Explore this blog by clicking on the labels listed along the right-hand sidebar. There are lots of interesting stuff which you won't find on the home page
Seriously curious about me? Click on ' What sort of person am I?'

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs, RIP

Well, Steve Jobs is dead. Goodbye, Steve, and sleep well.

Something very personal first. Sudhirda was taken from me by the same disease, cancer of the pancreas. Money and fame gave Steve a few years’ respite, but not very long. No matter how cruel it might sound (and I say this only because Sudhirda mattered to me infinitely more than Steve did), I find it comforting to think that money and fame can take you only so far. I only wish, as one human being for another, that he had got the Biblical three score years and ten.

There is a global outpouring of ‘grief’ in progress right now, of course, and it is only to be expected. Most of these mourners are actually dimly conscious that when they assure the spirit of Steve that they will always remember and admire him, they actually mean that he will be entirely forgotten in, at most, ten years’ time. And that’s quite fitting, too, I think, because (and again I don’t care how unfashionable this sounds), the finest thing he did in his lifetime was composing that Stanford University 2005 commencement speech. As for all the other ‘world-changing’ achievements, he was just one of those techies with sharp marketing skills who got lucky (it only happens in the USA, too!) – anybody who really knows anything about the history of scientific invention and innovation (I wonder how many engineers today belong to that category) will concur wholeheartedly. Glorifying him out of all proportion is actually insulting lots of equally talented innovators who never made the headlines simply because they didn’t make much money; some among them actually helped Steve himself a great deal from behind the shadows. And basically he was nothing more than a toymaker (what’s the iPad more than a toy? And how important is it in our lives if weighed beside, say, electricity or chloroform? One might as well say that the men who designed Barbie and the zip fastener and the first aerated cold drink changed the world forever!). Gandhi was born this month, and this country finds it more cool to mourn Jobs right now than him, regardless of the fact that someone of the stature of Albert Einstein (who, I think, will be remembered a trifle longer than Jobs) had said at the time of his death that ‘generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth’. The father of an old boy of mine, a doctor, noticing the ‘mourning’ on Facebook, exclaimed this morning ‘A toymaker is more important than Gandhi now? The world has progressed a great deal indeed since we were of your age’.

Someone has saluted Steve Jobs on Facebook with ‘We are what we are because of you’. I wonder whether or not that would have made Steve squirm with embarrassment, despite his billions. I know for a fact that some great ‘successes’ are acutely ashamed of their success. Michael Jackson hated listening to pop music, and Andrew Grove, maverick founder CEO of Intel Corp, once remarked about what the internet was doing to humanity: ‘We are drowning in a vast ocean of trivia’. As for Steve’s success, the Dalai Lama would have said with a gentle deprecating smile that he was only one of those who created a world where ‘we have wonderful things to communicate with, and nothing to communicate’ (most sms-es are forwarded jokes and similar crap, aren’t they?). If that makes a ‘great man’, I can do without greatness. I shall think Solon and the Buddha and Michelangelo and Tagore and men of their ilk when I talk about vision and greatness. Let history judge. Very ordinary people can look like giants if we ourselves have become pygmies…

38 comments:

Arnab Chakraborty said...

I remember reading the Stanford University 2005 commencement speech form Sir's computer. That was the first time I had heard about Steve Jobs. From then on I started hearing more about him, more so when I got involved with computers. It has been almost five years since that day, I have read about him in numerous places, I have watched movies on his life, met countless Steve Jobs fans, and even today when someone speaks of him, all I remember is his Stanford commencement speech. I do not mourn him because "We are what we are because of you" (I am definitely not what I am because of him), or "He left the world a better place" (so has so many others), or because he created the iPad (actually he has also created Apple II and Macintosh, which I personally feel were greater achievements than the iPad). I mourn him, because through that speech he had inspired me to be a better.

P.S: I am sure that ten years from now his family and friends will be the only ones mourning his death, but I think it will take longer than that to forget him, at least in the world of computers.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

I'll say amen to that last line, Arnab. It hurts me to see how quickly the 'great' are forgotten these days, once the initial gushing is done. Remember Father Gilson at St. Xavier's Durgapur? I am sure I am the only remaining person associated with that school for whom he is still a living, glowing reality 21 years after he passed away...

I agree entirely with you about Apple II and Macintosh. Thanks for being the first to comment.

Aakash said...

