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Abstract

Updated: Mar 27

More and less exciting things: 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 round objects, smoothness, downwardness, inwardness and holes. Categories: We sort more and less exciting things, such as those given above, and several others into consistent, conventional mental categories and unconsciously associate those in each category with each other. Qualities which, along with their perceptual opposites, can be shown to fit into one or the other mental category universally among animals probably do so for physical reasons, related to brain temperature, and are therefore referred to as thermal qualities. The term thermological is used to describe the relationship between qualities in a single mental category, such that, for example, heat, fluidity, disorder and speed are thermological on the exciting side, and coldness, solidness, order and motionlessness are related thermologically on the less exciting side. Mixtures: We like to mix together more and less exciting things. Such mixtures are more likable, or similar to us, than simpler combinations of qualities or phenomena from within a single category, which on average we recognize as relatively extreme, unlikable and unlike ourselves. Mixtures of the given more and less exciting things occur more often than expected in artistic and idiomatic language, song, dance, humor, mythology, religion, dreams and animal courtship displays and animal body shapes and colors. Mixtures of phenomena across categories are referred to here as thermoaesthetic. These are hypothetically more likable and popular, and therefore more common, in aesthetic affairs than combinations of qualities within a category, which themselves should be more applicable in serious situations. Imperceivable mixtures: Mixtures of qualities or phenomena across opposite categories of excitement in aesthetic patterns occur indiscriminately, in that they have a structure which doesn't depend on the opposites being directly opposed in any real sense in the world outside the brain. For instance animals are generally biased, seeing combinations of motion and brightness as striking and exciting, dark stasis as relatively unexciting, and perceptual mixtures like dynamic darkness and bright stasis interesting and familiar by comparison, which is the reason animals are very likely to be colored so that parts which are most dynamic are darker than relatively stationary parts. In other words, motion can replace brightness as a source of excitement for the purpose of counteracting darkness. Any other exciting quality can be used the same way. Upwardness is a satisfactory replacement for brightness or motion as an opposite to darkness, which provides an explanation for the predominance of dorsal to ventral dark to bright color patterns in animals. Biases favoring such mixtures are responsible for the selection of human language and art with the same structure. Hue heat: Experiments show we recognize imperceivable dualities and opposites, such as blue versus hot and red versus cold. We identify more closely with a hot blue object than a hot red one and a cold red object more than a cold blue one. Although temperature and color are not perceivable as opposites in the outside world, we consider them to be opposite anyway. Assuming we find green to lie somewhere in perceptual temperature between red and blue, which seems likely, the sequence of the rainbow, a physical fact, could be determined indirectly from the unconscious sequence we put colors in thermally. Kiki Bouba: Repeated experiments show we recognize high-pitch and roundness as opposites, and spikiness and low-pitch as opposites. Even though they're not opposite in the perceivable, outside world, we know them to be so. Even as infants we find high-pitch mixed with roundness more intriguing than high-pitch combined with spikiness, and low-pitch mixed with spikiness more likable than low-pitch combined with roundness. Metaphor: Metaphors are associated with categories in the mind, which has been reported along with the assumption that we learn the metaphors from common observations of each other and our surroundings, but in many cases, such as sadness being down and blue while excitement is up and bright or how anger and sex are hot and steamy, outward explanations are not sufficient. Universal knowledge: There are things humans and other animals inevitably know without learning or experience. Brain heat: Simple types of arousal correspond to some extent with heat in the brain. Brain heat is associated with being awake, anger, violence, taking ecstasy, dreaming, taking methamphetamine, mental disorder and sexual arousal. Fluidity and solidness: Fluidity in the brain must increase with temperature. We recognize fluidity as more exciting than solidness, and mixtures of the two as moderate, familiar and attractive. Fluidity and solidness in expressions: References to fluidity, solidness, and mixtures of the two are more common than expected in language. Fluidity and solidness in culture: Humans tend to add fluidity to solid things, and solidness to fluid things for aesthetic effect. Disorder: Disorder in the brain must increase with temperature. Disorder is generally more exciting than order. Cultural disorder: Disorderly aesthetic cultural phenomena are popular because we generally find disorder exciting. Complexity bias: The mind is biased with an appreciation for moderation, centrality and the kind of complexity that results from mixing the characteristics of things we find to be opposite perceptually. List 1: Exciting things in simple sequences: People tend to combine exciting qualities when they mean to be unlikable. List 2: Less exciting things in simple sequences: Nonsensical references to less exciting things are often combined in sequences in expressions. List 3: Mixed sequences: Nonsensical references to heat, fluidity, disorder, dynamic motion, brightness, upwardness, outwardness, multiplicity and one or more of their less exciting opposites are found unexpectedly often in complex, mixed sequences in human language. List 