Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Different periods other cultures

This professor of something, Denis Dutton, was a speaker at TEDx on the “origin of beauty perception”.  Denis Dutton doesn’t want any of that crap that beauty is “in the eye of the beholder,” or that beauty is a culturally induced characteristics.  Dutton is exclusively for a Darwinian evolutionary theory of beauty.  That art, music and other beautiful things are a core part of human nature with deep evolutionary origins.

Why Dutton refuses to admit that there is not a single cause for human behaviors?  That several main causes should be considered and the interactions of the factors are the most interesting part in a discussion?  Maybe because Dutton loves to be discriminated among famous speakers as the one who vehemently is supporting Darwinian theory of beauty.    Is it just an ego trip to popularizing oneself for a single exotic expert opinion?

As if Dutton never heard of idiosyncratic tendencies among people of different cultures; that researchers have serious trouble controlling idiosyncracies among subjects and have to pre-test questionnaire to make sure that everyone is on the same wavelength comprehending the questions or sorting out subjects according to language, customs, origins, race, age, education…

Dutton wants us to believe that our perception of beauty evolved by genes.  For example, a hand-ax produced a million years ago, since it is symmetrical and shaped as a tear drop, and since it was not used to kill animals or anything, but as a handcrafts to be enjoyed as art, is proof enough that mankind perceived beauty by genetic evolution.  Question:  Have you ever seen a tear drop?  All that I have seen are wet faces and wet eyes! If gravity acting on a drop of water results in a peculiar shape, should we deduce that Gravity was the design theme for our older ancestors?

Can’t a hand-ax came shaped in a form of a tear or rain drop be an extension of mankind imagination?  Isn’t  a tear drop a symbol?  It connote tenderness and compassion and thus, is beautiful. It is proven that exactly symmetrical objects are not necessarily viewed as beautiful; for example no beautiful figure or face is beautiful: It is the slight asymmetry that offer a challenge to focus on a face and finding it beautiful.

Dutton claims that since “beautiful necklaces” were made hundred of thousands years ago then this demonstrate that perception of beauty and fabrication of beautiful objects is a Darwinian evolutionary consequence.  Come again?

That people fabricated necklaces to wear should not be interpreted that they were made to offer as gifts to women:  Men wore necklaces and women fabricated necklaces too; why should art be the monopoly of men?  Different periods other cultures.

Anyway, certain males in animal species know that the bigger and voracious females will devour them as they mate, or very shortly after. They got smart and started offering the female gifts, rich in protein, to nibble upon and save their skin for another around.

What about this hypothesis: “this object  is mine and it has to be distinctive from my neighbors?”  Art is an ego projection that roots our individuality into existing objects, lasting objects, visible to all, attracting attention of the neighbors, rendering them jealous, inciting them to buy our skills.  Mass productions of tools are not considered work of art:  It is the first unit in the production that has an artistic value.

When we buy a mass product, we tend to add a touch of personalized design, even writing our name or signing it is already a tendency to let our product acquire a value-added “work of art” signature.  If not for our ego to be distinctive, no work of art could have been imagined and developed.  Only “recorded” work of arts are appreciated in music, painting, original manuscripts… How many famous interpreters or directors of orchestra, who didn’t publish a work, are known?  How many talented copiers of painting or books are known?  I bet you, for example, if in Picasso’s time there were facilities to mass-copy his masterpieces and that he personally affixed his signature then, these copies would fetch decent prices now.   Just consider these original cards of baseball players!

How this ego evolved?  My conjecture is that as man evolved, and realized that he is more endowed than the surrounding animals, he got very frustrated that he also is to die like any other animal.  Worse, certain animals lived far longer than he did.  This discovery was not comforting.  “Since we all have to die then, my death has to be different” was the conclusion of mankind.  How different?  This is where imagination and art come into existence.

It is interesting to note that civilizations that prohibited individualized tombs or individualized death rituals didn’t produce much of art works.  When a society is organized and educated not give much weight to a corpse then, either the religious institutions fill in the void of after-death myths or take on the charge of the homogeneous rituals.   When individuality is suppressed then, you cannot expect much of art works:  Society is encouraged to engage in the mass production of useful items.  Art is done in total isolation and not exhibited to the public lest public sanctions are ordained.

I am not denying that the perception of beauty is not just an evolutionary feature and there may also exist an intrinsic cause to it.  What rattled me is that Dutton’s mantra of “Darwinian theory of Evolution” does not necessarily lead to any comprehension of the theory.  As far as I know, Darwin spent 20 years describing in details the thousands of samples he collected in his two years voyage around the world before he wrote his voluminous book.   Darwin stated his theory in the last few paragraphs in the book and he didn’t attempt to generalize to mankind mental faculties.  And here you have Dutton stealing the name of Darwin to expose a theory that misinterpret Darwin theory: Dutton is trying to apply the theory to human mental and emotional features by showing samples of a few handmade drawings!  This kind of “expertise” does not “demonstrate” a theory of beauty and it was not convincing.

Are we a handful of ash, dirt, dust…?  Eaten by worms, ants, crows, fishes, and disgusting crawling little creatures…?  Who can claim that the remains of his ancestors have not been displaced, trampled upon, pissed on…?  It is not what is in the tomb that count, it is the tomb, the formal burying-place, a reminder of how much ego we have to design our eternity.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

July 2022
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