Leonardo da Vinci? Offended God and Mankind. Me? Honestly, Not That Bad
“ I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.” -Leonardo Da Vinci
Those are the last words that historic genius and quintessential renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci spoke before dying at the age of 67.
This poses a bit of a problem for me, a classic dumb ass who’s only accomplishments thus far are not being dead and inconsistently writing articles on a website where anyone with an email address is allowed to write articles.
It’s most likely not a great idea to compare yourself to a person who is generally accepted to be one of the smartest and most accomplished people of all time, but my inferiority complex didn’t just manifest itself out of thin air, so here we are.
Obviously, Leonardo da Vinci and I are wired a bit differently. Exhibit one being that his notebooks looked like this:
And my Notes app on my iPhone looks like this:
Therefore, it can be difficult for me to try to get a firm grasp on what his idea of greatness and sense of accomplishment must’ve been like. We’re obviously playing in different leagues. What I can surmise though, is that if I ever drew one anatomical study of the face like the one pictured above, I’d be saying something more like “You remember that shit?” on my death bed.
So that begs the question: Should I ever be proud of anything I do? Clearly I’m not putting out anything close to the quality of even the worst thing Leonardo da Vinci has done, albeit we work in different mediums. His being invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography, and mine being watching The Office and talking about The Office. Is this offensive to God and Mankind? I’d say no, unless both parties are not a fan of off-beat humor.
The man clearly just had higher expectations for himself than I do. Personally, I think it makes more sense to have my blasé attitude towards my life and accomplishments. The bar is already so low, so anything that I do that is even a little bit impressive is multiplied ten fold because it’s like “whoa… who woulda thought.” Feeling like you answer to God and all of Mankind is ultimately not worth it in the end, since you’re never going to get a general consensus from either of those focus groups.
Not to mention there’s also a bit of an element to that quote where he was probably hoping the people around him would be like “Aw no way, Leo! You were like super smart and we were all basically in love with your inventions, sculptures, and paintings.” It seems even dying geniuses want a little bit of reassurance, which is probably the only way I’m able to relate to this guy. Definitely comes off as a bit of a reach though, and to be honest, I would’ve tried to be a little more subtle if I were trying to get one more compliment before I die. Kind of leaves a bad taste in the mouth, in my opinion.
I should also say that I don’t think he was saying he was a disgrace to God and Mankind to be modest. Clearly he knew he was at least an O.K painter since people kept commissioning him. That being said, the quote comes off as a bit cocky. Pretty much what he’s saying is that all of that famous shit he did that we love and all of that genius scribbled down in his notebooks was just him fucking around. Maybe if he wasn’t so intellectually curious about (and remarkably talented in) so many different really smart guy subjects he would’ve come up with something better than The Last Supper. You did fine, Leonardo, even if you think this was some kind of half-assed effort on your part.
It’s hard not to marvel at the kind of person Leonardo da Vinci was. His fervent interest and absolute mastery in so many different subjects is unprecedented in the history of human existence, but we’re all well aware of that and the people of his time period certainly were too. Therefore, I don’t think this smart little comment about being trash that God and everyone else hates just stands to make everyone else feel bad. I’m doing the best I can, why weren’t you?