The Man In the Machine

In Japan, there’s an idea called “mono no aware,” meaning “the deep awareness of things.” It celebrates the melancholy of the passing of life and sees more beauty in the fallen leaf than the one on the branch.

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Maybe that’s what Japan held for Jobs…

The sadness of the soul, as expressed in the beauty of things.

In the end, I was left with the same question, with which I began this journey…

“Why did so many strangers weep for Steve Jobs?”

It’s too simple to say, it was because he gave us products we love, without asking why we love them the way we do.

It’s too simple even to conclude that we love them, because they connect us to a wider world, and the people in our lives that are far away, because these machines isolate us, too.

Perhaps the contradictory nature, of our experience with these gadgets, mirrors the contradictions in Jobs himself.

He was an artist who sought perfection, but could never find peace.

He had the focus of a monk, but none of the empathy.

He offered us freedom, but only within a closed garden, to which he held the key.

To reconcile these contradictions, I think we have to look to the other half of our relationship with Jobs…to ourselves.

As Jobs wanted it, the screen of my iPhone is dark…A Zen landscape of the unseen.

If I stare into it, I see an obscure reflection of myself. But this impression lasts just a fleeting moment, before I press the home key and the screen lights up.

But perhaps I should spend a moment, regarding that reflection, asking myself what, in buying and using this product, I am doing?

What is the full nature of my transaction with the maker of this magical and intimate machine?

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Sheena Shih

Sheena Shih

Be a kid, be kind, be curious

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