The Art Gene
The McGurk Effect (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-lN8vWm3m0) has proven that humans are hard wired to function in a certain way, even if we instinctively know something is not correct. We cannot short circuit our natural responses despite how frequently we try. The experiment blatantly displays that it is virtually impossible to alter our natural response. Genetically passed down knowledge simply trumps acquired knowledge.
Take for instance, ten young men walk into a bar. They are all from the same town and have the same cultural background. A girl is sitting at the bar and none of them attempt to speak to her. Four of the men express they are not attracted to her. Three say they would date her once. Two agree she might make a nice girlfriend. And one puts her on an aesthetic pedestal, falling madly in love and begs her to marry him. Hard wired or not? This has to be a bio chemical response. We romanticize the most simplistic human evolutionary function. Are we programmed to respond to a certain set of random patterns, i.e. a person’s attractiveness, in the natural order of selection to preserve the species?
Is it possible this gene that determines attractions within a species, also defines beauty in all other areas of life?
I was not raised in Russia or Austria, therefore I have no connection to either culture, yet I will always prefer to listen to Stravinsky's works over Mahler's. While I can appreciate Mahler on a cerebral and compositional level, I can honestly say I am not moved by his music in the same way, nor have the same connection as I do with Stravinsky.
Is it possible that some music critics, no matter how much they listen, will not be able to connect and see the beauty in a work? These works, as brilliant as they might be, can merely be dismissed by the critic as minor and non relevant. So, do our natural, sexual attractions and preferences carry over to our artistic tastes as well? No man can fake being moved by a woman's face, the body does not lie, you love her or you don't. Is this the case as well for art? Are humans unable to see the beauty in some works because we are hard wired not to in this area?
Are the genes that control our musical aesthetics passed down and imprinted in our nervous system? Are our tastes predetermined from birth or do they develop with later cognitive learning and culture?