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Leonardo in London, Surfing: How would da Vinci react to today's internet? A response to a 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!
Enigmatic Mona Lisa
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.....”
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.
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.”
Anatomy in Detail
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
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?
© 2015 Ann Carr