy in Detail

Vitruvian Man
Vitruvian Man

Buckingham Palace, Pizzas & Parts

So now he was ‘surfing’; pretty cool idea, he thought.

“Here it is, look! Buckingham Palace, that’s it. See what I mean? Not as pretty as you is it?

What d’ya say to a quick takeaway, eh Giac’? Pizza’s good. I just talk to this smaller machine here and a chap’ll arrive at the door in ten minutes with a Quattro Formaggi. Amazing!

Remember that mural I did of that huge supper? Didn’t have pizza there did they?”

Hang on a minute! The screen’s gone blank. Wretched machine in the hall needs more coins shoved in the slot. Better churn out a few more paintings and put out my hat in the park. See how much I can make this month. Fancy posing again? When we’ve polished off the pizza it’ll be dark enough for a quick jog over to the graveyard, see if I can find a foot intact. Did you know how many bones the foot has? Vital to record them all in detail, make sure I’ve got it right.”

Never be without it

He looked around at the mounds of notes and scattered paper. Time to sort them out. Then he’d try France next. Meet up with some old mates. Take Mona on holiday for a while. One thing was for sure, he’d take this contraption with him; never be without it again.

A Short Biography

Leonardo Da Vinci: 1452-1519 (67)

  • born April 1452 near Vinci in Tuscany,
  • apprenticed to sculptor and painter Verrocchio in Florence, Italy,
  • Italian Renaissance artist and sculptor in his own right,
  • one of the great creative minds of his time, also a talented engineer, scientist, inventor and architect, not to mention musician, mathematician, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer
  • well known works include ‘The Last Supper’ (1495 to 1497) & the ‘Mona Lisa’ (1503-1506; she can be seen in the Louvre Art Gallery, Paris and is his only surviving portrait; in Italian she is Monna Lisa or La Giaconda)
  • died near Amboise, France in May 1519
  • thousands of his notebooks survive, revealing writing and drawings on anatomy, geology, flight, optics and gravity
  • he had a ‘butterfly’ mind, shown in his notes which cover random topics over a page, much of his writing in mirror script; he was left-handed
  • thought to have been dyslexic
  • drawings include: bicycle, helicopter, aeroplane, parachute and war machines - 500 years ahead of their time!
  • his work was never published in an ordered and easily understood format
  • he had a detailed understanding of anatomy, of the physics of light and shade, all reflected in his paintings

Post Script!

I inadvertently published this before the midnight time constraint - I completely forgot about that bit of the challenge 'rules'. So apologies to DsyMsLizzy for that. I didn't re-publish the following morning as (I think) this would have deleted some comments which others had kindly left. As no prizes are involved I decided to leave well alone. I'm happy to be left out of the running if this causes any annoyance to anyone.

Thank you for reading; I appreciate your support and always love to read anyone's comments.

Leonardo: his talent & his difficulties

Do you think da Vinci would fit well into our modern world?

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More by this Author

Comments 41 comments

annart profile image

annart 18 months ago from SW England Author

peachpurple: Thank you!


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 18 months ago from Home Sweet Home

congrats your hub got the prize, whatever it is

Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 19 months ago from Northeast Ohio

My pleasure Ann. Nice to meet you.

annart profile image

annart 19 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, Kristen, for your comment and the vote. Glad you liked it.


Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 19 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Ann, nice work with your response to the challenge. It had tons of great amusing humor to it. Voted up for funny!

annart profile image

annart 19 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, John. Your story was of equal merit at the very least; glad we could share. I greatly appreciate your support.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 19 months ago from Queensland Australia

Well done and congratulations on this hub winning the contest Ann.

annart profile image

annart 20 months ago from SW England Author

lawrence01: Glad you enjoyed the story. Yes, his inventions were amazing; I'm sure he'd have come up with more things way ahead of their time.

Thanks for reading and commenting.


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 20 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

At least keep him away from some of his inventions!! The helicopter was one of his. The machines he designed were hundreds of years before their time, if he lived now I wonder what he'd design?

Really enjoyed the story


annart profile image

annart 20 months ago from SW England Author

Akriti Mattu: Thank you for such kind words. I'll look forward to seeing you.


annart profile image

annart 20 months ago from SW England Author

Thank you, Catherine, for your kind comment. I'm pleased you liked this.

He must have been quite a character, I think, as his mind was always so active if not concentrated!


Akriti Mattu profile image

Akriti Mattu 20 months ago from Shimla, India

Your posts are so good. Planning to read more on the weekend :)

CatherineGiordano profile image

CatherineGiordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

What a marvelous journey into the mind of Leonardo da Vinci. You brought him to life. Voted up +++

annart profile image

annart 20 months ago from SW England Author

Thank you, Lee. I'm so glad you liked it and thanks for the vote. I've always had a soft spot for da Vinci; such a talented man.


profile image

Lee Cloak 20 months ago

An amazing write about an amazing man, a really interesting and entertaining read, very thought provoking as well, best of luck, thanks for a fantastic read, voted up, Lee

annart profile image

annart 20 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, Alicia. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Have a great Monday!


annart profile image

annart 20 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, Audrey, it was fun to do! I tried to take his characteristics and adapt them to the present. As he was regarded as a bit strange by his own I suppose it wouldn't bother him being in a completely different environment and his quest for knowledge of all kinds would mean he'd revel in progress and new machines (but then his were way ahead of his time anyway!).

I appreciate your visit, Audrey. Have a great Monday.


annart profile image

annart 20 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, Flourish; I think he was a one-off and a bit of a renegade. Never thought of the hippy streak but, yes, you're right!

