Rumor has it that if you were born with “what it takes”, you can just read something, or hear it, and — as long as you understand it, or even if you don’t – it will be saved to long term memory and be readily available if ever you should need it.
If you don’t end up retrieving it, it’s because you didn’t have occasion to need it.
Rumor is another word for Myth, and this is one of the biggest, most pernicious Myths we live by today.
If you have read a book, the story goes, from cover to cover or just the dust jacket, or sat through a lecture or an informative film, that information is in your long term memory and, if you can’t readily access it, that means you’re a doofus and your best bet is to keep a low profile.
Part of this misunderstanding comes from the world around us.
In the fourth quarter of the 20th century, a critical mass of people in the United States had desktop computers and those desktop computers could save stuff to disk and do two or three things at once.
So popular wisdom reasoned that if computer memory could do it, so could human memory.
It’s normal to jump to that conclusion and it’s normal to be wrong. Making mistakes and correcting them is an important part of how we learn and that’s the main thrust of what’s going on, here at The Visible.
We are going to familiarize ourselves with what a lot of people, doing a lot of hard work, have figured out about how we think and feel effectively – or not so effectively. And then we are going to look for the mistakes.
Mistakes are also known as questions.
Questions are the best kind of answer you can get.
It turns out that memory is more like a coat of paint. Especially if the surface is not effectively prepared, one coat is just going to disappear into or off the wood, plaster or cement.
But humans are more interesting than that. We are more like works of Art.
Take Leonardo’s Last Supper, for instance.
We have included two Official Narratives, one from Khan Academy (above) and one from the Smithsonian’s take on Dan Brown’s famous book and blockbuster film (below). We offer those as exhibits to contextualize what we’re going to suggest is The (much more interesting) Real Story.
It’s an old story. It’s called the “Show Me the Money” story.
The money behind Leonardo’s Last Supper was a guy by the name of Ludovico Sforza, Il Moro — fifth son of the famous warlord Francesco Sforza.
As it turns out, Sforza Junior wasn’t the only money behind Leonardo, much to Junior’s chagrin. But that’s another story.
You’ve heard of Surreal? Well this is a whole new planet of surreal.
Fake news is not a new thing. But just like today, evidence is everywhere – and we can figure out a lot by just looking at pieces of the puzzle that don’t fit the official Big Picture.
The story of Leonardo’s Last Supper is just such an AWOL piece of puzzle. It puts its finger in a deep wound that’s not supposed to be there. The Official Story says, “look guys, Big Picture, no holes”.
But the Official Story, the Official Big Picture, is not the Only Big Picture.
There are also AWOL Big Pictures with lots and lots of holes in them. Lots and lots of missing pieces. Lots and lots of questions.
These are the kinds of Big Pictures that you want to make good friends with, if you want to become a skilled storyteller.
The Last Supper, as you may recall, tells the story of Jesus as He announces to His Disciples that one of them will be betray Him.
We don’t know if Jesus was a real person. The official story, at least in the West, is that He was and is Divine.
But the important thing to remember is that the story of Jesus, and Christianity, was and is the story of Human Rights. Christianity gained popularity in west Asia and Europe by way of its women and slaves – because the number one lesson of Christianity was and is that all people are created equal in the eyes of God.
This is in very stark contrast to what the Roman Empire had to say on the matter.
But, especially in the Roman Empire’s West Asian colonies, people didn’t take kindly to being told that they had to worship some white guy with a fancy hat while he and his treated them like the dirt beneath their allegedly elite feet.
So even though Jesus told everyone to go ahead and pay those taxes, render onto Caesar what is Caesar’s, he also insisted that everybody was equal in the eyes of God and no one had the right to insist otherwise. Render unto God what is God’s. So forget offering incense, He said, you just don’t have to do it.
Did this make the Romans very angry?
Indeed it did.
So they hunted down what appeared to be the leader of the pack and they made an example of Him, with the help of a snitch.
And that’s the story Leonardo da Vinci painted on the walls of the cafeteria of a convent of the Santa Maria delle Gracie, in Milan, between the years 1494 and 1498.
As this is a work in progress, you can have a say in which way the wind is going to go.
If you would rather hear more about the Sforza family first, before hearing more about who and what those 12 Apostles might all be about, speak up in the comments section, and we’ll rearrange our priorities.
It doesn’t have to be a specific request. Like I said, a question is the best kind of answer there is.
Questions are good.
Quests are good.
While we’re all waiting for those cards and letters to come in, here’s a nice piece from Business Insider’s 12 April 2017 edition on Leonardo’s iconic depiction of Easter’s beginnings.