Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Mike Daisey and the long dark night of the geek soul

I'm in love, I'm a believer

Posted by Jon Santiago on Wed, Jun 6, 2012 at 2:10 PM

“In my soul I feel just that terrible pain of loss, of Steve Jobs not wanting me — of Jobs not being God — of Apple not existing.”

That's not a quote from monologist Mike Daisey's The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. Actually, it's a remixed quote from Mother Theresa in which she describes questioning her faith, losing her way in what's called "the long dark night of the soul." Replace the mentions of Steve Jobs and Apple with the word "God." That's the real Mother Theresa quote.

For the record, I am not saying Mike Daisey is Mother Theresa. Not even a little bit. I am pointing out that having a crisis of faith is not limited to those who accessorize their spiritual quests with habits, robes, vestments, fancy hats, long beards, or televised extravaganzas broadcast from mega-churches. None of the trappings matter. What does matter is that once you've taken a bite from the apple of knowledge, the context of your life shifts.

"We speak tonight of the operating system as a religion," says Mike Daisey just as he's getting started on a narrative that will detail how each new Apple product reveal can be greeted with the same reverent dread as the appearance of a burning bush — a fresh iteration of wisdom from the Source.

In Daisey's tale, Steve Jobs looms over everything, abusing the faithful (for their own good, of course) with Old Testament flair. Extending empty hands before him, Daisey weighs two descriptors for his hero. In one hand, "Genius." And in the other, "Asshole."

Daisey is a provocative commentator on faith because he understands narrative and context. (There's a reason most of our religions have a sacred book.) Daisey also understands pain.

He offered this summation of the essential quandary facing the faithful of any stripe: "Steve Jobs was so good at telling us the story we long to hear, the story of a future where technology actually works. I’ve never been to that place. I really want to go."

Tonight, Daisey will premiere a new work and perhaps begin an entirely different conversation. But I won't be surprised if the new piece also has something to say about faith — it's such a stubborn thing.

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