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An ode to steve Jobs


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Portrait of the Artist As A, Still, Young Everyman

"The play is the allegorical accounting of the life of Everyman, who represents all mankind. In the course of the action, Everyman tries to convince other characters to accompany him in the hope of improving his account."

It may seem strange to liken the late Steve Jobs to the allegorically anonymous person ever-striving in the medieval anonymous morality play known as The Summoning of Everyman, strange to many, perhaps, but not Steve Jobs.

The fittingly magical elegy delivered by his artistic literal kinsman, Mona Simpson, captures best the wandering wonderment that spearheaded his universally inspirational character. Orphaned yet electronically related to an extended family of millions -- nay, billions -- of people, he was, and remains, our collective postmodern Everyman.

I choose to believe, after having viewed his Stanford commencement address frequently both before and after his demise, that his adopted credo, "Stay hungry, stay foolish", was the very template of his quest for that which is necessarily almost unobtainable, fully: Beauty.

After contemplating the poignant elegy penned by his sister, I thought of another savant who died too soon, someone I imagine Mr. Jobs must have admired -- John Keats. Perhaps presaging Jobs' deep and timeless insights of design and function, it was Keats who counseled him (and us) wisely that beauty and truth were interchangeable, and are all we needed to know, at least on Earth. Both had no advantages from family, wealth or education; Keats lost his parents in childhood, while, it may be said, Jobs parents 'lost' him.

These words, taken from an incisive website (linked below) put it well:

"It is both touching and awe-inspiring to take stock of his ambition -- and to realize how often, against impossible odds, he claimed victory. In our own time as well, it is useful to note that Keats never attended a creative writing class nor a poetry seminar; he was never taught how to write poetry, just as his hero Shakespeare never attended a play-writing course. The word 'genius' is used very casually these days, but it is a precious and rare commodity. Keats possessed it, that spark of intuition and imagination which made his work immortal."

And, like Keats, the sublime, tremblingly awestruck chronicler of nature, Jobs saw the beautiful and, therefore, deceptively simple way of Nature.

And, so, in that seemingly final way that great work may make one immortal, it seems altogether 'natural' that both these energetic and immortal entities are at work, Keats inspiring such others as may read his excellent words upon some device operated by another mode of the ode, the electron, that (m)ode of which Jobs was/is the master.

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Updated May 6, 2017 6:00 AM EDT | More details

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