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LES ECHOS

High-Tech Photography Project Reveals Mona Lisa's Original Sex Appeal

We've seen so many reproductions of Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece we're not sure how she really looks. Even at the Louvre, huge crowds and a glass case make seeing her hard. Now French cultural officials have *the* photo to re

You can tell by the way she smiles... (Google Images)
You can tell by the way she smiles... (Google Images)
Philippe Dagen

PARIS - Everybody knows her. But who can boast of having really seen the Mona Lisa up close? Not many more than the lucky few visitors to the Louvre who manage to beat the crowds. Does the expression "to look at a painting" apply when you cannot actually do that, when it is done over and between the heads of rows of tourists allowed to park themselves for a few regimented seconds in front of the glass casing that contains it?

In the end, of course, it is a portrait of a woman we have already seen countless times. The real Mona Lisa can even be confused with the copies of her. The conceptual artist Marcel Duchamp observed this as far back as 1919. On one of his works, he drew a moustache and a thin goatee and wrote under the image, "L.H.O.O.Q.," which read aloud in French stands for "elle a chaud au cul": "her ass is hot." At that moment, the sacrilege was spot on: the Mona Lisa had crossed over to pure cliché.

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Geopolitics

Our 'Emotional' Divide: How The Ukraine War Reveals A World Broken In Two

Russia's invasion has created a stark global divide: them and us. On one side are the countries refusing to condemn Moscow, with the West on the other. It's a dangerous split that could have repercussions far into the future.

Protesters against the war in Ukraine demonstrate in front of the Russian embassy in London

Dominique Moïsi

-Analysis-

PARIS — "The West and the Rest of Us." That's the title of a 1975 essay written by Nigerian essayist and critic Chinweizu Ibekwe. I've been thinking about his words as the war in Ukraine both reveals and accelerates divisions of the world that I believe are ultimately "emotional" in nature.

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With war returning to Europe and the risk of escalation, there is a gap between the Western view and that of the "others," a distinct "us and them." This gap cannot be explained in strictly geographical, political, and economic terms.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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