Saturday, May 17, 2008

Leonardo da Vinci: Renaissance Rebooter

This cartoon by Mort Greenberg, which appeared in the New Yorker, then in a Fidelity Investments print ad in the New Yorker, and most recently in Last Laughs: Cartoons about Aging, Retirement… and the Great Beyond (Scribner, 2007) perfectly captures the ideal of rebooting – Leonardo da Vinci, the ultimate Renaissance man, in his studio, busy working on two things at once.

The housekeeper is saying to the visitor, “Oh you know with Leonardo, it’s never retirement, it’s always reinvention.”

The cartoon brings back fond memories of a visit I made some years ago to the Clos Luce manor house in Amboise, in the Loire Valley of France. This is where Leonardo, at the invitation of King Francois I, came to live when he was 65. He happily continued to paint, sketch, and work as an engineer, architect, and festival organizer for the King Francois I court in Amboise, spending the last three years of his life there. The manor house is now a Leonardo museum.

I was traveling with a group of Stanford Sloan classmates, including Mike Fitch, a highly regarded Wells Fargo banker with a well-tuned and mischievous sense of humor. As Mike and I were walking through the models and drawings, we got into some nonsense banter about how Leonardo might have interacted with “Jacques,” an imaginary person who might have been hanging around Leonardo’s workshop (perhaps the guy in the cartoon).

Jacques: “Hey Lennie! Whatcha doin’ today?”


Leonardo: “I’m inventing a helicopter.”

Jacques: “Oh.”

(Pause.)

Jacques: “Hey Lennie! What’s a helicopter?”


Leonardo: “It’s something to fly around in and report on traffic.

Jacques: “Oh.”

(Longer pause.)

Jacques: “Hey Lennie! What’s traffic?”

OK, you had to be there. There was much more. Too bad one of our classmates didn’t have a video camera. Our improv routine might have made it to YouTube.

"A well filled day gives a good sleep. A well filled life gives a peaceful death." -- Leonardo da Vinci

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, Lee I guess I am the first to see the humor in the Lennie posting. I think you are right, you had to be there to really appreciate the comments. Don't ask me how I happened upon this one while looking at your Reboot You website. It does bring back many fond memories and you will always be Lennie in my book. Thanks for the chuckle. Jeanette
(you know, the wife of the other guy)

Anonymous said...

Hey Lennie!

Thanks for the notoriety! Does our routine offer clues for rebooting? We're headed to Vietnam Feb 17 - Mar 7 . . .I'll be alert for possible additions to the routine.

Mike

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