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Psychiatrist reverses famous face to reveal artist’s secret
THE enigma of the Mona Lisa’s smile, a subject of dispute for centuries, may have a simple explanation. The face of the unknown sitter, famous for its strangely sinister quality, may be mirror image of Leonardo himself, according to a psychiatrist in London.
The sinister aspect to the smile, described by Sigmund Freud as expressing the contrast between “the most devoted tenderness and a sensuality that is ruthlessly demanding” arises because of the way we “read” with the two halves of our brain, says Dr. Digby Quested, a registrar at London’s Maudsley hospital.
The Mona Lisa smiles more with the left side of her face, which is normally true of forced smiles and is more common in men. Reversing the portrait gives the face a warmer, more appealing aspect.
“The face looks as though it is the wrong way round”, Dr. Quested said yesterday. “The key to its mystery is that it is a mirror image.”
Leonardo was known to be left handed and produced mirror writing, so could have created the inversion unintentionally. But Dr. Quested suggests in the Bulletin of the Royal College of Psychiatrists that the painting is more likely to be a self-portrait.
“There was evidence that he was homosexual and he may have felt trapped in his sexuality,” he said. “It may be that people saw him as one thing but he felt he was another and didn't feel free to express it. Painting himself as a female would have helped him.”
The theory that the Mona Lisa is a portrait of the artist enjoyed brief attention in the mid-1980s, when a computer-aided juxtaposition of her face with an acknowledged self-portrait of Da Vinci showed that the facial features aligned exactly. Dr. Quested cites other evidence to support the theory, however. Mystery surrounds the identity of the sitter and the commissioner of her portrait. Leonardo was “almost certainly infatuated” with the picture, keeping it with him until his death in Paris. Leonardo's tutor, Andrea del Verrocchio, cast a statue of David for which the young Leonardo was thought to be the model, whose half-smile bears a striking resemblance to Mona Lisa’s. X-rays of the painting have revealed a bearded face.
“I believe Da Vinci worked it out,” Dr. Quested said. “He may have shown the finished face to others who commented on the strangeness of the smile and he tried to work out why this was so. Being left handed and producing mirror writing, he must have been interested in the idea that the two halves of a face can convey different messages.”
“The painting is a self-portrait in inversion, both with regard to laterality and gender.”
OUT OF BABEL
Will English dominate the EU only if Britain has left?
It is the language of war and peace, aviation and commerce, science and technology. English is the most widely used language in the world; although still eclipsed by Chinese in the number of native sneakers, it is, par excellence, the lingua franca — or, as most people outside Britain would say, absolutely the common language.
But in one lower Babel still reigns. It is a tower growing higher by the month and now threatening to topple into cacophonous confusion. There are already 11 official languages of the EU. With the addition of Polish, Czech, Estonian, Hungarian and Slovene, the number of languages in which ministers have a right to conduct business would keep an army of interpreters busy.
The problem has arisen because of the way in which the EU has grown. Britain was not a founding member of the Common Market. Thus English was not among the four first tongues used. As new members came in, it was impossible to downgrade founding languages such as Dutch.
The answer, as every bureaucrat knows, is to adopt the same procedure as NATO and the United Nations and reverse the magic of Pentecost. Instead of speaking in tongues, the disciples of European unity will instead speak only in designated official languages.
The assumption made in London and Paris is that these will be English and French. Achtung! say the Germans: with Austria and a unified Germany, Deutsch is by far the biggest native language in the EU. But a linguistic triumvirate would immediately arouse suspicions in Rome. And if Italian is added, who is to say “no” to the Spanish?
The pragmatic solution, already winning the day, is the sole use of English. But that would mean there was only one course that would save France’s amour-propre: the withdrawal of les Anglais themselves. This, after all, has been the key to the remarkable success of English around the globe. For 150 years the British ruled Hong Kong with barely a taxi driver able to understand a simple direction in English, let alone tell you that he had that Mr. Patten in the back of the cab once. Now the Chinese-appointed legislature has insisted on retaining English as an official language. Ditto Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa and India, where the clamour to learn the language of Peter Sellers is deafening. English rules everywhere that the British do not. Perhaps the time will come, in the interests of Shakespeare and Burke, to quit the Tower of Brussels and leave behind only the fair tongue of our isles.
