This is a picture of an iBook. It may not look very special now that fewer people are bringing laptops to a bar; but I was extremely proud of it. In the middle of a crowded transit lounge in Bangkok Airport, I was clicking my thoughts away, just being where i was, still having the capacity to grab that late dinner.
I had imagined something like this when i was younger: working on the next great novel or cinematic screenplay in the outdoors where eureka moments are more likely to happen. I wasn’t that ambitious; my image was more like a ‘portable typewriter’. Not that we didn’t have computers then. In fact, the PC was the big eye candy we had striven for during those High School Days. Classroom Talks were never far from hyping new softwares (mainly games) that we just had to get our hands on. After that, we would try to sell the need to buy one desktop or tower processor to our parents, claiming that it would help us in doing our ‘science projects’. But, the thought of bringing a PC out of the house to compose just never struck me.
It wasn’t Chic. It feels Complicated. And it Crashes. Granted that this is really my limited understanding of the PC at that time, these impressions were enough for me to revoke all appeal of entrusting my intellectual and creative commitment to the machine. Perhaps the most daunting turnoff was not so much of the 3 Bad ‘C’s above, but of the aftermath: it seemed that only so many people have any interest, and can actually excel, in knowing how to work on a PC with a technical flourish. It seemed, many a times, you had to be a descent ‘Bill Gates’ to work this thing. But what if I wanted to be an Artist? Because I am not so complex like a computer: I just want to be able to work a device that just ‘works’. Spare me the programming language, at least not when i’m in the middle of writing that important climax! And while you are at it, please don’t hang. And after you’ve hanged (when i am working in WordPerfect), please at least tell me why you randomly do so. Because it is not very nice to be at the receiving end of your families’ blame every time the computer chooses to corrupt itself.
It’s very typical. Like a lot of bad relationships out here that works like this: You’d never thought of getting a boyfriend. When your friends gradually became attached, it seemed like you too should be getting someone: because it seemed right and it’s some sort of a societal norm. So you picked that whom you thought was the more ‘ok’ one among the lot (or maybe that first guy who had tried to convince you that he was so). As time went by, you eventually realised that he was really far from even what you could reasonably expect. Still, everyone else continued to convince you (and themselves) that given his looks, brains, status, and whatever not, that he should already be Good Enough.
Before i was so close to buying into the notion that ‘everything and everyone else are like that’, i was re-introduced to the Macintosh. Continuing the analogy: it’s like meeting that nice old friend whom you had not been in contact with for so long. That deep nostalgia you had have for him or her gradually became a new freshness with each passing moment spent together. This scenario may seem like the natural course of action in more and more mainstream movies. But here in the Asia of the 90s then, things and people who did not fit into the elitist or mundane public consensus were quickly dismissed, proudly discouraged or/and clammed down by authorities. For those who remember, it still took a leap of faith to purchase and use anything Apple then.
Of course, like any good relationship, it only gets better.
Today, I’ve spent some time in front of a Youtube video of the Man who had made a thought like this possible. The speech he was making in this one had his ever trademark charm and was filled with many proclamations that we know is ever true, but might, or still may, just be a little gutless to admit that they are so. An Apple Ad in the 90s cried out to us to “Think Different”, something which we are already doing; because we are all, in fact, uniquely different. Even so, it was hard for us to think of Einstein, Earhart, Lennon, Dylan, Hitchcock, Henson, Gandhi, Ali, Picasso, Callas and other icons in that montage to start off as underdogs, as they are legends today. Not one of them was born with Greatness Guaranteed. What they had was a simple deficit: They had “No Respect for the Status Quo”. For myself, it was this virtue that made the doubts, ventures and risks that were taken along the artistic path all worthwhile. Someone in the world believed in it, and succeeded. Someday, we all would, too.
- In memoriam:
Mr Steven Paul Jobs
1955/02/24 – 2011/10/05