John Lockman's Reviews > Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
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Roman Generals returning from victory were obliged to have their slave follow close by whispering in their ear “momento mori” – “ remember your mortality.”

Donald trump should have an apprentice remind him that his hair will one day fall out.

Mickie Mantle, whose father died young as a lead minor in Oklahoma was fearful of losing his own life which drove him to great athleticism. He was willing to play through unimaginable pain coupled by reckless and self destructive behavior, having been found once in the winter of his prime, face down in the gutter in New York outside a bar he had been thrown out of.

The Entertainment mogul in the beginning of the 20th century, William Randolph Hearst, controlled the thoughts of readers who subscribed to his publishing empire from a vast and sprawling castle in San Simone on the coast of Central California. A hundred years later not far to the north in Cupertino, the Entertainment mogul of the 21st century, Steve Jobs, captivated almost every internet user's experience while living in a home of almost deprived of furniture in Cupertino. Jobs was the largest single shareholder of Disney and CEO of the largest capitalized company in the world. At one point it looked like Apple would rake in 30% profit on almost all music sales.

But rules that us mortals are bound to just did not apply to him.

His vintage Mercedes sported no license plates. One time after getting ticketed for speeding 100 mph he proceeded to get back in his car and continued driving at the same high speed.

If he could have only had a slave whisper in his ear
Momento Mori Mercedes or Macintosh?

But this fear of death spawning severe narcissism had a downside. Jobs was known to “geeksnipe” engineers who presented their designs to him after months of toiling through 100 hour weeks declaring that the work sucked or was “shit” then presenting these same ideas as his own in conferences or development meeting shortly afterwards. This was documented in the uncontested biography by Walter Issacson Steve Jobs. Yaego warns us in Othello: “He who steals my purse steals nothing twas mine twas his a slave to a thousand, but he who filths me my good name makes me a poor man indeed.”

In 1984, Jobs, the consummate entertainer, made the iconoclast super bowl presentation of the female Olympian smashing the image of big brother (IBM and later Microsoft) in front of a crowd of sycophantic followers in attempt to lure them toward Macintosh, his answer to the budding personal computer industry. Steve Jobs played the underdog well but he struggled with the humility required when playing the role of over lord. When he finally became the ruler in heaven, having been the irrelevant servant in the personal computing space for so long, he bristled at the idea of replacing arrogance with humility, unlike most icons of industry who like his less charismatic and mundane rival, Bill Gates who directed his energies and wealth toward philanthropies after unbridled success . Today Apple has arguably emerged as big brother controlling if not our thoughts, at least a big part of our purse strings. As we “Turn on,Tune in to our iphones or ipads and drop out.”

My grandfather who made a prosperous living selling sewing machines during the depression always warned me “Uneasy lies the head that carries the crown.”

Karma and the whispering of grim slaves have a way of catching
up to everyone including “Zenabees” of technology like Jobs. Even at 50, after a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, instead of becoming more in-tuned to the Zen simplicity that graced the Apple design revolution, Jobs became more ruthless and driven than ever. He neglected his own daughters in deference to his only son as Apple came under investigation by the Security Exchange Commission for his failure to accurately divulge the health and medical condition of a CEO of a publicly traded company. Once again he was in denial of his own mortality at the expense of stockholders. At the age of 55 he was as dead as the imac – the now obsolete personal computer embodying Zen Buddhism that at one time populated the classrooms across our fruited plains.

Don't we all aspire to greatness, but what at what cost? Having read about Steve Jobs who was adopted as a baby and struggled with abandonment issues his entire life, it reminds me of the great movie Citizen Kane, alleged to be based on the life of William Randolph Hearst. Charles Foster Kane who on his deathbed pleaded for his sled, Rosebud, which he was forced to abandon in his youth as he was taken away for adoption. At the end of his life, I wonder what was it that Steve Jobs pleaded for?


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Reading Progress

Started Reading
April 8, 2012 – Finished Reading
April 16, 2012 – Shelved

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