A childhood memory of Leonardo da Vinci, Sigmund Freud (1910)
Who was Sigmund Freud?
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was an Austrian psychologist. He developed a model of depth psychology called psychoanalysis. Its aim was to cure people of mental suffering by exploring their unconscious and seeking to resolve conflicts hidden within it. In doing so, Freud relied, among other things, on the means of hypnosis. His methods and views are therefore considered outdated and have been replaced by the scientific methods of biological psychology.
Sigmund Freud's life achievement consisted in the intellectual support of the women's movement, which he championed throughout his life. Above all, he helped it to free itself from the narrow corset of the Zeitgeist. His work gave women access to a deeper understanding of the dominant male world, much of which had hitherto not regarded them as equals. His female students included his daughter Anna Freud and Marie Bonaparte, a relative of Napoleon. Other students of Freud were Alfred Adler and Carl Jung.
Although the son of a practicing Jewish father, he always viewed religion very critically and is even said to have described himself as its greatest enemy. Sigmund Freud lived in Vienna until the occupation of Austria by Nazi Germany, then emigrated to London, where he died on Sept. 23, 1939.
Sigmund Freud exercised an influence on art that continues to this day; the art movement of Surrealism is largely based on his findings. Its most important representative, Salvator Dali, belonged to Freud's close circle of acquaintances. Many of Dali's paintings are dedicated to his theories.
Freud's momentous translation error
Of high importance for Freud's argumentation is the vulture, which he regards as a mythical symbol for mother love. He cites a childhood memory of Leonardo, but he translates it wrongly. The Italian word "nibbio" does not mean vulture, as Freud mistakenly assumes, but means a kite, a bird of prey.
Furthermore, Freud recognizes the vulture as a conundrum in a painting by Leonardo. It is an achievement of Freud at all that conundrums are accepted in a scientific context, and furthermore even understood as a window into the soul of the artists. Encouraged not least by this, one of Freud's admirers, the surrealist painter Salvator Dalí, made offensive use of it within the framework of the method of "critical paranoia" that he himself had devised.
What is the intent of the text?
The purpose of the paper is to prove the usefulness of taking the life of the soul into account when compiling biographies. Freud demonstrates this with the example of Leonardo da Vinci, even though there are only a handful of sources on Leonardo's childhood, which is especially important for Freud's argumentation. Nevertheless, Freud concludes that Leonardo da Vinci must have been a passive homosexual because of his childhood experiences. In the conclusion of his paper, he justifies himself:
"If such an enterprise, as perhaps in Leonardo's case, does not yield certain results, the fault lies not in the faulty or inadequate methodology of psychoanalysis, but in the uncertainty and incompleteness of the material which tradition provides for this person."
Thus, Freud's writing is not to be understood as a scientifically sound statement on Leonardo da Vinci's sexuality, but serves merely as an example of Freud's proposed methodology for a biography. The fact that his writing is nevertheless often cited as evidence of Leonardo's homosexuality is probably due to the fact that it is little read but much cited.
A childhood memory of Leonardo da Vinci
Complete edition of 1910
When the medical research of the soul, which is usually content with weak human material, approaches one of the great ones of the human race, it does not follow the motives which are so often attributed to it by the laity. She does not strive to "blacken the radiant and drag the sublime into the dust"; it gives her no satisfaction to diminish the distance between that perfection and the inadequacy of her ordinary objects. Rather, she cannot but find everything worth understanding that can be seen in those models, and she thinks that no one is so great that it would be a disgrace for him to be subject to the laws that govern normal and morbid actions with equal rigor.
As one of the greatest men of the Italian Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was already admired by his contemporaries and yet already seemed enigmatic to them, as he still does to us. An all-round genius, "whose outlines can only be guessed at - never fathomed", in the words of Jacob Burckhardt, quoted by Alexandra Konstantinova (1907), he exercised the most authoritative influence on his time as a painter; it was only for us to recognize the greatness of the natural scientist (and technician), who in him was united with the artist. Although he left masterpieces of painting, while his scientific discoveries remained unpublished and unutilized, yet in his development the researcher never completely released the artist, often severely affected him and perhaps in the end suppressed him.
Vasari, in the last hour of his life, puts in his mouth the self-reproach that he offends God and men by not doing his duty in his art "Egli per reverenza, rizzatosi a sedere sul letto, contando il mal suo e gli accidenti di quello, mostrava tuttavia, quanto aveva offeso Dio e gli uomini del mondo, non avendo operato nell' arte come si conveniva." Vasari, Vite etc. LXXXIII (1550)... And even if this narration of Vasari has neither the external nor much internal probability for itself, but belongs to the legend that began to form around the mysterious master already during his lifetime, it remains as a testimony to the judgment of those people and those times an indisputable value.What was it that made Leonardo's personality beyond the understanding of his contemporaries? Certainly not the versatility of his talents and knowledge, which allowed him to introduce himself at the court of Lodovico Sforza, known as il Moro, Duke of Milan, as a lute player on an instrument newly formed by him, or to write that strange letter to the same in which he boasted of his achievements as a civil and military engineer. For the times of the Renaissance were well accustomed to such a union of manifold skills in one person; Leonardo himself, however, was one of the most brilliant examples of this. Nor did he belong to that type of man of genius who, outwardly meagerly provided for by nature, attaches no importance to the outward forms of life for his part, and in the painful gloom of his mood flees the intercourse of men. He was, on the contrary, tall and evenly grown, of consummate beauty of face and of uncommon physical strength, charming in the forms of his manners, a master of speech, cheerful and amiable toward all; he loved beauty even in the things that surrounded him, was fond of wearing ostentatious garments, and appreciated every refinement in the conduct of life. In a passage of the Treatise on Painting (1909), significant for his serene enjoyment, he compared painting with its sister arts and described the discomfort of the sculptor's work: "There he has his face all smeared and powdered with marble dust, so that he looks like a baker, and is covered all over with little marble splinters, that it looks as if it had snowed on his hump, and his dwelling, it is full of stone splinters and dust. Quite the opposite of all this is the case with the painter - ... for the painter sits with great comfort before his work, well dressed, and stirs the very light brush with the graceful colors. He is adorned with clothes as he pleases. And his dwelling is full of cheerful paintings and brilliantly clean. He often has company of music, or of readers of various beautiful works, and this is listened to with great pleasure, without the roar of hammers or other noise. "It is quite possible that the idea of a radiantly cheerful and pleasure-loving Leonardo is only correct for the first, longer period of the master's life. From then on, when the decline of the reign of Lodovico Moro forced him to leave Milan, his sphere of activity and his secure position, in order to lead an unsteady life, little rich in external successes, until his last asylum in France, the brilliance of his mood may have faded and some disconcerting traits of his nature may have become more prominent. Also, the increasing turn of his interests from his art to science over the years had to contribute to widening the gap between his person and his contemporaries. All the attempts with which, in their opinion, he frittered away his time instead of painting assiduously to order and enriching himself, like his former classmate Perugino, for example, appeared to them as cricket-like hijinks or brought him himself under suspicion of serving the "black art." We understand him better in this, who know from his records what arts he practiced. In a time, which began to exchange the authority of the church with that of the antiquity and did not know presuppositionless research yet, he, the forerunner, yes a not unworthy competitor of Bacon and Copernicus, was necessarily isolated. When he dissected horse and human corpses, built flying machines, studied the nutrition of plants and their behavior against poisons, he moved far away from the commentators of Aristotle, however, and came close to the despised alchemists, in whose laboratories experimental research had at least found a refuge during these unfavorable times. For his painting, this had the consequence that he reluctantly took the brush in hand, painted less and less often, left what he had begun mostly unfinished and cared little about the further fate of his works. This was also the reproach of his contemporaries, to whom his relationship to art remained a mystery. Several of Leonardo's later admirers have tried to erase the stain of discontinuity from his character. They claim that what is criticized in Leonardo is a characteristic of all great artists. Even the energetic Michelangelo, who was always at work, left many of his works unfinished, and it was as little his fault as Leonardo's in the same case. Also many a picture had not remained unfinished so much as had been declared for it by him. What seems to be a masterpiece to the layman is still an unsatisfactory embodiment of his intentions for the creator of the work of art; he has a perfection in mind that he always despairs of reproducing in the image. However, it would be the least appropriate to hold the artist responsible for the finite fate that befalls his works. As valid as some of these excuses may be, they do not cover the entire facts that we encounter in Leonardo. The embarrassing struggle with the work, the final flight from it and the indifference to its further fate may recur with many other artists; but certainly Leonardo showed this behavior in the highest degree. Edm. Solmi quotes (1910, 12) the utterance of one of his pupils: "Pareva, che ad ogni ora tremasse, quando si poneva a dipingere, e però non diede mal fine ad alcuna cosa cominciata, considerando la grandezza dell' arte, tal che egli scorgeva errori in quelle cose, che ad altri parevano miracoli." His last paintings, the Leda, the Madonna di Sant' Onofrio, the Bacchus and the San Giovanni Battista giovane had remained unfinished "come quasi intervenne di tutte le cose sue..." Lomazzo, who made a copy of the Last Supper, referred to Leonardo's well-known inability to finish something in a sonnet: "Protogen che il penel di sue pittureNon levava, agguaglio il Vinci Divo,Di cui opra non è finita pure. "In Scognamiglio (1900 ).The slowness with which Leonardo worked was proverbial. On the Last Supper in the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, he painted for three years after the most thorough preliminary studies. A contemporary, the novelist Matteo Bandelli, who at that time belonged to the monastery as a young monk, tells that Leonardo often climbed the scaffolding early in the morning in order not to put the brush down until dusk, without thinking about food and drink. Then days would go by without him touching it, sometimes he would linger for hours in front of the painting, contenting himself with examining it inwardly. Other times he would come from the court of the Milanese castle, where he was shaping the model of the equestrian statue for Francesco Sforza, straight to the monastery to make a few brushstrokes on a figure, but then immediately leftW. v. Seidlitz (1909, vol. 1, 203).... According to Vasari, he painted the portrait of the Mona Lisa, wife of the Florentine Francesco del Giocondo, for four years without being able to bring it to its final completion, which may also be due to the fact that the painting was not delivered to the customer, but remained with Leonardo, who took it to France. v. Seidlitz (1909, vol. 2, 48). If one combines these reports on Leonardo's working methods with the testimony of the extraordinarily numerous sketches and study sheets that have been preserved by him, which vary every motif that appears in his pictures in the most diverse way, then one must reject the view that traits of volatility and impermanence have gained the least influence on Leonardo's relationship to his art. On the contrary, one notices a quite extraordinary deepening, a wealth of possibilities between which the decision is made only hesitantly, demands that can hardly be satisfied, and an inhibition in the execution that cannot actually be explained even by the artist's necessary lagging behind his ideal intention. The slowness that has always been noticeable in Leonardo's work proves to be a symptom of this inhibition, the harbinger of the turning away from painting that occurred laterW. Pater The Renaissance. Translated from the English. Second edition 1906. "But it is certain that at a certain period of his life he had almost ceased to be an artist.". It was also that which determined the fate of the Last Supper, which was not without fault. Leonardo could not make friends with painting al fresco, which requires working quickly while the painting surface is still wet; therefore he chose oil paints, the drying of which allowed him to delay the completion of the painting according to mood and leisure. These colors, however, detached themselves from the ground on which they were applied and which isolated them from the wall; the defects of this wall and the fate of the room were added to decide the, as it seems, inevitable ruin of the picture.
Due to the failure of a similar technical attempt, the picture of the Battle of Anghiari seems to have perished, which he later began to paint in a competition with Michelangelo on a wall of the Sala del Consiglio in Florence and left in the stitch even in its unfinished state. It is here as if an alien interest, that of the experimenter, had first strengthened the artistic one, only to damage the work of art. The character of the man Leonardo showed some other unusual features and apparent contradictions. A certain inactivity and indifference seemed unmistakable in him. At a time when every individual sought to gain the widest space for his activity, which cannot proceed without unfolding energetic aggression against others, he was conspicuous for calm peacefulness, for avoiding all antagonisms and quarrels. He was mild and kind to all, allegedly rejected meat food because he did not consider it justified to deprive animals of life, and took special pleasure in giving freedom to birds he bought at the marketE. Müntz (1899, 18). (A letter from a contemporary in India to a Medici alludes to this peculiarity of Leonardo. According to J. P. Richter.) He condemned war and bloodshed and called man not so much the king of the animal world as the worst of the wild beastsF. Bottazzi (1910, 186)... But this feminine delicacy of feeling did not prevent him from accompanying condemned criminals on their way to execution, to study their fear-warped expressions and to copy them in his pocket-book, did not prevent him from designing the cruelest weapons of attack and from entering the service of Cesare Borgia as chief engineer of war. He often appeared as if indifferent to good and evil, or he demanded to be measured with a special measure. In an authoritative position he took part in the campaign of Cesare, which brought this most ruthless and faithless of enemies into possession of Romagna. Not one line of Leonardo's notes betrays any criticism or sympathy for the events of those days. The comparison with Goethe during the Campagne in France cannot be entirely dismissed here.
