Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Oh my! Stephen Fry and Steven Jobs

I recently signed on to receive a feed of Stephen Fry's blog and website, The New Adventures of Mr Stephen Fry.  He's the guy who some people think of as being the classic English twit.  He is actually a great wit, talented writer and actor (as Oscar Wilde in Wilde and as The Cheshire Cat in Alice).  He is also a stand up guy for artists of all kinds.

Recently, he gave a speech for the Dinner event at The Royal Academy Summer exhibition in London.  He spends most of his speech talking about how embarrassing it is for viewers to look at art because it can lead to so much self-consciousness.   Here are some excerpts:

".... the power to rise above self-consciousness is almost a defining quality of artists. Artists are superb at switching off awareness of self. As you can tell if you watch one eat."

and as he quotes Oscar Wilde:

"...“All art is at once surface and symbol,” Oscar Wilde wrote. “Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.” "

If you like looking at art or making it, the speech is a fun read.

He has also become a sort of spokesman or commentator for Apple and most recently the new iPhone.  I find this a dubious role for him and although I am sure he loves getting all the free stuff from Steve Jobs, I hope he doesn't end up regretting this role.  On the other hand I think he sees what we all know is coming— the fall of Apple's star.  As he writes:

"Why should these iPads and iPhones be front page news when, the frothers froth, there are plenty of other manufacturers out there making products that are as good, if not better, for less money? And isn’t there something creepy about Apple’s cultiness and the closed ecosystem of their apps and stores? The anti-Applers see pretension and folly everywhere and they want the world to know it. The enthusiastic frothers don’t really mind, they just want to get their hands on what they perceive as hugely desirable objects that make them happy. The two sides will never agree, the whole thing has become an ideological stand-off: the anti-Apple side has too much pride invested in their point of view to be able to unbend, while Apple lovers have too much money invested in their toys to back down. It is an absorbing phenomenon and one which seems to get hotter every week."

Me? I'm off to look at a Droid 'cos when the head of one of my favorite companies tells me a real problem is a "non-problem" with a product I am about to invest in— that's a problem.

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