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After Steve

Yes, we too would be lost without our Apples.

By these means we have bitten into the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We are changed.

The question’s being asked, who can take the place of Steve Jobs? I guess the answer has to be no one and everyone.

David Pogue says in his eulogy: “Suppose, by some miracle, that some kid in a garage somewhere at this moment possesses the marketing, invention, business and design skills of a Steve Jobs. What are the odds that that same person will be comfortable enough — or maybe uncomfortable enough — to swim upstream, against the currents of social, economic and technological norms, all in pursuit of an unshakable vision?

Zero. The odds are zero.”

In fact such multi-talented individuals aren’t uncommon; I know more than a handful. Uncommon is the person who develops and fulfils those talents and capacities and brings something of beauty into being; who brushes aside the extraneous, and flies quick and true toward the goal s/he has set for her/himself. Whether it be caring for children, setting up a business, creating a garden or tidying a bedroom, most of us sigh and prevaricate, look around and dabble instead of doing this One Thing Well.

There’s a groundswell these days, of talk, dreaming, experimenting and reaching for the concept of the ‘possible human’,  which is to say the apparently impossible human who leads a life of high endeavour. The concept might have replaced contentment as the ideal state. (Although, I like to think that contentment and aspiration can walk hand in hand.)

Hundreds of books have been written about this; thousands of websites offer methods and courses for ‘neuro-linguistic programming’, ‘quantum jumping’, ‘integrated enlightenment’, and most of us know that we’re here not to live by rote but to apply ourselves to discerning and following the impulses that arise uniquely in each of us. We do this not for our own sake alone.

There was only one Steve Jobs.

But there are millions of us. We each have at least one particular strength. Many have potent visions. Surely it’s best now if we look not for one person to save us, but find ways to put ourselves together; seek complementary components amongst our friends, colleagues and cyber-groups. Become the greatest human invention of all: a living web of affinities and abilities. Such is the vision that Steve Jobs and his kin have ushered, wittingly or not, into the realm of human imagination, and therefore of possibility.

7 replies on “After Steve”

Thanks for that, Claire. I admit I have plenty to learn yet, relaxing my grip on hard-won individualism as a modus operandi, and letting others play their part in ‘my’ show.

Having come to this post belatedly – after avoiding Steve Jobs eulogies, because I wondered what use they were – I shout a big loud “yes!” to your “living web of affinities and abilities”. Your words, sentences and paragraphs are inspiring! Thank you.

If the Datawind tablets are any good, and open new vistas for the poor, that’s laudable — wonderful. But there would be no such thing if Apple hadn’t shown the way — hadn’t cracked the hard questions that others had failed to.

In the end the world needs people who lead the way, and set the bar, and demand fearsomely high standards. Committees and collaborations get you only so far (which is why, so far, the Linux computer operating system has failed to take the world by storm).

If I used the word ‘furiously’ it was because I thought Isabel’s comment was a cheap shot. Saying Jobs was famous because he was rich is like saying Charlie Chaplin was famous because he wore a bowler hat. It entirely misses the point.

Thanks, Isabel. “Furiously”, Hugh? I didn’t know that about his income — I guess he had plenty of interest to go on with. But I don’t think he’s being diminished here. However, I imagine that for many in India just now, their greater heroes might be the folk at Datawind who have created the Aakash or Sky tablet computer that will sell for 30 pounds a pop and take online those who might otherwise have little hope of it.

I’m going to disagree furiously with Isabel. Jobs was not famous for making money. Perhaps to make the point, he took a salary of $1 per year for the last 14 years (even if that wasn’t the end of the remuneration story).

Surely it needn’t cheapen admiration for Desmond Tutu to celebrate the greatness of Steve Jobs, and his legacy which, as Penelope says, is to inspire and empower others — and never to settle for pat ideas.

Great truth and insight Penelope.
Jobs was a remarkable man but I wonder how much of the adulation is because he was successful in business (making money – the religion of our time)? There are many other extraordinary humans (Desmond Tutu comes to mind immediately) who contribute to our lives. And as you so rightly say, we can all live larger lives – sometimes simply by paying attention.
Great post. Isabel x

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