A year ago, in the evening hours of October 5th, I found myself doing something I’m rarely inclined to do: spending the remains of the day watching TV, and its coverage of a single event. That event was, of course, the death of Steve Jobs, and I managed to turn away only long enough to count the number of Apple devices, obsolete and current, that dotted the landscape of my household: 15. That obscene number may or may not be a statement about American consumerism, but it most definitely is a testament to Steve Jobs’ penchant for making objects that appealed equally to the two occupants of my home—one of whom valued form above everything, and the other for whom function was all.
Who, I wondered, would ever be able to create a product, any product, that we both loved with this kind of ardor? Steve Jobs was, not surprisingly, a complicated man, both great and awful, capable of incomparable vision and shocking lapses in judgement, who saw some things with singular clarity and others with no benefit whatsoever of wisdom. To have been his mother or wife or daughter, I’ll bet, was not much fun. But for the rest of us, Steve Jobs was nothing, if not fun. The obsessions, quirks and eccentricities, maddening to those who knew him, were so artfully expressed in the things he gave us, things so magical in their purity, it’s no wonder we can’t bear to let them go even after obsolescence has set in. No wonder, as the eulogies came pouring in that night, we couldn’t bear to see him, too, go.