While I was waiting for my laptop to dry out, I gave some thought to how boring this blog is, and how that’s because my life is dull and nothing ever happens in it. So, being that I have so little material to work with, I’ve decided to just embrace my boringness and write about my life anyway, which for now means lots of posts about things that happen in my head because I never actually do anything.
I’ve decided to write a series on my biggest pet peeves, which I’ll post whenever I feel like it. I got the idea when a friend on Facebook included Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code in her “Top 5 Things I Hate That Everyone Else Seems to Like.” I am in complete agreement with her. To be fair, I should admit that I only made it through the first thirty pages because, in addition to the unconvincing and unoriginal storyline, there were just too many adverbs. Honestly. But I don’t hate the book because it’s poorly written and derivative. I hate it because it’s dangerous, and not because its ideas are dangerous (they’re just kind of goofy, really,) but because of that prefatory page that claims that everything in the book is true. Because there are people who are gullible enough, that if they read such a thing, they will believe it.
I know this because there was always at least one of them in my classes. Just to set the record straight, I want to clarify: St. John looks like a girl in Leonardo’s Last Supper because he always looks like a girl. Leonardo was just following a long-standing visual tradition. But there was always someone who wouldn’t take my word for it, because if it’s in a book it must be true, especially if there’s a page that says so right at the beginning. I remember one student whose insistence was so exasperating that I shouted at him, “It is a novel, a work of fiction. It is made up, it is not real, do you get it?!” (He had already tried my patience by repeatedly addressing me as “Miss,” which was one of my pet peeves, but not the subject of this post.)
But I hated that book even before my students began reciting its claims in my classes, even before I attempted to read it, in fact, I hated it even before I opened the cover to find that pernicious prefatory statement. I hated it as soon as I’d heard the title, and this leads me, finally, to
The Pet Peeve:
That’s not his name! His name is Leonardo. “Da Vinci” means “from Vinci.” Calling him “da Vinci” is like, as I used to tell my students, referring to me as “from New York.” I used to ask them, “do you ever say, ‘Professor from New York, could you repeat that?’ After class, will you turn to the person sitting next to you and ask, ‘is it just me or did from New York not make any sense today?'” Besides, isn’t he famous enough that we can call him by his given name? Everyone calls Raphael and Michelangelo by their first names even though both have proper last names. (How many of the people who refer to Leonardo as “da Vinci” even know Raphael’s or Michelangelo’s last name?)
A confession: whenever someone who purports to be knowledgeable refers to Leonardo as “da Vinci” I stop paying attention. I ignore whatever comes next, because I know it will not be interesting or enlightening. You know what I’m talking about, some fathead in a museum starting a sentence with something like, “It’s reminiscent of a da Vinci blah blah.” When you hear something like that, stop listening! I give you permission.
This leads me to a somewhat related but much smaller pet peeve: why was one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles named Donatello? He doesn’t fit in with Raphael, Leonardo and Michelangelo at all. It seems so random to me. I feel like they should have called him Bramante. Have you seen the Tempietto? The integration of classical and Christian architectural vocabulary in that structure is a true work of bravura. Donatello, what did he ever do?
I’m just kidding about Donatello, but I still think the fourth turtle should have been Bramante.