The Universe Explained in Acronyms

According to the advanced theories of personality researchers Meyer and Briggs, I'm an ENTP. If I remember correctly, that means I favor extraversion over introversion, intuition over sensing, thinking over feeling and perceiving over judging. There was a little uncertainty about the first one, since my test results had me down as being *this close* to Introverted instead of Extraverted, but I figure the fact that I'm posting this here pretty much clears that up.

So I'm now mentally kin to all kinds of famous people, who I could easily look up somewhere, and I now hold the key to valuable insights about my role within my peer group of coworkers. Or something.

It's amazing - I'm sitting there in the meeting, reading about these sixteen different varieties of people, immensely flattered by the description it lists for me ("You are innovative, strategic, versatile, analytical and entrepreneurial. In bed.")

And I'm thinking about how any of those sixteen people-types could find him or herself in any number of different life situations upon being born... for the sake of discussion let's just say it's sixteen, (so let's see: rich, poor, male, female, urban, rural, current-day, prehistoric, RMUCs all the way over to PFUPs)... and then you've got the capacity of each of these people in each of these settings all having different inclinations to change or not, like - say a PMRC INTJ who's striving to become a RMUC by acting more like a ESFP, while his friend the RFUC ESFP is fine like she is, or maybe would love to change but doesn't think she's got it in her.

It starts multiplying and getting trickier, see, like a damn zeitgeistical rubik's cube. All these instantaneous possibilities...

And that's even before you factor in the conceivable (inescapable, in fact) interactions between the different types, in different settings, each person individually suited or not suited to the task at hand and reacting to the situation - and the other person(s) - in any number of nearly incomprehensible - though theoretically predictable - ways.

A man walks into a bar. Right there you've got - what? - 256 x umpteen squillion logically possible permutations. Even if he's a rich, introverted urban fellow who loathes himself for his inherited fortune while lamenting his dependence on the money, and the bar is a, um, a piano bar in a seedy section of town, populated with twelve - no, three - other similar types because it's two in the afternoon, and he's just been promoted to a job he doesn't want, *and* the bartender is an aggressive divorcee with the hots for him... that still leaves plenty of details and outcomes wide open.

Two things about that just kill me. First, out of all those possible scenarios, our minds have no trouble flipping right to an image of the one I described. In the millisecond following your eyes reading each word, you rule out the universe of chances to leave that one idea - divorcee, rich, whatever - standing alone, and it's immediately introduced to the other singled-out notions to form a bigger, composite idea that's clear as day. He's wearing a gray pinstriped suit with the tie loosened, right?

The other thing that kills me is that this quantification of All That There Is And All That There Could Be is *so* overwhelming, *so* complex, and it's still just an extension of a ridiculously simplified model of personality. Everyone, Meyers and Briggs included, knows there's more than sixteen kinds of people. And everyone knows there are more possible variations of setting than we could count, even if everything was static and never changed, which it isn't and it does.

Now that I think of it, there's a *third* thing that kills me, and it's... well, maybe I'd better stop now.

Oh, I can't stand it. The third thing that kills me is that we can even function at all.

No comments: