Today’s topic is about apples. Apples are the most delicious things you can eat, except for oranges, even though I’m not particularly fond of oranges. Sometimes I can’t resist the smell, and I pick up a couple dozen. Sometimes at one of those roadside stands that are selling them by the bag for something like two dollars or something. It just seems like a deal that you cannot possibly pass up. These beautiful round, sweet smelling vitamin C loaded hunks of citrus selling for only two dollars for a giant bag. It’s almost too good to be true.
Of course when I get them home, I remember that I don’t particularly care for oranges. I’m a pretty lazy person, and eating them is just too much trouble. I like orange flavor. Usually when I pass by the vending machine and there are several different flavors of Fanta to choose from, I often choose orange. If somebody figured out a way to make an apple taste like an orange that would be fantastic.
Apples are the perfect fruit to eat, in my opinion. Not the perfect taste, or the most versatile, but as far as the mechanics of eating goes, they are as close to perfect as you can get. You can reach up, pull one off the tree, and start munching without a second thought. You only need one hand, there aren’t any peels to worry about, or small in every bite you need to worry about spitting out.
I was at my friends house recently, and she was telling me her dogs really love me. Her husband likes to make these barbecued chicken wings, and I never eat all the meat off them. So when we’re finished, and she gives all the bones to the dogs, they naturally like my leftovers the best because they have the most meat on the bones. So maybe I also leave more apple on the core than most people as well. I did mention that I am pretty lazy.
And from the apples perspective, it’s a great reproductive strategy. There you are, the seed in the middle, surrounded by all this fructose. Most people, when they eat an apple, don’t eat nearly all they can. That would take too long. To sit there and suck every last piece of pulp from the fruit. Most people just eat about 80 percent of the good stuff, and discard the rest. Of course in modern times we throw the empty in a garbage can.
But long long ago, when we wore loincloths and didn’t watch TV, we would throw the apples on the dirt. And the discarded apple core was a perfect vehicle for growing another tree. It has plenty of nutrients for the seeds to use to sprout and grow. What’s even better is animals that either are too dumb to know the difference, or don’t have hands to eat with, will eat the entire apple. Then when the animal in question does his business, there are seeds surrounded by the best plant generating material there is.
Of course, then there’s the metaphor about Johnny Appleseed, who roamed the country planting apple seeds every where, and is responsible for the vast number of apple trees across America. One wonders what saying “As American As Apple Pie” would have been if Johnny Appleseed planted watermelon seeds, or kiwi seeds. Perhaps we would have gone to war with New Zealand or something equally as senseless.
I guess having a metaphor as some happy guy planting apple trees sounds better for the kids. If you had a metaphor as some goofy animal roaming the country eating apples whole and then pooping out the seeds, or a bunch of prehistoric people eating apples and then littering everywhere, that wouldn’t sell as many children’s books. Johnny Appleseed sounds better than Johnny Apple Litterbug, or Spot The Fierce Apple Seed Pooper.
I suppose that happens a lot. We see something, we figure out how it works, or we have a basic idea of how it works, but instead of describing it accurately, we make up some story. Either the story sounds better, or it’s easier to come up with, or it’s simpler.
I was reading this essay once on memes (I’m afraid I don’t remember where, so I can’t link to it) and the guy who wrote it was saying there are several reasons why memes spread. One of them is how easy the idea is to understand. One example that is often used is how to fold a particular Japanese Origami. There are a certain number of steps, and depending on how faithfully you reproduce those steps, you’ll end up with a pretty decent shape.
Obviously, the Origami’s that last the longest are both easy to do, and have a result that is aesthetically, and symbolically pleasing. One of the most ubiquitous Origami shapes in Japan is the crane. Birds represent freedom (among other things) as they can fly wherever they want. Cranes are white which represent purity and peace (among other things). And folding a paper crane isn’t particularly difficult. Most elementary school kids in Japan can make one easy enough. So you have a shape that is fairly easy to fold, and the outcome gives the folder a pretty good feeling.
Compare that to some Origami shape where the outcome was symbolic of death and disease, and in order to fold it you have to be an Origami grand master, that particular meme wouldn’t lend itself very much to spreading.
When you throw in something like a naturally occurring event, like the number of apple trees in a particular area, that throws another variable in the mix. Now you’ve got this thing in reality that you need to describe. The outcome can’t be changed, (e.g. there are a bunch of apple trees) but the stories will vary widely, and depending how simple they are to transmit, and how happy they make the teller/listener, they will propagate at different rates, until one story is the exclusive story being told everywhere.
Maybe there were a bunch of different stories told to explain the number of apple trees. The one that stuck was the one that was easy to tell (some guy roamed the country planting them) and it sounded pretty good. (The guy that planted them was somebody that intended to provide apples for everybody.)
Of course there is one more variable that we could talk about, and that is intention. Johnny Appleseed has a pretty good intention, namely to help others. Some caveman litterbug’s or some pooping animal’s intentions aren’t so noteworthy. That, however, shall be addressed in another post.
In order to make the story of your own life the most compelling, click on the link below: