A concept of aesthetic complexity based on universal animal preferences for mixtures of simple, more and less exciting physical and psychological opposites.

Mixtures of simple opposite qualities in poetry are similar in content and structure to those found in other aesthetic areas, as illustrated by lists of poems from writers on Medium.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s “The (Little) Tower of Babel.” Photo from WikiArt. Public domain.

“I have seen a medicine
That’s able to breathe life into a stone,
Quicken a rock, and make you dance canary
With spritely fire and motion.”

— Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well (Open Source Shakespeare 2021)


Fluidity, Solidness and Other Mixtures in Poetry and Art
Fluidity and…

A universal sensory bias is responsible for animals usually being colored so that our most perceptually dynamic body parts are darker and our relatively static parts are brighter.

“The Bird’s Concert” by Frans Snyders ~1630 — 1640. Image from WikiArt. Public domain.

“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…

From a simple perspective aesthetic cultural phenomena and the mating dances of animals are similar in structure.

Rushing courtship ceremony of the western grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis). Photo by Keneva Photography on Shutterstock

“Some kind of aesthetic activity is apparently a feature of all the 3,000 or so distinguishable cultures that are to be found on the earth’s surface. This suggests strongly that art grows out of some fundamental characteristics of the human nervous system.”

— Berlyne, Aesthetics and Psychobiology (1971)



An ongoing collection of popular, idiomatic expressions made up of sequences of qualities humans universally find less exciting than their perceptual opposites.

Photo by Mathew MacQuarrie on Unsplash

“God gives nuts to some who have no teeth.”

— Portuguese idiom (Bohn 1857)


Less Exciting Perceptual Qualities
Less Exciting Idiomatic Combinations in Language
Longer Sequences
Works Cited

Less Exciting Perceptual Qualities

This story is a list of all the ways the perceptual qualities coldness, solidness…

An ongoing collection of popular, nonsensical expressions made up of sequences of qualities humans find exciting universally by default.

Photo by Cassi Josh on Unsplash


Exciting Qualities
Exciting Idiomatic Combinations in Language

Exciting Qualities

Humans perceive heat, fluidity, disorder, brightness, dynamic motion, upwardness and outwardness as exciting by comparison to their opposites coldness, solidness, order, darkness, stasis, downwardness and inwardness, as discussed in More and Less Exciting Things. This story is…

Linguistic evidence suggests we’re more aware of physical conditions in our brains than we realize. These conditions appear to influence our preferences and behavior, rather than being an inconsequential side effect of neural structure and connections. The abundance of mixtures of fluidity with solidness in art and language requires an explanation involving a universal feature of human psychology.

Photo by Joyce McCown on Unsplash

The Wet Wheelbarrow

“so much depends


a red wheel


glazed with rain


beside the white


— William Carlos Williams, “The Red Wheelbarrow” (2018)


· The Wet Wheelbarrow
Liquid Crystallinity
Brain Fluidity
Fluidity in Anger and Sex Idioms
Fluidity and Excitement
Other Idiomatic…

Guppies choose mixtures of simple perceptual opposites such as bright and dark colors when they mate.

Photo by Pavaphon Supanantananont on Shutterstock


Habitat Interactions
Social Behavior
Sexual Selection
Male Competition
Direct Benefits
Good Genes
Sensory Bias
Works Cited


The Trinidadian guppy (Poecilia reticulata Peters, 1859) is a ray-finned fish in the cyprinodont family poeciliidae, Greek for…

Humpbacks and humans like a mixture of order and randomness.

Photo by Silas Baisch on Unsplash

“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)


Regularity and Variation
Are humpback “songs” really…


Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store