For weeks now, I’ve been metaphorically lugging Steve Jobs around with me. I bought Walter Isaacson’s biography shortly after Jobs died, but I got side-tracked by the controversy over hazardous working conditions at the plants in China where Apple products are manufactured.
Once I started reading, I was again wowed by Jobs’ early vision for personal computers and how his interest in both Zen Buddhism and calligraphy, not to mention the influence of LSD, shaped his sensibilities. They seemed to explain the elegance and grace that Apple products have always communicated.
But then I would come across a passage in which Jobs treated a friend, relative or worker with such unspeakable cruelty that I’d have to put the book down before finishing a chapter. The more familiar Jobs was with the object of his abuse, the meaner he permitted himself to act.
So Mike Daisey has recast his show “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” and apologized again and again, and he seems to get more sincere as he progresses.
And other interesting things happened in the Apple orchard.
This has been a humiliating week for Mike Daisey. Now that he has confessed on public radio (Marketplace and This American Life) that parts of his monologue, “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” were fictionalized to “get through to people emotionally,” he has to wonder if anyone will trust him again.
For Daisey, there are “different languages for what truth means.” What he does is theater not journalism. But for TAL’s Ira Glass, “When we present something as true, we believe in its factual accuracy.”
Mike Daisey looks nothing like Steve Jobs. He’s obese and pale-skinned, like you’d expect someone to look after spending too much time using technology rather than marketing it. He grew up in Maine, not California. At 35, he is not rich, and you suspect that even when he’s 56, as Jobs was when he died, Daisey still won’t be wealthy.
The black shirts Daisey wears have an open collar, not a turtleneck, but I thought for a moment on Tuesday night at the Public Theater that he was going to play Jobs in his monologue, “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.” He didn’t; he played himself. And he’s pretty impressive.
The monologue is about Daisey’s travels to Shenzhen, China, where more than half the world’s electronics are made.
Random reflections on politics, the media, political activism, women's lives and spirituality, often inspired by travel, cultural events or what I read.
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