If a biographical attempt really wants to penetrate to the understanding of the soul life of its hero, it must not, as it happens in most biographies out of discretion or out of prudishness, pass over the sexual activity, the sexual peculiarity of the investigated with silence. What is known about this in Leonardo is little, but this little is significant. In an age that saw unbridled sensuality wrestle with somber asceticism, Leonardo was an example of cool sexual rejection one would not expect in the artist and performer of female beauty. Solmi (1908).quotes from him the following sentence, which characterizes his frigidity: "The act of procreation and everything connected with it is so abominable that men would soon die out if it were not an ancient custom and if there were not still pretty faces and sensual dispositions." His writings, which not only deal with the highest scientific problems, but also contain harmlessness, which seems to us hardly worthy of such a great mind (an allegorical natural history, animal fables, tales, propheciesMarie Herzfeld (1906).), are chaste to a degree - one would like to say abstinent - that would be surprising in a work of fine literature even today. They avoid everything sexual so resolutely, as if Eros alone, which sustains all living things, were not a worthy material for the researcher's thirst for knowledge. Perhaps the tales he collected - belle facezie -, which are not available in translation, make a trivial exception here. Cf. Herzfeld (1906, CLI)... It is well known how often great artists enjoy letting their imagination run wild in erotic and even crudely obscene depictions; by Leonardo, on the contrary, we possess only a few anatomical drawings of the internal genitalia of the female, the position of the fruit in the womb, and the like. A drawing of Leonardo, which represents the sexual act in an anatomical sagittal section and is certainly not to be called obscene, reveals some strange errors, which Dr. R. Reitler (1917) discovered and discussed in the sense of Leonardo's characterization given here: "And this overgrown explorer instinct has completely failed just in the representation of the procreative act - of course only due to its even greater sexual repression. The male body is drawn in its entirety, the female only in part. If one shows the drawing reproduced here to an impartial observer in such a way that, with the exception of the head, all parts below are covered, then it can be expected with certainty that the head will be taken for female. The wavy curls both on the forehead and those casually rolling down the back to the 4th or 5th dorsal vertebrae decidedly mark the head as one more feminine than virile. The female breast shows two deficiencies, firstly in artistic respect, because its outline offers the sight of an unattractive drooping limp breast, and secondly also in anatomical respect, because the explorer Leonardo was obviously prevented by his sexual defenses to look closely just once at the nipple of a lactating female. If he had done that, he would have noticed that the milk flows out of different, from each other separated excretory ducts. Leonardo, however, drew only one duct, which reaches far down into the abdominal cavity and probably, in Leonardo's opinion, draws the milk from the cysterna chyli, perhaps also having some connection with the sexual organs. However, it must be taken into account that the study of the internal organs of the human body was extremely difficult in those days, because dissecting the deceased was considered a desecration of corpses and was severely punished. Whether Leonardo, who had only a very small amount of dissection material at his disposal, knew anything at all about the existence of a lymphatic reservoir in the abdominal cavity is therefore actually quite questionable, even though he undoubtedly depicted such a cavity in his drawing. However, the fact that he drew the milk duct even deeper down to the inner sexual organs, suggests that he also tried to represent the temporal coincidence of the beginning of milk secretion with the end of pregnancy by means of meaningful anatomical connections. Even if we would like to excuse the artist's lack of knowledge of anatomy in view of the circumstances of his time, it is nevertheless striking that Leonardo treated the female genitals so neglected. One can recognize the vagina and a hint of the portio uteri, but the uterus itself is drawn in quite confused lines.The male genitals, on the other hand, Leonardo has depicted much more correctly. For example, he did not content himself with drawing the testicle, but also correctly included the epididymis in the sketch.Extremely strange is the position in which Leonardo has coitus performed. There are paintings and drawings of outstanding artists who depict the coitus a tergo, a latere, etc., but to draw a sexual act in a standing position, there must probably be a particularly strong sexual repression as the cause of this solitary, almost grotesque representation. If one wants to enjoy, then one uses to make it as comfortable as possible. This applies of course to both primal urges, to hunger and love. Most peoples of the antiquity took a lying position with the meal, and with the coitus one lies normally today just as comfortably as our ancestors did it. By lying down, as it were, the desire is expressed to remain in the desired situation for a longer period of time.The facial features of the feminine male head also show an almost unwilling defense. The brows are furrowed, the gaze is directed sideways with an expression of shyness, the lips are pressed together and their angles are downturned. This face truly reveals neither the pleasure of giving love nor the bliss of giving it; it expresses only displeasure and disgust. But Leonardo has committed the grossest blunder in the drawing of the two lower extremities. The foot of the man should be the right one; because Leonardo depicted the act of procreation in the form of an anatomical sagittal section, the left male foot should be thought of above the picture surface, and vice versa, for the same reason, the female foot should belong to the left side. In fact, however, Leonardo has exchanged female and male. The figure of the man has a left foot, that of the woman a right foot. Concerning this interchange one orients oneself most easily, if one considers that the large toes belong to the inside of the feet.
From this anatomical drawing alone one had been able to deduce the libido displacement, which almost bewildered the great artist and researcher. "This representation of Reitler, however, has met with criticism that it is not permissible to draw such serious conclusions from a fleeting drawing, and it is not even certain whether the pieces of the drawing really belong together.It is doubtful whether Leonardo ever embraced a woman in love; nor is anything known of an intimate emotional relationship with a woman, such as Michelangelo's with Vittoria Colonna. When he was still an apprentice in the house of his master Verrocchio, he and other young people met charges of forbidden homosexual intercourse, which ended with his acquittal. It seems that he was suspected of this because he used a boy of bad reputation as a model. According to Scognamiglio (1900, 49), this incident is referred to in a dark passage of the Codex Atlanticus, which has itself been read differently: "Quando io feci Domeneddio putto voi mi metteste in prigione, ora s'io lo fo grande, voimi farete peggio". As a master, he surrounded himself with beautiful boys and young men whom he took on as pupils. The last of these pupils, Francesco Melzi, accompanied him to France, remained with him until his death, and was appointed his heir by him. Without sharing the certainty of his modern biographers, who naturally dismiss the possibility of sexual intercourse between him and his pupils as a groundless insult to the great man, one may consider it far more likely that Leonardo's tender relations with the young people who shared his life in the manner of pupils at the time did not spill over into sexual activity. The peculiarity of this emotional and sexual life can be understood in connection with Leonardo's dual nature as an artist and researcher only in one way. As far as I know, only one of the biographers, to whom psychological points of view are often very distant, Edm. Solmi, has approached the solution of the riddle; but a poet who has chosen Leonardo as the hero of a great historical novel, Dmitry Sergevich Merezhkovsky, has based his portrayal on such an understanding of the unusual man and has unmistakably expressed his conception, if not in dry words, then at least in the poet's manner of vivid expressionMerezhkovsky: Leonardo da Vinci. (German translation, 1903.) The centerpiece of a large trilogy of novels entitled Christ and Antichrist. The other two volumes are called Julian Apostata and Peter the Great and Alexei. Solmi judges Leonardo: "But the insatiable desire to know all that surrounds him and to fathom with cold superiority the deepest mystery of all that is perfect had condemned Leonardo's works to remain always unfinished. "Solmi (1908, 46).
In an essay of the Conference Fiorentine the statement of Leonardo is quoted, which delivers his creed and the key to his being: "Nessuna cosa si può amare nè odiare, se prima non si ha cognition di quella. "Bottazzi (1910, 193).So: One has no right to love or hate something, if one has not acquired a thorough knowledge of its essence. And Leonardo repeats the same in a passage of the Treatise on Painting, where he seems to defend himself against the accusation of irreligiosity: "But such blamers may be silent. For that (doing) is the way to know the master of so many admirable things, and this the way to love so great an inventor.
For truly, great love springs from great knowledge of the beloved object, and if you know it little, you will be able to love it little or not at all... "Leonardo da Vinci, Treatise on Painting (translated by Ludwig, 1909, 54).The value of these statements of Leonardo cannot be sought in the fact that they communicate a significant psychological fact, because what they assert is patently false, and Leonardo had to know this as well as we do. It is not true that men wait with their love or their hatred until they have studied the object to which these affects apply and have recognized it in its essence; rather, they love impulsively towards motives of feeling which have nothing to do with knowledge and whose effect is at most weakened by reflection and thought. Leonardo could therefore only have meant that what people practice is not the right, perfect love; one should love in such a way that one stops the affect, subjects it to the work of thought and only allows it freely after it has passed the test by thinking. And we understand that he wants to tell us that it was like that with him; it would be desirable for all others if they kept it with love and hate like he did. And with him it really seems to have been like that. His affects were subdued, subjected to the instinct of research; he did not love and hate, but asked himself where it came from, what he should love or hate, and what it meant, and so he had to appear indifferent at first to good and evil, to beautiful and ugly. During this research work love and hate threw off their signs and changed evenly into thinking interest. In reality Leonardo was not passionless, he did not lack the divine spark which is indirectly or directly the driving force - il primo motore - of all human activity. He had only transformed passion into the thirst for knowledge; he now surrendered himself to research with that perseverance, steadiness, deepening which derive from passion, and at the height of intellectual work, after having gained knowledge, he lets the long withheld affect break loose, flow freely away like an arm of water derived from the stream, after having driven the work. At the height of a realization, when he can survey a large piece of the context, pathos seizes him and he praises in rapturous words the magnificence of that piece of creation which he has studied, or - in religious dressing - the greatness of its creator. Solmi has correctly grasped this process of transformation in Leonardo. After quoting such a passage in which Leonardo celebrated the noble compulsion of nature ("O mirabile necessità..."), he says: Tale trasfigurazione della scienza della natura in emozione, quasi direi, religiosa, è uno dei tratti caratteristici de' manoscritti vinciani, e si trova cento e cento volte espressa . ..Solmi (1910, 11).Leonardo has been called the Italian Faust because of his insatiable and tireless thirst for research. But apart from all reservations about the possible transformation of the exploratory drive back into lust for life, which we must assume to be the premise of the Faust tragedy, one would like to venture the remark that Leonardo's development touches on Spinozistic ways of thinking.The conversions of the psychic driving force into different forms of activity are perhaps just as little convertible without loss as those of the physical forces. The example of Leonardo teaches how many other things are to be followed in these processes. The postponement to love only after one has recognized becomes a substitute. One no longer loves and hates rightly, if one has penetrated to the cognition; one remains beyond love and hate. One has researched instead of loving. And that is perhaps why Leonardo's life was so much poorer in love than that of other great men and other artists. The stormy passions of uplifting and consuming nature, in which others experienced their best, do not seem to have affected him.And still other consequences. One also researched instead of acting, creating. He who has begun to suspect the magnificence of the world context and its necessities, easily loses his own little self. Sunk in admiration, having become truly humble, one forgets too easily that one is a piece of those working forces and may try, according to the extent of one's personal power, to change a piece of that necessary course of the world, the world in which the small is not less wonderful and significant than the great. Leonardo had perhaps, as Solmi thinks, begun to research in the service of his artSolmi (1910, 8): "Leonardo aveva posto, come regola al pittore, lo studio della natura..., poi la passione dello studio era divenuta dominante, egli aveva voluto acquistare non più la scienza per l'arte, ma la scienza per la scienza. ", he strove to learn the properties and laws of light, colors, shadows, perspective, in order to secure mastery in the imitation of nature and to show others the same path. Probably even then he overestimated the value of this knowledge for the artist. Then he was driven, still on the guiding rope of the painterly need, to explore the objects of painting, the animals and plants, the proportions of the human body, away from the exterior of the same to the knowledge of their inner structure and their vital functions, which are also expressed in their appearance and require representation by art. And at last the overpowering impulse tore him away, until the connection with the demands of his art broke, so that he found the general laws of mechanics, that he guessed the history of the deposits and fossilizations in the Arno valley and until he could enter in his book with large letters the knowledge: Il sole non si move. He extended his researches to almost all fields of natural science, in each of them he was a discoverer or at least a forecaster and pathfinder. See the enumeration of his scientific achievements in the beautiful biographical introduction of Marie Herzfeld (1906), in the individual essays of the Conferenze Fiorentine (1910) and elsewhere. But his thirst for knowledge remained focused on the outside world, something kept him away from the study of the soul life of people; there was little room for psychology in the "Academia Vinciana," for which he drew elaborately intricate emblems. If he then tried to return from the research to the art exercise from which he had started, he experienced in himself the disturbance by the new attitude of his interests and the changed nature of his psychic work. In the picture he was interested mainly in one problem, and behind this one he saw innumerable other problems appearing, as he was accustomed to in the endless and inconclusive research of nature. He could no longer bring himself to limit his claim, to isolate the work of art, to tear it out of the great context in which he knew it belonged. After the most exhaustive efforts to express everything in it that was attached to it in his thoughts, he had to leave it unfinished in the lurch or declare it unfinished.The artist had once taken the researcher into his service as a henchman, now the servant had become the stronger and suppressed his master. If we find in the character picture of a person a single instinct over-strongly developed, as with Leonardo the curiosity, then we refer for the explanation to a special disposition, about whose probably organic condition is mostly still nothing more detailed known.
Through our psychoanalytic studies on nervous persons, however, we are inclined to two further expectations, which we would like to find confirmed in each individual case. We consider it probable that that over-strong instinct was already active in the earliest childhood of the person and that its supremacy was established by impressions of childhood life, and we further assume that it originally drew on sexual instinctive forces for its reinforcement, so that it can later represent a piece of the sexual life. Such a person would thus, for example, research with that passionate devotion with which another endows his love, and he could research instead of loving. Not only in the case of the research instinct, but also in most other cases of special intensity of an instinct, we would venture the conclusion of a sexual intensification of the same.Observation of the daily life of men shows us that most of them succeed in directing quite respectable portions of their sexual instinctive forces to their professional activity. The sexual instinct is particularly suitable for making such contributions, since it is endowed with the ability of sublimation, that is, it is capable of exchanging its next goal for other, possibly more highly valued and non-sexual, goals. We consider this process to be proven when the history of childhood, that is, the history of mental development, of a person shows us that in childhood the overpowering drive was in the service of sexual interests. We find further confirmation in the fact that in the sexual life of mature years there is a conspicuous atrophy, as if a part of the sexual activity had now been replaced by the activity of the overpowering instinct. The application of these expectations to the case of the overpowering exploratory instinct seems to be subject to special difficulties, since one would not want to trust children with this serious instinct or with remarkable sexual interests. Indes, these difficulties are easily remedied. The inquisitiveness of small children is evidenced by their untiring desire to ask questions, which is puzzling to the adult as long as he does not understand that all these questions are only circumlocutions and that there is no end to them, because the child only wants to replace by them a question which he does not ask after all. When the child has grown up and become more insightful, this expression of inquisitiveness often suddenly breaks off. Psychoanalytic investigation, however, gives us full enlightenment by teaching us that many, perhaps most, at any rate the most gifted children go through a period from about the third year of life which may be called that of infantile sexual exploration. As far as we know, the curiosity of children of this age does not arise spontaneously, but is awakened by the impression of an important experience, by the birth of a sibling, which has taken place or is feared after external experiences, and in which the child sees a threat to its egoistic interests. The research is directed to the question of where the children come from, just as if the child was looking for ways and means to prevent such an undesirable event. We have experienced with astonishment that the child refuses to believe the information given to it, for example, it vigorously rejects the mythologically so meaningful stork fable, that it dates its spiritual independence from this act of disbelief, often feels itself in first opposition to the adults and actually never forgives them that it was cheated of the truth on this occasion. It investigates on its own ways, guesses the child's stay in the womb and, guided by the impulses of its own sexuality, creates views about the child's origin from food, about its birth through the intestine, about the father's role, which is difficult to fathom, and it already suspects the existence of the sexual act, which appears to it as something hostile and violent. But just as his own sexual constitution is not yet up to the task of producing children, so too his research into where the children come from must come to nothing and be left in the lurch as unfinished. The impression of this failure in the first rehearsal of intellectual independence seems to be a lasting and deeply depressing oneTo corroborate these improbable-sounding assertions, take a look at the 'Analysis of the Phobia of a Five-Year-Old Boy' (1909 b) and at similar observations. In an essay on the 'Infantile Sexual Theories' (1908 c) I wrote: "This brooding and doubting, however, becomes exemplary for all later thought work on problems, and the first failure has a paralyzing effect for all time.".When the period of infantile sexual research has been concluded by a thrust of energetic sexual repression, three different possibilities derive for the further fate of the research drive from its early association with sexual interests.
