Sign in

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

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 yellow and the passion of red, while green partakes of the happiness of yellow…

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

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

“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)

Topics

Mixtures

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)

Topics

Less Exciting Perceptual Qualities
Examples
Assumptions
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

Topics

Exciting Qualities
Brains
Exciting Idiomatic Combinations in Language
Scraps

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

upon

a red wheel

barrow

glazed with rain

water

beside the white

chickens”

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

Topics

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

People are obsessed with the contradictory idea of a stimulating phenomenon inside a container.

Photo by Raychan on Unsplash

“’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. …

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

Photo by Pavaphon Supanantananont on Shutterstock

Topics

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

Ecology

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)

Topics

Regularity and Variation
Are humpback “songs” really…

Prior to the evolution of the first living things the world was made of crystals, liquids and gasses. Life’s beginnings must have involved the transition of matter from these states to one of liquid crystallinity.

Photo by Here on Shutterstock. Standard license.

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…

Thermoaesthetics

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