Biologically Vulnerable to Art — The Great Coincidence of Evolution.

a little more than this

In the secret story of the mind, there are numbers of unconscious things that go along that we still don’t comprehend about how we work, live our lives, and even listen to music. We are just as stupid as we are the complex being in the entire universe. So there are a lot of things we do not know.

We figured out the keys and instruments in music that sound good with whichever combination, yet we don’t know why our minds like that Perfect Fifth so much, they just do.

We feel the same way when we see a big group of people defending the victim and the person that sacrificed everything for his cause in an animated movie, we cry. Because we feel a connection, a hope, a fulfilled longing to others about our misunderstood nature, even though we know it is not real. No other species can intentionally fool themselves like that. Art tells us a lot about our humanity. That we still don’t fully comprehend scientifically or acknowledge in our every day, because we’re too busy living.

Mirror neurons, the source of all feelings in art?

Mirror neurons are the most fascinating thing in all of science, in my opinion. It is when your brain reacts to another person’s emotions, behavior, point of view, etc. We are deeply social creatures: And that can even mean spreading and believing false information since we were kids because of the pain of social alienation. Most of our behaviors, beliefs, since we were kids, come from others: Authority (parents, teachers, books, etc.), Tenacity (traditions like whoever gets the bouquet at a wedding is getting married next), Intuition (“it’s common sense that the earth is flat” until it wasn’t.), instead of the scientific method.

Eye contact and a happy expression, how does it make you feel seeing this?

So we have more of learning to please others and belong than we have for the pursuit of truth or anything. That’s why news media shifted from objectivity to opinions. And if one truth is dissonant for people in a specific culture, and a researcher finds out about it as truth, they will try to avoid it at first in order to still feel part of the group. Some truths are anti-cultural, like the fact that global warming will eventually kill us all in a culture where no one wants to think that their hard work is in the end worthless, so we do not do anything about global warming.

This is all to say that our sociability is probably the most thing that makes us human. And we base all of our art around it.

Mirror neurons are neurons in our brains that get activated to imitate others. When someone smiles and the smile is legitimate, we unconsciously catch on to it: Our mind sees the little details like having lines in the sides of the eyes, that we otherwise consciously don’t. It tells us whether to trust the person, we mirror them: We smile back, to tell them that you also trust them.

When we see facial expressions. Muscles in our face, as subtle as they may be, mirror the facial expression of the person we are talking to or watching through pixels. If you are talking to a person and start mirroring what they do with their hands, unconsciously, they will start to mirror your body too! That’s why acting and theater are rightfully so important to our human society as an art. It literally makes you feel what otherwise you wouldn’t, and it's one of the purest traits of what makes us human, along with dancing, humming together, praying together, kissing, stretching, and exercising. Actors talking to each other humorously and being pure makes us feel pure too, that is why movies and acting are such a beautiful artform.

“Art,” Stan in South Park.

Our minds actually gather all information about another’s emotions through the eyes. Evolution had to find a way to find out which one we can trust and not. In one study, researchers first did all facial expressions then only the eyes and realized that all information needed to figure out a person’s emotions, subconsciously, is through the eyes. (Robert Sapolsky, “Behave,”2016).

So, in movies, animations, photography, novels, and storytelling, mirroring the person in the art’s emotions and them being human or human-like (like Winnie the pooh) is the thing that makes us feel and appreciate the beauty of the art. A connection with the person in the art, or a connection to the person who made the art, a friendship, a conversation through the medium of art besides speech. And we mirror their emotions. If we look at a painting of someone who went through war, we feel that sadness we see, from the deep source of our longing for sociability.



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
Nabil Houari

Nabil Houari

In the lines between fiction and reality. I blog about being both sensitive and evil.