is he in the building
or not? Is he all better? Why won’t they tell us? And does it matter?
Now, it very well may be that many successful public companies are run by crazy buggers—secretive, paranoid, and contrary to a fantastic degree. It may be that Steve Jobs
is actually a breath of fresh air. While he may have tried to hide his health issues, he’s certainly open about his peculiarities.
Anyway, he very well could be back at work, and, according to mysterious sources, with a new liver
(a hospital in Memphis is now claiming
to have supplied it). Indeed, in Jobs’ continuing campaign to turn corporate transparency on its ear, various members of the press seem to have been told certain things under certain conditions designed to further cloud the situation. Not just to turn transparency on its ear, but to mock it.
At virtually every step of Jobs’ illness there’s been a pattern of misinformation and subterfuge and pretense and prevarication. And for what? None of this obfuscation
seems to have been to any clear point. There certainly doesn’t seem to be a business advantage to this grand deception. The point seems to be just deception itself—how much can Steve Jobs get away with? And even here, it’s a little odd because what has been most clear is Jobs’ intent to deceive everybody. Perhaps this is what has helped the company avoid the kind of SEC scrutiny that such deception at such a grand scale at a public company would seem to deserve—that is, it’s hard to accuse a company of hiding material facts
when it’s obvious what material facts it’s hiding. In other words, it isn’t so much an intention to deceive, rather it’s just weirdness and eccentricity, and there aren’t SEC rules
So perhaps it’s time to look at the way Steve Jobs has handled his illness, not from an uptight regulatory and shareholder view, but from a more heroic angle. The way he has handled his illness has been a calculated fuck you to compliance ritual and propriety and to every investor and geek and subscriber to Silicon Valley mythology who thought they had a claim on him. If he was going to die, he was going to die his way. If he was not going to die, perhaps his way was what was going to keep him alive.
Or, if he was going to die, then he was going to make it as difficult and as stressful as possible for everyone around him. Or, if he wasn’t going to die, he was going to do it in such a way that he’d be able to say one helluva I-told-you-so.
Genius has its privileges and he was going to take advantage of all of them. Anyway, if he did have to die, he certainly wasn’t going to be generous or gracious about it. And, of course, maybe he still is dying and this being in the building and back at work is just a terrible tease—the final fuck you.
Somewhere in this weirdness there are probably secrets about what makes certain businesses uniquely great. Jobs, however, is still a prick.
More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at email@example.com.