Leonardo da Vinci -or- A Dream for an Awakened Mind

"Art is a dream for awakened minds, a work of imagination withdrawn from ordinary life, dominated by the same forces that dominate the dream, and yet giving us a perspective and dimension on reality that we don't get from any other approach." Northrop Frye

A Polymath's Dream of Art, Science and the Humanities 

Leonardo da Vinci fits the artistic description of an awakened mind, that Frye speaks of. Leonardo's imagination and dreams took flight over five hundred years ago, and still have an influence on the marketplace of our thought to this day. Da Vinci, was one of Western civilizations greatest artists, scientific thinkers, investigators and inventors. His work was directed towards understanding the unified nature of art, science and life.

Through his use of experimentation he made numerous discoveries in such areas as hydraulics, geology, paleontology and engineering. In his sketches, we can see that he foresaw many inventions including the airplane, the submarine, the tank and many more. His studies and sketches of the human and animal body provided the basis for understanding comparative anatomy, physiology and the unified nature of all organic development. Da Vinci is considered a polymath and Renaissance Man. Said in layman's terms, he was a jack of all trades.  

In art, his paintings of the mysterious Mona Lisa and Christ's Last Supper are well known and regarded as cultural icons. Da Vinci's sketch, Vitruvian Man creates an interdisciplinary cultural iconic bridge between the arts, sciences and the humanities. Da Vinci tells us in Selections from The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, that one of his earliest memories was a dream of a kite. In da Vinci's own words; "Writing about the kite seems to be my destiny since among the first recollections of my infancy it seemed to me that I was in my cradle and a kite came to me and opened my mouth with its tail and struck me several times with its tail inside my lips." (p286) Leonardo's dream has been discussed by numerous dream researchers including Freud and Erich Neumann.

Dream Research -or- Dreams, Art and Individual and Collective Psychobiography

Sigmund Freud "Leonardo da Vinci", would use this dream to create a psychobiography of Leonardo's life and mind. Freud's psychoanalysis of Leonardo's dream is considered as a modern pioneering literary work. Freud had conceptualized that dreams helped to organize and re-organize our personal thoughts, feelings, memories and problems. In this sense, those that keep dream diaries or notebooks generally have more access to their long term memories. (Read IIDR the interpretations, "Dream Diaries -or- The Book I Write" as well as, "Poetics of a Woman's Autobiography" which reinforces these ideas).

Erich Neumann "Art and the Creative Unconscious" would use a different method to interpret da Vinci's dream. Neumann would apply an archetypal and transpersonal perspective. Where Freud attempted to show that da Vinci had a mother fixation, Neumann would see the kite or bird from a mythological perspective. For Neumann, da Vinci's dream represents the archetype of the "Great Mother", that is represented by the uroborus (the Great Round).The IIDR's waking dream interpretation The Great Mother and Creation Mythologies provides another perspective.

It was hypothesized by Johan Jacob Bachofen "Myth, Religion & Mother Right" that the first mythology and primeval religion among humans was a matriarchal social order. Later, others who explored this idea included Friedrich Engels "Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State", Sir James George Frazer "The Golden Bough", and Robert Graves "The White Goddess". Matriarchy celebrates the fertility rites of nature. Other theories about the origins of "patriarchy", subscribe to a different perspective of the anthropological developmental lines. Feminists would take heed of this theory of matriarchal female religion.

The Western Canon -or- Historical Movement of High and Low Culture

For Neumann, "the transpersonal can express itself only through the medium of man and takes form in him through creative processes". A continuous transpersonal process on the planet creates a cultural epochal canon found in the archetypal expressions of art, poetry, music, film and so on. When one historical epoch of an art period and movement begins to archetypally disintegrate another movement will invariably take its place to create a new transpersonal archetypological integration. It is possible to trace the genesis of these archetypal movements of the Western canon by collecting of the dreams of the leaders as well as the followers of these movements. In this sense, Harold Bloom "The Western Canon" believes that the literary canon is experiencing a period of disintegration. In reality, I believe that what is taking place, based on the observations of individual and collective dream patterns, is an archetypal re-organization of the movements of "high" and "low" culture, matriarchal and patriarchal culture, culture wars and the clash of civilizations is in progress. The IIDR website reflects these re-organized postmodern high and popular culture dream movements.

The Anatomy of Creativity and Destructiveness -or- Life Histories and Psychobiography

From my own perspective, Leonardo's dream represents that of the "gifted child", the archetype of genius, creativity and the "awakened mind" itself. Genius can express itself in the child prodigy like in Mozart or in the late bloomer like Vincent van Gogh, we can never know when inspiration will strike. The International Institute for Dream Research (IIDR) has followed in the philosophical, artistic and scientific footsteps of the iconic dreams of Socrates, Leonardo, Descartes, Pauli, Freud, Jung, Adler and so many others, to give voice to the "Great Person" or hero theory of history. However, it is also necessary to recognize that Tolstoy in "War and Peace", criticized this historical theory, as one that was lacking.

In this sense, the IIDR has attempted to rebalance such historical accounts with the reporting of not only the culturally iconic dreams of great people, but also everyday one's, in form of "a people's history" and a "psychohistory", read "A People's History -or- A Psychohistory of the Global Village". More than enough dreams have been posted at the IIDR website to begin to discern social and cultural dream patterns of war and peace, of life and death, of people that are creative and those who are destructive, of those who are loving and those who hate, those that are able to give and of those who are greedy, those who are courageous and those who are fearful, those that marry and those that divorce, that which is beautiful and that which is ugly, right and wrong, rich and poor, those who seek pleasure and recreation and those who are stressed, those who are powerful and those who are weak, helpless and disenfranchised, those sane and those insane, those who have hope and those who are in despair. Seldom are these polar concepts found in a black or white poetic form. Making the everyday transpersonal dreaming and canonical cultural process of dream vision on the planet visible for all, is a primary aim of the IIDR.

All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.