4: Cultural mixtures: Various cultural practices can be described as mixtures of perceivable and imperceivable mixtures. Qualities and sequences in English idioms: Thermoaesthetic mixtures of more and less exciting things appear to be more common in idioms than simple, thermological sequences of things from a single category. About 29% of English idioms contain a sequence of two or more references to things synonymous with heat, fluidity, disorder, dynamic motion, brightness, upwardness, outwardness, multiplicity or one or more of their less exciting opposites. About 69% of these sequences are complex, or mixtures, and 31% are simple combinations of qualities from within either the more or less exciting category. About 75% of the complex sequences in idioms are made of unperceivable opposites, which is strong support for a thermoaesthetic approach. Sequences in popular book titles: Mixed sequences are common in book titles. Sequences in poem titles: Mixed sequences are common in poem titles. Sequences in poems: Mixed sequences are common in lines of poetry. Sequences in songs: Mixed sequences are common in song lyrics. Lies: Humans tend to associate lies with exciting things. Reality is less exciting. Fluidity and learning: Learning seems to be related to fluidity in the brain based on the the way we describe it idiomatically and metaphorically. Solidness and knowledge: Idioms appear to show we know unconsciously that knowledge involves solidification in the brain, which it probably does. Roundness and knowledge: Idioms show we associate knowledge with roundness. Downwardness, inwardness and knowledge: Idioms show we associate knowledge with the directions down and in. Speed, motion and stillness: Dynamic motion in the brain must increase with temperature. Motion and speed are more exciting than stillness. This section lists various examples of how speed and dynamic motion are related in the human mind to anger, sex and other universally exciting things. Light and color: Light and bright colors like red and white are generally more exciting than darkness and bluer or blacker colors. Bird colors: About 62% of bird species are colored so that the most perceptually dynamic parts of them (wing tips) are darker than their lower breast, a relatively static part for them perceptually. About 32% are neutral, in being the same color at both locations, and only ~6% are colored in the opposite way. Assuming we relate heat to dynamic motion, these results are reminiscent of and understandable in a similar way to those from hue-heat experiments in humans showing we're more tolerant of a hot dark object than a hot bright one. Most birds are colored like a rainbow, with brighter colors like red, yellow or white at the center, intermediate colors such as green in parts between the breast and wing tips, which undergo intermediate amounts of motion, and blue, purple or black at dynamic extremities. Assuming birds find green to lie somewhere between red and blue as a satisfying contradiction for dynamic motion, which seems likely, the sequence of the rainbow is known to birds and reflected in their coloration. Paintings: Popular paintings exhibit various mixtures of more and less exciting thing. Paintings of nature: Animals are similar to paintings in their coloration patterns. A bias for mixtures of up with dark and down with bright is likely responsible for widespread dorsal darkness and ventral brightness, rather than countershading and obliteration. Up and down: Up is more exciting than down. Out and in: Out is more exciting than in. Projections and entrances: Projections are generally seen as more exciting than entrances. Sound: High-pitched sounds are more exciting than low-pitched sounds. High-pitched sounds, including screaming, cussing and consonants, probably heat the brain/auditory sensory system slightly more than low-pitched sounds. Length: Longer things are more exciting to behold than shorter, rounder ones, which we would like to disrupt. Oblong: Animals appear to favor shapes which are not perfectly round, but slightly longer along one dimension. Disruptions of roundness: Humans find round things unexciting and disrupt them relentlessly in words, idioms, stories, games, sports, self-decoration, other decorations, symbols, mythology and sex. Other animals feel the same way. Exciting things in containers: Like inwardness, holes, and roundness, we find containers unexciting and want to disrupt them. Drugs: Recreational drug use is often described in terms of more exciting things, probably because many drugs increase brain temperature and/or fluidity. The physical state of life: Life is a liquid crystalline phenomenon. Liquid crystallinity: The universal physical condition of living things and brains is liquid crystalline. This connects us with all animals psychologically and allows for our description in terms of the nonliving. Entoptic phenomena: Entoptic phenomena traced in trances are probably not responsible for abstract cave art. They appear to indicate we have preexisting knowledge of simple shapes. Mixtures in dance: A general sensory bias for certain types of complexity, or simple mixtures of more and less exciting qualities, evidently leads to selection for body colors, shapes and behaviors which exhibit the prefered mixtures. Animals choose to mate with other or not, to a remarkable extent, based on how intricately potential partners weave together more and less excitement in ways that increase complexity while keeping a balance overall. Mixtures in dance: Elements of human dances and animal courtship rituals can often be described in terms of aesthetic selection and biases favoring mixtures over combinations. Mixtures in dreams: Dreams are an unconstrained source of information about the mind by comparison to the other, conscious sources discussed such as human language and art, at least in the sense that they don't involve a process of selection. The dreaming brain spontaneously creates contradictory mixtures of more and less exciting things at higher than expected rates.


More and less exciting things

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