I've been thinking a lot about technology and about our digital lives. As a lover of the humanities, I've always felt some kind of responsibility to protect things like paper, pens, books. Like there should be some of us that aggressively disdain products and practices that usurp nostalgic creativity. So when I started taking design and internet rhetoric classes at school, and decided to start this blog, and even got a job writing for an online audience, it seemed like I was betraying my people and some great communal cause.
I'll tell you something--I believe in progression. I think this digital age has done more for art, creativity, and human-ness than we really know. I think technology is an astounding tool for the artist.
And so, Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography was a kind of revelation. A really fabulous read, at least. Honestly, I can't say that I respect Steve Jobs entirely--he was rough and even cruel (as we all can be, of course). But I also admire his vision, his taste, his intensity, and his loyalty to family. My contradicting feelings are just what the author intended I think--Isaacson wrote a brilliantly balanced account of an incredibly interesting life. I loved reading about a man (and his projects) that shaped our culture and changed modern human communication.
A few of my favorite parts (from Jobs himself):
"Edwin Land of Polaroid talked about the intersection of the humanities and science. I like that intersection. There's something magical about that place. ... The reason Apple resonates with people is that there's a deep current of humanity in our innovation. I think great artists and great engineers are similar, in that they both have a desire to express themselves. In fact some of the best people working on the original Mac were poets and musicians on the side. In the seventies computers became a way for people to express their creativity. Great artists like Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo were also great at science. Michelangelo knew a lot about how to quarry stone, not just how to be a sculptor."
"What drove me? I think most creative people want to express appreciation for being able to take advantage for the work that's been done by others before us. I didn't invent the language or mathematics I use. I make little of my own food, none of my own clothes. Everything I do depends on other members of our species and the shoulders that we stand on. And a lot of us want to contribute something back to our species and to add something to the flow. It's about trying to express something in the only way that most of us know how--because we can't write Bob Dylan songs or Tom Stoppard plays. We try to use the talents we do have to express our deep feelings, to show our appreciation of all the contributions that came before us, and to add something to that flow. That's what has driven me."
To his wife, Laurene, on their 20th wedding anniversary:
"We didn't know much about each other twenty years ago. We were guided by our intuition; you swept me off my feet. It was snowing when we got married at the Ahwahnee. Years passed, kids came, good times, hard times, but never bad times. Our love and respect has endured and grown. We've been through so much together and here we are right back where we started 20 years ago--older, wiser--with wrinkles on our faces and hearts. We now know many of life's joys, sufferings, secrets and wonders and we're still here together. My feet have never returned to the ground."