Either research shares the fate of sexuality, the inquisitiveness remains inhibited from then on, and the free activity of intelligence is perhaps restricted for life, especially since a short time later the powerful religious inhibition of thought is brought to bear by education. This is the type of neurotic inhibition. We understand very well that the weakness of thinking acquired in this way effectively promotes the outbreak of a neurotic disease.
In a second type, the intellectual development is strong enough to resist the sexual repression tugging at it. Some time after the demise of infantile sexual research, when the intelligence is strengthened, mindful of the old connection, it offers its help to circumvent the sexual repression, and the repressed sexual research returns as a compulsion to brood from the unconscious, though distorted and unfree, but powerful enough to sexualize thought itself and to emphasize the intellectual operations with the pleasure and anxiety of the actual sexual processes. Research here becomes a sexual activity, often an exclusive one, the feeling of completion in thought, of clarification, is substituted for sexual satisfaction; but the inconclusive character of children's research is also repeated in the fact that this brooding never comes to an end, and that the intellectual feeling of solution sought recedes further and further into the distance.
The third, rarest and most perfect type escapes, by virtue of a special disposition, the inhibition of thinking as well as the neurotic compulsion to think. The sexual repression occurs also here, but it does not succeed in relegating a partial instinct of sexual desire to the unconscious, but the libido escapes the fate of repression by sublimating itself from the beginning in curiosity and beating itself to the powerful instinct of research as reinforcement. Here, too, the research becomes, as it were, a compulsion and a substitute for sexual activity, but as a result of the complete difference in the underlying psychic processes (sublimation instead of the breakthrough from the unconscious) the character of neurosis remains absent, the bondage to the original complexes of infantile sexual research is omitted, and the drive can operate freely in the service of intellectual interest. The sexual repression, which has made it so strong by the grant of sublimated libido, it still takes into account by avoiding the preoccupation with sexual subjects.
If we consider the coincidence of the overpowering research drive in Leonardo with the atrophy of his sexual life, which is limited to so-called ideal homosexuality, we will be inclined to take him as a model case of our third type. That he, after infantile activity of inquisitiveness in the service of sexual interests, then succeeded in sublimating the greater part of his libido into exploratory urge, that would be the core and the secret of his being. But of course the proof for this opinion is not easy to produce. For this we would need an insight into the mental development of his first childhood years, and it seems foolish to hope for such material when the news about his life is so scanty and so uncertain, and when, moreover, we are dealing with information about circumstances which still escape the attention of observers in persons of our own generation.We know very little of Leonardo's youth.
He was born in 1452 in the small town of Vinci, between Florence and Empoli; he was an illegitimate child, which in those times was certainly not considered a serious civil flaw; his father was Ser Piero da Vinci, a notary and descendant of a family of notaries and peasants who took their name from the town of Vinci; his mother a Caterina, probably a peasant girl who was later married to another inhabitant of Vinci. This mother does not appear again in Leonardo's life story, only the poet Merezhkovsky believes to be able to prove her trace. The only reliable information about Leonardo's childhood is provided by an official document from 1457, a Florentine tax cadastre, in which Leonardo is listed among the household members of the Vinci family as a five-year-old illegitimate child of Ser Piero Scognamiglio (1900, 15). Ser Piero's marriage to a Donna Albiera remained childless, so little Leonardo could be raised in his father's house. He left his father's house only when he entered the workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio as an apprentice at an unknown age. In 1472 Leonardo's name already appears in the list of members of the "Compagnia dei Pittori". That is all.
Only once, as far as I know, Leonardo interspersed a message from his childhood in one of his scientific writings. In a passage dealing with the flight of the vulture, he suddenly interrupts himself to follow a memory arising in him from very early years.
"It seems that I was destined before to deal so thoroughly with the vulture, for it comes to my mind as a very early memory, when I was still in the cradle, a vulture came down to me, opened my mouth with its tail, and many times with it thrust its tail against my lips."
"Questo scriver si distintamente del nibio par che sia mio destino, perchè nella mia prima ricordatione della mia infantia e' mi parea che, essendo io in culla, che un nibio venissi a me e mi aprissi la bocca colla sua coda e molte volte mi percuotesse con tal coda dentro alle labbra." (Codex atlanticus, F. 65 V. after Scognamiglio.)
A childhood memory, then, and of a most alienating kind. Strange because of its content and because of the time of life to which it is transferred. That a man could preserve a memory of his infancy is perhaps not impossible, but can by no means be considered certain. However, what this memory of Leonardo claims, that a vulture opened the mouth of the child with its tail, sounds so improbable, so fairy-tale-like, that another conception, which puts an end to both difficulties with one blow, recommends itself better to our judgment. That scene with the vulture will not be a memory of Leonardo, but a fantasy that he formed later and transferred to his childhood. Havelock Ellis, in an amiable review of this writing (1910), objected to the above view that this memory of Leonardo's could very well have had a real basis, since children's memories often go back much further than is usually believed. The big bird had to have been just no vulture. I will gladly admit this and contribute to the reduction of the difficulty the assumption that the mother observed the visit of the big bird to her child, which she could easily take for a significant omen, and later repeatedly told the child about it, so that the child could keep the memory of this narration and later, as it so often happens, confuse it with a memory of her own experience. But this modification does not detract from the binding nature of my account. The late created phantasies of the people about their childhood lean even as a rule on small realities of this otherwise forgotten prehistory. Therefore, a secret motive is needed to bring out the real nothingness and to form it in such a way, as it is done by Leonardo with the bird appointed as vulture and its strange action.
The childhood memories of people often have no other origin; they are not at all, like the conscious memories from the time of maturity, fixed and repeated from the experience, but are only brought out in later times, when childhood is already over, and in the process are changed, falsified, put into the service of later tendencies, so that in general they cannot be strictly separated from phantasies. Perhaps their nature cannot be better understood than by thinking of the way in which historiography arose among the ancient peoples. As long as the people were small and weak, they did not think of writing their history; they worked the soil of the land, resisted its existence against their neighbors, sought to wrest land from them and to come into wealth. It was a heroic and unhistorical time. Then came another time, when people came to their senses, felt rich and powerful, and now there was a need to know where they had come from and how they had become. Historiography, which had begun to continuously record the experiences of the present time, also looked backward into the past, collected traditions and legends, interpreted the remnants of ancient times in customs and traditions, and thus created a history of prehistory. It was inevitable that this prehistory would become an expression of the opinions and desires of the present rather than a reflection of the past, for much had been eliminated from the memory of the people, others had been distorted, some traces of the past were misinterpreted in the sense of the present, and, moreover, history was not written out of the motives of objective curiosity, but because one wanted to have an effect on one's contemporaries, to incite them, to elevate them, or to hold up a mirror to them. The conscious memory of a man of the experiences of his time of maturity is to be compared now quite to that historiography, and his childhood memories correspond after their emergence and reliability really to the late and tendentious history of the primeval time of a people.
If Leonardo's tale of the vulture visiting him in the cradle is thus only a late-born fantasy, one would think that it could hardly be worthwhile to dwell on it longer. For its explanation, one could be content with the openly announced tendency to lend his occupation with the problem of the flight of birds the consecration of a destiny. But with this disregard one would commit a similar injustice as if one would lightly reject the material of legends, traditions and interpretations in the prehistory of a people. In spite of all distortions and misunderstandings, the reality of the past is nevertheless represented by them; they are what the people have formed from the experiences of their primitive times, under the rule of once powerful motives which are still effective today, and if one could only undo these distortions by knowing all the forces at work, one should be able to uncover the historical truth behind this legendary material. The same applies to the childhood memories or fantasies of the individual. It is not indifferent what a person believes to remember from his childhood; as a rule, invaluable testimonies to the most significant features of his mental development are hidden behind the remnants of memory not understood by himselfI have since attempted such a utilization of a misunderstood childhood memory also with another great man.
In Goethe's biography (Dichtung und Wahrheit), written around his sixtieth year, the first pages tell how, at the instigation of his neighbors, he hurled small and large earthenware through the window onto the street so that it shattered.This is the only scene he reports from his earliest years. The complete lack of relationship of its content, its correspondence with childhood memories of some other human children who did not become anything particularly great, as well as the fact that Goethe does not remember the little brother on this steep, at whose birth he was three-quarters of a year old, at whose death he was almost 10 years old, have prompted me to undertake the analysis of this childhood memory. (He mentions this child later, however, where he dwells on the many illnesses of the childhood years). In doing so, I hoped to be able to replace it with something else, which would fit better into the context of Goethe's account and would be worthy by its content of preservation as well as of the place assigned to it in the history of his life. The little analysis ('Eine Kindheitserinnerung aus Dichtung und Wahrheit' (1917 b)) then allowed to recognize the throwing out of the dishes as a magical action directed against a disturbing intruder, and in the place where the incident was reported, it was supposed to signify the triumph over the fact that no second son was allowed to disturb Goethe's intimate relationship with his mother in the long run. That the earliest childhood memory preserved in such disguises is of the mother - in Goethe as in Leonardo - what would be surprising about that?
Since we now possess in the psychoanalytic techniques excellent aids to draw this hidden to light, we will be permitted the attempt to fill the gap in Leonardo's life story by the analysis of his childhood fantasy. If we do not reach a satisfactory degree of certainty, we must console ourselves with the fact that so many other investigations about the great and enigmatic man have not had a better fate.But if we look at Leonardo's vulture fantasy with the eye of the psychoanalyst, it does not seem strange to us for long; we believe we remember that we have often found similar things, for example in dreams, so that we can dare to translate this fantasy from the language peculiar to it into words commonly understood. The translation then aims at the erotic. Cock, "coda", is one of the best-known symbols and substitutes of the male member, in Italian no less than in other languages; the situation contained in the fantasy of a vulture opening the mouth of the child and working around in it proficiently with the cock corresponds to the idea of fellatio, a sexual act in which the member is inserted into the mouth of the person being used. It is strange enough that this fantasy is so thoroughly passive in character; it also resembles certain dreams and fantasies of women or passive homosexuals (who play the female role in sexual intercourse).May the reader now keep to himself and not refuse to follow psychoanalysis in flaring indignation, because it leads, even in its first applications, to an unpardonable vilification of the memory of a great and pure man.
It is obvious, however, that this indignation will never be able to tell us what Leonardo's childhood fantasy means; on the other hand, Leonardo confessed to this fantasy in the most unambiguous manner, and we do not drop the expectation - if one will: the prejudice - that such a fantasy, like any psychic creation, like a dream, a vision, a delirium, must have some meaning. The inclination to take the man's member into the mouth in order to suck on it, which in bourgeois society is counted among the abominable sexual perversions, occurs very frequently among the women of our time - and, as old pictures prove, also in earlier times - and in the state of infatuation seems to completely shed its offensive character. The physician encounters fantasies based on this inclination even in female persons who have not come to know of the possibility of such sexual gratification through reading v. Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia sexualis or through other communication. It seems that it is easy for women to create such fantasies of desire out of their own. See the 'Fragment of an Analysis of Hysteria' (1905 e). The investigation teaches us then also that this situation, so heavily outlawed by custom, allows the most harmless derivation.
It is nothing else than the reworking of another situation in which we once all felt comfortable when, in infancy ("essendo io in culla"), we took the nipple of our mother or wet nurse into our mouths to suck on it. The organic impression of this first pleasure of our life has remained indelibly imprinted; when the child later gets to know the udder of the cow, which according to its function resembles a nipple, but according to its shape and position on the abdomen resembles a penis, it has gained the preliminary stage for the later formation of that offensive sexual fantasy.We now understand why Leonardo transfers the memory of the alleged experience with the vulture to his infancy. Behind this fantasy is nothing other than a reminiscence of sucking - or being suckled - at the mother's breast, which humanly beautiful scene he, like so many other artists, undertook to depict with the brush on the Mother of God and her child. However, let us also note what we do not yet understand, that this reminiscence, equally significant for both sexes, was reworked by the man Leonardo into a passive homosexual fantasy. We will leave aside for the moment the question of what connection links homosexuality with sucking at the mother's breast, and we will only remember that tradition really calls Leonardo a homosexual. It does not matter to us whether the accusation against Leonardo was justified or not; it is not the real activity, but the attitude of the feeling that decides for us whether we should grant anyone the peculiarity of inversion.
