Small rooms and houses discipline the mind, large ones weaken it.
For the last 30 years of his life Leonardo da Vinci kept notes on the various questions and ideas that attracted his fantastic mind. These notes eventually reached 5,000 pages – almost all written backwards and illustrated with sketches. He may have planned to publish them, but at his death they were sold, lost, stolen, and misplaced. It wasn’t until the 19th century that scholars were able to publish them as a single work, arranging the notes by subject and calling it The Notebooks. So this book is literally just notes, some of them a single sentence and some a few pages long, grouped into broad subjects. The first volume covers how to be an artist, including drawing (it’s best to stand away from what you’re drawing at a distance three times its height,) light and shade, perspective, colors, human anatomy for artists, botany for painters, paints, and how to criticize your own work. The second volume covers science, including geology (fossils on mountaintops prove mountains have been lifted from the ocean floor,) weather, astronomy, hydraulics, inventions, war, and engineering. This is probably not a book to read all at once, but rather to dip into now and then, and reflect on the amazing thought and curiosity of one of the world’s greatest geniuses. It is also interesting to see how da Vinci did not spend his time. There is nothing about politics even though he was born in the Florence of Machiavelli; no artist’s gossip, not even about Michelangelo; only rare criticism of other people’s ideas; and – needless to say – nothing about the occult.
Check the BPL catalog for this title: The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci