Originally Posted by NormM
I thought the biography was pretty bad. It was mainly human interest gossip about an eccentric fellow, when the real story should have been the passion, insight and abilities that let Jobs accomplish so much. Kind of like a book about music by someone who is tone deaf. I hope the script is only loosely based on this book.
First, that's a clever analogy -- 'a book about music by somebody who is tone deaf' -- and I know what you mean, but I don't think it applies to Isaacson's book. By the way, I think the book is great for what it intends to be, which should be clear in the following.
I've been wondering about readers like you and most famously John Siracusa, who seem to be deaf to what Isaacson gives us about the "passion, insight and abilities that let Jobs accomplish so much." I think you are missing it because you can't imagine -- or relate to through experience -- the baptism into the mysteries of deep vision that Jobs went through early in his life. And you skip over these passages mentally and don't put them into the foreground or background of your Jobs picture.
You know what I'm talking about, yes? Isaacson sympathetically reports on Jobs's self-indoctrination without enlarging on the significance for you, but I sense that he, Isaacson, was either a fellow traveller or a genuine LSD immolate himself, in order for him to report without the slightest trace of judgment. The best passage bears repeating, p. 41 of the hardcover, in the chapter "Dropout.""I came of age at a magical time," [Jobs] reflected later. "Our consciousness was raised by Zen and also by LSD. . . . Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. . . . It reinforced my sense of what is important -- creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could."
Throughout the book, Isaacson refuses to editorialize, except in a few embarrassing instances that stand out by their rarity and are noted by Siracusa on "5by5." It's up to us to draw the conclusions.
There are only four references to LSD in the book's weak index. I wrote down six more, some that include "acid" (pp. 31, 33, 58, 93, 142, 384, plus one on Ram Dass, p.34, which might as well be about LSD, since that is what got Richard Alpert to go to India and become Ram Dass. And Steve to go to India, and the whole culture of the 60s and 70s to get out of the tyranny of the rectilinear cubicle culture of the 50s and into the liberating visions of the computer as bicycles for the mind. Read What the Dormouse Said
, if you haven't already.
Jobs's vision of deep aesthetics, deep simplicity and changing the world all derive from the psychedelic vision that has been under prohibition for lo these many years. You guys don't have
to undergo the baptism, maybe, but you have to make a mental effort to understand it and place it in historical context, because you benefit by it every time you pick up your iPhone. Not your Android phone, your iPhone.
If only Bill had . . . no don't go there. Anyway, not to single you out so much, I'm really taking about a general tone deafness to the countercultural background that includes the Siracusas and even the Grubers out there who are short selling this very important book.
Edit: Maybe something on topic: I wonder how, in fact I dread, how they're going to handle all the tripping in the movie. And the confusions drawn therefrom. Edit 2: I meant "conclusions," but maybe the autocorrect got it better. Edit 3: Caution! In those times, there was a whole supportive stream of consciousness that doesn't exist now. You could get through difficult moments of a trip by drawing on all sorts "Let It Be" messages embedded in the music and the folklore that surrounded you. Not so now. You gotta look for your friendly local shaman or trip partner. And mushrooms are probably more trustworthy these days.