I was recently asked what I thought of the "diagonal method"...
I think it's a part of our nature to apply order or symmetry to our world, and by extension our art. That's what we do--we make up shit to make the world make sense. So of course it's no surprise to find such order and symmetry in images we may be drawn to, nor is it surprising to want to impose an order on things which already exist to kind of "validate" them in our minds.
But after a certain point, usually the point being casual observation, that it just gets weird and arbitrary, like numerology. (Don't even get me started on numerology...) For instance, how convenient was it to draw the diagonal up from the lower corners in certain pieces while more examples have the diagonal drawn from the upper corners? What is the rule when it comes to this issue? Or is he simply seeing canals on the surface of Mars?
Don't get me wrong, I see the pattern. Sometimes. We have a collective aesthetic--certain chords and rhythms elicit certain moods in a lot of people because a lot of us have shared and heard examples which reference the same ideas. But there are entire cultures which traditionally do not share, for example, an aesthetic of representational imagery which you and I may take for granted.
There is a particular member of a certain photography forum who has recently become obsessed with "traditional" rules of composition and lighting. Problem is, few of my favorite photographers, who are quite well regarded, would pass his rigorous rules.
So where does that leave us? To paraphrase Duke Ellington, if it looks good, it is good. Of course, as our context grows, and that collective experience plays a larger role, what looks good may very well change right in front of your eyes.