Who doesn’t admire a true Renaissance Man (or Woman), a versatile individual gifted in many and diverse areas? While the term itself evokes thoughts of the original Renaissance Man himself, Leonardo da Vinci, history is rich with — and some would go so far as to say written by — prestigious polymaths of every stripe. In the 21st century, when we dub someone (one should never dub oneself) a Renaissance Man (or Woman), it is in recognition of considerable knowledge and significant accomplishments across several fields. Excelling in both Wii Boxing and World of Warcraft is, sad to say, technically too narrow, as is a profound insight into both beer and wine. These days, you’ve really got to separate yourself from the pack many times over, no mean feat during this era of specialization.
Things were different during that fertile period between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries from which this term is derived. Back then, what well-rounded courtiers and craftsmen truly respected was the acquisition of a universal understanding of both arts and sciences. This noble goal makes me think of the multitudes of naturalists I’ve encountered. So many birders I know possess an uncanny, in some cases encyclopediac knowledge of avifauna and ecology, even though the merest fraction of them are professional ornithologists, biologists, or tour guides. We’ve got countless enthusiasts cultivating a truly universal while at the same time specialized understanding of nature, most of them establishing expertise in their chosen professions at the same time. If one wonders where the world’s Renaissance Men (and Women) have been gathering, check the next meeting of your local birding club!
Of course, if you are truly a Uomo Universale of avifauna, you might be dubbed a Wrenaissance Man (or Woman) like Wren of Wrenaissance Reflections. Wren has got a lot going on. Not only has she achieved distinction outside the realm of nature appreciation, she has dedicated herself to continued mastery of both birding and blogging (did I forget to mention that all icons of the Renaissance ideal today have blogs?) Wren’s indefatigable interest and intellect are evident throughout her site, so be sure to browse through once you’ve enjoyed her joy-filled presentation of I and the Bird #83.
Do you have a genius for bird blogging? If so, then join the rest of the preternaturally gifted nature writers at I and the Bird. All you need for entry into this brain trust is an outstanding blog post about birding or wild birds. Consider your contribution carefully though… I and the Bird is about to be affiliated with the first name in American birding. We’re headed to the newest glittering jewel in Audubon’s crown as our Birdchasin’ buddy Rob Fergus hosts IATB at Audubon Birdscapes. Send your links and summaries to me or Rob (birdchase AT hotmail DOT com) by Tuesday, September 16 for the 9/18 edition.
Wow, Mike! Making me pull out my graduate level brain cells for this one. Good thing I took that course in Renaissance Lit lo these many years ago! Can’t wait to go read what Wren has put together!
Aw, shucks … tweren’t nuthin’ 🙂