Jobs’ Legacy and the Incipient Anxiety about Invention

“Today is Steve Jobs Day” (well, in CA, at least)

Jobs’ thinking, his inventive prowess, his “radical” way of meshing traditional binaries of professionalization (for instance, Jobs was a manager and innovator, a listener and the voice, a diligent learner yet a drop-out …) is indicative of the most excellent* of educational aspirations – simply, thinkingProductively thinking. Reflectively thinking. And, in terms of invention, risking thinking. From my perspective, the rhetorician’s thinking necessitates rhetorical action, the most significant of which usually entail some level of risk. Jobs’ thinking parallels, and is – I think – informed, by Rickert’s deft articulation of Plato’s question in the Timaeus (Rickert, “Towards the Chora”). The question is, “How can we reapproach the inventional question of how to move from static ideas to vital activity?” This, I believe, is Job’s ultimate accomplishment: the genius to manifest (static) ideas into networks of influence. Jobs’ way of (un-/re-)seeing technology – his way of meshing the traditional divisions among peoples’ discourses, minds, bodies, etc. and having the prescience – and the resolve to risk inventing- parallels the way in which I’m reflecting on his legacy, his inventions, Apple’s/our anxiety about invention, and how many of us in academia have been engaging in the rhetorics and philosophies of such concepts for some time now … in fact, I’ll suggest, since Timaeus. Concerning these connections, and the ways in which Timaeus, Rickert, and Jobs conceal and unconceal inventive contradiction and genius, our anxieties now pertain to how the rhetorical space of “invention” itself is forever changed by decisions that must be made now, in a post-Jobs era (no pun intended here). More specifically, we anxiously ask, “Can invention be taught?” and the more disequilibriating question of the two, “To what extent can invention be assured?” (Questions inspired by Santos, lecture, October 3 2011).


About klangbehn

Doctoral Candidate: Rhetoric of Science University of South Florida 4202 E. Fowler Avenue Tampa, FL 33620-5550 View all posts by klangbehn

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