On the face of it, the news sounds interesting, as it seeks to put to rest a question that has obsessed art enthusiasts as well as those who are plainly curious to know the woman behind that enigmatic – or quirky – smile. The puzzle has thrived for centuries and has led to several speculations. Somebody even concluded that da Vinci's model was actually afflicted with a disease that caused her face to contort into that unusual smirk.
And so some Germans have finally confirmed her identity. So what? What do we do with their achievement? Can some sense be made out of it? What gains can the human race possibly obtain from their efforts? How I wish da Vinci would rise from his grave and tell them, "Fools, I already knew who she was. Go get a life."
Things like this make us wonder whether all those industrious souls burying their heads in paper or research work are really into something which eventually benefits the greater number. They may be brilliant and their methods may be foolproof. But the primary issue is not the accuracy of their findings; it is the usefulness of their work on which they spend a lot of time, effort and resources. Plain adherence to "scientific methods" of inquiry is no substitute for the practical value of the things being investigated. Does anybody still care for a woman who just happened to pose for a famous artist and who died centuries ago?
There is a sea of difference between being interested in da Vinci's works and being solely obsessed with a figure on his canvas who stoked a lingering question with that bizarre twist of a facial muscle. Dan Brown knew the difference and so made a killing by weaving what turned out to be a best-seller fiction around the artist's immortal opus.
Of course those guys in Heidelberg U have never been alone in the quest for things that are mundane and downright absurd. A lot of people are spending so much energy on trivial, inane pursuits. A prime example is television whose IQ-deadening shows suggest an ever increasing drift toward the frivolous – noontime shows parading half-naked girls, showbiz-oriented "talk shows" tackling recycled topics. Add to these the "reality shows" that feed on the Filipino's voyeuristic tendencies.
Those German fans of Mona Lisa at least answered a question that has had baffled many generations, although it could have been left unanswered and the earth will still revolve around the sun. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno / MindaNews)