Another misunderstood feature of Leonardo's childhood fantasy takes our interest first. We interpret the fantasy as being suckled by the mother and find the mother replaced by a vulture. Where does this vulture come from, and how does it get to this place? An idea offers itself there, so remotely lying that one would be tempted to do without it. In the sacred pictographic script of the ancient Egyptians, however, the mother is written with the image of the vulture Horapollo, Hieroglyphica 1, 11. Μητέρα δεράφοντες... γυ̃πα ζωγραφου̃σιν... These Egyptians also worshipped a maternal deity formed vulture-headed, or with several heads, at least one of which was that of a vultureRöscher (1894-97), Lanzone (1882). The name of this goddess was pronounced Mut; whether the phonetic similarity with our word "mother" is only an accidental one? So the vulture is really related to the mother, but what can this help us? Can we expect Leonardo to have this knowledge, if the reading of the hieroglyphs only succeeded to François Champollion (1790-1832)? H. Hartleben (1906).One would like to be interested in the way by which even the ancient Egyptians came to choose the vulture as a symbol of maternity. Now the religion and culture of the Egyptians was already the object of scientific curiosity of the Greeks and Romans, and long before we ourselves could read the monuments of Egypt, we had at our disposal individual communications about it from preserved writings of classical antiquity, writings, Some of them were written by well-known authors, such as Strabo, Plutarch, Ammianus Marcellus, while others bear unknown names and are uncertain in their origin and time of writing, such as the Hieroglyphica of Horapollo Nilus and the book of oriental priestly wisdom handed down under the divine name of Hermes Trismegistos. From these sources we learn that the vulture was considered a symbol of maternity because it was believed that there were only female vultures and no males of this species of bird "γυ̃πα δὲ άρρενα ού φασι γινέσθαι ποτε, αλλὰ θηλείας απάσας". The natural history of the ancients also knew a counterpart to this restriction; in the case of the scarabs, the beetles revered by the Egyptians as divine, they thought there were only males Plutarch: Veluti scarabaeos mares tantum esse putarunt Aegyptii sic inter vultures mares non inveniri statuerunt. How should now the fertilization of the vultures proceed, if they were all only females? About it gives a passage of the HorapolloHorapollinis Niloi Hieroglyphica, edidit Conradus Leemans (1835). The words referring to the sex of the vultures are (p. 14): μητέρα μέν επειδὴ άρρεν εν τούτω τω̃ γένει τω̃ν ζώων ουχ υπάρχει.good information. At a certain time these birds pause in flight, open their sheaths, and receive from the wind.We have now unexpectedly come to regard as quite probable something which a short time ago we had to reject as absurd. Leonardo can have known very well the scientific fairy tale to which the vulture owes it that the Egyptians wrote the concept of the mother with his picture. He was a frequent reader, whose interest embraced all fields of literature and knowledge. We possess in the Codex atlanticus a list of all the books that he owned at a certain timeE. Müntz (1899, 282), plus numerous notes on other books he had borrowed from friends, and according to the excerpts compiled by Fr. RichterMüntz, l. c.from his records, we can hardly overestimate the extent of his reading. Among this number, older as well as contemporaneous works of natural scientific content are not missing. All these books were already available in print at that time, and Milan was for Italy the main place of the young art of printing. If we now go further, we come across a piece of news that can increase the probability that Leonardo knew the Vulture Tale. The learned editor and commentator of the Horapollo remarks on the text already quoted (172): "Caeterum hanc fabulam de vulturibus cupide amplexi sunt Patres Ecclesiastici, ut ita argumento ex rerum natura petito refutarent eos, qui Virginis partum negabant; itaque apud omnes fere hujus rei mentio occurrit. "So the fable of the unisexuality and the conception of the vultures had by no means remained an indifferent anecdote like the analogous one of the scarabs; the church fathers had seized it in order to have an argument from natural history at hand against the doubters of the sacred history. If according to the best news from the antiquity the vultures were dependent on being fertilized by the wind, why should not also once the same have happened with a human woman? Because of this usability the church fathers "almost all" used to tell the vulture fable, and now it can hardly be doubtful that it became known also to Leonardo by such powerful patronage. We can imagine the origin of Leonardo's vulture fantasy in the following way. When he once read in a church father or in a natural science book that vultures are all females and know how to reproduce without the help of males, then a memory arose in him, which transformed itself into that fantasy, which wanted to say that he had also been such a vulture child, which had a mother, but no father, and in addition, in the way in which such old impressions can express themselves alone, an echo of the pleasure, which had been granted to him at the mother's breast. The allusion made by the authors to the idea of the holy virgin with the child, which is dear to every artist, must have contributed to making this fantasy seem valuable and significant to him. When we dissect a childhood fantasy, we strive to separate its real memory content from the later motifs that modify and distort it. In Leonardo's case, we now believe we know the real content of the fantasy; the replacement of the mother by the vulture indicates that the child missed the father and found himself alone with the mother. The fact of Leonardo's illegitimate birth agrees with his vulture fantasy; only for this reason he could compare himself to a vulture child. But we have learned as the next certain fact from his youth that he was taken into his father's household at the age of five; when this happened, whether a few months after his birth, whether a few weeks before the taking of that cadastre, is completely unknown to us. Now the interpretation of the vulture fantasy steps in and wants to teach us that Leonardo spent the crucial first years of his life not with his father and stepmother, but with the poor, abandoned, real mother, so that he had time to miss his father. This seems a meager and at the same time still daring result of the psychoanalytic effort, alone it will gain importance with further deepening. The certainty is still helped by the consideration of the actual circumstances in Leonardo's childhood. According to the reports, his father Ser Piero da Vinci married the noble Donna Albiera still in the year of Leonardo's birth; the childlessness of this marriage was the reason for the boy's acceptance into the paternal or rather grandfatherly house, which was confirmed by documents in his fifth year. Now, it is not customary to give an illegitimate offspring to the care of a young woman who is still counting on having children. Years of disappointment must have passed before one decided to accept the probably charmingly developed illegitimate child as compensation for the vainly hoped for legitimate children. It is in the best agreement with the interpretation of the vulture fantasy, if at least three years, perhaps five, of Leonardo's life had passed before he could exchange his lonely mother for a pair of parents. But then it had already become too late. In the first three or four years of life, impressions become fixed and ways of reacting against the outside world are formed which cannot be deprived of their significance by any later experience.If it is true that a person's incomprehensible childhood memories and the fantasies built upon them always highlight the most important things in his mental development, then the fact, corroborated by the vulture fantasy, that Leonardo spent the first years of his life alone with his mother must have been of the most decisive influence on the shaping of his inner life. Among the effects of this constellation it cannot have been lacking that the child, who in his young life found one problem more than other children, began to ponder these riddles with special passion and thus early on became a researcher who was tormented by the great questions of where the children came from and what the father had to do with their origin. The suspicion of this connection between his research and his childhood history elicited from him later the exclamation that it had probably always been destined for him to delve into the problem of bird flight, since he had already been haunted by a vulture in the cradle. To deduce the curiosity, which was directed to the bird flight, from the infantile sexual research, will be a later, easily to be done task.
In Leonardo's childhood fantasy, the element of the vulture represented to us the real memory content; the context in which Leonardo himself had placed his fantasy threw a bright light on the significance of this content for his later life. As the work of interpretation progresses, we now encounter the disconcerting problem of why this memory content was reworked into a homosexual situation. The mother who suckles the child - better: on whom the child sucks - is transformed into a vulture bird that sticks its tail into the child's mouth. We maintain that the "coda" of the vulture, according to common substitutive usage, can mean nothing at all but a male genital, a penis. But we do not understand how the imaginative activity can come to endow the very maternal bird with the badge of masculinity, and in the face of this absurdity we become mad at the possibility of reducing this imaginative structure to a reasonable sense.Indes we must not despair. How many seemingly absurd dreams have we not been forced to admit their meaning! Why should it be more difficult with a childhood fantasy than with a dream? Let us remember that it is not good if a peculiarity is found singularly, and let us hasten to place a second, even more striking, one beside it. The vulture-headed goddess Mut of the Egyptians, a figure of quite impersonal character, as Drexler judges in Roscher's Lexicon, was frequently fused with other maternal deities of more vivid individuality, such as Isis and Hathor, but retained beside them her separate existence and worship. It was a peculiar peculiarity of the Egyptian pantheon that the individual gods did not perish in syncretism. Beside the composition of the gods the simple figure of the gods remained in its independence. This vulture-headed maternal deity was now formed phallic by the Egyptians in most representationsCf. the illustrations in Lanzone (1882, T. CXXXVI-VIII).; her body, marked as female by the breasts, also bore a male member in the state of erection.In the goddess Mut thus the same union of maternal and male characters as in Leonardo's vulture fantasy! Shall we elucidate this coincidence by assuming that Leonardo also knew the androgynous nature of the maternal vulture from his book studies? Such possibility is more than doubtful; it seems that the sources accessible to him contained nothing of this strange determination. Mythology can tell us that the androgynous formation, the union of masculine and feminine sexual characters, did not only belong to Mut, but also to other deities such as Isis and Hathor, but these perhaps only in so far as they also had a maternal nature and were fused with Mut. She further teaches us that other deities of the Egyptians, such as Neith of Sais, who later became the Greek Athena, were originally conceived as androgynous, i.e. hermaphroditic, and that the same was true of many of the Greek gods, especially from the circle of Dionysus, but also of Aphrodite, who was later reduced to a female goddess of love. She may then try the explanation that the phallus attached to the female body should mean the creative elemental force of nature and that all these hermaphroditic gods express the idea that only the union of male and female can result in a worthy representation of divine perfection. But none of these remarks clarifies for us the psychological riddle that the imagination of men does not take offense at the fact that a figure, which is supposed to embody for them the essence of the mother, is provided with the sign of masculine power, which is contrary to maternity.The enlightenment comes from the side of infantile sexual theories. However, there had been a time when the male genital was found compatible with the representation of the mother. When the male child first directs his inquisitiveness to the mysteries of sexual life, he is dominated by interest in his own genitals. He finds this part of his body too valuable and too important to believe that it is lacking in other persons whom he feels so much like. Since it cannot guess that there is another, equivalent type of genital formation, it must resort to the assumption that all men, including women, possess such a member as it does. This prejudice is so firmly established in the adolescent researcher that it is not destroyed even by the first observations of the genitals of little girls. The perception tells him, however, that there is something different than with him, but he is not able to admit to himself as content of this perception that he cannot find the member with the girl. That the member could be missing is an eerie, unbearable idea to him, so he tries a mediating decision: the member is also present in the girl, but it is still very small; it will grow later. Forschungen, in the Internat. Zeitschr. f. ärztl. Psychoanalyse, and in Imago. If this expectation does not seem to be fulfilled in later observations, another way out is offered. The limb was there also in the little girl, but it has been cut off, in its place a wound has remained. This advance of the theory already utilizes own experiences of embarrassing character; in the meantime he has heard the threat that the expensive organ will be taken away from him if he expresses his interest in it too clearly. Under the influence of this castration threat he now reinterprets his conception of the female genital; from now on he will tremble for his manhood, but at the same time he will despise the unfortunate creatures on whom, in his opinion, the cruel punishment has already been carried out. Circumcision is unconsciously equated by people with castration. If we dare to carry our conjectures into the primitive times of the human race, we may suspect that circumcision was originally intended to be a mitigating substitute, a replacement, of castration. Before the child came under the dominion of the castration complex, at the time when the woman was still considered to him as full-fledged, an intense curiosity began to express itself in him as an erotic instinctual activity. He wanted to see the genitals of other persons, originally probably to compare them with his own. The erotic attraction emanating from the person of the mother soon culminated in the longing for her genitals, which were mistaken for a penis. With the late-acquired realization that the female does not possess a penis, this longing often turns into its opposite, gives way to a revulsion which, in the years of puberty, can become the cause of psychological impotence, misogyny, permanent homosexuality. But the fixation on the once much desired object, the penis of the woman, leaves indelible traces in the soul life of the child, which has gone through that piece of infantile sexual research with special deepening. The fetish-like veneration of the female foot and shoe seems to take the foot only as a substitute symbol for the once venerated, since then missed member of the female; the "pigtail cutters" play, without knowing it, the role of persons who perform the act of castration on the female genitals. One will not gain a correct relation to the activities of the infantile sexuality and will probably resort to the information to declare these communications untrustworthy, as long as one does not leave the point of view of our cultural disdain of the genitals and the sexual functions at all. For the understanding of the childlike soul life primeval analogies are needed. For us the genitals have been for a long series of generations the pudenda, objects of shame, and with more advanced sexual repression even of disgust. If one takes a comprehensive look at the sexual life of our time, especially that of the strata supporting human culture, one is tempted to say: reluctantly only, the majority of those living today submit to the dictates of procreation and feel thereby offended and degraded in their human dignity. Whatever other conception of sexual life exists among us has retreated to the crude, lower strata of the people, hides among the higher and more refined as culturally inferior, and dares to be active only under the embittering admonitions of a bad conscience. It was different in the primitive times of the human race. From the laborious collections of the cultural researchers one can get the conviction that the genitals were originally the pride and hope of the living, enjoyed divine veneration and transferred the divinity of their functions to all newly learned activities of the people. Innumerable divine figures rose by sublimation from their essence, and at the time when the connection of the official religions with the sexual activity was already veiled to the general consciousness, secret cults endeavored to keep it alive among a number of initiates. At last it happened in the course of cultural development that so much that was divine and sacred was extracted from sexuality until the exhausted remainder fell into contempt. But with the ineradicability which lies in the nature of all mental traces, one may not be surprised that even the most primitive forms of worship of the genitals can be traced down to quite recent times, and that the language usage, customs, and superstitions of present-day mankind contain the remnants of all phases of this