Saturday 11 August 2012

Steve Jobs - a genius? Probably... but what kind of genius?


Having read this thoughtful review of the biography of Steve Jobs

provokes further thought on the nature of genius.


Jobs certainly had the kind of psychology characteristic of a potential genius

and his personal contribution seems clear, so the answer is yes - Jobs was a genius...


And Jobs was a genius of something difficult - the fusion of revived modernist design with user-friendliness, and convenience, and snobbery...

But a genius of something that did not need to be done, and indeed something about which it could be said, it would have been better if it had not been done.

Insofar as Apple Macintosh has done net harm to the world, by its amplification of novelty-seeking distraction to a anti-art form (modernist 'art' being anti-art), then Jobs was an evil genius.

(Apple-mania is a defining trait of the ruling elite, is utterly characteristic of the ruling elite, and amplifies the typical traits of the ruling elite - so the evaluation of Apple is an evaluation of the validity of the ruling elite; its characteristic motivations, beliefs, behaviours and methods.)

But yeah - Jobs was a genius, has all the hallmarks.



Crosbie said...

You have probably read this, but Moldbug deserves quoting:

"When, in the third millennium, we meet an Able-man - to what work do we set him? To building toys. Gewgaws, gadgets, pretty beads for department-store Indians."

Thos. Carlyle on Steve Jobs

dearieme said...

Jobs schmobs.

Why did the prose lists overlook Conrad?

Bruce Charlton said...


Yes - I will have read that when it was posted - MM always had insightful things to say about Jobs.

@d - Well I don't believe that Conrad is a candidate for second best prose writer after Shakespeare, because pretty much the only people who read him are those forced to do so by their teachers.

But Conrad was one of the five Great Tradition novelists defined by FR Leavis and his disciples and deployed via 100s of Leavisite school and college teachers throughout the 1950s-70s - the others were Conrad, Jane Austen, George Eliot and Henry James - and Leavis later added DH Lawrence to the list.

It is my impression that all of these have declined in repuation a lot in the past 25 years (especially DHL - was was the single most popular highbrow novelist right up into the late 1980s) except of course for Miss Austen, who has risen and risen.

dearieme said...

Good old Leavis: as I may have told you, it was his lunatic praise for Lawrence that helped save me from doing a degree in English.

My mother was very sound on Lawrence: she passed me Lady Chatterley's Lover saying "I'll bet you can't finish it". That's what I call Lit Crit.

Thordaddy said...

It is also interesting that the Apple logo is a rainbow striped apple with one bite out of its "flesh."

It's like Steve Jobs was telling us he was an evil genius.

The "color of life" is to come eye to eye with evil as we bite into that apple of knowledge.

Wasn't this the first "liberated" act?