Dear Sir,

There will be many who(have probably started on Max Payne or Grand Theft Auto by now) will claim that he Jobs was one of the most influential people of our time until some other techie dies. Few would even the ideal of a nation that Gandhi wrote about in Hind Swaraj. Instead of doing anything about the problems around them most would vent their anger on Facebook or attend marches by Anna Hazare, where there's police protection.

As The Hindu once put it: I live because iPod. Need one say anymore?

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Oh, it just occurred to me that Jobs was probably the world's richest 'Buddhist' when he died. I wonder, though, what the Buddha would have thought about him, the man who said that this whole world is a silly and painful illusion, and the best way to live through it is to cut off all external distraction and concentrate on cleansing oneself inside, even while doing everything possible to reduce every kind of pain in this world... much of which pain comes from clinging to glamorous illusions (such as that getting the latest cool app on my iPad can make me happy)!

Abhirup said...

Dear Sir,

I think the problem with people nowadays is that they cannot distinguish between a great man and a rich and famous one. Steve Jobs belonged to the second category, but because he had millions in his bank account and was well-known all over the world, people find it incomprehensible as to why he shouldn't be regarded as great. Hence, all the 'mourning' and the 'tributes'. Now, I have no problem with people expressing their respect for Jobs as such. What irks me is the hyperbolic praise used by his fans, and their hostile reaction to anybody who tries to alert them to the fact that they are being hyperbolic.

When somebody says of Jobs, "We are what we are because of you", he/she essentially means that his/her entire existence is defined by the iPad and the iPhone. If that is indeed the case, then the person concerned is sick in the medical sense of the term. And if there are indeed many people like that, then there's no doubt that Jobs has contributed significantly to creating a sick, depraved world: hardly a noble achievement, that. I can't even understand how he "left the world a better place". He didn't introduce any significant social reform. He didn't write a book or make a film or compose a song or paint a picture that became a cultural benchmark and infused many others with creative fire. He wasn't a religious leader who inspired others to liberty and a better life, as Moses, Jesus, the Buddha and Ramakrishna Paramhansa did. He wasn't a political leader who guided his country through a great turmoil, which Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln accomplished as the Prime Minister of England and the President of the United States of America respectively. He had not discovered, as men like David Livingstone did, new lands, moutains, lakes and rivers. He doesn't have a record of having performed lifelong humanitarian services like Mother Teresa. He certainly was no great philosopher. He didn't die fighting for a cause like Bhagat Singh or Bagha Jatin or William Wallace or James Connolly or Joseph Trumpeldor. And (as Sir has pointed out) none of his inventions, not even Apple II or Macintosh, come anywhere close to the importance of electricity or choloform. How, just how then did he make the world a better place? I would really like to have an answer to that question, preferably from people who have made a career in computers.

As for the commencement speech delivered by Jobs at the Stanford Univeristy in 2005, I agree with Sir that is indeed the best thing he did in his lifetime--though, of course, I would love to find out if it is he who really wrote it, or one of his secretaries. I would also like to point out that his is not the only inspirational speech ever delivered on the American soil, as so many are pretending right now (someone has called it "the most impressive piece of oratory I have ever heard or read about in America" on his blog). Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death" speech, Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, Martin Luther King's speech that begins with the line "I have a dream", and John Quincy Adams's address to the Supreme Court during the Amistad trial are, in my humble opinion, both more rousing and more historically significant than anything Jobs has ever said.

So, I remain confused as to why the death of Jobs should be devastating to anybody except his own family and closest friends. Those who think otherwise are free to enlighten me.

Yours sincerely,
Abhirup Mascharak.

Ria Pariksha said...

The people are seriously going over the top with Steve Jobs. Its the overpouring of adulation for a man who did not contribute much to humanity thats mind boggling. Last week Dr. Ralph Steinman died of pancreatic cancer but it did not stir a global grief.He won the Nobel Prize in medicine for research on immunology and cancer prevention and therapy.The first FDA approved therapeutic cancer vaccine Provenge is a result of his pioneering work. It seems that being the dead CEO of" the most powerful company" in the stock market earns one a greater fame than dying a Nobel prize winner after devoting your entire life to the service of humanity in discovering a vaccine for cancer. The world just does what the media asks it to do.

JD said...

As the discussion debates about the people who have made their mark in history, I would like to submit this link: http://telegraphindia.com/1111009/jsp/calcutta/story_14601782.jsp

It informs about Bengali stalwarts who made a difference with their deeds.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

I was thinking of putting up that link myself, Joydeep. Many thanks, and I do hope all my readers would visit it, and reflect.

By very narrowly concentrating on a few achievers (most of whom we'd frankly never have bothered about if they hadn't made pots of money), we are actually narrowing down our civilisational limits drastically. As Ramachandra Guha has pointed out in this article (http://bit.ly/o6z08J) while writing a tribute to Ela Bhatt (whose SEWA has done infinitely more for the welfare of countless Indians than any fancy phone could ever do!), “In that speech in Madras a hundred and more years ago, Gopal Krishna Gokhale remarked that ‘many of us are apt to imagine that those who loom largely in the eyes of the public are the only ones that lead useful lives. We sometimes talk and write as though only one or two individuals were really doing useful work and the rest only vegetating. It is, however, a mistake to think so. A nation’s true greatness depends upon its average man and woman.’

These words are timeless, and also timely… for those seeking steady, sustainable social change, for those seeking to endow the average man and woman with the spark of greatness, media attention is a distraction, indeed, a terrible waste of time.”

sayantika said...

Dear Sir,

Today in my office, someone remarked that how great an invention the iPhone is. And when I asked that person how, he replied the picture zooms in the moment you bring it closer to your eyes.
We are indeed glorifying trifles and can't think of anything beyond the latest app in the phone.

Thanks and with regards

AKASHDEEP GHOSH said...

During our class some of my batch mates had asked for an article for the coming elocution test then on this occasion you had read to us the commencement speech of Steve jobs, I was wondering who is this Steve Jobs later you told us all he is the CEO of Apple.
I agree to that he is nothing more than a toymaker as the ipod or the ipad isn't a very important utensil or tools in an ordinary man's life most of them aren't lucky enough to see one.While commenting on this article I asked my fellow room mate What changes he is experiencing after the death of Steve Jobs? he wittingly replied that he got a new facebook status to update, these are the changes which most of us are facing.So there are many such Steve Jobs yet to come and go so lets wait and watch the act of time.

Amit Sengupta said...

Dear Mr. Chatterjee,

Could you please take a look at this article?

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1111011/jsp/opinion/story_14603629.jsp

Subhadip Dutta said...

Sir, neither I (being a computer engineer), nor my parents (a simple and a humble couple living in Durgapur) have ever touched a i ever. I do not think that has made any difference to our lives. In fact the Mac Operating System that is used in the i is far more vulnerable than Windows and Linux. Moreover, I can point out so many more disadvantages of the iPhone that the ardent followers of Steve Jobs will feel belittled.

To me the wheel, fire and the boat have been by far the best inventions and discoveries that man has ever made, and even after 25 years of my life on this planet I still cannot help wondering at these three wonders. To the followers of Steve Jobs and other technocrats, I would ask, "If it is declared all of a sudden that we are not allowed to use wheels, boats and ships, and fire, and we are allowed to use only i, will it make our lives better?" The answer is obvious, "No!". Now I will ask, "Do you know who invented these three things?" Again, the answer is obvious - a very big "No". Well, these three things, the absence of which would have made life too difficult for human kind, were invented by pre-historic nomads. I think those brains were far more fertile than any techie of the last 2 centuries.

P.S.- Fans of Steve Jobs, please note that the touch screen technology was also not born in Apple. The technology was first brought into mobile phones by a company called hTC.

ginger candy said...

Dear Sir,

In this context, please note that Mark Zukerberg, the founder of Facebook, is now being referred to as the next Jobs. Facebook is neither ingeniuos (there were many social networking sites before Facebook) nor important. I can't understand why he was voted as the most important man on earth by TIME magazine last year.

Thanks,
Joydeep

Rajdeep said...

3 more articles to stimulate the debate further.

1. http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/extraordinaryissue/entry/thank-you-steve-jobs

2. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-10-10/hardware/30262929_1_steve-jobs-john-sculley-steve-wozniak

3. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/news/hardware/Floored-by-Steve-Jobs-Namaste/articleshow/10298092.cms

Rajdeep said...

Here is one more. The 4th article on Steve Jobs idea of education.

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/opinion/columnists/swaminathan-s-a-aiyar/steve-jobs-idea-of-education-choice-in-us-through-vouchers-and-competition-is-equally-valid-for-india/articleshow/10319365.cms

Ref. http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/comphist/sj1.html

Subhadip Dutta said...

Hi everyone, in my previous post I had actually written "i" and not just "i". I do not know how the "" vanished and only the "i" remained. Maybe those had been considered as HTML or PHP tags (I do not what has been used to create blogger) and removed automatically by blogger.com.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

I am glad that so many people have got the idea of 'glorifying trifles' just right. My aim was not to abuse an achiever gratuitously, only to urge people to see things in perspective instead of, as Ria has put it, going over the top. And of course, it is bad for all of us to use the tag 'great' so unthinkingly. History did not start in 1980, and it has a very rich and wide range of truly great people to offer. I am sure Steve Jobs himself would have agreed without considering it to be a personal insult.

Rajdeep, thanks for the links. I hope they will stimulate more comments here. Subhadip, thanks for being so boldly honest. And Ginger Candy, that will be Zuckerberg, and I am sure you meant 'ingenious'.

Shilpi said...

Hmm. Curiously enough I'd been thinking of Sudhirda just some days before you wrote this post but it had nothing to do with Steve Jobs...

This is one long comment. Apologies.

1. I'm sort of bemused that I've spent more time thinking about Steve Jobs dead than when he was alive (and I'll say that I did the same thing when Princess Diana died). And my own responses have been somewhat mixed.

2. I did pause for a bit when I read (in the news, and quite by accident) that he had passed away (it's as you point out, Suvro da - the 'three score years and ten' thing) and was not seconds later terribly disgusted with the gushing 'grief' and rest. And it's as Pupu writes, and with penetrating sharpness on her blog - the good-looking 'playthings' that he came up with through the last many years of working at Apple, which shot him into being a fabulously rich toy maker could hardly make me say that he was great or that he had changed the world in any meaningful way (even the truly great people that I have in mind haven't been able to...so with all respect to Steve jobs I have to demur).

3. And what about those people who had been gushing? They haven't been gushing for whatever 'revolutions' he and his friend brought into the world with their computers - and I don't know exactly what he did in the 1970s or early 1980s (and if somebody would enlighten me on those grounds I would much appreciate it). I could only think about the Mac Airbook - once again an extremely good looking thing (but unless one is planning to work while running with it...) - and the average Mac users (there are exceptions) who are snooty beyond comprehension (I have at least one funny tale - but some other time...), simply because they use a Mac.

4. But I don't need to say anything much about those toys and the gushers. Both Pupu and you have said what need to be said on those grounds and I have nothing more to add. Those gushers have never, I can bet, read his Stanford speech (which I think is a quietly profound, extremely meaningful speech - and I would be tempted to call it great and if I don't there are personal reasons for the same). Thank you for putting up the link here (I can't remember whether you'd told me to read it earlier, but I don't remember having read it before). They don't know anything of what he did with computers, couldn't care less, and as Pupu tellingly commented - many/most hadn't even heard of him before he died! So why are those morons calling him 'great'?! And so in connection, that article by Pritish Nandy makes me raise my eyebrow, and say sharply, 'Grief and love? Please give me a break!' It's nothing but silly and stupid mush, that article.

Shilpi said...

5. I did not not admire him in an impersonal way when he was alive - but nothing to jump over the moon about (and it's something in the nature of what you mention on your other blog).

And one of the links posted by Rajdeep brought back the hazy memory of Apple in its early days when up against IBM. So alright. That was a good tale.

I think one friend in computers some years ago had been talking about that California project where Jobs had donated the computers to school. And that to me sounds like a good thing that he did (even though he hadn't done much else in terms of charity or philanthropy - and I dare say he could have done much more but then again I look at myself and I'm not even thinking of charity...), and it was good to read that link since I'd forgotten all about it.

It was also good to read, in a personal way, that he thought teachers were important, and that unusual teachers could change the life-course of an individual. Not many people say that (I'd bet that not many professors privately bother to even reflect over that).

If there's one thing I did respect him for - it was for being a private individual. I wouldn't mind if I never heard or saw pictures of Angelina Jolie and her little adopted kids splashed over any and every tabloid/magazine near the grocery line counter (that's one of the reasons I go to the self checkout counter). And no, I'm not particularly interested in what sort of humanitarian work she is currently engaged in (completely disconnected probably: but I wonder how she decides to put on all that carefully applied make-up before going out to meet the wretched women or children on one of her missions).

6. I can't call Steve Jobs great (and it's embarrassing that he displayed what he did on the full-screen during the launch of the iPad, which I read about last week because I'd forgotten what an iPad was; goes beyond arrogance that, just because he came up with a tablet?!). Achiever - thank you for the word - yes. Eccentric - yes. Unusual too in some ways, and rather frank, and if I do admire him it's also because of his recollections of his early years and through his college years. I earnestly hope I do not have any thoughts of Steve Jobs after writing this mammothine comment (may he rest in peace!)!

I wouldn't have called myself great if I had been in his place although I may have been quite happy and satisfied, possibly given some constants. We wouldn't, more than half of the times, recognize the truly great if they hadn't already been tom-tommed by somebody or if they hadn't made the mega-bucks (I don't think that the Buddha would have been making millions and would many people have known him or cared to know the likes of him...? That's a question that wanders around frequently in my head). Even though I think her books are great and good and profound and entertaining - I wouldn't even call J.K. Rowling great (do I hear some gasps?).

After reading your essay here and Pupu's I was reminded of that poem, 'The truly great' by Stephen Spender that you'd provided the link for on one of your blog-posts from last year, and so I re-visited the poem...(It's not wealth, fame or 'things' that make the truly great...it's the wholeness of being. So thank you again, and also for writing this one and the other one.)

...The names of those who in their lives fought for life
Who wore at their hearts the fire's centre.
Born of the sun they traveled a short while toward the sun,
And left the vivid air signed with their honour.

Rajdeep said...

Sir,
What do you think of this article? think it would also be applicable to your post "America The Beautiful."
http://www.newsweekinternational.com/newsweek/2011/10/09/the-geniuses-we-ll-never-know.html

Best regards

Suvro Chatterjee said...

I broadly agree with the real thrust of the article, Rajdeep - that all modern societies need to embed capitalism within a framework of 'real' democracy if they are frequently going to throw up geniuses who will revolutionize all our lives for the better. However, I emphatically deny that Steve Jobs was one such genius (as I know the world will soon agree, once the hoopla dies down). He was no real inventor but someone who cleverly capitalized on others' ideas, and he was incredibly lucky, that's all. And I am sorry, but set beside inventions like language, the knife, the wheel and the electric dynamo, the mobile phone cum portable music system has in no sense 'revolutionized' the world, unless we are willing to vulgarize the word until it means nothing at all. Hell, Sam Walton revolutionized the grocery business with Wal Mart, and made a vastly bigger fortune - it's only that the media have not picked on him as a poster boy because grocery, after all, is so uncool! Also ask around with patients of diabetes and heart disease - there are several hundred million around - whether they would rather keep their smart phones or their pacemakers and insulin injections. This manic praise of Steve Jobs is merely a sign that the world has filled with overgrown children, who have never developed a sense of priorities and proportion. I worry that a lot of my pupils' parents may be exactly like that! To them, I'm likely to be a much 'greater' teacher if I fit airconditioners in my classroom...

Rajdeep said...

Sir,
Thank you for your comment.

Here is another article on the rich.

http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/yen-for-living/the-rich-are-getting-out-while-the-getting-is-good/

Regards,

Rajdeep

Rashmi Datta said...

Dear Sir,

Thank you for this post. Indeed the way people are going overboard in mourning Steve Jobs shows how shallow and ignorant we have become as a whole.

I have never used any of Steve Jobs' inventions and it has not affected me in any way whatsoever.

All those who think that they cannot survive without an iphone are surely living in an illusion and have never faced any hardship in their life. I for one know how valuable a pacemaker and an insulin injection are to a heart and diabetes patient as compared to his fancy mobile.

This post has proved once again that the knowledge of history is essential in building character , having the ability to discern things and think in perspective.

Warm regards
Rashmi

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Thanks, Rashmi. Yes, one very great fault of our current educational system - and not just in this country - is a gross denigration of the value of history (and biography), which has two pernicious effects: it makes 'educated' people by the million who think the world began yesterday, and who have no sense of personal judgment, so anything is 'great' if the media and so-called social networks say so for a while (to be forgotten very soon, it goes without saying).

