Thursday 1 April 2010

Icon #47 Leonardo da Vinci

Most iconic inventor.
It's been a tough one today.  A dry icon topic?  Well no, there's been some great inventors suggested, let just say that facebook largely ignored it today on my wall although the Diary of a Ledger fan page saw some action, twitter as per usual has saved the day.

Once in a while some one comes along who moves humanity forward.  Leonardo da Vinci was one such man.  That we still eulogise over him nearly 600 years after his birth says much for the impact that he had.  In many ways it's not about what he invented but about what he conceived as being possible.  There's thinking outside of the box and then there's thinking outside of every imaginable box ever.

Ok so he's pretty famous for his paintings too but it's never been his art and the deconstruction of it that I've found particularly interesting.  It's always been the scribbled diagrams, in the note books that have been preserved, that hold the more intriguing stuff.

There's loads and loads of it too.  Tiny drawings of hand gliders and helicopters, hundreds of years before anyone actually managed to build them for real.  Designs for bridges, thought impossible at the time they were drawn, that have since been built.  Ok so the helicopter would never have worked, no one had come up with an engine, but he understood the basic principles of a rotor blade flying machine in the 15th or 16th Century.  I couldn't draw how one works now.  He even contrived a basic form of solar power.

There have been other inventors who have moved us forward of course.  The person that thousand of years ago invented the wheel, for instance, would be up there.  The internet and telephony in general defines this generation and we have moved forward because of things that were dreamt up during the industrial revolution.  But all of these leaps forward feel like evolution.  Steps on our journey as a species.  Leonardo da Vinci sticks out like a sore thumb because he was thinking about stuff so far beyond anyone else around him's imagination that he was beyond evolution.  

I was fortunate a few years back to go to an exhibition of his note books in London.  I could have looked at the pages for hours, the man's intelligence and forward thinking just leapt out off them at you.  It was an incredibly humbling experience.  You couldn't help but think that the rest of the world caught up with da Vinci 500 years later.  

'I have been impressed with the urgency of doing.  Knowing is not enough; we must apply.  Being willing is not enough; we must do.' Leonardo da Vinci.

Tonight's post is dedicated to @SoulIsTheGoal, @lmlc, @NessaLouise and @Sean_Boon.


  1. I think I should have little hearts and angels singing the macarena around my name, but that's just me.
    I agree wholeheartedly, and although a lot of his scribblings were just that- scribblings- he defined what you could do with ambition, drive, intelligence, logic and passion. Without him so few of the developments in modern science/art/social history and others would have happened at the rate they did.
    I salute that man and you for being awesome.