What Michelangelo Taught Me

I just finished reading Isaacson’s biography of Michelangelo and recommend it to everyone. A proper biography instructs the reader on its subject but even more importantly it should enlighten us on ourselves. For example, I took Michelangelo’s advise that a sculptor must find his sculpture in the rock, rather than make the sculpture from it as sound advice for me as a trial lawyer. Every case has a story, a human story that transcends the contours of the facts and gives meaning to the evidence and the verdict. But, after reading Isaacson I realized there are lots of lessons for all of us in this age of alt.reality and video bondage.

His life illustrated that genius is a cooperative result. There is a myth of the genius isolating himself from the world until a bolt of inspiration hits, and then there is the reality that genius is the result of curiosity and collaboration. Michelangelo was curious about nearly everything in the world, and an astute observer. His collaborations with others exposed him to new information which he creatively applied to novel issues.

Above all else, Michelangelo established the importance of facts to living. He originated much of the scientific method hundreds of years before Galileo and Kant. He tested his ideas and when the results (facts) did not support his idea, he gave up on his beliefs and explored other explanations. Today we are devolving into a new Dark Age of beliefs trumping facts. Some sociologists argue that people are so overwhelmed with facts on a daily basis that people are reverting to beliefs as a way to organize their lives, even when facts undermine their beliefs and render the them useless to predict results.

While the scientific research continues to warn us of the destructive effects of video watching on brain structures and functions in children, and children develop stunted activity and curiosity, Michelangelo was driven by curiosity about everything, and his curiosity moved him to explore. He discovered how heart valves worked nearly 500 years before it was “officially” discovered in medicine, through

 

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