Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Take a bow, Steve.

Oh man. It's been a few days now since the Mac maestro went on to the great circuit board in the sky, and I'm still depressed about it. I've been waiting to not be depressed so I can reflect without any sappy or silly sentiment. But I've still yet to break the bummed state. Maybe it's because I'm sitting here typing on the greatest laptop computer ever designed by a member of the human race. A computer that I used, only two months ago, to write a play using a screenwriting program that I downloaded off of the app store.

Maybe it's because I've just updated to iOS 5 on the techno-miracle that is the iPhone and I just finished watching The Incredibles for the 13th time and someday, I can't wait to introduce my little girl to Buzz Lightyear. And I've got Jobs to thank for that.

That's why I'm depressed, I guess...

Or maybe it's because for the past 15 years I've been a huge mac fan. Not just because they make great products, but since I found out that the company was turned around by one man's vision and creativity. That kind of stuff inspires me. And every year after his first year back at Apple's helm, Steve put out something that pretty much that made me guiltlessly happy, (whatever that word means) even for the briefest of moments. If it wasn't some new film editing software or music editing software it was a new Pixar film. Steve was a real friend to the poor artist. Being that consistently brilliant and innovate on an immense scale and somehow not managing to screw up the world? That's not a gift that a lot of people have.

I think that's why comparisons to Walt Disney and Barnum are being made. Like these two great men, Steve was a magician and entertainer of sorts. But he was also a bunch of paradoxes. He was a giant personality that lived to connect people but he also preferred solitude. He was a billionaire that lived in a huge house... with no furniture, until he got married. He was a computer nerd but he had a flare for aesthetics. He dared to think that efficiency and beauty could produce a dynamo synergy in technology.

I'm also bummed because I know that without vision, the people perish. That means that in about 5 years, Job's ideas will dry up and Apple will start its slow decline into money-controlled-and-motivated mediocrity. It stayed great because Jobs believed in his people and he was also hard on them. We live in an age of entitlement. People want to hear that they are a genius and that whatever they produce needs no improvement. Steve Jobs said that his job wasn't to tell people how great they were. His job was to take a bunch of really great and talented people and get them to make something better than they thought was possible.

I'm also sad because about 5 years ago, I watched his Stanford address, before everyone knew about it and it only had about 300,000 youtube hits, and though I didn't agree with some of the philosophies, that talk sort of set me on a new course:Yeah, I guess you could say that it influenced my life. Again, not something that's happened to me very often.

Alright, by now, some might read this and say that I'm a big cornball or a big softy. I didn't even know the guy personally. Whatever, I still believe in a world where a single person, however imperfect, can inspire someone. And not just the the people the come from nothing, with no particularly great gift, or the firemen who risk their lives to save others. Those are inspiring heroes for sure and we owe so very much to all the ordinary heroes that pass us on the street every day.

I'm talking about the ones that are born geniuses and achieve the greater task of turning that genius toward the good of man and sharing it with all their might, rather than turning inward and bitter and angry and then move to the mountains and start mailing people bombs. Yes, sadly, many times it doesn't work out as well for the creative genius as it did for Jobs. Besides the Unibomber, have a look at Bobby Fisher: The man died a rancid old bigot, running from the US government for Tax evasion. Probably the greatest chess genius that ever lived. Died a nasty old, foul-mouthed anti-semite with a thousand more chess matches in him.

Yes, I know Jobs was no Saint and yes I've seen that little Facebook add that tells me that that millions die every day and there is no fanfare for them. But that doesn't mean that one cannot be saddened by the death of someone that you really admired. Jobs died an early and terrible and painful death. Painful for him and, I'm sure, painful for his family.

I suppose I'm sentimental enough to say that Jobs was, in a way, a hero of mine. It's hard to say exactly how, but I'm okay with that and I could give a crap if someone thinks that's dumb. Our world is too iconoclastic as it is. We live to rip people apart to feel better about ourselves. In the end, Steve Jobs left the world trying to make it a brighter and better place. He left it too soon, and we'll never see that next technological symphony, and I think in the end, selfishly, that's what really makes me sad.