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Thursday, October 13, 2011


Last week, I was very upset by the news of Steve Jobs’s death, now confirmed as respiratory arrest owing to complications from pancreatic cancer he was long battling. I had not known him personally or even as an employer, but his 2005 Stanford commencement speech had inspired me at a time when I most needed it, and for that I felt a certain kind of gratitude towards him.

I was also disturbed by the events at a cement factory in Cupertino where a man shot dead three of his colleagues and wounded several others when he opened fire in a staff meeting. He was a single parent with two kids. Someone who had authored a self-help book, reported for local news, and worked at the cement factory for 15 years. After widespread panic and one of Silicon Valley's most massive manhunts, he succumbed to his own shot in the head.

Two very different deaths. But the obsession of a certain segment of media with the gory details of the later event, instead of a healthy discussion on what is a social tragedy, was disturbing. Not as globally known or mourned as the death of a tech pioneer, but indicative of a disease that lurks in the society to spring on good,god-fearing (from interviews) people on a Wednesday morning at 4 am. Why did he lose his temper to such an extreme?

Recently I read somewhere about how poets and artists fear their passing would be 'quite unnoticed'. The Fall of Icarus by Brueghel, and Musee des Beaux Arts by Auden have spoken well of human indifference. The first time I saw the painting, I wondered why the perspective of the painting is such that the fall and the consequent death of Icarus is an insignificant aspect in it. Now, I understand and see the beauty of it.

The Fall of Icarus by Pieter Brueghel the Elder

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This post is a bit morbid, unlike your other posts. I wonder if your mind was receptive of a certain kind of news. Maybe you should be like the peasant of the painting and go on with your life, celebrating it while death stalls others.