Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Da Vinci IV



Novatius: “I only want to say that science, like art, awaits from man, from a given individual, the best -- and maybe even self-destructive -- performance of what the brain can accomplish ...the scientist closes his eyes to what's right in front of him in order to see the most distant horizons. In these crystallized moments of concentration, he must inevitably find release from reality if he wants to conceive and bring into being something that stretches today's rules and even upsets fundamental premises. To accomplish these crazy aims it need a fool unaware that he maybe won't be able to come back to reality. If you ask this person in this strained excited mood, to properly say hello to everybody around him, to comply with such social niceties and to observe all these social mores of the wolf den -- full of seeming or real insults -- you simply want too much.”
Second Associate Judge: "Defendant, believe me, I came here as an independent representative of the law, and also as a man who was surprised about your decision. But you have convinced me that you are an asocial element."
“Hello there, representative of the law! If anything, I am a representative of top-trained professionals and acting like a professional fool is what I do. I am that whom you can call today a personality, an individualist, but also an individual. And that's why against all machinery of science my main tool is my -- I repeat my -- unique and inimitable brain. As yours is unique and inimitable, but I think you have only your independence.”
First Associate Judge: “This is impertinent.”
“Sorry, but the defendant didn't mean it ...”, Novatius's Lawyer is trying to calm the atmosphere at the court, but he is parallely ignored by defendant.
Novatius: “When an actor plays his role with such concentration no one molests him on the stage. When an athlete heads toward the finish line, he is not obliged to bow to everyone around. A scientist has no special time, finish line, or stage for his creativity. The scientist, without some breakthrough, is not recognizable in the masses. But the scientist with the most urgent ideas is this absent-minded fool who forgets everyone else. He is possessed and the idea materializes, like a burning carbon arc which has suddenly touching a sidereal 22,000-volt hook-up, and is able to hold it, to tempt to earth this crazy electric charge of new perspective. But, whenever this urgent, importunate idea comes, he must be prepared ...always susceptible to voices that you can't hear. And after all, what value has that my impertinence, which, relatively speaking, concerns only you, in comparison with importance of this discovery, with consequences that concern everyone.”
Third Associate Judge: “Look, we can admit all, but you can help all of us if you would be more modest.”
Novatius: “Why do I have to be more modest? When an athlete runs to the finish line, he raises his hands and everyone understands it. I raise my head. It's my chance for joy from victory.”
Judge: “Defendant, you talk a lot. Come back to the topic at hand.”
Reporter: “At least, this tribunal, thanks to the strong hand of the Judge, makes this look like a real court, not a debating society. Nevertheless, it looks as if the considerations of the defendant are logical.”
Legal Expert: “They didn't concern the substance of the trial and, as a result, are worthless. Really, it makes things more difficult for him.”
Scientific Expert: “What he says concerns, in essence, a fortunately small group of exceptional individuals. The idea about which he spoke is only a slight fragment of the time of scientist, a little detonator that starts an avalanche of long-term monotonous work to substantiate the idea.”
Reporter: “And someone has to do this, too?”
Scientific Expert: “Yeah. In science there are thousands of standard employees, who move -- maybe not very expressively, but constantly -- our knowledge forward. It's unfortunately a fact, as Einstein said: 'the universe is infinite but limited.' It's the same with the brain. Its infinite possibilities are limited by its information capacity. As in the case of some scientists like, for example, the physicist Landau, who had problems with opening a tube of toothpaste because he was too concerned about his scientific problems to learn about it when this new everyday item appeared. Is it strange, or just absent-minded?”
Judge: “Defendant, do you have any consideration for anything? Does some authority exist for you?”
Novatius: “Most of the authorities I've met fail under detailed examination. Maybe I accept some of them deadly seriously. Others can't help me with the problems I want to solve. Fortunately, very early on I discovered that I must rely only on myself. The force of authority, of slaps in the face for adults, I don't accept.”
First Associate Judge: “Is this an allusion to our court?”
Third Associate Judge is breaking in: “You don't feel alone without the support that everyone needs? There are usually teams of scientists.”
Novatius: “But there is someone who is first among equals. Individuality is a natural law. If you don't admit that, don't think about its consequences. Simply put, there will be no valuable result for society as a whole if you destroy individuality. Respect for this principle is good for everyone.”
First Associate Judge: “You are sick with ambition.”
Novatius: “It's an engine of progress.”
Judge: “Don't juggle with words. According to our information, you haven't earned support among your peers.”
Novatius: “A truly good character, without sudden expected diversions and experiments to realize them ...a good natural fellow can't be an inventive scientist, artist or inventive anything. His mind, a priori, expressly forbids some things, blocks undesirable ideas before they are formulated. Temptation is the devil's requisite. And if you want to make some new discovery you must attempt just those things that have never occurred to others, or at least they haven't had the courage to talk about them. You must be aware of everything in focus and be open to ideas from all directions. Consequently, it is naive to think that you can have your brain on a long leash in the laboratory and a short leash when you leave.”
Third Associate Judge: “You strongly defend amorality and abnormality.”
Novatius: “I admit that the type of person I described from many perspectives is not very desirable for peaceful life. But I'm sure that these people are bearers of morality and stubborn power in dangerous moments, when most good-natured people go home with their tails between their legs, or they stay dumb, without any idea of how to deal with an unexpected situation.”
Judge: “You keep changing the subject, and I really don't understand why you raise this topic here. I want to warn the associated judges about the defendant's inability to give a clear yes or no answer. He can't take an unambitious, responsible standpoint toward life. He uses paradoxes and sophistry, and this helps him in his megalomaniacal ambitions. The only argument in his defense is using Leonardo da Vinci as a precedent ...only in order to mention that he was painter, sculptor, discoverer and other things, but that story's at least 500 years old.”
Novatius's Lawyer: “Da Vinci's genius is still acknowledged. But it's less well known that he, like my client, rejected his invention when he realized that it could hurt humans. He destroyed it.”
Second Associate Judge: “What was it?”
Judge: “It was a submarine that was later improved upon and built. Da Vinci's example in this case does not seem relevant.”
Novatius's Lawyer: “Nevertheless, it further proves that a personality like da Vinci concluded that in the name of humanity, all ideas, even his own, should not be put into practice. His foreboding proved accurate, for in WWII, more than 60,000 people died in submarine battles.”
Judge: “On the other hand, think how many people today live from seas and oceans that we have penetrated, in part, thanks to submarines. Da Vinci never faced a trial for this decision. This case is only an empty manoeuvre of the defendant and testifies to the megalomania of the accused.”

(To be continued)

Translated by Robert M. Davis

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