Cyberspace Web





Enter the web.


Leonardo da Vinci's notes resemble what Dennis Leary's dreams would probably turn out to be like if Leary paid more attention in class to pretty much everything that was ever said, as well as spending all of his spare time in the library; although if he were to do that, it would be highly doubtful whether he would turn out to be anything like the Dennis Leary that he is today, which would defeat the motivation for this whole analogy. Therefore it would be best for the reader to assume at this point that this paragraph never existed.

To return to the original subject, assuming that there ever was one, Leonardo da Vinci probably stretched the concept of cross-disciplinary studies to its limits. He took an interest in oil painting, charcoal painting, sculpture, aerial, nautical, military and civil engineering, architecture, botany, biology, anatomy, astronomy, geology, mathematics, music, and more. He cross-referenced these areas and applied methods from one discipline to another to come up with his meticulous, almost scientific Treatise on Painting as well as to create detailed and often aesthetically pleasing drawings of plants for his botany studies.

Whoever in discussion cites authority uses not intellect but memory, he once wrote, hinting at a Descartian philosophy based not on deductive but rather on associative reasoning. Anything that 'made sense' was permissible, and could form part of his notes, more than five thousand pages of mirror-writing, a technique which he perfected, by himself, over the years. The fact that he was left-handed may have motivated him to prefer to write from right to left, although some historians suggest that Leonardo wished to keep his notes confidential for fear of the Church which was still quite powerful during Leonardo's lifetime. From what we know of Leonardo's schooling, motivations and mindset, however, this hypothesis seems ridiculously false. Leonardo had openly denounced such ideas as the belief that the Earth was a few thousand years old (he pointed out geological evidence to the contrary) as well as the conviction that the Earth was the center of the universe (he presented some evidence supporting the notion of a heliocentric universe). He would not let authority get in the way of his hyperreading and his hyperauthorship. Yet I repeat myself.

One fascinating project which could capture the imagination of many hypertext academics would consist of transcribing whatever remains of Leonardo's notes (some of his volumes have been lost) to the digital medium by reversing, translating and linking the mirror-scripted lexia, as well as restoring the slightly damaged pages while remaining as faithful to the original text as possible. This would provide human civilization with one of the most ingenious uses of the hypertextual medium, while giving us a glimpse of what Leonardo might have been capable of if only he had access to our current level of technology, by whatever means.