Notes on “A Moral Code Cast in Steel”

The Prags started a forum for readers to discuss their thoughts about Steve Jobs, following his death yesterday, and asked some of their writers to prime the pump with some initial posts.

Mine, A Moral Code Cast in Steel, takes its inspiration from a quote from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, about the expression of human genius and creativity in the form of physical things, the things we create.

It’s a dicey book to be quoting because there are a lot of people who hate, absolutely hate, Ayn Rand, and to co-opt a dead person and attach them to the selling of a product or belief system is potentially tasteless and offensive (yes, irony, thanks for noticing). And some of the objectivists doing so are being pretty ham-handed about it. The only reason I thought it was OK to proceed with is because we have that interview of Steve Wozniak saying that Jobs was inspired by Atlas Shrugged in his youth. That’s a sterling source, and easily verifiable, and that made the Jobs-Atlas analogy a viable and fair angle to take.

Plus, I think the central points really hold: that the will and ingenuity of the creator can be perceived in his or her works (indeed, it is what separates them from being raw materials), and that Jobs was particularly fascinating in finding inspiration and truth from many different sources: East and West, spiritual and physical, technology and liberal arts.

Of course, one can’t help but bring one’s own beliefs to the table. Here’s the scene immediately to my left while I work (click for full-size):

Standing desk flanked by bookcases with Rand's Atlas Shrugged and Tezuka's Buddha

Anyways, Bill got on board back in the NeXT days, and he’s got a great post too, so be sure to check that out.

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