четверг, 6 октября 2011 г.

Divided by the Same Parents: Steve Jobs and Mona Simpson

The news about Steve Jobs's passing after a long battle with cancer has captured the attention of millions worldwide. His co-workers have posted a tribute to their inspiring leader and visionary stating that "Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built." Immediately after the news became public millions of people have flooded social networks with their responses, condolences, and memories.

A number of people would immediately associate Steve Jobs with his inventions, calling him the Henry Ford or Thomas Edison of today. Yet, the life of a genius cannot happen in isolation.

As I researched about Steve's life I realized that there's so much to be said about his own achievements that an image of a self-made man might easily come to mind. However there is really nothing we can ascribe only to ourselves; and our achievements, so often upheld as "our own" could not have been possible without those that had gone before us.

Not many people know that Steve Jobs was adopted by an Armenian family shortly after he was born. Jobs's biological parents were Abdulfattah John Jandali, a Syrian Muslim immigrant to the US, and Joanne Simpson, an American of German ancestry. Joanne's parents had been against their daughter's relationship with a Muslim, and the young parents were forced to put the child up for adoption. 

Ever since the adoption took place neither Steve nor his biological parents have tried to contact each other. Jandali and Simpson did get married later and had a daughter, Mona Simpson, a popular American novelist and Steve's biological sister. Interestingly, Jobs knew nothing about his sister until he turned 27 when he met her and, as Eric Rumsey noted in his blog, citing the 1997 New York Times magazine article, Jobs was struck by "the similarity in their intensity, traits, and appearance."

Some have speculated whether any of this complicated family history has been reflected in Mona Simpson's novels. In particular, her 1997 book, A Regular Guy relates a story of the Silicon Valley entrepreneur who has the resemblance of Steve Jobs. Simpson has been vocal to dispel any kind of autobiographical facts in her novels.

So the loss that many experience today is not only that of the inventor of the iWorld and all of the iGadgets. It's the loss of a family member, even to those who never got to share the joys of one united family.