Born an illegitimate child, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) had a genius that
spanned art, engineering and science. He was ambidextrous and liked to draw with
his left hand and paint with his right. Most of his inventions were recorded in his
notebooks in mirror script. Some people have thought that Leonardo da Vinci wrote
mirror script to obscure his written thoughts, but using his left hand for writing was
probably just more comfortable. This right brain faculty is in keeping with his artistic
and creative abilities as well.
It seems the right brain acknowledges and generates upside down, backwards and
mirror forms of information. Writing and reading foreign vocabulary in upside down
or mirror fashion aids retention, because it is thrown to the right brain first (see
"Exercise -- Foreign Vocabulary - Upside Down). Turn any newspaper upside down
and practice reading the primary headlines and items in bold print. Remember,
Leonardo obviously was able to read his mirror script as well as write it. You'll find
that it is also easier to render a simple line drawing when the material to copy from is
held upside down.
In children, the disorder of the central nervous system called dyslexia often
involves a natural inclination to read and write in a reverse order. Albert Einstein and
Thomas Edison were both dyslectic. A University of Wisconsin political professor,
Andrew Levine is able to TALK backwards as easily as he does forwards. With no
advance notice, Levine translates each word within 1/10 of a second and can reverse
the sound of words in any language spoken to him and llits niatniam eht redro fo eht
Some children between the ages of 8 and 10 also have this strange ability and can
reverse the spoken language, but it seems to be lost later in life. One university study
revealed that 82% of all 5-year olds could easily mirror print, but only 13% of all 7-
year olds could do so; and by age 8, the inclination for mirror writing virtually
disappeared altogether. Since dyslectic children are less lateralized (left-right separa-
tion of hemispheric brain function) than normal children, they could probably be
helped more if they were encouraged to write with both hands instead of with only
one hand, thus more properly balancing the hemispheres. Swimming and other
ambidextrous activities have been shown to help dyslectics for this reason.
Read the following paragraph of mirror language as fast as you can 3 times. On
the first time, hold the workbook in your right field of vision; the second time hold it
directly in front of you; and the third time hold it in your left field of vision. Record your time for each reading of the paragraph.
_____ 1st _____ 2nd _____ 3rd
Lewis Carroll was ambidextrous and wrote mirror language in his book,
"Through The Looking Glass." On the stage, John Stone has sometimes
demonstrated his skill at writing backwards, mirror images and upside down letters
while simultaneously singing a tune. In the 20's and 30's, Harry Kahne performed
on vaudeville doing the same thing, but used both hands simultaneously while talking
to the audience and doing 2 separate mathematical calculations all at the same time!
When asked how he performed such feats, he replied that practice was the key.
Reading and writing mirror language is primarily a right brain skill. When you
learn to write mirror language, your ability to read mirror language also improves.
To begin writing mirror script, take a piece of chalk in each hand and begin printing
the A, B, C's on a blackboard with both hands simultaneously. At first, put your
hands in the center of the board and only watch your right hand while letting your left
hand synchronously write the same thing as your right does. You'll notice a natural
inclination of the left hand to write mirror script of whatever the right hand writes.
Practice the A, B, C's in plain block letters at first; then after mastering that, begin
practicing in long hand script, lower case letters, then later upper case letters. Soon
you will be able to write only with the left hand in mirror script without the aid of the
right hand writing normally. When you're away from a blackboard, pantomime the
procedure with both your hands in front of you in midair. To assist in the process,
visualize yourself writing mirror language and see in your mind's eye how it feels.
After mastering the process on the blackboard, do it with pad and pencil as well.
After mastering the preceding part, read the following paragraph of mirror
language in your left field of vision to see if your time is better than your reading time
for the first paragraph.
_________ Reading Time