The name of da Vinci has reached an acme of attention with Dan Brown’s pop buster The Da Vinci Code. Now used in a radically different mode, it shows up in Leslie J. Mcclinton’s snazzy title Dinner With Da Vinci (Great Reading Books, Texas, 2006). Combining autobiographical nonfiction with science, history, anthropology, journalism, and spiritual quests, Mcclinton has strummed the thread of rebirth and its conscious experience.
The core significance of Dinner With Da Vinci lies in the uniqueness with which the work has been designed. The author’s interdisciplinary approach dissolves epistemological boundaries in a way rarely seen before. This is a book like no other books. Mcclinton has depersonalized the names of icons like Cicero, da Vinci, Hitler, Yeats, John F. Kennedy, Shakespeare and several others to weave a tapestry of mystique that borders on personal belief and anthropological universals. The essential idea is more than one human form for the same person. The message is simple: look around you and find out who it is that you are again living with.
Of particular interest to many readers will be Mcclinton’s intriguing concept of alternate sexual forms for the same person that reappears in human form. The soul or (for the hard shelled anthropologist) the set of core features of one human being appears in a different sexual identity in the next episode of existence. But this is exactly where the book demands too much of a reader: deep knowledge of the life of historical figures. For a layman, not a single chapter of this book will be an enjoyable read. The other thing that makes Dinner With Da Vinci a hard to swallow work is the peripatetic style of narrating events and inculcating implications of personal observations. At times, we find it hard to adjust our relation to the book’s content.
While spurious correlations and quasi-fideistic assumptions appear to the skeptic reader, there is no denying that the book is rich in matter for the lover of knowledge. There is a passionate account of several people who had a cause in their lives and who were self-motivated to pursue it. The inspiration of loving knowledge of esoteric topics filters through the author’s writing.