course of developmentCf. We are prepared by weighty biological analogies for the fact that the mental development of the individual repeats the course of human development in an abbreviated way, and therefore we will not find improbable what the psychoanalytic investigation of the child's soul has revealed about the infantile estimation of the genitals. The infantile assumption of the maternal penis is now the common source from which the androgynous formation of maternal deities such as the Egyptian Mut and the "coda" of the vulture in Leonardo's childhood fantasy are derived. We call these representations of the gods, after all, only misleadingly hermaphroditic in the medical sense of the word. None of them unites the real genitals of both sexes, as they are united in some deformities to the disgust of every human eye; they merely add the male member to the breasts as a badge of maternity, as it was present in the child's first conception of the mother's body. Mythology has preserved for the faithful this venerable, primordially fantasized bodily formation of the mother. We can now translate the prominence of the vulture's tail in Leonardo's fantasy thus: At that time, when my tender curiosity was directed towards the mother and I still attributed to her a genital like my own. Another testimony to Leonardo's early sexual exploration, which in our opinion became decisive for his entire later life.A brief reflection now reminds us that we must not be content with the elucidation of the vulture's tail in Leonardo's childhood fantasy. There seems to be more in it that we do not yet understand. Its most striking feature was, after all, that it transformed sucking at the mother's breast into being suckled, that is, into passivity, and thus into a situation of an undoubtedly homosexual character. Considering the historical probability that Leonardo behaved in life like a homosexual feeling, we are forced to ask ourselves whether this fantasy does not point to a causal relationship between Leonardo's child relationship with his mother and his later manifest, albeit ideal, homosexuality. We would not dare to infer such a one from Leonardo's distorted reminiscence if we did not know from the psychoanalytic studies of homosexual patients that such a one exists, indeed that it is an intimate and necessary one. The homosexual men who in our days have undertaken an energetic action against the legal restriction of their sexual activity, love to have themselves portrayed by their theoretical spokesmen as a sexual variety separate from the beginning, as sexual intermediates, as a "third sex." They are men, for whom organic conditions from the very beginning have imposed the pleasure in man, but have denied that in woman. As gladly as one subscribes to their demands out of humane considerations, one must be cautious against their theories, which have been put forward without taking into account the psychic genesis of homosexuality. Psychoanalysis offers the means to fill this gap and to subject the claims of homosexuals to the test. It has been able to fulfill this task only with a small number of persons, but all the investigations carried out so far have brought the same surprising result. Moreover, I know that W. Stekel in Vienna and S. Ferenczi in Budapest came to the same results. In all our homosexual men there was in the first childhood, later forgotten by the individual, a very intense erotic attachment to a female person, as a rule to the mother, caused or favored by the over tenderness of the mother herself, further supported by a resignation of the father in infantile life. Sadger points out that the mothers of his homosexual patients were often man-wives, women with energetic traits who could push the father out of his due position; I have occasionally seen the same thing, but have received stronger impressions from those cases in which the father was absent from the beginning or fell away early, so that the boy was left at the mercy of female influence. Psychoanalytic research has contributed to the understanding of homosexuality two facts beyond all doubt, without believing that the cause of this sexual aberration is exhausted. The first is the above-mentioned fixation of the love needs to the mother, the other is expressed in the assertion that everyone, even the most normal, is capable of homosexual object choice, has carried it out at some time in life, and either still holds it in his unconscious or insures himself against it by vigorous counterattitudes. These two observations put an end both to the claim of homosexuals to be recognized as a "third sex" and to the distinction between innate and acquired homosexuality which is thought to be significant. The presence of somatic traits of the opposite sex (the amount of physical hermaphroditism) is very conducive to the manifestation of homosexual object choice, but not decisive. It is necessary to express it with regret that the representatives of homosexuals in science did not understand to learn anything from the assured investigations of psychoanalysis..After this preliminary stage a transformation occurs, the mechanism of which is known to us, the driving forces of which we do not grasp yet. The love for the mother cannot participate in the further conscious development, it falls into repression. The boy represses the love for the mother by putting himself in its place, identifying himself with the mother and taking his own person as a model in whose likeness he selects his new objects of love. He has thus become homosexual; in fact, he has slipped back into auto-eroticism, since the boys whom the adolescent now loves are, after all, only substitutes and renewals of his own childlike person, whom he loves as the mother loved him as a child. We say that he finds his love objects by the way of narcissism, since the Greek myth calls a youth Narcissus, who liked nothing so much as his own reflection and who was transformed into the beautiful flower of that name.Deeper psychological considerations justify the assertion that the one who has become homosexual by such a way remains fixed in the unconscious to the memory image of his mother. By repressing the love for the mother, he preserves it in his unconscious and from now on remains faithful to the mother. If, as a lover, he seems to run after boys, he is in reality running away from the other women who could make him unfaithful. We have also been able to prove by direct individual observation that the man who is apparently susceptible only to male stimulus is in reality subject to the attraction emanating from woman like a normal man; but he hastens each time to transfer the excitement received from woman to a male object, and in this way repeats again and again the mechanism by which he acquired his homosexuality.Far be it from us to exaggerate the significance of these elucidations of the psychic genesis of homosexuality. It is quite unmistakable that they glaringly contradict the official theories of the homosexual spokesmen, but we know that they are not comprehensive enough to permit a final clarification of the problem. What is called homosexuality for practical purposes may arise from manifold psychosexual processes of inhibition, and the process we have recognized may be only one among many and relate only to one type of "homosexuality." We must also admit that in our homosexual type the number of cases in which the conditions we demand can be shown far exceeds that of those cases in which the inferred effect really occurs, so that even we cannot reject the participation of unknown constitutional factors from which one otherwise tends to infer the whole of homosexuality. We would have had no occasion at all to go into the psychic genesis of the form of homosexuality we have studied, if there had not been a strong presumption in favor of the fact that Leonardo, of whose vulture fantasy we have started, belongs to this one type of homosexual. As little as is known about the sexual behavior of the great artist and explorer, we may trust in the probability that the statements of his contemporaries were not in the grossest error. In the light of these traditions, then, he appears to us as a man whose sexual neediness and activity were extraordinarily degraded, as if a higher aspiration had elevated him above the common animal need of men. It may remain undecided whether he ever sought direct sexual satisfaction and by what means, or whether he was able to completely renounce it. But we have a right to look for those currents of feeling in him, too, which urge others imperiously to the sexual act, for we cannot believe any human soul life in whose construction the sexual desire in the broadest sense, the libido, would not have its share, even if it has distanced itself far from the original goal or held back from its execution. These, however, point in one direction and allow us to classify him as a homosexual. It has always been emphasized that he took only strikingly beautiful boys and young men as his pupils. He was kind and indulgent toward them, caring for them and nursing them himself when they were ill, as a mother cares for her children, as his own mother might have cared for him. Since he had chosen them for their beauty and not for their talent, none of them became: Cesare da Sesto, G. Boltraffio, Andrea Salaino, Francesco Melzi and others, an important painter. Most of them did not manage to gain their independence from the master, they disappeared after his death without leaving a more definite physiognomy to the history of art. The others, who after their work could rightly call themselves his pupils, such as Luini and Bazzi, called Sodoma, he probably did not know personally. We know that we have to meet the objection that Leonardo's behavior towards his pupils has nothing at all to do with sexual motives and does not allow any conclusion about his sexual characteristics. On the other hand, we want to assert with all caution that our view clarifies some strange traits in the behavior of the master, which otherwise would have to remain mysterious. Leonardo kept a diary; he made notes in his small, right-to-left handwriting, which were intended only for him. In this diary he remarkably addressed himself as "you": "Learn the multiplication of roots from Master Luca. "Solmi (1908, 152).- "Let Master d'Abacco show you the squaring of the circle. "Ibid.- Or on the occasion of a journeyL.c, 203.: "I am going to Milan for my garden matter ... Have two carrying bags made. Have the lathe of Boltraffio shown to you and a stone worked on it. - Leonardo behaves like someone who was used to make his daily confession to another person, and who now replaces this person with the diary. A conjecture who this might have been, see Mereschkowski (1903, 367).Or, a resolution of completely different meaning: "You have to show in your treatise that the earth is a star, like the moon or approximately, and thus to prove the nobility of our world. "Herzfeld (1906, CXLI). In this diary, which by the way - like the diaries of other mortals - often only touches on the most significant events of the day with a few words or completely omits them, there are some entries that are quoted by all of Leonardo's biographers because of their peculiarity. They are records of small expenditures of the master of an embarrassing exactness, as if they should come from a philistine strict and thrifty house father, while the evidence of the use of larger sums is missing and nothing else suggests that the artist understood economy. One of these notes concerns a new coat he bought for the pupil Andrea SalainoThe wording according to Mereschkowski, l. c, 282.:Silver brocade 15 lire 4 soldiRed velvet for trimming 9 lire - soldiCords - lire 9 soldiButtons - lire 12 soldiAnother very detailed note compiles all the expenses that another pupil or model. caused by his bad qualities and his tendency to theft: "On the day 21 of April 1490 I began this book and started again the horseFrom the equestrian monument of Francesco Sforza... Jacomo came to me on the Magdalene day thousand 490, at the age of 10 years. (Marginal note: thievish, lying, obstinate, voracious). The second day I had him cut two shirts, a pair of pants and a doublet, and when I put aside the money to pay for said things, he stole the money from my purse, and was never able to make him confess it, although I had a true security of it (marginal note: 4 lire ...)." Thus the account of the little one's misdeeds continues, concluding with the account of expenses: "In the first year, one coat, lire 2; 6 shirts, lire 4; 3 jackets, lire 6; 4 pairs of stockings, lire 7, etc. "The full text in Herzfeld (1906, XLV). The biographers of Leonardo, to whom nothing is further away than to want to fathom the riddles in the soul life of their hero from his small weaknesses and peculiarities, are in the habit of adding to these strange calculations a remark that emphasizes the kindness and forbearance of the master towards his pupils. They forget that it is not Leonardo's behavior that needs explanation, but the fact that he left us these testimonies of it. Since it is impossible to attribute to him the motive of playing into our hands proofs of his good nature, we must make the assumption that another, affective motive prompted him to these transcripts. It is not easy to guess which one, and we would not be able to give one if another account found among Leonardo's papers did not throw a bright light on these strangely petty notes about student clothing and the like. Expenses after death for the funeral of Catherine 27 florins2 pounds of wax 18 "For carrying and erecting the cross 12 "Catafalque 4 "Pallbearers 8 "To 4 clergy and 4 clergy 20 "Bell ringing 2 "To the gravediggers 16 "For the permit - the officials 1 "Summa 108 florinsEarlier expenses:The doctor 4 florinsFor sugar and light 12 " 16 "Summa Summarum 124 florins. " Mereschkowski (1903, 372). - As a saddening proof of the uncertainty of the already scanty news about Leonardo's intimate life, I mention that the same expense account is reproduced in Solmi (1908, 104) with considerable modifications. Most alarming seems that Florins are replaced by Soldi in it. One may assume that in this calculation florins do not mean the old "gold florins", but the later common calculation size, which equals 1⅔ lire or 33⅓ soldi. - Solmi makes Catherine a maid who had managed Leonardo's household through a period of time. The source from which the two accounts of this account have drawn has not been made available to me.The poet Merezhkovsky is the only one who knows how to tell us who this Catherine was. From two other short notes he tells us that Leonardo's mother, a poor peasant woman from Vinci, came to Milan in 1493 to visit her son, then 41 years old, that she fell ill there, was hospitalized by Leonardo, and when she died, was buried by him at such honorable expense "Catherine arrived on July 16, 1493." - Giovannina - a fabulous face - inquires with Catherine in the hospital".This interpretation of the soul-knowing novelist is not provable, but it can claim so much inner probability, agrees so well with everything else we know of Leonardo's emotional activity, that I cannot abstain from acknowledging it as correct. He had managed to force his feelings under the yoke of research and to inhibit the free expression of them; but there were also for him cases in which the suppressed forced itself an expression, and the death of the once so dearly loved mother was such a case. In this account of funeral expenses we have before us the expression, distorted beyond recognition, of grief for the mother. We wonder how such distortion could come about, and we cannot understand it even from the point of view of normal mental processes. But under the abnormal conditions of neuroses and especially of the so-called obsessive neurosis we are well acquainted with similar phenomena. There we see the expression of intense feelings, which have become unconscious through repression, shifted to minor, even trivial tasks. The resisting powers have succeeded in degrading the expression of these repressed feelings to such an extent that one would have to estimate the intensity of these feelings as a most trifling one; but in the imperious compulsion with which this petty act of expression asserts itself, the real power, rooted in the unconscious, of the impulses which consciousness would like to deny, betrays itself. Only such an allusion to the events of the obsessive neurosis can explain Leonardo's funeral bill at the death of his mother. In the unconscious, he was still bound to her as in childhood by erotically colored inclination; the contradiction of the later repression of this childhood love did not allow that another, more dignified monument be set to her in the diary, but what resulted as a compromise from this neurotic conflict, that had to be carried out, and so the bill was entered and came as an incomprehensibility to the knowledge of posterity.It seems no risk to transfer the insight gained from the funeral bill to the student cost accounts. Accordingly, this would also be a case in which the sparse remains of libidinous impulses forcibly created a distorted expression in Leonardo. The mother and the pupils, the images of his own boyish beauty, would have been his sexual objects - as far as the sexual repression dominating his being allows such a label - and the compulsion to note with embarrassing detail the expenses made for them would be the alienating betrayal of these rudimentary conflicts. It would thus emerge that Leonardo's love life really belongs to the type of homosexuality whose psychic development we have been able to uncover, and the appearance of the homosexual situation in his vulture fantasy would become intelligible to us, for it said nothing other than what we asserted earlier about that type. It required the translation: Through this erotic relationship with the mother I have become a homosexualThe forms of expression in which the repressed libido is allowed to express itself in Leonardo, circumstantiality and interest in money, belong to the character traits that emerged from the anal eroticism.
