Tuesday, January 19, 2010

If You Could Choose

If you had the chance to meet any one person, one human being (no biblical characters), past or present, who would it be? What would you discuss and why would you choose them? I’m talking about getting inside their heads, knowing their intentions and seeing what they're all about. Want to know who I’d choose?

Without a doubt, I would choose Leonardo Da Vinci hands down. Bet you didn’t see that coming. During school, whenever we talked about Da Vinci and his work, I was always intrigued by how someone could dream up theories and concepts years before the technology was even thought of. After half a semester of constantly falling asleep through AP European History in high school, it took a man like Da Vinci to spark my interest and wake me up. I marveled at how someone could envision modern day helicopters hundreds of years before the technology to build them, was even available. He also sketched the Vitruvian Man diagram, a cultural iconic symbol so innovative at the time we still use it today.

I hate that you can’t cite Wikipedia, but according to them Da Vinci was a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, botanist and writer. What I think is most impressive about this list is even through my 19 years of life on this earth I still do not know what a few of those mean. Add in that Da Vinci was doing them in the latter part of the 15th century and I live in the 21st century and I’m even more embarrassed.

I would sit down and ask him about the mysteries surrounding his most famous paintings, the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. Few works have been subject to as much scrutiny, study, mythologizing, and parody as The Mona Lisa. I’d ask him the real meaning of the artwork and what he was trying to accomplish by painting it. I think it’s possible that his work has been overanalyzed through the years and therefore unintended symbolisms have been drawn out by people after Da Vinci’s time. It’s impossible to tell and nobody knows, but I’d like to find out.

Leonardo is also revered for his technological ingenuity. I would love to pick his brain and find out how he could construct and visualize designs not even feasible during his time. He conceptualized a helicopter, a tank, concentrated solar power, a calculator, the double hull and outlined a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics. Think about all the information, inventions, ideas, predictions, or artworks that he could create with the power of today’s world.

Honorable mention:
J.D. Salinger – Thoughts behind my favorite book of all-time “Catcher and the Rye”
Mark Twain – Who wouldn’t want to spend a day with Mark Twain?
George Washington – Ask for his thoughts on our government today? What is was like founding and writing a government for an entire country.
Adolf Hitler – I’d just ask why
Abe Lincoln – I’d ask about the Civil War, slavery, and his time as the President
Julius Ceaser – I’m not really familiar with Ceaser’s story but I wanted to choose someone from the Roman Empire times to see what that was all about.

Leave a comment and tell me who you would choose.


  1. In response to the Hitler question, check out #5 on this countdown http://www.cracked.com/article_17298_6-random-coincidences-that-created-modern-world.html

  2. Confucius..
    or maybe Ayn Rand..
    and Freud for sure.

  3. Queen Elizabeth I

  4. I like the idea of Caesar, but going along with that, I would choose Cleopatra...

  5. John Wooden

  6. The great thing about Julius Caesar is that for as ancient and brilliant as he is, he is one of the rare figures from that time that wrote his own books and they survive intact to this day. So unlike Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan, you can hear what Julius was thinking during his incredible conquests.

    So you can pick his brain (so to speak) by picking up "The Commentaries" (10 year conquest of modern day France, Belgium, and Switzerland with invasions of Germany and Britian) and "The Civil Wars" (outnumbered battles against his fellow Romans to become the first Roman Emperor) sometime. Well worth the read.