Steve Jobs

The amazing, wonderful, and moving life story of Steve Jobs [Apple] in a post by Juan Cole on his blog, Informed Comment, this morning [overnight on the West Coast of the US], after the announcement that Apple’s Steve Jobs had died — peacefully, his family said — following a long illness:

“…Jobs’s technological vision, rooted in a concern for how people use technology or could use it more intuitively, profoundly altered our world. He used to say that those who had never had anything to do with the counterculture had difficulty understanding his way of thinking.

Jobs was the biological son of Joanne Simpson and Abdulfattah Jandali (a Syrian Muslim then graduate student in political science from Homs, which is now in revolt against the Baathist regime).

That is, like Barack Obama, Jobs was the son of a Muslim.

Simpson young and unmarried, gave Jobs up for adoption, but she and Jandali later wed and gave Jobs a half-sister. He never appears to have met his father a political scientist who later went into the casino business, but he did get to know his half-sister Mona. That is, Jobs’s childhood was wrought up with a) Muslim immigration to the United States and b) the sexual revolution, both phenomena of the 1950s that accelerated in subsequent decades. Of course, these two parts of his heritage had only an indirect impact on him.

His adoptive parents were Paul Jobs and Clara Hagopian Jobs (his adoptive mother would therefore be of Armenian heritage.)

Jobs dropped out of college, gathered Coca-Cola bottles to turn them in for money, got free meals from the Krishna Consciousness Society (“Hare Krishnas”), and later made a trip to India, where he converted to Buddhism. I’d be interested to know how that happened. There is very little Buddhism in India. Tibetan Buddhists have centers in places like Varanasi (Banares) in North India, because these monks are political or cultural exiles from Communist China. The Dalits or ‘untouchables’ of western Indian have had a conversion movement to Buddhism. Jobs is said to have gone with a college buddy to see a Hindu guru devoted to the monkey-god, Hanuman. I really wonder whether the Buddhism was not encountered in the US rather than in India, though the trip to India may have influenced his decision.

So the whole world made Jobs, and he remade the world.

Homs in Syria is the city of his biological paternal forebears. It produced scientists and historians. Hilal al-Himsi, who died in the 9th century, translated from Greek into Arabic the first four books of Apollonius’s work on the geometry of cones.

Indic spiritual traditions were important to Jobs, especially Buddhism. The quest for states of altered consciousness, which characterized some in my generation, was central to his creative vision.

The DOS operating system was something that only an engineer could love, a set of odd commands entered on a blinking line against a black backdrop. Jobs preferred icons, and changed computing forever…”

Juan Cole’s reflections on Steve Jobs, dead today at the age of 53, is posted here.

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