Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Jobs Factor

I just hope that buying a MacBook won’t turn me into an iPrick.

Charlie Booker, The Guardian, Feb 1, 2010

One gets giddy just hearing it, let alone reading the gushing material.  There are the camped queues, the nerd proselytes, the apps mongers and ‘fanboys’.  The cult of Apple, the cult of chic, and the fashionable.  The passing of Steve Jobs, innovator extraordinaire and High Priest of Macintosh, has dismayed his followers.  Are we too far gone on the hedonistic treadmill, iPhone in hand, iPad! at the ready, to make sense of it?  When marketing can be seen to be a genius in itself – when the unnecessary is packaged as necessary (fancy more ‘apps’, redundant, missing or otherwise anyone?) then we must all, whether we know it or not, have joined the Apple Cult.

It all began in 1976 when Jobs founded the company.  It did not take too long before Apple came to be identified with a religion in a way that was somewhat different to Microsoft.  The Mac, mused the Italian scholar and semiologist Umberto Eco in a September 1994 issue of the Italian news weekly Espresso, was Catholic.  Microsoft, he suggested, was Protestant – not all will make the grade and pass the heavenly gates, for the tormented user had to master the technical aspect of the program, often with manuals the size of doorstoppers.  Apple’s Catholicism had, on the other hand, a message ‘cheerful, friendly, conciliatory, it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach – if not the Kingdom of Heaven – the moment in which their document is printed.’

The PC is seen as the stubborn workman of the show, the satanic, dull, profit making orthodoxy, the industrial, the Apple as something unconventional, artistic, charming and even gorgeous.  If you don’t want to work, and the playing mood is approaching, then Apple is your thing, in all its Baroque splendour, its intoxicating incense.  The cult of Apple is itself the genius of Jobs, because the technology ceased to be the tool, but instead became vested with something of an animist spirit, a means of enchantment.

With a religious narrative, a company like Apple becomes immune to penetrating analysis.  Individuals such as consumer behaviourist Russell Belk have made Mac religion a study (Wired, Dec 5, 2002).  Problems with the product are conveniently bypassed.  Failures such as the Lisa and Apple III are seen as failures of the overly ambitious mind, the supreme optimist. ‘Give the followers some time – they will see the light.’  Eventually, financial disasters will be overcome, and resurrection shall take place.  Besides, deities are infallible.

Charlie Brooker in the Guardian (Feb 1, 2010) put it rather well when the iPad was released.  ‘Apple excels at taking existing concepts – computers, MP3 players, conceit – and carefully streamlining them into glistening ergonomic chunks of concentrated aspiration.’  And what conceit it is – laptop meeting the coffee table (MacBook) and iPhone meeting the MacBook in turn to give us this a slim pad.

The cult of Apple has caused some to feel queasy.  But that does not stop people from mourning the passing of the ascetic high priest that was Steve Jobs.  ‘I’ve spent the better part of the last decade railing against Apple and its cult-like following’, writes Aneurin Bosley in the Toronto Star (Oct 6) ‘but now that Steve Jobs has died I feel nothing but sorrow.’  His memories of the Apple Ille he got in 1983 were vivid.  As were those of Jobs being insufferable on his return to Apple in 1997, making remarkable, sometimes bizarre decisions- the sudden removal of the arrow keys on a keyboard or the building of impractical USB ports.

Eventually, any cult of personality must produce its heavy-laden distortions. Followers are never attractive however persecuted, nor are obsessions. But Jobs was always there with the innovative slant, a hipster with technology, one might even say a rogue of the computer set. ‘Why join the navy,’ he intoned, ‘when you can be a pirate?’

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

More articles by:

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

May 23, 2018
Nick Pemberton
Maduro’s Win: A Bright Spot in Dark Times
Ben Debney
A Faustian Bargain with the Climate Crisis
Deepak Tripathi
A Bloody Hot Summer in Gaza: Parallels With Sharpeville, Soweto and Jallianwala Bagh
Farhang Jahanpour
Pompeo’s Outrageous Speech on Iran
Josh White
Strange Recollections of Old Labour
CJ Hopkins
The Simulation of Democracy
stclair
In Our Age of State Crimes
Dave Lindorff
The Trump White House is a Chaotic Clown Car Filled with Bozos Who Think They’re Brilliant
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Domination of West Virginia
Ty Salandy
The British Royal Wedding, Empire and Colonialism
Laura Flanders
Life or Death to the FCC?
Gary Leupp
Dawn of an Era of Mutual Indignation?
Katalina Khoury
The Notion of Patriarchal White Supremacy Vs. Womanhood
Nicole Rosmarino
The Grassroots Environmental Activist of the Year: Christine Canaly
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
“Michael Inside:” The Prison System in Ireland 
May 22, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Broken Dreams and Lost Lives: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card
Kathy Kelly
Scourging Yemen
Andrew Levine
November’s “Revolution” Will Not Be Televised
Ted Rall
#MeToo is a Cultural Workaround to a Legal Failure
Gary Leupp
Question for Discussion: Is Russia an Adversary Nation?
Binoy Kampmark
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution
Doug Johnson
As Andrea Horwath Surges, Undecided Voters Threaten to Upend Doug Ford’s Hopes in Canada’s Most Populated Province
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Surprising Election Results
Dana Cook
Canada’s ‘Superwoman’: Margot Kidder
Dean Baker
The Trade Deficit With China: Up Sharply, for Those Who Care
John Feffer
Playing Trump for Peace How the Korean Peninsula Could Become a Bright Spot in a World Gone Mad
Peter Gelderloos
Decades in Prison for Protesting Trump?
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail