The Mona Lisa is Dead

The Mona Lisa, a painting by Leonardo da Vinci, is considered to be one of the greatest artworks ever created by the living hand of a human being. Many are those who praise its exquisite tones, details, subtlety, and life-like resemblance. Each year, millions of people from all over the world visit the Louvre Museum in Paris and crowd around this artwork in order to gaze at it in person. All these individuals illustrate the fact that human beings are imitative creatures. Having seen images of this painting and heard it extolled from a young age, they too come to share the general opinion of its very high worth, while many others dream that one day they will have the opportunity to travel to Paris so that they too can gaze at its splendours and take a photo of it, to show to their friends.

The title of this essay is, of course, a truism: the Mona Lisa, being a human creation, was never – and never will be – alive. Despite our boastful ingenuity and cleverness, human beings are not capable of creating anything living.[1] This means that there is a fundamental, a categorical, difference between human and non-human creations: whereas everything that is created by human beings is dead and inanimate, the glorious creations of Nature are living. And this means that every living creation of Nature is necessarily greater, more important, and more vital than any creation of humanity. For these living creations, which are capable of replicating and modifying themselves in order to adapt to changing environmental conditions, will continue to exist long after the human race has disappeared from the Earth, just as they existed for a very, very long time before we appeared on the Earth and, starting a few centuries ago, proceeded to wreak havoc on all other life forms.

No artwork is as great or as important as the many living species that we are driving to extinction by our selfish actions and our collective indifference. The fact that millions of human beings would rather go to a museum to stare at this dead, unchanging human creation, rather than go out into the wild, or even just look around them, to observe the countless and truly magnificent glories of Nature – the fascinating life-forms that exist all around us – shows how stupid and degenerate we are. From having spent far too much time in our mostly artificial urban environments, which are made of sterile materials like metal, glass, stone, brick, concrete, asphalt, plastic, and treated wood, a great many of us have become profoundly and dangerously disconnected from the Nature on which we still continue to depend for our survival. As a result, our priorities have been completely perverted, for we tend to value whatever is human, merely because it is human, over things that are natural.

That so many human beings value a painting that was never alive, while they value little or not at all the many living creatures that are becoming extinct, or whose numbers have been catastrophically reduced, as a result of our collective actions, very clearly shows what is wrong with us. As we make life increasingly difficult or impossible for so many of our fellow planetary creatures, because we do not have the sense to value them as we should, the only logical outcome is that we too will become extinct as a result of our collective folly, and our preference for our sterile human creations over the vital, living creations of Nature.

[1] Modifying a living organism does not count, of course, since we did not create these organisms. To claim ownership over these minutely-modified organisms, which, in the case of plants, means changing only one of the plant’s more than ten thousand genes, is a form of truly outrageous plagiarism that only a small number of dishonest human beings – those shameless, impudent, money-grubbing hustlers – could make without blushing.