78 78 a transformation moves in an ontological hierarchy : transformations in the direction of animacy and intelligence are favored over the opposite .” This , while on face value seems an obvious observation , actually leads to a nuanced line of thought as to the depth of the ontological commitments that we do hold about each object and both how rigid and flexible they are simultaneously .
Take , for example , one of the items in his list of objects , a blackbird . Blackbirds possess a litany of properties , such as the ability to fly , the sheen of their feathers , the ability to make a distinctive sound , etc . They may also hold a set of shifting personal and cultural connotations for observers , such as summoning thoughts of superstition , ancestral respect , or spirituality based upon regional and historical culture . Hence , a deep investigation of the fixed and fluctuating nature of an object or animal ’ s properties and the ontological commitments that an audience may hold about them seems worthy of reflection in magic .
Reading Griffiths ’ study seemed to address much of my line of inquiry , though the paper mainly addresses ‘ interestingness ’ while not necessarily focused on the experience of surprise itself . ( I highly recommend that anyone with an interest in this topic read the full paper .)