Monday, September 29, 2008

Steve Jobs and the Portal to the Invisible - Esquire:

The thing is, nobody should have been surprised. Steve Jobs has been saying that Steve Jobs is dying for years. From the beginning, death has been the hellhound on his trail; from the beginning, he has based his claim on immortality on the knowledge that he isn't going to make it. In the commencement speech he gave to the graduates of Stanford University a year after his cancer surgery, he diagnosed himself as "fine now," and hopeful to live "a few more decades." At the same time, he spoke of death as though it were a new Apple product -- that is, as "very likely the single best invention of life." He said that since he was seventeen, "I've looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I'm about to do today?"

Okay, people say things like that all the time in commencement speeches. But there's no doubt Jobs meant it; he has spoken this way often and since he was a young man, and his awareness of mortality has informed not just his life but every product his company has ever made. The aesthetics that he has demanded of his machines are not the frippery of corporate identity; they are the aesthetics he's demanded of himself. They are a response to something -- something deeply personal -- which is why they remain mysterious and impossible to duplicate.

3:50 PM