Some people are trying to raise their children differently, still. In this context, I am proud of what my 15-year old daughter has written on the same subject: do look up and comment here -

http://urbiblogs.blogspot.com/2011/10/of-greatness-and-ipad.html

And Abhirup, now that you mention it, Jobs' famous speech might have been ghost-written, too, considering that I have never come across another memorable speech of his anywhere in all these years...

Rajdeep said...

Something to ponder about...

I would be eager to have your comments!

VOX POPULI: Can humanity keep up with its own inventiveness?

http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201110180229.html

Best regards

Suvro Chatterjee said...

When asked why he worshipped the cow in the era of the tractor, Gandhi said "Let me see a tractor which feeds on grass, hardly needs any looking after, gives milk, hauls loads and whose every body part and even the dung can be put to some good use, and then I'll start worshipping tractors". This was half a century before the environmental protection movement really took off, and now it's chic to want to bring back the paper bags and earthen cups. You're talking about some American journalist's prescience?

As Nishant has commented on my daughter's blogpost, 'Smart phones are for stupid people'. In his last years, as great a votary of modern science as Nehru, when asked to name which inventions of the last 150 years he really considered to have made a very big difference to human life, couldn't think of much beyond the bicycle and the electric bulb (I forget the third thing he mentioned), though he knew about cars, aeroplanes, computers and atom bombs! Since then, the 'revolutionary' inventions have been becoming increasingly frivolous or harmful, making the majority of us lazier, stupider, less creative, more destructive, distracted and dependent on gadgets, less sensitive to Nature and one another - in short, increasingly less human. God save humanity from more geniuses of the Steve Jobs mould. It is a telling thing that Mark Zuckerberg, who has been a dismal social failure in his personal life, has given the world the concept of 'Facebook friend' (as distinct from real friend)! But history moves in bizarre ways to bring us back to our senses. There's some sort of disaster looming just around the corner, perhaps - an epidemic let loose by a synthetic virus, a global computer outage, a rash of tsunamis, a world war, who knows? Then those of us who survive might reconsider their most basic values again...

Suvro Chatterjee said...

A friend sent this article today:
http://nyti.ms/sUPeY1

This man is a million times more important to the world than Steve Jobs. But of course, one has to be both human and educated to understand that!

Thanks, Anindya.

Shilpi said...

Beth sent me the following link today. It made me laugh. (Although come to think of it, you'd probably rattle it all off in your 'best Parisian style'...).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dI-WZ5cvM0

Thanks for that link above. Picked up the book by John Wood from the library. Shall get around to reading it at some point. Reminded me of this other book that Beth had told me to read, Three cups of tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. So I picked it up as well.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

That video was absolutely hilarious, Shilpi, thank you very much. Heartening to know that a lot of intelligent people are making fun of these absurd toys. But I doubt if they can affect the vast hordes of morons on whom the IT/phone companies confidently depend. 'There's a sucker born every minute' was a saying that came into vogue long before Microsoft, Apple, Nokia, Google and Facebook were born.

Shilpi said...

I'm very glad you liked it, Suvro da. I watched it again and laughed again. You're right of course - it doesn't make a dent on the hordes of mental midgets. But there's something that's 'happened' within the last five years or more; maybe a decade (?)...this frantic obsession with these technological toys, gadgets, and gizmos. Of course it's entirely possible that this weird fascination has been around for a long time and I've only begun to notice.

I'd assumed that the current trend of mindless consumerism had come about in the beginning of the previous decade or towards the end of the previous century (in India at any rate) while someone had already talked about the rise of the spirit of mindless consumerism in the mid 80s...

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Dear Amit,

Sorry for having missed responding to your comment for so long. I won't say anything about the linked article. I have a long memory: ten years to me is as the wink of an eye. I don't know how seriously you yourself took that article; if you did, I would urge you to store it and get back to it ten years later and ask yourself how you feel about it on second reading. I have seen far too many people so embarrassed to be reminded of what they once thought or said that they hate to be reminded! Enough said.

and Shilpi: Yes, I know which newspaper article of mine you had in mind while writing that last line. Most young people who are now gaga over silly toys like the iPad weren't even born then. But the mental orientation is if possible sicker and dumber than it was in the mid-80s. Anything can be called 'art' or 'science' these days, provided the ad-boys have been strenuously working on brainwashing the hordes for some time, haven't you noticed?

santanu Chatterjee said...