Have a great Monday!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 20 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is amusing, interesting and very creative, Ann! Good luck in the contest.

AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 20 months ago from California

Well this was great fun! What a great response to this challenge!!

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 20 months ago from USA

How fun, Ann. You pawing him as kind of a hipster.

annart profile image

annart 20 months ago from SW England Author

Dear Theresa,

Thank you for your generous comment. Yes, it was great fun to do, once I got into it. I read a bit about da Vinci and then the ideas started. It's the first time I've tried something with a little humour so I'm glad you thought it had that.

Thanks for the votes etc. My Sunday has been a mixture of chilling out and housework and I'm about to go off for an early night. It's been a lovely, sunny day and finally warmed up to what June should be!

Great to see you and thanks for your support, as ever.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 20 months ago from southern USA

Dear Ann,

Your writing is pure genius! What an entertaining hub here and no doubt you have surpassed the challenge being your creative self and the humor here is top notch. I can see da Vinci just as you describe him in today's world LOL.

What a fun challenge.

Up and all the way across tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing

I do hope you are enjoying a peaceful Sunday afternoon

annart profile image

annart 20 months ago from SW England Author

Shyron: thank you for your wonderful comment. Glad you liked this and thanks for the votes.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 20 months ago

Fantastic Ann, I will have to read Dzymslizzy's challenge. I think this is awesome and voted that way.

Thumb-up, UFSBI and shared.

annart profile image

annart 20 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, Dora, for your second visit today; your support is much appreciated. Glad you like this too.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 20 months ago from The Caribbean

I like Colleen Swan's comment and say "ditto." I also liked your story response to the challenge. Very creative!

annart profile image

annart 20 months ago from SW England Author

Good thinking, Colleen! I think Leonardo would have relished the fact that he could reach more outlets, as well as having help with his diagrams!

Thanks for reading and for adding your valuable input.


Colleen Swan profile image

Colleen Swan 20 months ago from County Durham

Hi Ann, Your hub got me thinking about the connection between art and the internet. I think an artist of any kind is attempting to communicate and would like to reach as many people as are available. That is why so many frustrated writers have taken to self publishing on the web. It is more vital to be read than to be paid for writing. Hence I think every artist, from Homer on down, would have delighted in the opportunities.

annart profile image

annart 20 months ago from SW England Author

Well, thank you, manatita, for your grades and for your kind comment. I'm glad you think this suits his style; I tried to get into his mind a little (teaching dyslexics helps!).

Not so chilly here and we didn't get the thunder storms, just soft, refreshing rain for the new seeds and plants. Hope your day is refreshing too.


manatita44 20 months ago

So there you are, Ann. The fourth person that I have given all five grades.

You bring out Da Vinci's genius quite well, and your creative and innovative approach is refreshing and well suited to his style.

His was a truly brilliant and illumining mind, with a Heart and Soul of supreme beauty! Blessings on this cool morning here in London.

annart profile image

annart 20 months ago from SW England Author

That's great, Lizzy. I'll have to look that up too!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 20 months ago from Oakley, CA

Thank you for your entry.

BTW--there is also a third book in the prize offerings: I'm putting up a copy of my book of poems, "Tales My Father Told."

I've revised the original post to reflect that the contest now has prizes.

annart profile image

annart 20 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, Shauna. I don't envy you your job judging these. It's great that you and Bill have offered prizes; I've read Bill's book and its great but I didn't know you had a book of poetry - that would be so good to read, I'll look it up.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 20 months ago from Central Florida

Thank you for your entry, Ann. I'm purposely not going to give any hint as to my take on your response to the challenge. Gotta keep it to myself for now!

BTW, this contest does now have prizes that will be awarded to the winner. Both Bill and I will be offering a signed copy of our first ever published work. Mine is a poetry book called Hearts and Rainbows - a Poetic Look at Life, and Bill's offering his first novel, The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday to Today. I've read it and thoroughly enjoyed it.

annart profile image

annart 20 months ago from SW England Author

Frank: Thank you. I think Leonardo was already regarded as eccentric in his own world so I'm sure he could survive now. An inventor would always relish something new and challenging.

Glad this was 'fun'. Good to see you.


annart profile image

annart 20 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, John. Glad you liked it. He was a bit of a rebel and a one-off it seems so hopefully I've managed something about his reactions!


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 20 months ago from Shelton

this is very good.. I think Leonardo would fit right in.. but he will be playing the old school card... or probably be saying hey.. back in the day we did it..blah blah blah.. this was entertaining and fun to read bless you

Jodah profile image

Jodah 20 months ago from Queensland Australia

Hi Ann, as Bill said, this was "brilliant" and funny. I loved your approach and can imagine Leonardo being just as you describe. Voted up.

annart profile image

annart 20 months ago from SW England Author

Apparently I shouldn't have published until midnight tonight, but that's 5-7 hours ahead of the US and I forgot all about it! Silly me. This time thing always ties my head in knots.

Thanks for your great comment. I fancied trying something amusing which is not usually my style, so there we are. I enjoyed doing this; great fun!

A 'brilliant'! Who could ask for more?! You are too kind.

Ann :)

billybuc profile image

billybuc 20 months ago from Olympia, WA

Oh, I thoroughly enjoyed this, which is a good thing since I'm one of the judges. :) Ann, you continue to push your limits and then exceed them, and it's a pleasure to know you. Well done...funny...inventive.....creative....BRILLIANT!


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