Mandela fury at shooting of a baby
Benoni, South Africa: President Mandela led a chorus of outrage yesterday over the weekend killing of a black infant by a white farmer. The shooting of Angelina Zwane sparked an unprecedented uproar from government officials and black leaders. Even the mostly white, conservative South African Agricultural Union condemned the shooting.
Nicholas Steyn, 42, a farmer, was charged with murder and attempted murder for allegedly firing his handgun at 11-year-old Frandna Dlarnini as she carried the infant Angelina, her cousin, on her back through one of his fields on Saturday. Francina was injured and Angelina died of a gunshot wound to the head.
Mr. Mandela, in a visit to the crime scene, called the death a disaster for the infant’s parents and said racism still existed in South Africa. (AP)
Cardinal sent into exile
Vienna: Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, 78, the disgraced former Archbishop of Vienna, is being sent into monastic seclusion in Germany or Sweden, the Austrian Roman Catholic Church’s news agency said. The move comes after allegations that the cardinal sexually abused several monks, sometimes during confession. He was forced to resign as leader of the Austrian Church in 1995 after charges that he molested a schoolboy about 20 years ago. (Reuters)
Italian crime-fighter held
Rome: Italy's most decorated crime-fighter, General Francesco Delfino, right, was arrested on charges of extorting money from the family of a kidnapped businessman in the latest of a series of scandals that have rocked the credibility of the powerful Carabinieri paramilitary police force (John Phillips writes). A search of his home uncovered banknotes used in the kidnap ransom payment.
On a warm summer’s day, it is pleasant to take a punt or rowing boat, and steer a course to a quiet backwater.
This is just the kind of place to find water-lilies growing in profusion. Among the masses of floating plate-like leaves, flower buds are opening now. Young leaves too will be coming up, tightly rolled, to avoid being torn by the current and floating objects in the water.
The floating leaves gently sway with the current, anchored to the bottom by being attached to stout creeping stems that are rooted in the mud.
The long, flexible leaf stalks lie at a larger angle to the surface when the water is shallow, while if it rises they become vertical. They are even capable of growth if the water becomes unusually deep in a wet season.
Like most water plants the growth is luxuriant, since the conditions are more favourable in many ways than the conditions on land. The plants do not have to contend with such great changes of temperature, as water heats and cools more slowly than air, and they do not have to protect themselves from lack of water.
In spite of their name, water-lilies are not related to true lilies, and this is clearly shown by the flowers, which have numerous petals and stamens, and ovaries rather like poppy heads.
“Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is indeed a great and undeserved privilege to address such an audience as I see before me. At no previous time in the history of human civilization have greater problems confronted and challenged the ingenuity of man’s intellect than now. Let us look around us. What do we see on the horizon? What forces are at work? Whither are we drifting? Under what mist of clouds does the future stand obscured?
My friends, casting aside the raiment of all human speech, the crucial test for the solution of all these intricate problems to which I have just alluded is the sheer and forceful application of those immutable laws which down the corridor of Time have always guided the hand of man, groping, as it were, for some faint beacon light for his hopes and aspirations. Without these great vital principles we are but puppets responding to whim and fancy, failing entirely to grasp the hidden meaning of it all. We must re-address ourselves to these questions which press for answer and solution. The issues cannot be avoided. There they stand. It is upon you, and you, and yet even upon me, that the yoke of responsibility falls.
What, then, is our duty? Shall we continue to drift? No! With all the emphasis of my being I hurl back the message No! Drifting must stop. We must press onward and upward toward the ultimate goal to which all must aspire.
But I cannot conclude my remarks, dear friends, without touching briefly upon a subject which I know is steeped in your very consciousness. I refer to that spirit which gleams from the eyes of a new-born babe that animates the toiling masses, that sways all the hosts of humanity past and present. Without this energising principle all commerce, trade and industry are hushed and will perish from this earth as surely as the crimson sunset follows the golden sunshine.
Mark you, I do not seek to unduly alarm or distress the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters gathered before me in this vast assemblage, but I would indeed be recreant to a high resolve which I made as a youth if I did not at this time and in this place, and with the full realising sense of responsibility which I assume, publicly declare and affirm my dedication and my consecration to the eternal principles and receipts of simple, ordinary, commonplace justice”.
