Apples (a free association exercize)

Today I had a session at work about the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI. I scored as an E-N-F-J/P.

Though the test feels totally spot-on, I am still sorting out whether I identify as more of a J or a P. I tested dead center. I am pretty sure I am more of a P, but maybe that is the J talking.

I feel like tests like this can be a little bit like a fortune cookie—vague, interesting, and broadly applicable. “ENFPs have an unusually broad range of skills and talents.” “ENFPs who remain centered will usually be quite successful at their endeavors.” because of course “You are very talented in many ways”, “Your shoes will make you happy today”, “Your lucky numbers are 5 33 12 7 8”, and “Fortune favors the brave.”

In any case, I found the test be a great feedback mechanism, and one of the exercises we did was to look at an apple and describe “all the things we saw.” I was surprised at myself when I really only listed what I saw — taking the instructions rather literally. I identify as a creative out-of-the-box thinker, but after listing spotted, uneven, casting a shadow, perceived seasonality, flavor, and ripeness, I thought I was giving a pretty complete accounting. It was not until after, when the group was sharing our answers, that I started to think about how many associations I really did lay upon this fruit and how much I had missed. (This is why we crowd-source for ideas—everyone’s diverse ideas, perceptions, and experience can help you see new things.)

So after chatting with our team, I realized that if really dug in deeper on all the “all the things I saw,” I had a lot more to say about apples. And here you have it:

I also see Kazakhstan, where the apple originates; I see Michael Pollan, who writes about this extensively in the Botany of Desire; I see of the complexities of the genetics of the seed, I see grafting; I see Johnny Appleseed. I see apple picking with my family, apple cider donuts, and even hard cider. I see Tim and Zea and Freddy and the Everetts—California friends who are apple growers. I see Snow White. I see the symbol of temptation and the representation of original sin played out cyclically in culture and art. I see the apple of my eye. I also feel the tug to get an un-ripe apple off a tree. I taste the crisp, the tart, the sour, the mealy. I taste the pairings with cheese, the almond butter, the peanut butter and chocolate, cinnamon, and honey.

I see this photo I took one year ay an Illinois apple orchard:

I see so much in an apple. I also see my own calendar, because I am going to be pressing apples for cider on Saturday with my apple growing friend at Fruitilicious Farm in Watsonville! Apple season is closing out here and I look forward to saving a couple jugs in my fridge to prolong the flavors.

I think of the iconic and arresting self-portrait of Swiss painter Cuno Amiet.

ImageI think of heirloom varieties and biodiversity (including this Slow Food Manifesto [PDF]). Of the myths and legends of Johnny Appleseed. Adam and Eve. Rosh hashanah apples and honey. Apple pie the wholesome American dessert or the unwholesome American movie. Nights with beer and games of Apples to Apples (which I usually win).

And of course, the omnipresent:

I feel like I wrote all of this in order to redeem myself in my own mind for my surface analysis during this morning’s Meyers-Briggs test.

So dear apple the majestic fruit, apple the cultural symbol, apple the food, Apple the brand, Apple the celebrity baby name, and apple the idea, I salute you.


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