Friday, October 07, 2011

On the Death of Steve Jobs

When news broke the other evening that computer overlord Apple visionary Steve Jobs had died, Moose quickly posted to Facebook:
RIP Steve Jobs. I think we should all go out on our porches and hold our iPhones up to the sky.
Thus, she was pleased to stumble across this photo on the New York Times website:

(Photo Credit: Tomohiro Ohsumi, Bloomberg News, via.)

She was also for some reason deeply moved to read that among the memorial tributes being left to Jobs outside his Palo Alto, CA home were a pile of apples with one strategically removed bite. Sometimes, only metonymy will do. (At least we think that's what the gesture is, rhetorically speaking. That part of our brains is a little rusty, but our highly capable research assistant Wik E. Pedia seems to agree with us on this point.) Bonus bit of poignancy: Jobs died at the height of apple season. There's a lot of apple eating going on. Every crunchy bite is, by a postmodern logic of transubstantiation through branding, a way of remembering Him.

Please note: We're not being sacrilegious or snarky, kids. This post is being typed on a MacBook Pro. This humble blog is full of images snapped on an iPhone 3G that will soon be replaced by an iPhone 4S that Moose has decided to buy as a way of saying, "Apple, we still believe. Also, dammit, we want to have a voice assistant and a video camera in our back pockets at all times."

My typist suspects she might never have become a blogger had Apple products not totally transformed her relationship to technology. The computer was nothing more than a glorified and often baffling typewriter until the day Goose brought a new Mac home from school and gave Moose permission to play with it while she went off to take a shower. Twenty minutes later, Moose had made her first iPhoto slideshow. That was the day she became a Mac person, having experienced for herself what folks meant when they rhapsodized about how intuitive the machines were and how perfect they were for working with images. In less than twenty minutes, she got it and has never looked back.

Our good friend Cathy Davidson offers a marvelous tribute to Jobs that also acknowledges the dark side of the company he built: the shut-down nature of its products, its dependence on sweatshop labor to produce all those shiny, happy toys. It's important to acknowledge that dark side, even as we celebrate the creativity and connectivity Jobs both embodied and enabled. Davidson ends her post with a quotation from Jobs' famous Stanford commencement address. There's a reason the 2005 speech is famous, and we can't think of a better way to conclude these too brief remarks on a guy who transformed the world and left it far too soon:
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure -- these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
You are already naked: Indeed, you are, my pretties, and time is short. Carpe diem -- and, for dog's sake, have an Apple today.

1 comment:

  1. Transubstantiation through branding . . . . evokes for me the ghost in the machine in a connected way that I don't have time to unravel further . . . Nice post here, though. I'm always all for ambiguity and double-edged blades.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.