On Growing Old
There is no denying that most of us need admiration as we need sunshine, and that women depend upon beauty as a means of winning admiration to a greater event than men do. But every year, more and more avenues to admiration are opened to women, and there are trains of worshippers to be won in athletics, in the professions, in the arts and in public life. There is scarcely a way in which a man can feed his vanity that is not nowadays open to women too. For them, I fancy it is getting a better and better world to grow old in. [...]
All the same, I know little about the matter. I do not even know in what happiness consists. I know only that it does not consist in being young, and that though disease and the loss of faculties and the loss of friends bring misery, there is no absolute misery in being old. I confess I am not perfectly happy at forty-eight, but neither was I perfectly happy at eighteen. I should be glad to be eighteen again, but that is not because it was in itself a happier age but because I should now have thirty years longer to live.
The chief objection to growing old, I think, is not that one grows old oneself, but that the world grows older; and it is not so much that the world grows older as that the world we once knew is in ruins. [...] New inventions have wrecked the world in which we had peace. Everywhere are noise and speed in place of the green quiet that we once knew. I do not like to speak ill of inventors, but they have invented the horse almost out of existence, and there are little seaside towns that once seemed a thousand miles away, so remote they were, where the smell of the sea is now drowned by the smell of the charabanc. Is it possible to name a single beautiful place that is more beautiful today than it was thirty years ago? [...] But we are faithful to the world of thirty years ago only in our imaginations, and there is scarcely a new invention – the motor-car, the gramophone, wireless – that we are loyal enough to abstain from using.
Smolny Institute, headquarters of the Tsay-ee-kah and of the Petrograd Soviet, lay miles out on the edge of the city, beside the wide Neva. I went there on a street-car, moving snail-like with a groaning noise through the cobbled, muddy streets, and jammed with people. At the end of the line rose the graceful smoke-blue cupolas of Smolny Convent, outlined in dull gold, beautiful; and beside it the great barracks-like facade of Smolny Institute, two hundred yards long and three lofty stories high, the Imperial arms carved hugely in stone still insolent over the entrance...
The long, vaulted corridors, lit by rare electric lights, were thronged with hurrying shapes of soldiers and workmen, some bent under the weight of huge bundles of newspapers, proclamations, printed propaganda of all sorts. The sound of their heavy boots made a deep and incessant thunder on the wooden floor... Signs were posted up everywhere: “Comrades! For the sake of your health, preserve cleanliness!” Long tables stood at the head of the stairs on every floor, and on the landings, heaped with pamphlets and the literature of the different political parties, for sale...
The spacious, low-ceiling refectory downstairs was still a dining-room. For two roubles I bought a ticket entitling me to dinner, and stood in line with a thousand others, waiting to get to the long serving-tables, where twenty men and women were ladling from immense cauldrons cabbage soup, hunks of meat and piles of kasha, slabs of black bread. Five kopeks paid for tea in a tin cup. From a basket one grabbed a greasy wooden spoon... The benches along the wooden tables were packed with hungry proletarians, wolfing their food, plotting, shouting rough jokes across the room...
Upstairs was another eating-place, reserved for the Tsay-ee-kah though every one went there. Here could be had bread thickly buttered and endless glasses of tea...
DEAR CHILD, Please to fancy, if you can, that you are reading a real letter, from a real friend whom you have seen, and whose voice you can seem to yourself to hear wishing you, as I do now with all my heart, a happy Easter.
Do you know that delicious dreamy feeling when one first wakes on a summer morning, with the twitter of birds in the air, and the fresh breeze coming in at the open window – when, lying lazily with eyes half-shut, one sees as in a dream green boughs waving, or waters rippling in a golden light? It is a pleasure very near to sadness, bringing tears to one's eyes like a beautiful picture or poem. And is not that a Mother's gentle hand that undraws your curtains, and a Mother’s sweet voice that summons you to rise? To rise and forget, in the bright sunlight, the ugly dreams that frightened you so when all was dark – to rise and enjoy another happy day, first kneeling to thank that unseen Friend, who sends you the beautiful sun?
Are these strange words from a writer of such tales as ‘Alice’? And is this a strange letter to find in a book of nonsense? It may be so. Some perhaps may blame me for thus mixing together things grave and gay; others may smile and think it odd that any one should speak of solemn things at all, except in church and on a Sunday: but I think – nay, I am sure – that some children will read this gently and lovingly, and in the spirit in which I have written it.
For I do not believe God means us thus to divide life into two halves – to wear a grave face on Sunday, and to think it out-of-place to even so much as mention Him on a week-day. Do you think He cares to see only kneeling figures, and to hear only tones of prayer – and that He does not also love to see the lambs leaping in the sunlight, and to hear the merry voices of the children, as they roll among the hay? Surely their innocent laughter is as sweet in His ears as the grandest anthem that ever rolled up from the ‘dim religious light’ of some solemn cathedral?
And if I have written anything to add to those stories of innocent and healthy amusement that are laid up in books for the children I love so well, it is surely something I may hope to look back upon without shame and sorrow (as how much of life must then be recalled!) when my turn comes to walk through the valley of shadows.
Easter sun will rise on you, dear child, feeling your ‘life in every limb’, and eager to rush out into the fresh morning air – and many an Easter-day will come and go, before it finds you feeble and gray-headed, creeping wearily out to bask once more in the sunlight – but it is good, even now, to think sometimes of that great morning when the ‘Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings’.
Surely your gladness need not be the less for the thought that you will one day see a brighter dawn than this – when lovelier sights will meet your eyes than any waving trees or rippling waters – when angel-hands shall undraw your curtains, and sweeter tones than ever loving Mother breathed shall wake you to a new and glorious day – and when all the sadness, and the sin, that darkened life on this hale earth, shall be forgotten like the dreams of a night that is past!
Your affectionate friend,
СТИЛЬ ЯЗЫКА ХУДОЖЕСТВЕННОЙ ЛИТЕРАТУРЫ
There is a legend that long ago the Picts knew the secret of brewing heather-ale; a secret so precious that it was known to only one family, and passed down from father to eldest son. It was jealousy guarded during the bitter warfares, but during the strife between the Picts and the Scots in the ninth century, it was finally lost for ever.
At that time Scotland was divided into two Kingdoms: the Kingdom of the Picts, who were the original inhabitants of the land and the Kingdom of the Scots, who came from Ireland and invaded Alba in the sixth century.
Now the Scots knew well the taste of the legendary ale, and they were determined to learn the secret of its brewing for themselves. The family that guarded the secret lived in the far western point of Scotland, and great was the Scots’ rejoicing when the old father and his eldest son were captured by a band of their warriors. The Scots’ leader had the old man and his son brought before him so that he might take their secret from them.
All around them grew the heather from which the nectar was distilled, far below the cliff-top the sea broke distantly against the shore, and sea-birds flew overhead. The warriors threatened the old man and his son until darkness covered the heather, but not a word of the secret would either of them impart. Then at last the Scots fell to tormenting their captives to death; and in his anguish the young man cried out, so that his father knew him to be near the end of his endurance. Wearily the old man turned his white head to the enemy leader and said: “I shall tell you the thing you want to know. But first put my son to death that he may not witness the shame I bring upon myself and my people in parting with the secret.”
With a joyful shout the Scots’ leader released the captives from their torment and then ran his sword through the young man’s body.
“It is done, old man! Now tell us the secret of the heather-ale.”
But while he and all his band waited in eager expectation, the old man stood still by the body of his son and mocked them with these words:
“Fools! Do you think that either your threats and promises or all the torments devised by men can ever wrest from me the secret of heather-ale? I heard my son cry out in his distress, and I knew that he could not withstand your torture much longer. For he was young, and to him the thought that he must renounce green grass, the foam-flecked sea, and the race of birds’ wings across the sky was unendurable. And so I bade you kill him before he gave away the secret. It has died safely with him. I shall never tell you how to brew heather-ale, do with me what you will!”
When he heard the old man's word the Scots’ leader tore his beard with rage, and the veins of his forehead bulged with fury.
“Take him!” he commanded his men. “Take him and hurl him from the cliff-top. Let him be dashed to pieces on the rocks, and may the sea mourn over him with its salt tears for ever!”
So the old man met his death; he fell from that great height, and the secret of heather-ale was lost.
Jack: You really love me, Gwendolen?
Jack: Darling! You don’t know how happy you’ve made me.
