Over the course of the next 12 days I’ll be posting 12 future thinking concepts and applying the same methods I’ve been practicing with the various Ted Talks. Why? Cause it’s freakin fun and pointless, that’s why!
Day Seven – Is Cute a Self Defence Mechanism?
(Although it doesn’t really make a difference, the spell checker seems rather persistent on insisting to utilize ‘defense’, which is the Americain spelling of the same word)
It certainly makes quite a lot of sense that babies, which are completely useless little things, would need to have some natural inborn agency to keep them alive. So in the manner that similar creatures might stop and care for a cute creature seems to be a very solid method of defence.
It’s mental warfare! Do we actually stand a chance against it?
(great video, a bit unusual selection of cute animals, still cute though)
(probably in line with what people expect)
All the adorable! What a manipulative force that nature is.
Or is it?
Foxes eat rabbits. Some people adore spiders while other people flee in terror. Cuteness, in of itself, is NOT a universal measurement. Different cultures and creatures will be a different form of cute than others.
In understanding art, the art that is mentally consumed, is mostly related to the preliminary response of the beholder. Someone is much more likely to like a certain piece of art if they can identify with it. If the image is too chaotic or uncertain, the response may become more alienating than reflective.
So what if you take out the ‘cute’, and utilize something that is designed to be unnatural? What is the response?
In attempting to look more into the topic, I stumbled upon a book online. (It is pretty heavy, still it is a good read and it isn’t very long.) The book, Subject of Art in Process: Undressing the Emperor’s Nude Clothes, goes quite deeply into the reflections of Metamodern art. In effect, what are the dialogues that the beholder has based upon their own cultural experiences when examining postmodernism art or any for that matter.(For ease, I’ll reference only the viewer and as usual, if you really want to know it well, read the full original content here: https://books.google.ca/books?id=ekBsE7_Qzi0C&pg=PT125&lpg=PT125&dq=subject+viewer&source=bl&ots=GxIvsTyehx&sig=q-gYhZmKhxoRW-dGFup2dNrcRfk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=C7uXVP3_EsWOyASy8IGgAw&ved=0CEUQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=subject%20viewer&f=false)Latent Pre-content or conception, what the viewer brings before they start to respond to an artwork.Latent context, the natural limitations that may exist around the artwork itself. (size, scale, materials, those built in complexes)Manifest content, the meaning inside the artwork that exists within its ‘form’ that gives it existenceManifest metacontent, the hindsight/evaluation. (Which is a lot like this blog in general)Although we might not be consciously aware of the four conversations happening at the same time when we look at the baby squirrel, they create a series of complex reactions in our mind. One that eventually sums up into “need to rescue this little creature” or “aw, poor thing is going to die”.
But what about this?
A cat, that normally would consume ducklings, instead goes full mother goose and takes the orphans in under its care.
So could it actually be, that it is our innate nurturing instinct, the reason why we view things as cute?
It certainly makes quite a bit of sense. If nurturing is anywhere near our instinct for the ‘breeding’ aspect, then its mentally compelling.
However, just because something is innate doesn’t mean it becomes developed. Check this out.
Ever see these two scenes from Lord of the Rings?
Mithril, a completely made up material, is worshiped like diamonds. If this existed in enough forms, and we handed a person “mithril”, would they go gaga over it?
Diamonds, in a general day to day thing, is actually quite useless. A person can’t easily trade it and they certainly can’t eat it or use it very easily. However, diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and they are often the pinnacle item in a crime movie.
Our society has taught us to value this item.
Likewise, we also see countless reactions. Perhaps our love of the adorable little kittens might be from our natural compulsion to follow the examples we see before us, where people start weeping at the sight of little meows.
Then again, that cat didn’t really seem like much of a Youtube viewer and it adopted ducklings. Maybe instinct plus a response like empathy (or sympathy, self transposal, etc) is enough.
Animals adopting other animals, is a thing.
Now there is a flipside to the equation as well. Ignoring cuteness, is no doubt a thing that can be learned. Animals trained to kill, for instance, may ignore this instinct quite readily.
Likewise, there are those stories where anything ‘weaker’ is deemed as cute. (see the ‘that’s cute/adorable’ meme)
This is clearly a case where the topic is just too big to handle. I’m grabbing my teddy bear and call it a night.