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Why DID Leonardo write in "mirror writing"?

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posted on May, 8 2008 @ 06:14 PM
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Look elsewhere if you want to find answers (however impossible to prove) - only questions here.


I know this has been marginally discussed here, way before my time on ATS, but the discussion is scattered in various threads - most of them including my bete noire (or should I say brune?
), Dan Brown...

Personally, I think it would be a good idea to gather as many opinions as possible within a single thread.
(If possible, without involving Mr. Brown. It really isn't necessary: it's not like he knew anything about Leonardo - starting by his name...
)

Many people - and that, amazingly, includes art historians - still to this day perpetuate the silly notion that thereby he wanted to "hide" his notes from the public.

For sure, Leonardo liked his cloak of mystery, he created it himself and did everything in his power to enhance it. But I don't think he would have been stupid enough to think that nobody who could read would crack his mighty mirror "code" in less than a minute.
Or would he have been as asinine as that?
(After all, one should never underestimate the limitations of a narcissistic mind. :-))
Personally, I don't think so.

He may have discovered - by intuition - that using both hands promotes the optimal functioning of the brain, and wrote like that - or even using both hands simultaneously (it's fun, try it sometimes, if you haven't so far!) - just for practice.
But would he have written entire notebooks like that?

Or maybe he did it just for plain, sheer - fun?

To tease posterity, perhaps?

That would certainly have been in character... But WAS it so?
Obviously, it's impossible to prove it.

Still, any relevant thoughts would be welcome.






[edit on 8-5-2008 by Vanitas]




posted on May, 8 2008 @ 06:42 PM
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As an M.FA I learned that, historically, Leo was doing his art and research in a time when it was forbidden by the church. He could have been burned at the stake as a heretic if he were readily caught by the Catholic Clergy. So he wrote in mirror writing to force the authorities to decipher his writing, which, in and of itself, would have been heresy to any authority gathering the evidence.

He was marginally taunting the Vatican to try and catch him without committing heresy themselves, and with his mirror writing they couldn't. He also felt that his research was so important he should risk heresy to produce it and preserve it for posterity.

If all this was any help. PS, I typed this all up on an upside-down keyboard. Try it sometime, its freakin' hard.



posted on May, 8 2008 @ 06:56 PM
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I find it hard to believe that Leonardo wrote mirror writing to fool the Vatican, as most people can read backward or upside down with minimal practice. I can also write backward and left-handed or right handed, although with some difficulty as this does not come naturally, but has been necessitated by injuries or part of intellectual exercises.

I think Leonardo was a genius with a normal sense of humor and desire to show off just for kicks.

He may have had some other reason for writing as he did, such as developing dexterity, but I doubt seriously that anyone could be fooled by backward writing for more than a minute, as the OP states.



posted on May, 8 2008 @ 07:04 PM
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reply to post by qxlb52
 


That's exactly what they taught me when I was studying History of Art.

If I remember correctly, even Carlo Pedretti subscribed to that theory (but I may be wrong on this one - and definitely too lazy to check right now...:-))

Personally, I think it's an embarrassingly silly theory.
Such a childishly patronising attitude definitely "mirrors" their own scope of mind...



posted on May, 8 2008 @ 07:08 PM
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I think Leonardo was a genius with a normal sense of humor and desire to show off just for kicks.

He may have had some other reason for writing as he did, such as developing dexterity, but I doubt seriously that anyone could be fooled by backward writing for more than a minute, as the OP states.


Couldn't agree more on all counts.

The only problem with "showing off" in this particular case is that they were his private work notebooks - serious work, clearly intended for his own use.



posted on May, 8 2008 @ 07:12 PM
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If all this was any help. PS, I typed this all up on an upside-down keyboard. Try it sometime, its freakin' hard.


Unless you did it using your elbows, I am not impressed at all...








[edit on 8-5-2008 by Vanitas]



posted on May, 8 2008 @ 07:17 PM
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Some believe that because Leonardo was left handed that he devised the mirror writing so that he would be less likely to smear the ink with his hand as he wrote.

Here's a well written explanation.


For over five hundred years, scholars have explained Leonardo's mirror writing as writing which could only be read in a mirror because he wanted to keep what he wrote secret.

As an inventor who understands how some inventors think, I never believed that Leonardo's writing had anything to do with secrets or mystery writing. He was such a creative, innovative person, he wrote the way he did because it was easier and possibly less "messy". Leonardo was left handed. If you have ever watched a left handed person write you will see that in order to be able to read what they have written, as they write it, they "curl" their hand around what they have written. This allows them to see what they are writing as well as reduce the tendency to cover the newly written material with the side of the hand. If the writing was being done with a pen or quill dipped in ink, the left handed writer would tend to "drag" the outside part of the hand over what was just written. The right handed writer doesn't have this problem because the hand moves away from what is being written. There is no blocking the view of the writing and no dragging the hand across the wet ink.

So, I believe Leonardo simply devised the backward writing because it worked for him. Truly a practical and ingenious way to write his thoughts quickly and without mess. And obviously, he had no problem reading what he had written. That's it. No big secret and deep dark mystery. Just a good example of how Leonardo was someone who could "think outside the box". By the way, he didn't always write backwards. There are examples of his writing in the "normal" way. And he sometimes also used a short hand system he devised.

www.inventorpat.com...


en.wikipedia.org...

