Many people’s to-do lists are filled with everyday little tasks that might, by definition, fly out of mind. Look at the notes before the meeting, buy milk for the children, pay the bills…
Contrary to all these, Leonardo Da Vinci’s to-do list, which we can never call an ordinary person, is quite out of the ordinary. Da Vinci was very sensitive about carrying notebooks. That way, he could write and draw any brilliant idea he could think of, or anything he was inspired by. “It’s very useful,” said Leonardo, “for observing, taking notes and thinking.” He was so attached to them that he was buried with his notebook. A to-do list written by Leonardo in the 1490s was found in recent years. But what a to-do list!
Robert Krulwich from NPR translated this list directly from Leonardo’s handwriting. The list does not seem obvious to us at first, but it is clear that Leonardo did not write this list in order to read it on the Internet in the future, 500 years later.
Here’s Leonardo Da Vinci’s To-Do List
● [Calculate] Measurement of Milan and its neighborhoods
● [Find] The book about Milan and its churches, which should be in the bookstore on the road to Cordusio
● [Discover] Measuring Corte Vecchio (courtyard of the duke’s palace)
● [Discover] Dimensions of the palace [the duke’s palace] ● Find an arithmetic master to show you how a triangle is squared.
● Find Messer Fazio (a medicine and law professor at Pavia) to teach proportion.
● Go to Brera Friar to show you De Ponderibus (a text on the science of mechanics).
● Talk to the bomber Giannino. Which tower in Ferrara is walled without a peephole (Nobody understood what Leonardo was saying here)
● Ask Benedetto Potinati, a Florentine merchant, what it means to go on ice in Flanders.
● Draw Milan
● Ask Master Antonio how the mortars are positioned on the bastions day or night.
● [View] Mastro Giannetto’s crossbow
● Find a master who specializes in hydraulics and ask him to tell you how to fix locks, trench and mill in Lombard style.
● Ask Giovanni Francese to give you the measurements of the sun as the master promised.
● Try to find the mathematician Vitolone in the Pavia Library. (author of a text on optics)
You can feel the insatiable curiosity and intellectual restlessness of Da Vinci from these substances. You can see how many people are after who can teach him something to become an expert in many subjects. Mathematics, physics, astronomy… Besides, who else would write a request like “Draw Milan” on the daily to-do list?
Later, to-do lists dated 1510 show us that Da Vinci’s interest in anatomy is increasing. Beautifully mixed drawings, bones and viscera and tasks to be completed along this line… Find a skull, describe a crocodile’s jaw and woodpecker’s tongues, evaluate a cadaver using your finger as a unit of measure.
On the same page, Da Vinci lists what he considers most important for anatomical technical drawing. It is stated that the internal structure of the body and the functioning of the organs are particularly important; It is obvious that it is necessary to have a strong stomach.