Leonardo's vulture fantasy still holds us. In words that all too clearly echo the description of a sexual act ("and thrust many times with his tail against my lips"), Leonardo emphasizes the intensity of the erotic relations between mother and child. It does not hold difficult to guess from this connection of the mother's (the vulture's) activity with the emphasis on the mouth zone a second memory content of the fantasy. We can translate: The mother pressed uncounted passionate kisses on my mouth. The fantasy is composed of the memory of being suckled and of being kissed by the mother. The artist has been given by a kind nature to express his most secret emotions of the soul, hidden from himself, through creations which powerfully seize others, strangers to the artist, without them themselves knowing where this seizure comes from. Should nothing in Leonardo's life's work bear witness to what his memory has preserved as the strongest impression of his childhood? One would have to expect it. But if one considers what profound transformations an impression of the artist's life has to go through before it is allowed to make its contribution to the work of art, one will have to lower the claim to certainty of proof to a very modest level, especially in Leonardo's case. Whoever thinks of Leonardo's paintings will be reminded of a strange, enchanting and enigmatic smile that he conjured up on the lips of his female figures. The art connoisseur will think here of the peculiar fixed smile, which the plastic works of the archaic Greek art, e.g. the Aeginetes, show, perhaps also discover something similar in the figures of Leonardo's teacher Verrocchio and therefore will not want to follow the following explanations without reservations... In the strangely beautiful face of the Florentine Mona Lisa del Giocondo, it most strongly seized the viewers and brought them into confusion. This smile demanded an interpretation and found the most diverse ones, none of which satisfied. "Voilà quatre siecles bientôt que Monna Lisa fait perdre la tête à tous ceux qui parlent d'elle, après l'avoir longtemps regardée. "Gruyer after v. Seidlitz (1909, vol. 2, 280).Leonardo da Vinci: Mona LisaMuther(1909, vol. 1, 314). "What captivates the viewer by name is the demonic magic of this smile. Hundreds of poets and writers have written about this woman, who sometimes seems to smile seductively at us, sometimes to stare coldly and soullessly into space, and no one has unraveled her smile, no one has interpreted her thoughts. Everything, even the landscape, is mysteriously dreamlike, as if trembling in thunderous sensuality." The suspicion that two different elements unite in the Mona Lisa's smile has stirred in several critics. They therefore see in the facial expressions of the beautiful Florentine woman the most perfect representation of the opposites that dominate the love life of women, of reserve and seduction, of devoted tenderness and ruthlessly demanding sensuality that consumes the man like something foreign. Thus Müntz(1899, 417). expresses: "On sait quelle énigme indéchiffrable et passionnante Monna Lisa Gioconda ne cesse depuis bientôt quatre siècles, de proposer aux admirateurs pressés devant elle. Jamais artiste (j'emprunte la plume du délicat écrivain qui se cache sous le Pseudonyme de Pierre de Corlay) 'a-t-il traduit ainsi l'essence même de la fémininité: tendresse et coquetterie, pudeur et sourde volupté, tout le mystère d'un cœur qui se réserve, d'un cerveau qui réfléchit, d'une personnalité qui se garde et ne livre d'elle-même que son rayonnement . ..'" The Italian Angelo Conti(1910, 93).sees the painting in the Louvre enlivened by a ray of sunlight. "La donna sorrideva in una calma regale: i suoi istinti di conquista, di ferocia, tutta l'eredità della specie, la volontà della seduzione e dell' agguato, la grazia del inganno, la bontà che cela un proposito crudele, tutto ciò appariva alternativamente e scompariva dietro il velo ridente e si fondeva nel poema del suo sorriso ... Buona e malvagia, crudele e compassionevole, graziosa e felina, ella rideva ... "Leonardo spent four years painting this picture, perhaps from 1503 to 1507, during his second stay in Florence, himself over 50 years old. He applied, according to Vasari's report, the choicest arts to disperse the lady during the sessions and capture that smile on her features. Of all the subtleties that his brush reproduced on the canvas at that time, the painting has retained little in its present state; when it was in the making, it was considered the highest that art could achieve; but it is certain that Leonardo himself was not satisfied with it, that he declared it unfinished, did not deliver it to the commissioner, and took it with him to France, where his protector Francis I. acquired it from him for the Louvre. Let us leave the physiognomic riddle of the Mona Lisa unsolved and note the undoubted fact that her smile fascinated the artist no less than all the viewers for 400 years. This enchanting smile recurs since then in all his paintings and those of his pupils. Since Leonardo's Mona Lisa is a portrait, we cannot assume that he of his own accord lent her face such an expressive feature that she herself did not possess. It seems that we can hardly but believe that he found this smile in his model and fell so under its spell that from then on he endowed the free creations of his imagination with it. This obvious view is supported, for example, by A. Konstantinova(1907, 44)expresses: "During the long time in which the master was occupied with the portrait of the Mona Lisa del Giocondo, he had lived with such participation of feeling into the physiognomic subtleties of this woman's countenance that he transferred these traits - especially the mysterious smile and the strange look - to all the faces which he subsequently painted or drew; the mimic peculiarity of Gioconda can be perceived even in the picture of John the Baptist in the Louvre; - above all, however, they are clearly recognizable in Mary's facial features in the Anna Selbdritt picture. "Leonardo da Vinci: Saint Anna SelbdrittAlone it can also have happened differently. The need for a deeper justification of that attraction with which the smile of Gioconda seized the artist, not to release him again, has stirred in more than one of his biographers. W. Pater, who sees in the painting of the Mona Lisa the "embodiment of all love experience of cultural mankind" and treats very finely "that unfathomable smile, which in Leonardo always seems to be connected with something ominous", leads us on another track when he saysPater 1906, 157. (From the English.): "By the way, the painting is a portrait. We can trace how it mingles with the fabric of his dreams from childhood on, so that, were it not for explicit testimonies to the contrary, one would believe it to be his finally found and embodied ideal of a woman ... "Something quite similar is probably what M. Herzfeld has something quite similar in mind when she says that in the Mona Lisa Leonardo met himself, that is why it was possible for him to inscribe so much of his own being in the picture, "whose features have always lain in enigmatic sympathy in Leonardo's soul. Herzfeld (1906, LXXXVIII).Let us try to develop these hints to clarity. So it may have been that Leonardo was captivated by the smile of the Mona Lisa because it awakened something in him that had been dormant in his soul for a long time, an old memory probably. This memory was significant enough not to let him go once it had been awakened; he had to keep giving it new expression. The assurance of Pater that we can trace how a face like that of the Mona Lisa mingles from childhood in the fabric of his dreams seems credible and deserves to be understood literally.Vasari mentions as his first artistic attempts "teste di femmine, che ridono "In Scognamiglio (1900, 32).... The passage, which is quite unsuspicious because it does not want to prove anything, reads more completely in German translationby L. Schorn (1843, vol. 3, 6): "by forming in his youth some laughing female heads from earth, which were multiplied in plaster, and some children's heads, so beautiful, as if they were formed by master hand . ... "We learn, then, that his artistic practice began with the representation of two kinds of objects, which must remind us of the two kinds of sexual objects which we have deduced from the analysis of his vulture fantasy. If the beautiful children's heads were duplications of his own childlike person, the smiling women are nothing but repetitions of Caterina, his mother, and we begin to suspect the possibility that his mother possessed the mysterious smile that he had lost and that so captivated him when he found it again in the Florentine lady. The same assumes Mereschkowski, who imagines a childhood history for Leonardo, which deviates in the essential points from our, drawn from the vulture fantasy, results. But if Leonardo himself would have shown this smile, the tradition would hardly have omitted to report this meeting to us...The painting of Leonardo, which is chronologically closest to the Mona Lisa, is the so-called "St. Anna Selbdritt", St. Anna with Mary and the Christ child. It shows the Leonardesque smile in its most beautiful expression on both women's heads. It is not possible to determine how much earlier or later Leonardo began painting it than the portrait of the Mona Lisa. Since both works extended over years, we may assume that they occupied the master at the same time. To our expectation, it would be best if just the immersion in the features of the Mona Lisa would have inspired Leonardo to create the composition of St. Anne from his imagination. For if the smile of the Gioconda evoked in him the memory of the mother, we understand that it first drove him to create a glorification of maternity and to reproduce the smile he had found in the distinguished lady to the mother. So we may let our interest slide over from the portrait of the Mona Lisa to this other, hardly less beautiful picture, which is now also in the Louvre.St. Anne with daughter and grandchild is a subject rarely treated in Italian painting; Leonardo's representation differs in any case far from all otherwise known. Muther says (1909, vol. 1, 309): "Some masters, such as Hans Fries, the elder Holbein and Girolamo dai Libri, let Anna sit next to Mary and put the child between them. Others, like Jakob Cornelisz in his Berlin picture, showed the 'holy Anna selbdritt' in the actual sense of the word, that is, they depicted her holding in her arms the small figurine of Mary, on which the even smaller one of the Christ Child is sitting." In Leonardo's work, Mary is sitting on her mother's lap, leaning forward and reaching with both arms for the boy who is playing with a little lamb, probably maltreating it a little. The grandmother has one uncovered arm on her hip and looks down on the two with a blissful smile. The grouping is certainly not entirely casual. But the smile that plays on the lips of both women, although unmistakably the same as in the picture of the Mona Lisa, has lost its sinister and enigmatic character; it expresses intimacy and quiet blissKonstantinova (1907): "Maria looks down full of intimacy to her darling, with a smile that recalls the enigmatic expression of the Gioconda", and elsewhere of the Maria: "Around her features hovers the smile of the Gioconda". "With a certain immersion in this picture it comes like a sudden understanding over the viewer: only Leonardo could paint this picture, as only he could write the vulture fantasy. The synthesis of his childhood history is inscribed in this picture; the details of it can be explained from the most personal impressions of Leonardo's life. In his father's house he found not only his good stepmother Donna Albiera, but also his grandmother, his father's mother, Monna Lucia, who, let us assume, was not more unkind to him than grandmothers tend to be. This circumstance might have brought him closer to the representation of childhood protected by mother and grandmother. Another striking feature of the painting acquires an even greater significance. St. Anne, the mother of Mary and grandmother of the boy, who should be a matron, is here perhaps a little more mature and serious than St. Mary, but still formed as a young woman of unspoiled beauty. Leonardo has actually given the boy two mothers, one who stretches out her arms to him, and another in the background, and endowed both with the blissful smile of maternal happiness. This peculiarity of the picture has not failed to arouse the wonderment of authors; Muther, for example, thinks that Leonardo could not decide to paint age, wrinkles and wrinkles, and therefore also made Anna a woman of radiant beauty. Whether one can be satisfied with this explanation? Others have resorted to the information to deny the "equality of mother and daughter" at allS. v. Seidlitz (1909, vol. 2, 274, notes). But Luther's attempt at explanation is sufficient to prove that the impression of the rejuvenation of St. Anne is taken from the picture and not feigned by a tendency.Leonardo's childhood had been just as strange as this picture. He had had two mothers, the first his true mother, Catarina, from whom he was torn at the age of three to five, and a young and tender stepmother, his father's wife, Donna Albiera. By combining this fact of his childhood with the first mentioned, the presence of his mother and grandmother, by condensing them into a mixed unity, the composition of St. Anne the Third was formed. The maternal figure further away from the boy, called grandmother, corresponds to the real former mother Caterina according to her appearance and her spatial relation to the boy. With the blissful smile of St. Anne, the artist has probably denied and covered the envy that the unfortunate woman felt when she had to cede her husband, as well as her son, to her more distinguished rival. One would like to say, both are so merged into each other like badly condensed dream figures, so that it becomes difficult in some places to say where Anna ends and where Maria begins. What appears to be an error, a flaw in the composition, is justified by its secret meaning. The two mothers of his childhood were allowed to flow together into one figure for the artist. It is then particularly attractive to compare with the St. Anna Selbdritt of the Louvre the famous London cardboard, which shows another composition of the same material. Here the two mother figures are even more intimately fused, their demarcations even more uncertain, so that judges, who were far from any effort of interpretation, had to say that it seems "as if both heads grow out of one torso".Most authors agree to explain this London carton for the earlier work, and move its creation to the first Milanese time of Leonardo (before 1500). Adolf Rosenberg (monograph 1898), on the other hand, sees in the composition of the carton a later - and happier - creation of the same pretext and, following Anton Springer himself, lets it be created after the Mona Lisa. To our discussions it fits quite well that the cardboard should be the far older creation. It is also not difficult to imagine how the Louvre painting would have emerged from the carton, while no understanding arises for the opposite transformation. If we start from the composition of the cardboard, Leonardo felt the need, for instance, to cancel the dreamlike fusion of the two women, which corresponded to his childhood memory, and to spatially separate the two heads from each other. He did this by detaching Mary's head and upper body from the mother figure and bending them downward. To motivate this shift, the Christ child had to move away from the lap to the floor, and then there was no room left for the little John, who was replaced by the lamb. -On the Louvre picture Oskar Pfister has made a curious discovery, to which one will by no means deny his interest, even if one should not feel inclined to its unconditional recognition. He has found the contour of the vulture in the peculiarly designed and not easily comprehensible garment of Mary and interprets it as an unconscious conundrum. On the picture depicting the artist's mother, the vulture, the symbol of maternity, is found in full clarity. One sees the extremely characteristic vulture's head, the neck, the sharply arched base of the torso in the blue cloth, which becomes visible at the hip of the front woman and extends in the direction of the lap and right knee. Almost no observer to whom I presented the small find could escape the evidence of this conundrum." (Pfister, 1913, 147.)At this point, the reader will certainly not spare the effort to look at the pictorial supplement attached to this paper in order to search for the outlines of the vulture seen by Pfister in it. The blue cloth, whose edges draw the conundrum, stands out in the reproduction as a light gray field from the darker ground of the rest of the garment.Pfister continues (l. c, 147), "But the important question now is: How far does the conundrum extend? If we continue to trace the cloth, which stands out so sharply from its surroundings, from the center of the wing, we notice that it lowers to the foot of the woman on the one hand, but rises toward her shoulder and the child on the other. The former part would give approximately the wings and natural tail of the vulture, the latter a pointed belly and, especially if we note the radiating lines similar to the contours of feathers, a spread bird's tail, the right end of which leads exactly as in Leonardo's fateful childhood dream to the mouth of the child, that is, Leonardo. "The author then undertakes to carry out the interpretation even further in detail, and treats the difficulties that arise in doing so...Thus, from another of Leonardo's works, we would have come to the confirmation of the suspicion that the smile of the Mona Lisa del Giocondo had awakened in the man the memory of the mother of his first childhood years. From then on, Madonnas and noble ladies showed the painters of Italy the humble inclination of the head and the strangely blissful smile of the poor peasant girl Catarina, who had given birth to the glorious son, destined for painting, research and endurance. If Leonardo succeeded in reproducing in the face of the Mona Lisa the double meaning that this smile had, the promise of boundless tenderness as well as the ominous threat (according to Pater's words), then he had remained true to the content of his earliest memory. For his mother's tenderness became his undoing, determined his fate and the privations that awaited him. The vehemence of the caresses to which his vulture fantasy points was all too natural; the poor abandoned mother had to put all her memories of caresses enjoyed, as well as her longing for new ones, into the mother's love; she was impelled to compensate not only herself for not having a husband, but also the child for not having a father to caress him. Thus, after the manner of all unsatisfied mothers, she accepted the infant son in place of her husband and, by maturing his eroticism too soon, robbed him of a piece of his manhood. The mother's love for the infant whom she nurtures and cares for is something far more profound than her later affection for the growing child. It is of the nature of a fully satisfying love relationship, which fulfills not only all spiritual desires, but also all physical needs, and if it represents one of the forms of happiness attainable to man, this does not at least derive from the possibility of satisfying without reproach even long-repressed and perverted desires. In the happiest young marriage, the father feels that the child, especially the young son, has become his rival, and an antagonism against the favored one, deeply rooted in the unconscious, takes its origin from there.When Leonardo, at the height of his life, encountered again that blissfully enraptured smile as it had once played around his mother's mouth during her caresses, he had long since been under the sway of an inhibition that forbade him ever again to desire such caresses of women's lips. But he had become a painter, and so he strove to recreate that smile with the brush, and he gave it to all his paintings, whether he executed them himself or had them executed under his direction by his pupils, to Leda, John, and Bacchus. The last two are modifications of the same type. Muther says: "From the locust-eater of the Bible Leonardo has made a Bacchus, an Apollino, who, an enigmatic smile on his lips, his soft thighs crossed, gazes at us with a meaningly bewitching eye." These pictures breathe a mysticism into whose mystery one does not dare to penetrate; one can at most try to establish a connection with Leonardo's earlier creations. The figures are again man-feminine, but no longer in the sense of vulture fantasy, they are beautiful youths of feminine tenderness with feminine forms; they do not cast down their eyes, but look mysteriously triumphant, as if they knew of a great fortune of which one must remain silent; the familiar enchanting smile suggests that it is a love mystery. It is possible that in these figures Leonardo denied and artistically overcame the unhappiness of his love life by depicting the wish fulfillment of the boy infatuated by his mother in such blissful union of male and female.