Google Search

[edit on 2008/5/8 by GradyPhilpott]



posted on May, 8 2008 @ 07:18 PM
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reply to post by GradyPhilpott
 


Hmm... that's interesting.
Thanks!



posted on May, 8 2008 @ 07:19 PM
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I have to go with the dry ink theory. Mine was that he used several candles a mirror and a lens to make a sort of overhead projector.....but then he would be teaching.....



posted on May, 9 2008 @ 12:17 AM
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Originally posted by GradyPhilpott
Some believe that because Leonardo was left handed that he devised the mirror writing so that he would be less likely to smear the ink with his hand as he wrote.

[edit on 2008/5/8 by GradyPhilpott]


As a lefty myself, I would have to subscribe to this theory. I know that most days, by the end of school my pinky and ring fingers have a stain from the ink of my pen; and sometimes when I have a particularly nasty day(like having to write two in-class essays for English and History), those two fingers are REALLY stained(as in, it looks like I've dipped the top of those two fingers in ink).

I can't imagine what it would be like in Leonardo's day.

[edit on 9-5-2008 by Core90]



posted on May, 9 2008 @ 08:46 AM
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You see why it was such a good idea to collect opinions here?

It's such a breath of fresh air to see Leonardo treated without the usual cloak-and-dagger fluff...!

Mind you, I am perfectly aware that this is just A theory, like any other.

But it's so reasonable and convincing - without bringing the Knights Templars and the entire Church of Rome and you-know-who into the conversation...


I am so glad I asked you, people.







[edit on 9-5-2008 by Vanitas]



posted on May, 9 2008 @ 09:06 AM
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I am left handed Like Leonardo was and I is actually as easy to write that way as opposed the the normal way... also it you write the normal way as a leftie you end up dragging your arm or sleave across the paper and in the days before quick drying ink, that could often get messy. As an artist I have taught myself to draw and paint from the right side of the paper working left for that very reason.



posted on May, 9 2008 @ 02:59 PM
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reply to post by grover
 



And furthermore, you didn't have to join any secret societies before doing that, did you...?


Thanks for the input.
(I wish "lefties" had been more vocal sooner! :-)






[edit on 9-5-2008 by Vanitas]



posted on May, 10 2008 @ 08:40 AM
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reply to post by Vanitas
 


No I didn't and for that I am profoundly grateful... I can't even keep secrets from myself.



posted on May, 20 2008 @ 03:57 PM
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I tend to go with the left handed did not want the ink to drag on the sleeve theory, yet something tells me this man was so brilliant it had to have had deep meanings to those in control (Vatican) in his day.

I have a Stepdaughter and she was born with Kartagener's syndrome, all of her organs including her heart are mirrored, on the opposite side and even backwards.

She would be written and when she turned the page, she would then write completely backwards! Maybe we are on to something big here.

Did Leonardo have Kartagener's syndrome undiagnosed?



posted on May, 20 2008 @ 04:04 PM
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I have a theory.

It might not be a good one, but it's a theory.

Leonardo was one of those people in history who can be referred to as "Dangerously intelligent" - the same kind of "Dangerous Intelligence" that is capable of creating, say, an atomic weapon capable of levelling cities.

As such, his captors - the people who like to have him around because he's "dangerously intelligent" would probably want to snoop on his work so that they could act all intelligent in front of him and perhaps impress him - thereby cultivating a sense of mutual respect with the nutter.

Oops, did i say that?

Anyway, my point is he probably didn't like people being so insincere with him.

I have always considered something important when looking at 'genius' like Leonardo's - was he truly a Genius, or just someone who chased his dreams?

They do say that men had dreamt of flying for thousands of years before the wright brothers...

[edit on 20-5-2008 by Anti-Tyrant]



posted on May, 20 2008 @ 04:16 PM
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I have always considered something important when looking at 'genius' like Leonardo's - was he truly a Genius, or just someone who chased his dreams?


The two are not mutually exclusive, you know?


I have always detested the G word. But it would be a long story to explain why... (Or maybe not, but I am just too lazy right now. : )

As I see it, he was just (and I'll emphasise the word: just) OPEN to the greater world, both seen and unseen. His "channels" were unusually unobstructed.

And that is true of any "genius".

He also enjoyed unusually great respect in all circles. Sure, the populace (and I don't necessarily use this word in a contemptuous sense) was wary of the "nutter" - as they would be today. As they ARE today.

But those who knew better - and that includes the lofty inhabitants of the Vaticanus Hill - respected his artistic abilities far too much to even consider going after him.
(Besides, he made sure that some of his highly illegal activities - notably exhuming dead bodies for dissection, which was subject to capital punishment - were well hidden from the public.)

It's the popolino, the "small people", who, in its ignorance, is the real foe of anyone who stands out for any reason, and that includes so-called "genii".



posted on May, 20 2008 @ 04:21 PM
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reply to post by Vanitas
 


Quite rightly - even rivals would only stoop so far as to plagiarise his work.

Which is quite different from having an armed mob at your door brandishing torches and pitchforks.

If only they knew...



posted on May, 20 2008 @ 04:29 PM
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If only they knew...


But they did!
The always do - even if not consciously, they always do.
That's just it.

And, in fact, it's quite understandable, at least from the very pedestrian Darwinist perspective: anything that is too... just different might affect our community in ways that are unpredictable.
So... where are those matches, Pa?



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