Tom Junod on Steve Jobs

Tom Junod muses about Steve Jobs' mortality in the latest issue of Esquire. Some highlights:
"It's almost like all the products are his own appearance," says Steve Wozniak, the guy who built the first Apple computer in the garage of the house where Jobs grew up in Cupertino, California.
It is true that his cancer, originating not in the ductwork of the pancreas but rather in the islets of Langerhans, is slow growing and, in the words of one expert, can be addressed "with curative intent"; it is also true that even after surgery, the average patient lives about five years.
And now that he has drawn undeniably closer to the day that has given all his other days their urgency -- now that the face staring back in the mirror has lost its shiny-haired California glamour and has taken on the frank rapacity of an old Arab trader -- it's worth asking what the pressure of continual existential awareness has done to him.
That's just Page 1. Steve Jobs and the Portal to the Invisible [Esquire] PreviouslyInside Steve's Brain Slices: Marvin Battelle on the Thinness of Mac
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11 Responses to Tom Junod on Steve Jobs

  1. Halloween Jack says:

    In other news, Junod’s prose still shades beyond purple, well into the ultraviolet. For example:

    “now that the face staring back in the mirror has lost its shiny-haired California glamour and has taken on the frank rapacity of an old Arab trader”

    I hate to call racist on anyone, but FFS.

    • Joel Johnson says:

      I’ve been thinking about that line for a solid day, Jack. I just don’t know how I feel about it. It’s racist, sure — or at best stereotypical — but it seems really right on, not just in the visual image it conjures, but in the hawk-eyed metaphor it evokes.

      Humorously, I think he manages to slide it by with the inclusion of “old”. If he’d just said “frank rapacity of an Arab trader” I don’t think I’d be so inclined to give it a pass.

      And Junod may be purple, but it’s not just gloss. I think it’s one of the best profiles of Jobs I’ve ever read. The insight about Jobs’ pat dismissal of the Kindle in light of his sister’s novel is wicked sharp.

  2. Halloween Jack says:

    Wait-wait-wait… Jobs dismissed the Kindle because of Mona Simpson? Who is “an eminent American novelist”? Good grief. I knew that Jobs was pissed at her after her roman a clef about him, but he’s always been dismissive of things that didn’t fit his design philosophy du jour, whether it was slots for the original Mac or floppy disc readers for the NeXT or whatever.

    I’m just imagining running into Junod at some event and casually mentioning that I don’t like circus peanuts, and his insisting that I must have been touched by a clown in a swimsuit area.

    • Joel Johnson says:

      No, that’s not his point. His point is that when even his sister is a novelist he has no compunction dismissing reading as an activity.

  3. Gainclone says:

    I enjoyed this article, and it did have some interesting things to say. It was a bit… epic. But that’s OK. Articles about technology are allowed to be Homeric at times.

    It also did a fairly good job of describing the part of the internet I find myself taking for granted. The out-of-body, global connectedness that, when you think about it, is really strange. Completely unnatural. It’s a brain made out of brains, and so many ACTUAL HUMAN PEOPLE are inside it. But physically apart. The internet is the stuff of science fiction. It’s huge, full of space, full of stuff. And when you detach yourself from it to think about it, it seems sinister to me. But then I roll up my chair again, and type this text, and return to that comfort that I’ve known for almost my entire life.

    Won’t it be cool when we don’t need our hands and eyes to use the web? When our brains can control our digital actions as well as our physical ones?

  4. rick_random777 says:

    “wank on about” – that was the phrase I was looking for!

  5. OM says:

    “”It’s almost like all the products are his own appearance,” says Steve Wozniak, “

    …And when you consider how long the Mac sported B&W monitors, it’s also his own physical disabilities that enter into it.

    If Woz went back and took over (cr)Apple, I’d actually consider buying one again, which I haven’t done since the ][E…

  6. Secret_Life_of_Plants says:

    I thought that was a great article, but Junod has a very Americanized idea of Buddhism.

  7. rick_random777 says:

    Anything about SJ is usually interesting, but I lost the will to read about half way through the first page there. Sentences like:

    There are many people, children and adults, who are happy they are adopted; there are, however, none who chose, as infants, to be adopted. It is the greatest loss of control a human being can experience, at the youngest possible age, and control is consequently what a lot of adopted children crave as much as they crave love . . . even as a basis for love.

    make me throw up in my mouth a little.

    Oh, and by the way, can anything be done to get that smug beardy bastard ‘cultural engineer’ Dave Stewart off the site? He makes me throw up in my mouth a little too. Actually, quite a lot.

  8. dculberson says:

    The article was pretty cool, but sort of fell apart a bit at the end for me. The app store isn’t that much different from third party software that’s always been available for Macintosh hardware. Sure, it’s divergent from what the initial public intent for the iPhone was, but Apple always keeps things under wraps until they’re public. And writing software doesn’t feel like people using a computing device for more than what the creator intended.

    It just felt like the author grasping at straws, building up something that wasn’t that big of a deal. The only outside quote that said it was tough for Jobs was was actually the iFund and not the App Store. Obviously I could be wrong, but that’s just how that part of the article felt. Maybe the author was a bit too intent on finding a business metaphor for Job’s illness.

  9. muteboy says:

    “muses about”? “wanks on about” more like. And seconded – get rid of Dave Stewart.

    Monday morning snark. Forgive.

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