I want to be very clear here that I do not mean to trivialize death and cancer. Pancreatic cancer is particularly vicious.
It is remarkable that Steve Jobs lasted as long as he did. Maybe due to the remarkable amount of money he had — after all, he was able to take up a residence in Tennessee to qualify for a transplant there, which few people have the means to do. Nevertheless, he survived much, much longer than most.
However, from Jobs’s physical condition in public appearances, it was clear that survival was not entirely kind. He was often gaunt, and obviously emaciated at times. Never mind the psychological stress — the daily terror — of living after a cancer diagnosis, which (if known at all by people who have not seen cancer first hand) is often misunderstood because it is misunderstood how cancer comes back. An XKCD comic shows this very well: “Fuck cancer” indeed.
Perhaps more than ever now, or at least it is more obvious now, that Jobs was and is revered by many. In a similar way to the public mourning of Princess Diana’s death with the huge pile of flowers outside Kensington Palace, memorials are spontaneously showing up at Apple stores.
And in one last interesting happenstance, Jobs’s death has eclipsed the announcement by Sarah Palin that she will not be running for president. In case you did not know, Jobs was quite a democrat, and in his death he kept her from running the news cycle again. As someone from Alaska, I do thank you Jobs. She is such an embarrassment… or perhaps Alaska’s best practical joke that has gotten out of hand. Then again, maybe Texas will show that its practical jokes are worse, because Texas is, of course, worse. Here is to looking at you Rick Perry. (Sorry, it is difficult for Alaska to not mess with Texas.)
I do not think I envy Jobs’s life, and not simply because of the cancer, but for the very reason that Jobs’s death eclipsed all other news stories. I say this not because people should not know about death, but I do not think we know how to appropriately mourn in the US.
Apple has a history of claiming American saints for itself as it sought to pay tribute to them — like applying its brand of the apple logo and the iconic phrase “think different” to a picture of Rosa Parks on the event of her death in 2005. And do not forget they did one of Ghandi too.
My life has known nothing else than the generation that started personal computers, but now we are at the beginning of the end of the first computer generation. I grew up with Macs. We never had anything else. The company is older than I am. I remember the old performa, we had a couple of the early, crazy colored iMacs with the hockey puck mouse, and every computer I have ever personally owned has been a Mac. If I were forced to go to Microsoft, I would be in a sad state in more than one way. But now one of the founders is dead. I wonder if this is how young people in the US will most profoundly feel the impact of death until their generation starts dying. Even though Apple will probably still be Apple as Jobs designed it organizationally, Jobs the artist-creator is gone and so then is his continued direct shaping of Apple products.
My humor is gallows humor. So in a fit of tasteless humor — which is part of my own attempt to deal with the beginning of the end of an era — I wondered: would it be “thinking different” to make jokes about losing jobs and losing Jobs? Or just tasteless? Or is it tasteless that our love of Jobs eclipses our problems with jobs?
Apple User Acting Just Like His Dad Died
BOSTON—Calling the death a “tragic loss” and saying he was “truly devastated by the news,” self-described Apple product loyalist Eric Cavanaugh is treating the passing of the company’s former CEO Steve Jobs as if his fucking dad just died, sources confirmed Thursday. “I can’t believe it,” said Cavanaugh, 28, wearing a saddened expression that would make you think he was mourning the loss of his 61-year-old father, Jack, and not a complete goddamn stranger. “He meant a lot to me, and I’ll miss him. I think I might send an e-mail to email@example.com [instead of contacting the man he hasn’t talked to in a month who helped him with his homework, paid his college tuition, and has supported him throughout his entire life, loving him unconditionally despite his myriad fuckups].” At press time, Cavanaugh reportedly needs to get his fucking priorities straight.
About the Author
David Horstkoetter is a doctoral candidate in systematic theology at Marquette University. He completed his MA with Gary Dorrien at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. Horstkoetter’s interests include history, social ethics, and systematic theology. He also likes to take pictures and drink good beer.