The Zen of Steve Jobs

The Zen of Steve Jobs

3.2 5
by Caleb Melby, JESS3, Forbes LLC
     
 

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Apple cofounder Steve Jobs (1955–2011) had such an enormous impact on so many people that his life often took on aspects of myth. But much of his success was due to collaboration with designers, engineers, and thinkers. The Zen of Steve Jobs tells the story of Jobs's relationship with one such person: Kobun Chino Otogawa. Kobun was a Zen Buddhist priest

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Overview

Apple cofounder Steve Jobs (1955–2011) had such an enormous impact on so many people that his life often took on aspects of myth. But much of his success was due to collaboration with designers, engineers, and thinkers. The Zen of Steve Jobs tells the story of Jobs's relationship with one such person: Kobun Chino Otogawa. Kobun was a Zen Buddhist priest who emigrated to the United States from Japan in the early 1970s. He was an innovator, lacked appreciation for rules, and was passionate about art and design. Kobun was to Buddhism as Jobs was to the computer business: a renegade and maverick. It wasn't long before the two became friends—a relationship that was not built to last.

This graphic book is a reimagining of that friendship. The story moves back and forth in time, from the 1970s to 2011, but centers on the period after Jobs's exile from Apple in 1985 when he took up intensive study with Kobun. Their time together was integral to the big leaps that Apple took later on with its product design and business strategy.

Told using stripped-down dialogue and bold calligraphic panels, The Zen of Steve Jobs explores how Jobs might have honed his design aesthetic through the study of Eastern religion, but in the end, he took from Zen only what he needed and left the rest behind.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
At one point in this graphic novel biography, the titular icon states his design philosophy in a succinct phrase: “What you leave out will shape the whole.” This also describes the philosophy driving this book. While not a conventional biography, this book uses a nonlinear mosaic structure to give the reader glimpses into Jobs’s relationship with Zen roshi Kobun Chino Otogawa, whom he met following his ouster from Apple. Melby starts with the near collapse of Apple Computers in 1985 and then jumps around a time line that covers decades. Each scene connects loosely to the next, sometimes showing the origins of ideas Jobs would later employ in redesigning Mac, sometimes connecting only through the relationship between the priest and his student. Melby portrays Jobs as an aggressive egotist as much as an innovator, and particularly later in the book, he is shown to be careless with his friends. The artwork uses shadow and color to indicate form in a way that is deliberately reminiscent of early iPod commercials. A fascinating section in the back matter details the artists’ process in finding that aesthetic. Overall, the drawings and the sparseness of the narrative work together to shape a fine story, one perhaps too large to be told in one volume.(Jan.)
Library Journal
This innovative graphic novel unveils a less publicized part of Jobs: his flirtation with Zen Buddhism and friendship with Kobun Chino Otogawa, as iconoclastic a Zen priest as Jobs was a computer guru—and how Jobs' tinge of Zenitude affected Apple products. Drawing on extensive research, Melby reimagines their relationship as a push-pull between action and letting go, between substance and space, between perfection and mistakes. The final image depicts Jobs crowing "Perfect" at his own calligraphy of the kanji character for "mistake." Kobun's final mistake was attending to meditation rather than to his young daughter, which led to their joint drowning. The art is fluid, two-color washes, abetted by insightful extras that supply context. VERDICT Drawing on two famous figures, Melby raises many of the Important Questions: how to live one's life? What is substance and what is background, and how can they dance together? What will be left as legacy? An intriguing readalike for teen and adult readers of Isaacson's bestselling Jobs biography plus other geeks and geek-curious.—M.C.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781118295267
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
01/03/2012
Pages:
80
Sales rank:
898,043
Product dimensions:
6.80(w) x 9.80(h) x 0.50(d)

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