Thursday, September 03, 2015
HT Atlantic: on Steve Jobs as the defining idol of our tmes
There is, in this SEC interview of the CEO of the one of the world’s most powerful companies, a distinctly pouting petulance. And that somehow puts everything else—the betrayals, the bullying, the blithely self-centric worldview—into human perspective. Jobs was, maybe, a Great Man who was also, in many ways, a small child: self-absorbed and desperate to please, those two things not contradicting but instead, in ways productive and not, informing each other.
Does any of that matter, in the end? Was Einstein, too, something of a man-child? Would Edison, when questioned and challenged, have tucked up his legs in a silent, sulking tantrum? We don’t really know, mostly because these Great Men did their Great Things in the age before video, before social media, before depositions and the documentaries that convert their proceedings into media. They lived in a time that afforded people the luxury of being remembered, and defined, for the What of their lives rather than the Who. Steve Jobs did not have that luck. He lived in a time—we live in a time—when a new holism is being brought to bear on history, when our assessments of our heroes can take into account not just their achievements, but their smaller, human-scaled contributions. We live in an age of complicated idolatry. The irony is that we do so, in large part, because of Steve Jobs. [emphasis added]