Among the entries in Leonardo's diaries is one that holds the reader's attention because of its significant content and because of a tiny formal error:
He writes in July 1504:
"Adì 9 di Luglio 1504 mercoledi a ore 7 morì Ser Piero da Vinci, notalio al palazzo del Potestà, mio padre, a ore 7. Era d'età d'anni 80, lasciò 10 figlioli maschi e 2 femmine. "According to Müntz (1899, 13, note).
The note is thus about the death of Leonardo's father. The small error in its form consists in the fact that the time definition "a ore 7" is repeated twice, as if Leonardo had forgotten at the end of the sentence that he had already written it down at the beginning. It is only a trifle that someone other than a psychoanalyst would not make anything of. Perhaps he would not notice it, and if his attention were drawn to it, he would say: this can happen to anyone in absentmindedness or in the heat of the moment and has no further significance.
The psychoanalyst thinks differently; nothing is too small for him as an expression of hidden mental processes; he has long since learned that such forgetting or repeating is meaningful, and that one must thank "absent-mindedness" when it permits the betrayal of otherwise hidden emotions.
We will say that this note, too, like Caterina's corpse account, the students' expense accounts, corresponds to a case in which Leonardo's suppression of his affects failed and the long-concealed forced itself a distorted expression. The form is also a similar one, the same pedantic precision, the same urgency of the numbersI will refrain from a greater error that Leonardo committed in this note, giving 80 years to the 77 year old father....
We call such a repetition a perseveration. It is an excellent device to indicate affective emphasis. Consider, for example, St. Peter's speech of wrath against his unworthy representative on earth in Dante's ParadisoCanto XXVII, v. 22-25...:
"Quegli ch'usurpa in terra il luogo mio, Il luogo mio, il luogo mio, che vaca Nella presenza del Figliuol di Dio,
Fatto ha del cimiterio mio cloaca."
Without Leonardo's inhibition of affect, the diary entry might have read something like: Today at 7 o'clock my father died, Ser Piero da Vinci, my poor father! But the postponement of the perseveration to the most indifferent destination of the death news, to the hour of death, robs the note of any pathos and just allows us to recognize that there was something to be concealed and suppressed here.
Ser Piero da Vinci, notary and descendant of notaries, was a man of great vitality who made it to prestige and prosperity. He was married four times, the first two wives died away childless, only from the third he achieved in 1476 the first legitimate son, when Leonardo was already 24 years old and had long since exchanged the father's house for the studio of his master Verrocchio; With the fourth and last wife, whom he had already married at the age of fifty, he fathered nine sons and two daughters. It seems that Leonardo also made a mistake in the number of his siblings in that diary passage, which stands in a strange contrast to the apparent exactness of the same. Certainly, this father also became significant for Leonardo's psychosexual development, not only negatively, through his absence in the first years of the boy's childhood, but also directly through his presence in his later childhood. Whoever desires the mother as a child cannot avoid wanting to put himself in the place of the father, to identify with him in his imagination, and later to make his overcoming him his life's task. When Leonardo, not yet five years old, was taken into his grandfather's house, the young stepmother Albiera certainly took the place of his mother in his feelings, and he entered into that relationship of rivalry with his father that can be called normal. The decision to homosexuality occurs, as is well known, only near the years of puberty. Once this had fallen for Leonardo, identification with the father lost all significance for his sexual life, but continued in other areas of non-erotic activity. We hear that he loved ostentation and beautiful clothes, kept servants and horses, although, in Vasari's words, he "owned almost nothing and worked little"; we will not blame his sense of beauty alone for these preferences, we will also recognize in them the compulsion to copy and surpass his father. The father had been the noble gentleman to the poor peasant girl, therefore the sting remained in the son to play the noble gentleman, the urge "to out-herod Herod", to hold up to the father what real nobility looked like.
Whoever creates as an artist certainly also feels like a father against his works. For Leonardo's work as a painter, the identification with the father had a fatal consequence. He created them and no longer cared for them, just as his father had not cared for him. The later care of the father could not change this compulsion, because it was derived from the impressions of the first years of childhood, and what remained unconsciously repressed cannot be corrected by later experiences.
At the time of the Renaissance, every artist needed - as he did much later - a high lord and patron, a padrone, who gave him commissions, in whose hands his fate rested. Leonardo found his padrone in the ambitious, splendor-loving, diplomatically shrewd, but unsteady and unreliable Lodovico Sforza, known as il Moro. At his court in Milan he spent the most brilliant period of his life, in his service he developed the most uninhibited creative power, to which the Last Supper and the equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza bear witness. He left Milan before disaster struck Lodovico Moro, who died a prisoner in a French dungeon. When news of his patron's fate reached Leonardo, he wrote in his diary, "The duke lost his land, his property, his freedom, and none of the works he undertook was completed.""Il duca perse lo stato e la roba e libertà e nessuna sua Opera si finì per lui." - v. Seidlitz (1909, vol. 2, 270).It is curious and certainly not meaningless that he here raised against his padrone the same accusation that posterity was to turn against him, as if he wanted to blame a person from the father line for the fact that he himself left his works unfinished. In reality, he was not wrong against the duke either.
But if the imitation of the father damaged him as an artist, the rebellion against the father was the infantile condition of his perhaps equally great achievement as an explorer. He resembled, according to Mereshkovsky's beautiful simile, a man who had awakened too early in the darkness while the others were all still asleep(1903, 348).... He dared to utter the bold sentence which, after all, contains the justification of any free research: He who, in the dispute of opinions, appeals to authority, works with his memory instead of his intellectChi disputa allegando l'autorità non adopra l'ingegno ma piuttosto la memoria; Solmi (1910, 13).... Thus became the first modern naturalist, and a wealth of knowledge and inklings rewarded his courage to be the first since the times of the Greeks, based only on observation and his own judgment, to touch the mysteries of nature. But when he taught to disdain authority and to reject the imitation of the "ancients" and pointed again and again to the study of nature as the source of all truth, he only repeated, in the highest sublimation attainable to man, the partisanship which had already imposed itself on the little boy gazing in wonder at the world. Translated back from the scientific abstraction into the concrete individual experience, the ancients and the authority corresponded nevertheless only to the father, and nature became again the tender, kind mother who had nurtured him. While with most other human children - even today as in primeval times - the need for attachment to some authority is so imperious that the world begins to falter for them when this authority is threatened, Leonardo alone could do without this support; he would not have been able to do so if he had not learned in the first years of his life to do without his father. The boldness and independence of his later scientific research presupposes and continues the infantile sexual research uninhibited by the father, turning away from the sexual.
If someone like Leonardo escaped the intimidation of the father in his first childhood and threw off the shackles of authority in his research, it would be the most glaring contradiction to our expectation if we found that the same man remained a believer and did not manage to escape dogmatic religion. Psychoanalysis has taught us the intimate connection between the father complex and faith in God, has shown us that the personal God is psychologically nothing other than an exalted father, and demonstrates to us daily how youthful persons lose religious faith as soon as the authority of the father breaks down with them. In the parental complex we thus recognize the root of the religious need; the almighty, just God and the benevolent nature appear to us as grand sublimations of father and mother, rather as renewals and restorations of the early childhood conceptions of both. Religiosity traces itself biologically to the prolonged helplessness and neediness of the little human child, who, when he has later realized his real abandonment and weakness against the great powers of life, feels his situation similar to that of childhood and seeks to deny its desolation by the regressive renewal of infantile protective powers. The protection against neurotic illness which religion affords its believers is easily explained by the fact that it relieves them of the parental complex on which the consciousness of guilt of the individual as well as of all mankind hangs, and takes care of it for them, while the unbeliever must cope with this task alone.
It does not seem that Leonardo's example could convict this conception of religious faith of error. Accusations accusing him of unbelief, or, what at that time meant as much, of apostasy from the Christian faith, already arose during his lifetime and have found a certain expression in the first description of his life that Vasari gaveMüntz (1899, 292 et seq.). In the second edition of his Vite 1568 Vasari omitted these remarks. It is perfectly understandable to us if Leonardo, in view of the extraordinary sensitivity of his age in religious matters, abstained from direct statements about his position on Christianity even in his notes. As a researcher he was not in the least disturbed by the creation reports of the Holy Scriptures; he denied, for example, the possibility of a universal flood and calculated in geology just as unhesitatingly as the moderns with century thousands.
Among his "prophecies" there are some which should offend the sensibility of a believing Christian, for exampleAccording to Herzfeld (1906, 292):
The images of the saints worshipped.
"Men will speak to men who hear nothing, who have their eyes open and do not see; they will speak to these and get no answer; they will ask for graces from him who has ears and does not hear; they will light lights for him who is blind." Or: Of Lamentations on Good Friday (l. c. 297).
"In all parts of Europe, great nations will weep for the death of a single man who died in the Orient."
Leonardo's art has been judged to have removed the last vestige of ecclesiastical bondage from the sacred figures and to have drawn them into the human in order to portray great and beautiful human feelings in them. Muther praises him for overcoming the mood of decadence and giving people back the right to sensuality and joyful enjoyment of life. In the records that show Leonardo absorbed in the investigation of the great mysteries of nature, there is no lack of expressions of admiration for the Creator, the ultimate cause of all these magnificent mysteries, but nothing indicates that he wanted to record a personal relationship with this divine power. The sentences in which he placed the profound wisdom of the last years of his life breathe the resignation of the man who submits to the 'Ανάγκη, the laws of nature, and expects no mitigation from the goodness or grace of God. There is little doubt that Leonardo had transcended both dogmatic and personal religion, and that his exploratory work had taken him far from the worldview of the devout Christian.
From our previously mentioned insights into the development of the child's soul life, we are led to believe that Leonardo's first researches in childhood also dealt with the problems of sexuality. However, he himself reveals it to us in a transparent veil by linking his research urge to the vulture fantasy and emphasizing the problem of the flight of birds as one that fell to him to work on through a special link of fate. A rather dark passage in his notes, which sounds like a prophecy and deals with the flight of birds, testifies most beautifully to how much affective interest he had in the desire to be able to imitate the art of flying himself: "The great bird will take its first flight from the back of its great swan, fill the universe with amazement, all writings with its glory, and be eternal glory in the nest where it was born" (Herzfeld, 1906, 32). "The great swan" is said to mean a hill, Monte Cecero, near Florence.He probably hoped to be able to fly himself one day, and we know from the wish-fulfilling dreams of men what bliss is expected from the fulfillment of this hope.
But why do so many people dream of being able to fly? Psychoanalysis gives the answer to this, because flying or being a bird is only the disguise of another wish, to the recognition of which more than a linguistic and factual bridge leads. When one tells the inquisitive youth that a large bird, like the stork, brings the little children, when the ancients formed the phallus winged, when the most common designation of the sexual activity of the man in German is "vögeln" ("to fuck"), if the limb of the man is directly called l'uccello (bird) by the Italians, these are only small fragments from a large context which teaches us that the desire to be able to fly means nothing else in the dream than the longing to be capable of sexual performance. According to the researches of Paul Federn and those of Mourly Vold (1912), a Norwegian researcher who was far from psychoanalysis. It is an early infantile desire. When the adult remembers his childhood, it appears to him as a happy time, in which one rejoiced in the moment and went towards the future without wishes, and for this he envies the children. But the children themselves, if they could give information earlier, would probably report differently. It seems that childhood is not the blissful idyll that we subsequently distort it to be, that children are rather whipped through the years of childhood by the one desire to grow up, to be like the adults. This desire drives all their games. If, in the course of their sexual research, the children suspect that the adult can do something great in the one mysterious and yet so important field, which they are denied to know and to do, an impetuous desire arises in them to be able to do the same, and they dream of it in the form of flying or prepare this dressing of the desire for their later dreams of flying. So also aviation, which finally reaches its goal in our times, has its infantile erotic root.
By admitting to us that he felt a special personal relationship to the problem of flying from childhood, Leonardo confirms to us that his child research was directed to sexuality, as we had to assume after our investigations on the children of our time. This one problem at least had escaped the repression that later alienated him from sexuality; from the childhood years until the time of fullest intellectual maturity, the same had remained interesting to him with a slight change of meaning, and it is quite possible that he did not succeed in the desired art in the primary sexual sense as well as in the mechanical one, that both remained failed desires for him.
The great Leonardo remained childlike in some ways throughout his life; it is said that all great men must retain something infantile. He continued to play even as an adult, and even in this way he sometimes became uncanny and incomprehensible to his contemporaries. If he made the most elaborate mechanical gadgets for courtly festivities and ceremonial receptions, only we are dissatisfied with it, who do not like to see the master turn his strength to such trumpery; he himself does not seem to have been unhappy with these things, for Vasari reports that he made similar things where no commission required him to do so: "There (in Rome) he made a dough of wax, and from it, when it was flowing, formed very delicate animals, filled with air; if he blew into it, they flew, if the air was out, they fell to the earth. A strange lizard, which the vintner of Belvedere found, he made wings from the flayed skin of other lizards, which he filled with mercury, so that they moved and trembled when it walked; then he made it eyes, beard and horns, tamed it, put it in a box and scared all his friends with it. "Vasari, translated by Schorn (1843). Often such gimmicks served him for the expression of content-heavy thoughts: "Often he had the intestines of a hammer so finely cleaned out that one could have held them in the hollow of his hand; these he carried into a large room, brought into an adjoining room a few forged bellows, attached the intestines to them and blew them up until they took over the whole room and one had to flee into a corner. Thus he showed how they gradually became transparent and filled with air, and in that, confined at first to a small space, they spread more and more into the wide room, he likened them to genius. "Ibid., 39.The same playful delight in harmless concealment and artful dressing is attested by his fables and riddles, the latter put into the form of "prophecies," almost all of them rich in thought and remarkably devoid of wit.
