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Posted at 1:43 PM ET, 12/13/2010

Paging Dan Brown: secret letters found in Mona Lisa's eyes

By Alexandra Petri

hi there mona.bmp

There are secret letters hidden in the eyes of the Mona Lisa!

I bet it's just the sort of tiny writing where you lean in close and then Leonardo da Vinci sneaks up from behind and slams your head into the canvas. Or maybe the letters are Renaissance Italian for "gullible."

"There are tiny letters in the eyes of the Mona Lisa," is the kind of statement usually preceded by "Hey, did you notice this was bat country?" and "Hunter, I just ate a blotter, but I don't think it's kicked in yet."

This might just be a complicated trick the art world is playing on us, like the entire Bauhaus movement. "No, it's supposed to look like a disgruntled shoebox," they explained, keeping straight faces. "That's what beauty is now."

According to Silvano Vinceti, the chairman of the Italian national committee for cultural heritage, in one of Mona Lisa's eyes, there's an LV; in the other, what might be C and E. Or B and S. These were certainly hidden from most reputable researchers who have studied the image, but that might just be because they don't believe enough! They also didn't see the glorious, fantastic new clothes that he saw on a nude statue of some emperor, so it could just be that they aren't fit for their jobs.

(This reminds me that if you ever want to dodge a public indecency charge, explain that you are wearing new clothes made of a fabric that is invisible to anyone who is unfit to do his job. "At least that's what the weavers said," you add, looking puzzled. "Maybe you aren't a very good cop.")

Maybe I'm a cynic. I did read the Da Vinci Code. I missed The Lost Symbol, but someone once handed me a pamphlet about how the Masons had taken over our government as I was climbing out of the subway, and I assume they contained roughly the same content.

But why all the Mona Lisa conspiracies? The painting attracts free-floating conspiracy theories the same way Winston Churchill attracts free-floating quotations or Angelina Jolie attracts free-floating babies. As far as I can tell, it's a lady who looks like she's trying to remember where she put something. True, her eyes follow you around the room, but so do small dogs in certain people's homes if they are not properly restrained, and no one writes books about them.

If it does turn out to be real, I hope it says something like, "It's LISA with an S, not Liza with a Z!" or "The smile is because I just passed wind." That would be worth it.

By Alexandra Petri  | December 13, 2010; 1:43 PM ET
Categories:  Petri, Seems Suspect  | Tags:  Mona Lisa, art, mythbusters  
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A few years ago, I googled "Mona Lisa", and all I ended up with were porno sites. It's a very popular name for prostitutes and strippers.

But today, this "B S" story has pushed the porn stars to the bottom of the google heap where they belong.

Also, I love your wind in the back theory, but further analysis showed that the actual letters are S.E.G., which explains the smile: [something] eating grin.

Posted by: divtune | December 14, 2010 1:25 AM | Report abuse

Are you warm, are you real, Mona Lisa?
Or just a cold and lonely, lovely work of art?

Posted by: AlexRemington | December 14, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Do you smile to tempt a lover Mona Lisa?
Or is this your way to hide a broken heart?
Many dreams have been brought to your doorstep
They just lie there, and they die there ...

Posted by: divtune | December 14, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

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