Thursday, October 22, 2015

a potentially ironic observation from Charles Mudede about America's fascination with jerks who are considered geniuses while writing about the movies being made about Steve Jobs
All of these encounters and the constant conversations, however, go nowhere and reveal little of any value about Jobs, his society, or his times. Despite dealing with a man who was seen by many (himself especially) as an Einstein-caliber genius, the film lacks a big picture. All that happens is a rich man falls and rises and, in the end, gets a little closer to his daughter. I'd almost rather watch a Mac commercial
Before I end this review, I need to say a few words about the one interesting facet of this generally uninteresting film: the complete absence of Jobs's wife, Laurene Powell Jobs, and their three children. Why exclude them? I think because they don't contribute to his myth, while his out-of-wedlock daughter, Lisa, does. There are two sides to the Jobs mythos: the prophet and the asshole. These parts, however, are not in conflict; they complement and reinforce each other.

The mutualism of the two myths, I must admit, is something I failed to fully appreciate in my favorable review of the super-damning documentary Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, which was released late this summer. I actually (and even naively) thought the hard fact that Jobs was an asshole contradicted and even diminished the mythical power of Jobs-the-prophet. But in fact, Jobs-the-asshole also has considerable and even positive mythic power.

Jobs was mean to poor little Lisa, he said awful things to her, he repeatedly shamed her mother and forced them into the welfare line while he was worth millions. Though all of this is quite true, it is still the stuff of legend. And there is a part of us that strongly believes that shit in this world does not get done without big assholes to do it. What I should have attacked in my last review is not Jobs's world-class assholisms but the fact that the world believes it needs them

There's at least a potential irony in that Mudede wrote this review for The Stranger. eh? 

This reminds me of stuff I've been thinking about a lot this year and the last few years.  Maybe some of you read that little haiku that goes

heroes are monsters
whose use for their cause outweighs
observable vice

If Steve Jobs were the Apple desktop sized iteration of this theme then maybe Mark Driscoll was the microchip sized iteration of this theme, a sort of Steve Jobs aspirational meme write microscopic.

It's not a new thing, Mudede's observation. He probably knows the Lord Acton quote about how great men are rarely ever good men already. Although Jesus is recorded in the synoptics and in John as formulating a different definition of what greatness is that doesn't mean that even the people who call themselves Christians want lives defined by that working definition of greatness.


chris e said...

This reminds me of the Mule character in the Foundation series - someone with telepathic/mind control powers who could get extraordinary powers out of ordinary people by essentially 'overclocking' their minds (with the associated burn out that that entails).

ISTM that some of the great people have been have arseholes; either 'unintentionally' via a monomaniacal focus, or just by having some borderline or real sociopathic tendencies. Conversely, some people with more modest gifts have tended to try to run the equation the other way around (often by a kind of exculpatory reasoning) - think of the delusional medieval Lord. In the media age, this can actually succeed, as for a certain period of time the narrative created by ones tendencies to being an arsehole can inflate - Mule like - the value of ones gifts (here think of Gadaffi's Green Book, or juche), it can work even better if one owns ones own printing press (Berlusconi).

To a large extent their successes depend on a culture of people willing to buy into the delusion. At its peak this worked rather better for Driscoll than the Mullah of Moscow.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

You've probably seen the proposal I made that over 15 years the gap between Mark Driscoll's blue collar persona and the white collar aspirations reached a fracture point. Purely informally I'm noticing former MH people become more progressively sympathetic to progressive causes.

I think progressives may have misunderstood the gap between what they thought Driscoll was pitching and what people who actually joined Mars Hill thought Driscoll and the others were pitching. It may be a missed opportunity because it was never going to be but it's been interesting to see in the wind down of MH that some former members have become more sympathetic to progressive causes. They haven't become doctrinal liberals as such (see the other post about Pope Francis and the distinction Saletan made between a liberal and a progressive), it's that Driscoll over time lost face and the working class sympathies of people who were loyal to him in the past may now shift to progressive sympathies. I'm not suggesting that people at MH turned on Driscoll because they were necessarily liberal at all, but that Driscoll's credibility crisis may make Seattle a semi-burned over district with former members more open to progressive causes than they would otherwise be if Driscoll hadn't flushed his credibility down the toilet.