The games and leaps that Leonardo allowed his imagination have in some cases led his biographers, who misjudged this character, into bad error. In Leonardo's Milanese manuscripts, for example, there are drafts of letters to the "Diodario of Sorio (Syria), governor of the Holy Sultan of Babylonia", in which Leonardo introduces himself as an engineer sent to these regions of the Orient to carry out certain works, defends himself against the accusation of inertia, provides geographical descriptions of cities and mountains, and finally describes a great elementary event that occurred there in Leonardo's presenceAbout these letters and the combinations attached to them, see Müntz (1899, 82 ff. ); for the wording of them and other records following them, see M. Herzfeld (1906, 223 ff.).
J. P. Richter has tried to prove in 1883 from these documents that Leonardo had really made these travel observations in the service of the Sultan of Egypt and had accepted even in the Orient the Mohammedan religion.
This stay should fall in the period before 1483, that is, before the move to the court of the Duke of Milan. The criticism of other authors alone has not found it difficult to recognize the evidence of Leonardo's alleged trip to the Orient for what it really is, fantastic productions of the youthful artist that he created for his own entertainment, in which he perhaps expressed his desires to see the world and experience adventure.
A fantasy is probably also the "Academia Vinciana", the assumption of which is based on the presence of five or six highly artificial intertwined emblems with the inscription of the Academy. Vasari mentions these drawings, but not the Academy "Moreover, he wasted some time even drawing a braid of cords, wherein one could trace the thread from one end to the other, until he described a completely circular figure; a very difficult and beautiful drawing of the kind is engraved in copper, in the center of which one reads the words: 'Leonardus Vinci Academia'". Schorn (1843, 8)... Müntz, who put such an ornament on the cover of his great Leonardo work, is among the few who believe in the reality of an "Academia Vinciana."
It is probable that this playfulness of Leonardo's dwindled in his more mature years, that it too merged into the research activity which meant the last and highest development of his personality. But his long preservation can teach us how slowly one tears oneself away from his childhood, who in his childhood times enjoyed the highest, later not reached again, erotic bliss.
It would be vain to delude oneself that readers today find all pathography unpalatable. The rejection is dressed up with the reproach that in a pathographic treatment of a great man one never reaches the understanding of his meaning and his achievement; it is therefore useless wantonness to study in him things that one could just as well find in the first-rate other. But this criticism is so obviously unjust that it can only be understood as a pretext and disguise. The pathography does not at all set itself the goal of making the great man's achievement understandable; after all, one must not reproach anyone for not having kept something that he had never promised. The real motives of reluctance are others. They are found when one considers that biographers are fixed in a very peculiar way on their heroes. They have often chosen him as the object of their studies because, for reasons of their personal emotional life, they felt a special affection for him from the outset. They then give themselves over to an idealization work that strives to enter the great man into the ranks of their infantile role models, for instance, to revive in him the childish idea of the father. For the sake of this desire they erase the individual traits in his physiognomy, smooth out the traces of his life's struggle with inner and outer oppositions, do not tolerate in him any remnant of human weakness or imperfection, and then really give us a cold, alien ideal figure instead of the man to whom we might feel distantly related. It is to be regretted that they do this, for they thereby sacrifice truth to an illusion and forego for the sake of their infantile fantasies the opportunity to penetrate the most delightful secrets of human natureThis criticism is intended to apply quite generally and not to be aimed particularly at Leonardo's biographers.Leonardo himself, in his love of truth and his thirst for knowledge, would not have resisted the attempt to divine from the little oddities and riddles of his nature the conditions of his mental and intellectual development. We pay homage to him by learning from him. It does not detract from his greatness if we study the sacrifices that his development from a child had to cost, and gather the moments that imprinted on his person the tragic trait of misfortune.Let us emphasize explicitly that we have never counted Leonardo among the neurotics or "nervous patients," as the clumsy word goes. Those who complain that we even dare to apply to him points of view derived from pathology are still holding on to prejudices that we have today rightly abandoned. We no longer believe that health and disease, normal and nervous, are to be sharply distinguished from each other and that neurotic traits must be judged as evidence of a general inferiority. We know today that the neurotic symptoms are substitute formations for certain displacement achievements which we have to accomplish in the course of our development from child to cultured man, that we all produce such substitute formations, and that only the number, intensity and distribution of these substitute formations justify the practical concept of being ill and the conclusion of constitutional inferiority. According to the small signs of Leonardo's personality we may place him in the vicinity of that neurotic type which we call the "compulsion type", compare his research with the "brooding compulsion" of neurotics, his inhibitions with the so-called abulia of the same.The aim of our work was to explain the inhibitions in Leonardo's sexual life and in his artistic activity. We are permitted to summarize for this purpose what we have been able to guess about the course of his psychic development.Insight into his hereditary conditions is denied us, on the other hand we recognize that the accidental circumstances of his childhood exert a profoundly disturbing effect. His illegitimate birth deprived him of his father's influence until perhaps his fifth year and left him to the tender seduction of a mother whose only comfort he was. Kissed by her to sexual precociousness, he must have entered a phase of infantile sexual activity, of which only one expression is certainly attested, the intensity of his infantile sexual research. The instinct to look and to know are most strongly aroused by his early childhood impressions; the erogenous mouth zone receives an emphasis which it never relinquishes. From the later contrary behavior, such as the excessive pity for animals, we can conclude that powerful sadistic traits were not lacking in this childhood period.An energetic repressive thrust puts an end to this infantile excess and establishes the dispositions that will emerge in the years of puberty. The turning away from any coarse sensual activity will be the most obvious result of the transformation; Leonardo will be able to live abstinently and will give the impression of an asexual person. When the floods of pubertal excitement come upon the boy, however, they will not make him ill by compelling him to costly and harmful substitutions; the greater portion of the neediness of the sexual instinct will be able to sublimate itself into a general thirst for knowledge, thanks to the early preference given to sexual inquisitiveness, and thus avoid repression. A much smaller portion of the libido will remain devoted to sexual goals and represent the stunted sexual life of the adult. As a result of the repression of the love for the mother, this part will be pushed into homosexual attitude and will manifest itself as ideal boy-love. In the unconscious the fixation on the mother and on the blissful memories of intercourse with her is preserved, but for the time being it remains in an inactive state. In this way, repression, fixation and sublimation share in the disposal of the contributions that the sexual instinct makes to the life of Leonardo's soul. From dark boyhood, Leonardo appears before us as an artist, painter and sculptor, thanks to a specific talent that may owe a reinforcement to the early awakening of the instinct to look in the first years of childhood. We would like to indicate in which way the artistic activity leads back to the psychic primal instincts, if our means would not fail just here. We will be content to emphasize the fact, which is no longer doubtful, that the artist's work also gives rise to his sexual desires, and for Leonardo we will refer to the news transmitted by Vasari that heads of smiling women and beautiful boys, i.e. representations of his sexual objects, were conspicuous among his first artistic attempts. In his blossoming youth, Leonardo seems to have worked uninhibitedly at first. Just as he takes his father as a model in his outward conduct of life, so he lives through a time of masculine creativity and artistic productivity in Milan, where the favor of fate lets him find a father substitute in Duke Lodovico Moro. But soon the experience proves to him that the almost complete suppression of the real sexual life does not result in the most favorable conditions for the activity of the sublimated sexual aspirations. The exemplariness of the sexual life asserts itself, the activity and the ability for quick decision begin to slacken, the tendency to deliberate and delay becomes disturbingly noticeable already at the holy supper and determines the fate of this great work by the influence of the technique. Slowly, a process takes place in him, which one can only place alongside the regressions in neurotics. The pubertal development of his nature into an artist is overtaken by the early infantile development into a researcher, the second sublimation of his erotic urges recedes against the primal one prepared during the first repression. He becomes an explorer, at first still in the service of his art, later independent of it and away from it. With the loss of the patron replacing his father and the increasing darkness in his life, this regressive replacement takes hold more and more. He becomes "impacientissimo al pennello," as reported by a correspondent of the Margravine Isabella d'Este, who certainly still wants to possess a painting by his handv. Seidlitz (1909, vol. 2, 271).... His childish past has gained power over him. The research, however, which now replaces his artistic work, seems to bear some of the traits that characterize the activity of unconscious drives, the insatiability, the ruthless rigidity, the lack of ability to adapt to real conditions. At the height of his life, in the first fifties, at a time when in women the sexual characters are already regressed, in men not infrequently the libido still dares an energetic advance, a new change comes over him. Still deeper layers of his spiritual content become active anew; but this further regression benefits his art, which was withering away. He meets the woman who awakens in him the memory of the happy and sensually enraptured smile of his mother, and under the influence of this awakening he regains the impulse that guided him at the beginning of his artistic experiments, when he painted the smiling women. He paints the Mona Lisa, St. Anne herself and the series of mysterious pictures distinguished by the enigmatic smile. With the help of his most ancient erotic impulses he celebrates the triumph of overcoming the inhibition in his art once again. This last development blurs for us in the darkness of approaching age. I have mentioned in the preceding paragraphs what can justify such a description of Leonardo's development, such an outline of his life and clarification of his oscillation between art and science. If with these remarks I should evoke the judgment even among friends and connoisseurs of psychoanalysis that I have written merely a psychoanalytic novel, I will answer that I certainly do not overestimate the certainty of these results. I, like others, have succumbed to the attraction which emanates from this great and enigmatic man, in whose nature one believes one senses powerful libidinal passions, which yet can only express themselves in such a strangely subdued way.But whatever the truth may be about Leonardo's life, we cannot abandon our attempt to fathom it psychoanalytically until we have completed another task. We have to define, in general terms, the limits of psychoanalytic efficiency in biography, so that every omitted explanation will not be interpreted as a failure. The psychoanalytic investigation has at its disposal as material the data of the life history, on the one hand the coincidences of events and milieu influences, on the other hand the reported reactions of the individual. Based on its knowledge of the psychic mechanisms, it now seeks to fathom the essence of the individual dynamically from his reactions, to uncover his original psychic driving forces as well as their later transformations and developments. If this succeeds, the life behavior of the personality is elucidated by the interaction of constitution and destiny, inner forces and outer powers. If such an enterprise, as perhaps in Leonardo's case, does not yield assured results, the fault lies not in the faulty or inadequate methodology of psychoanalysis, but in the uncertainty and incompleteness of the material which tradition provides for this person. For the failure, therefore, only the author is to be held responsible who forced psychoanalysis to give an expert opinion on the basis of such inadequate material.But even with the most extensive disposal of the historical material and with the most assured handling of the psychic mechanisms, a psychoanalytic investigation at two significant points would not be able to yield the insight into the necessity that the individual could only become so and not otherwise. In Leonardo's case we have had to hold the view that the coincidence of his illegitimate birth and the over tenderness of his mother exercised the most decisive influence on his character formation and his later destiny, in that the sexual repression which occurred after this childhood phase caused him to sublimate the libido into a thirst for knowledge and established his sexual inactivity for the whole of his later life. But this repression after the first erotic satisfactions of childhood need not have occurred; it might not have occurred in another individual, or it might have been far less extensive. We must recognize here a degree of freedom which cannot be resolved psychoanalytically. Likewise, one must not want to make the outcome of this repressive thrust the only possible outcome. Another person would probably not have succeeded in withdrawing the main part of the libido from the repression by sublimation to curiosity; under the same influences as Leonardo, he would have suffered a permanent impairment of the thinking work or an unmanageable disposition to obsessive neurosis. These two peculiarities of Leonardo's are thus unnecessary as inexplicable by psychoanalytic effort: his very special tendency to drive repression and his extraordinary ability to sublimate the primitive drives. The drives and their transformations are the last thing that psychoanalysis can recognize. From then on, it gives way to biological research. We are forced to trace back the displacement tendency as well as the sublimation ability to the organic foundations of the character, above which the mental building rises. Since artistic talent and performance are intimately connected with sublimation, we must admit that the essence of artistic performance is also psychoanalytically inaccessible to us. The biological research of our time tends to explain the main features of the organic constitution of a human being by the mixture of male and female predispositions in the material sense; the beauty of the body as well as Leonardo's left-handedness allowed some reference here. But we do not want to leave the ground of purely psychological research. Our aim remains the proof of the connection between external experiences and reactions of the person via the way of the instinctual activity. If psychoanalysis does not enlighten us about the fact of Leonardo's artistry, it makes us understand the expressions and the limitations of it. It seems as if only a man with Leonardo's childhood experiences could have painted the Mona Lisa and Saint Anne herself, could have prepared for his works that sad fate and could have taken such an unheard-of upswing as a naturalist, as if the key to all his achievements and his misfortunes lay hidden in the childhood fantasy of the vulture. But is it not right to take offense at the results of an investigation which gives such a decisive influence on the fate of a human being to the coincidences of the parental constellation, making Leonardo's fate, for example, dependent on his illegitimate birth and the infertility of his first stepmother Donna Albiera? I believe that one has no right to do so; if one considers chance unworthy of deciding our fate, it is merely a relapse into the pious worldview that Leonardo himself prepared to overcome when he wrote that the sun does not move. Of course, we are offended that a just God and a kind Providence do not protect us better from such influences in our most defenseless time of life. We like to forget that actually everything in our life is coincidence, from our origin by the meeting of spermatozoon and egg, coincidence, which has therefore nevertheless its share in the lawfulness and necessity of nature, only lacks the relationship to our desires and illusions. The division of our life-determination between the "necessities" of our constitution and the "coincidences" of our childhood may still be unsecured in detail; on the whole, however, a doubt about the significance of especially our first childhood years can no longer be held. We all still show too little respect for nature, which, according to Leonardo's dark words reminiscent of Hamlet's speech, "is full of countless causes that never entered into experience" (La natura è piena d'infinite ragioni che non furono mai in isperienza. M. Herzfeld, 1906, 11). Each of us human beings corresponds to one of the innumerable experiments in which these ragioni of nature force themselves into experience.