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HOW TO THINK LIKE LEONARDO da VINCI
Seven Steps to Genius Every Day
If you are going to develop yourself as a genius then perhaps the best thing that you can do is model yourself of the greatest genius of all time. Well at least that is what Michael Gelb, the author of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci thinks and if you read this book, I think you will be inclined to agree with him. But don't just take my word for it, the late Poet Laureate Ted Hughes called the book "a brilliant and practical guide to awakening and training our vast, unused resources of intelligence and ability...." He also urged us to "Get this book and stick with it". And why might that be I hear you ask.
Since studying the book for this review I have returned to it time and time again to enjoy what it has to offer. It is a delightful piece of work that is elegant in its style, well illustrated (with pictures of some of LDV's greatest works), interesting and yet entertaining with it. It is many books in one - an art history manual, a drawing course, a biography, a treatise on European history, a self help book and a psychological text. Separated in to three sections, the first talks about the life and works of the great man himself; the second part breaks out and examines the seven steps to genius in detail and the last section teaches you how to draw. The seven steps to da Vincian genius are:
Curiosità - An insatiable curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.
Dimonstrazione - A commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.
Sensazione - The continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as a means to enliven experience.
Sfumato - A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox and uncertainty.
Arte/Scienza - the development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination - "whole-brain" thinking.
Corporalita - The cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness and poise.
Connessione - a recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena - Systems thinking.
In each section Gelb demonstrates how each of the da Vincian principles affects our lives, gives us a method to assess ourselves in relation to the principle concerned and then provides exercises to enhance our abilities in each area. My favourite section is the "Beginner's da Vinci Drawing Course" in section 3. Try the first seeing exercise on page 274 and you will be amazed at the results.
This book would make a tremendous gift to a wide variety of people but if you buy it as a gift, get two copies instead of one because you won't want to part with it.
How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci - Seven Steps to Genius Everyday, by Michael Gelb costs £12.99 and can be obtained from good bookstores everywhere (ISBN 0-7225-3718-2).
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