Some things are universally more exciting to animals than their opposites. Light is more exciting than darkness, red coloration is more exciting than blue, everything is more exciting than nothing, and movement, speed, long flowing forms, spikiness, upwardness and outwardness are exciting relative to stillness, solid and round objects, smoothness, downwardness, inwardness and holes.
People are obsessed with the contradictory idea of a stimulating phenomenon inside a container.
Popular expressions show that, in the brain, learning is a fluid process and knowledge is like a solid. …
“Thus every one would probably agree with Lipps and call a pure yellow happy, a deep blue quiet and earnest, red passionate, violet wistful; would perhaps feel that orange partakes at once of the happiness of yellow and the passion of red, while green partakes of the happiness of yellow and the quiet of blue; and in general that the brighter and warmer tones are joyful and exciting, the darker and colder, more inward and restful.”
— Dewitt H. Parker, The Principles of Aesthetics (1920)
“’He led me in among the secret things.
There sighs, complaints, and ululations loud
Resounded through the air without a star,
Whence I, at the beginning, wept thereat.
Languages diverse, horrible dialects,
Accents of anger, words of agony,
And voices high and hoarse, with sound of hands,
Made up a tumult that goes whirling on
For ever in that air for ever black,
Even as the sand doth, when the whirlwind breathes.”
— Dante Alighieri & Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Divine Comedy (1893)
The Trinidadian guppy (Poecilia reticulata Peters, 1859) is a ray-finned fish in the cyprinodont family poeciliidae, Greek for “with different colors” (Froese and Pauly 2008). It’s also known as the “millions fish” or the “rainbow fish.” Males grow to a maximum size of about 3.5 cm, females to about 5 cm standard length. Guppies have no dorsal spines, seven to eight dorsal soft rays, no anal spines, and…
“What an odd thing it is to see an entire species — billions of people — playing with, listening to, meaningless tonal patterns, occupied and preoccupied for much of their time by what they call ‘music.’”
— Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia (2008)
Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) songs, as part of their sexual allure, emphasize both regularity and variation at the same time and weave them together in intricate patterns of sound. These…
Some important events in the origin of life on Earth probably include the concentration of carbon, the formation of complex organic molecules, sorting of those molecules into chiral types, the evolution of sustained loops of chemical interactions, formation of a replicator, a coupling of this chemistry and replication to an energy source, the origination of liquid crystallinity, and possibly a transition from indistinct networks of living material into relatively individual, self-contained entities or cells. …
“A death’s-head!” echoed Legrand — “Oh — yes — well, it has something of that appearance upon paper, no doubt. The two upper black spots look like eyes, eh? and the longer one at the bottom like a mouth — and then the shape of the whole is oval.”
— Edgar Allan Poe, The Gold Bug
A universal sensory bias favoring oblong things is probably responsible for human and animal decorations being, very often…
The hue heat hypothesis demonstrates how we consider certain qualities to be opposites even though we shouldn’t think of them as opposites based on experience, and how it can influence our behavior:
“The Hue Heat Hypothesis (HHH) is based on the idea that light and colours of the environment can affect thermal perception and influence thermal comfort. Specifically, it states that, when spectral power distribution of light reaching an observer’s eye is characterized by long wavelengths in the visible spectrum, the space is perceived as warmer; conversely, when small wavelengths are predominant, the space is perceived as cooler (Bellia et…
“Animals are painted by nature, darkest on those parts which tend to be most lighted by the sky’s light, and vice versa.”
— Thayer (1896)
Universal biases favoring the perceptual mixtures dynamic — dark and bright — static appear to be responsible, via mate choice, for a widespread pattern in bird and other animal coloration in which dynamic body parts are darker than more static ones. Examples of numerous species with darker extremities, meaning such parts as wings, arms, legs, tails or long ornamental feathers or hair, or those which undergo the most dynamic motion from the perspective of another…
The spirit that I have seen
May be a devil; and the devil hath power
T’ assume a pleasing shape
That fantasy is elevated slightly excitement-wise above reality is detectable in how we employ the words “unreal,” “unbelievable” and “fantastic” to mark exciting moments or perceptual events even though the events inciting such exclamations are perfectly believable, just unexpected. Surprisingly many of the phrases we use regularly and collectively to describe learning, or changes in the material of the brain, directly implicate the specific, simple qualities heat, fluidity and disorder in the process. …