Leonardo's notebooks  

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"[The phallus ] confers with the human intelligence and sometimes has intelligence of itself, and although the will of the man desires to stimulate it, it remains obstinate and takes its own course, and moving sometimes of itself without license or thought by the man, whether he be sleeping or waking, it does what it desires; and often the man is asleep and it is awake, and many times the man is awake and it is asleep; many times the man wishes it to practice and it does not wish it; many times it wishes and the man forbids it. It seems therefore that this creature often has a life and intelligence separate from the man, and it would appear that the man is in the wrong in being ashamed to give it a name or exhibit it, seeking rather constantly to cover and conceal what he ought to adorn and display with ceremony as a ministrant." --da Vinci on the unruly member in his notebooks

"The art of procreation and the members employed therein are so repulsive, that if it were not for the beauty of the faces and the adornments of the actors and the pent-up impulse, nature would lose the human species."--The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci

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Leonardo da Vinci kept a series of journals[1] in which he wrote almost daily, as well as separate notes and sheets of observations, comments and plans which were left to various pupils and were later bound. Many of the journals have survived to illustrate Leonardo's studies, discoveries and inventions. Most of the journals were written backwards in mirror script. His journals were later published, 165 years after his death. Several editions have been published: J. F. Rigaud, 1809; Jean Paul Richter, 1883; Edward McCurdy, 1906; etc. McCurdy produced, it is believed, the first unexpurgated edition.


The codices

After Leonardo's death in 1519, the notebooks of Leonardo fell into the possession of Francesco Melzi. Due to negligence of Melzi's son Orazio, the collection was dispersed. "In 1630 Pompeo Leoni, a sculptor in the Court of the King of Spain, got a hold of much of the material and tried to organize it by subject. This unfortunatley resulted in the books being taken apart and the original order, which might have told us much about Leonardo's thinking, was lost. Each of the new books created by this process was a Codex."(Lee Krystek, Unmuseum.org)

On the act of procreation


In a famous passage from Leonardo's notebooks he says: "The act of procreation and anything that has any relation to it is so disgusting that human beings would soon die out if there were no pretty faces and sensuous dispositions".

Alternatively translated as "The act of coition and the members employed are so ugly that but for the beauty of the faces, the adornments of their partners and the frantic urge, Nature would lose the human race." (Leonardo Da Vinci quoted in Bataille’s Erotism: Death and Sensuality, translation by Mary Dalwood).

Full text

Full English text of 'The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci' translated by Jean Paul Richter

See also

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