- A page of a book, he noted, cannot be absorbed in one stare; you need to go word by word. “If you wish to have a sound knowledge of the forms of objects, begin with the details of them, and do not go on to the second step until you have the first well fixed in memory.” [Walter Isaacson, Leonardo da Vinci, (Simon & Schuster, 2017), p. 520.]
Uncommon precision also characterizes transcendence. Though genius transcends mere precision, and is most often associated with creativity, we should not ignore its harmonic component, which distinguishes the genius from the crackpot.
- Simon Winchester, The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World (Harper/HarperCollins Publishers, 2018): “From the Industrial Revolution until today, the pursuit of precision shapes everything
- Edward Quaile, Illuminated Manuscripts: Their Origin, History and Characteristics (Henry Young and Sons, 1897).
- Raymond Clemens and Timothy Graham, Introduction to Manuscript Studies (Cornell University Press, 2007).
- Thomas Kren, Illuminated Manuscripts of Belgium and the Netherlands at the J. Paul Getty Museum (Getty Publications, 2010).
- Thomas Kren, Illuminated Manuscripts of Germany and Central Europe in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Getty Publications, 2009).
- Margaret Morgan, The Bible of Illuminated Letters: A Treasure of Decorative Calligraphy (Barron Educational Series, 2006).
- Rowan Watson, Illuminated Manuscripts and Their Makers (V & A, 2003).
Film and Stage
- In Ivan the Terrible, the filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein arranged every frame with “with the eye of a painter or choreographer.” That cinematic attention to detail is my reason for offering this film to illustrate precision.
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Bach’s Six Partitas for Harpsichord, BWV 825-830, seem to elicit a special attention to detail in the performers. The listener who is drawn to think of the virtue of precision will not be wrong. Here are links to complete performances of the six partitas by Rousset, Pinnock, Ogawa, Sheng (on piano) and Bindman (on piano). Links to performances of individual partitas follow here:
- Partita No. 1 in B flat major, bwv 825 (here are links to performances by Pinnock, Karl Richter and Nikolayeva the final on piano)
- Partita No. 2 in C minor, bwv 826 (here are links to performances by Pinnock, Ross and Leonhardt)
- Partita No. 3 in A minor, bwv 827 (here are links to performances by Pinnock, Ross and Karl Richter)
- Partita No. 4 in D major, bwv 828 (here are links to performances by Pinnock, Ross and Glenn Gould [piano])
- Partita No. 5 in G major, bwv 829 (here are links to performances by Pinnock, Ross and Gould [piano])
- Partita No. 6 in E minor, bwv 830 (here are links to performances by Pinnock, Ross and Gould [piano])
Precision in playing:
- Avishai Cohen Trio, “Shifting Sands” (2022)
Books of poems:
- Louise Glück, Winter Recipes from the Collective: Poems (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2021): “Louise Glück’s Stark New Book Affirms Her Icy Precision”.