Around the same time another person expired. Well, he did not get visitors, reporters, mails. He died utterly alone in his apartment and was found dead the next morning by his long time close friend. He was a person who had acquired dangerous knowledge. Incidentally he also died of cancer. And he actually is the one reason behind the success of Steve Jobs and many others. Moreover I personally do not have any problem in claiming I would not have been what I am without him. His name is Dennis Ritchie. He created the C programming Language(I think you had talked about languages as one of human being's greatest invention) and well, the Unix operating system. Steve Jobs was a brilliant salesman who made money and fame by selling it. But unfortunately Steve Jobs never accepted or mentioned about it.

But what I do not understand is what is the problem with someone getting a celebrity status as i see in this blog. Celebrity status is bestowed on many persons unnecessarily while people equally brilliant remain under the radar. One good example can be Einstein. I am not saying Einstein's contribution to physics or to humanity is nil. After all he helped create the atomic bomb. But equally brilliant scientists and mathematicians existed in the Vienna Circle. There was Godel, Hilbert, Schrodinger to name a few. No one even cares about them. Why? And talking about making human beings lazy and more destructive, well then the biggest culprit should be Thomas Alva Edison.
By the way a nice discussion on media reaction on Steve Jobs and Dennis Ritchie can be found here:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelhumphrey/2011/10/14/the-inevitable-steve-jobs-vs-dennis-ritchie-discussion/

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Part of what you have said was precisely my point, Santanu; in fact, I wrote "Glorifying him out of all proportion is actually insulting lots of equally talented innovators who never made the headlines simply because they didn’t make much money; some among them actually helped Steve himself a great deal from behind the shadows."

As for your second paragraph, I'm a bit confused. Though you sound contrarian, reading the entire paragraph makes me think that we actually agree that this celebrity culture is a bad thing, and two major reasons why are that a) a lot of equally deserving people are eclipsed by a few celebs, and b) some celebs have probably done humanity at least as much harm as good. Think of what motor cars have done to our health, calculators and word processors to our ability to handle numbers and words, and rock stars to music...!

Shubhranka said...

Sir,
Read and share this. The author shares similar thoughts.You will enjoy this for sure!
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/01/opinion/sunday/the-joy-of-quiet.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all,

Suvro Chatterjee said...

A very relevant and interesting article indeed, Shubhranka. Thanks very much. "All of man’s problems come from his inability to sit quietly in a room alone"... I didn't know that it was Pascal who said that, but how absolutely true! How true, also, that most of all the creative work that has gone into making civilization was done by people who could sit quietly in a room alone for very long periods at a stretch. Pico Iyer has captured wonderfully the very heart of what is ailing contemporary society, and it makes me shudder to think what kind of adults, parents, teachers, counsellors today's Facebook-and-smartphone-and shopping mall-addicted teenagers are going to become... and to think that millions of people once hailed as geniuses those like Steve Jobs, who made this utterly sick culture possible!

Shubhranka said...

Pico Iyer has captured it amazingly well: hiding all harsh undertones and taking the sides of a very calm, creative soul.
It is sad, rather extremely painful to see that these days mindless teenagers have the audacity to flaunt the huge screen of a 'tablet'to record classical concert where the musician is finding it difficult to concentrate on the notes.
But even if we keep aside teenagers, what is wrong, say for example - with a near 70 year old man who continuously blinks his camera,even when the musician had explained sweetly and ,I, sitting at the back row , had personally begged to stop and listen for a while.
Enjoying the absolute silence - is that so difficult?
Teenagers are restless ,I understand.But look at the real tragedy of our times: a 70 year old is sitting in a concert with bovine expressions, fiddling with a handicam,probably uploading that it in his new facebook account and not even looking back when a girl, aged almost like her grand daughter points out that it is disturbing her eyes!!

Rajdeep said...

Two more articles:

1. http://ideas.time.com/2012/01/27/the-human-cost-of-apples-success/

2. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/27/opinion/krugman-jobs-jobs-and-cars.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Why%20Apple%20created%20so%20few%20American%20jobs%20&%20what%20is%20wrong%20with%20US%20political%20ideology&st=cse

Suvro Chatterjee said...

In the post I said ten years' time. Well, Steve Jobs has been dead for just about a year now, and already he's well on the way to oblivion. All the news channels have to say about him is something as completely trivial as the fact that his dream 'super-yacht' has been unveiled. Imagine anybody at all in 2022 remembering how he 'changed the world'. RIP, once again.