Gwendolen: My own Ernest!
Jack: But you don’t really mean to say that you couldn’t love me if my name wasn’t Ernest?
Gwendolen: But your name is Ernest.
Jack: Yes, I know it is. But supposing it was something else? Do you mean to say you couldn't love me then?
Gwendolen: (glibly): Ah! That is clearly a metaphysical speculation, and like most metaphysical speculations has very little reference at all to the actual facts of real life, as we know them.
Jack: Personally, darling, to speak quite candidly, I don’t much care about the name of Ernest ... I don't think the name suits me at all.
Gwendo1en: It suits you perfectly. It is a divine name. It has a music of its own. It produces vibrations.
Jack: Well, really, Gwendolen, I must say that I think there are lots of other much nicer names. I think Jack, for instance, a charming name.
Gwendolen: Jack? ... No, there is very little music in the name Jack, if any at all, indeed. If does not thrill. It produces absolutely no vibrations ... I have known several Jacks, and they all, without exception, were more than usually plain. Besides, Jack is a notorious domesticity for John! And I pity any woman who is married to a man called John. She would probably never be allowed to know the entrancing pleasure of a single moment’s solitude. The only really safe name is Ernest.
Jack: Gwendolen, I must get christened at once – I mean we must get married at once. There is no time to be lost.
Gwendolen: Married, Mr. Worthing?
Lack (astounded): Well ... surely. You know that I love you, and you led me to believe, Miss Fairfax, that you were not absolutely indifferent to me.
Gwendolen: I adore you. But you haven’t proposed to me yet. Nothing has been said at all about marriage. The subject has not even been touched on.
Jack: Well ... may I propose to you now?
Gwendo1en: I think it would be an admirable opportunity. And to spare you any possible disappointment, Mr. Worthing, I think it only fair to tell you quite frankly beforehand that I am fully determined to accept you.
Gwendolen: Yes, Mr. Worthing, what have you got to say to me?
Jack: You know what I have got to say to you.
Gwendolen: Yes, but you don't say it. __
Jack: Gwendolen, will you marry me? (Goes on his knees.)
Gwendolen: Of course I will, darling. How long you have been about it! I am afraid you have had little experience in how to propose.
Jack: My own one, I have never loved any one in the world but you.
Gwendolen: Yes, but men often propose for practice. I know my brother Gerald does. All my girl-friends tell me so. What wonderfully blue eyes you have, Ernest! They are quite, quite blue. I hope you will always look at me just like that, especially when there are other people present.
(Enter Lady Bracknell.)
Lady Bracknell: Mr. Worthing! Rise, sir, from this semi-recumbent posture. It is most indecorous.
Gwendolen: Mamma! (He tries to rise; she restrains him.) I must beg you to retire. This is no place for you. Besides, Mr. Worthing has not quite finished yet.
Lady Bracknell: Finished what, may I ask?
Gwendolen: I am engaged to Mr. Worthing, mamma. (They rise together.)
Lady Bracknell: Pardon me, you are not engaged to any one. When you do become engaged to some one, I, or your father, should his health permit him, will inform you of the fact. An engagement should come on a young girl as a surprise, pleasant or unpleasant, as the case may be. It is hardly a matter that she could be allowed to arrange for herself ... And now I have a few questions to put to you, Mr. Worthing.
While I am making these inquiries, you, Gwendolen, will wait for me in the carriage.
Gwendolen: Yes, mamma. (Goes out, looking back at Jack.)
Lady Bracknell: (sitting down): You can take a seat, Mr. Worthing.
(Looks in her pocket for note-book and pencil.)
Jack: Thank you, Lady Bracknell; I prefer standing.
Lady Bracknell (pencil and note-book in hand): I feel bound to tell you that you are not down on my list of eligible young men, although I have the same list as the dear Duchess of Bolton has. We work together in fact. However, I am quite ready to enter your name, should your answers be what a really affectionate mother requires. Do you smoke?
Jack: Well, yes, I must admit I smoke.
Lady Bracknell: I am glad to hear it. A man should always have an occupation of some kind. There are far too many idle men in London as it is. How old are you?
Lady Bracknell: A very good age to be married at. I have always been of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know either everything or nothing. Which do you know?
Jack (after some hesitation): I know nothing, Lady Bracknell.
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