In these times of serious discussion about the merits of torture, the appeal of cute things can seem incongruous. But the more I think about it, the more it actually makes a lot of sense to me. In a world that seems so twisted and cruel at times, the innocence and delight of "cute" things are not only appealing, but in a very real way, a relief. My friend Alex turned me on to a great example of this on the web. The site is called cute overload and it's something to behold. People waxing rhapsodic about all things cute. Animals dominate, but there are also examples of cute crafts and other random cute things. Plus they have a great set of "rules of cuteness" that add an air of science to the silliness. What I like about the site is the healthy balance of true love of the cute and a kind of "tongue in cheekiness" in their expression of it. They get that it's kind of funny, but they love it none-the-less. It's a good laugh when you need it, though I do get tired of the dominance of rodent examples of cute. Ah well, nothings perfect.
There was a recent article in the NY Times about the science of cuteness called The Cute Factor: It Makes Evolutionary Sense. It frames up why we are attracted to cute things from a biological standpoint, which makes me feel a little less ridiculous about swooning when I see a puppy. "The human cuteness detector is set at such a low bar, researchers said, that it sweeps in and deems cute practically anything remotely resembling a human baby or a part thereof, and so ends up including the young of virtually every mammalian species, fuzzy-headed birds like Japanese cranes, wooly bear caterpillars, a bobbing balloon, a big round rock stacked on a smaller rock, a colon, a hyphen and a close parenthesis typed in succession." See, it's not that I'm a sap, it's my natural, healthy maternal instinct hard at work, damn it.