Monday 17 September – Day 13 of 30
Steve woke up this morning feeling much better than yesterday. He felt like himself again, meaning his Cloud self, not his Earth self. He had stayed in bed for most of Sunday, had not eaten anything, and had not spoken to a single person. When Isaac Newton and his other sleep neighbors straggled in throughout the evening, chatting quietly as they settled down, he had pretended to be asleep. The twenty-four hour self-imposed quarantine had worked. He felt cleansed, purified, and more at peace.
Steve got up, cleaned up, straightened up, and set off on his Monday morning rounds. First stop: breakfast. Julia Child greeted him fondly with her chirpy “Bonjour, Monsieur!” and cooked up his standing order. He took his plate over to where Jim Henson sat alone, except for his current Muppet, and surprised them both by saying, “Hi, Jim! How’re you doing today?”
It was uncommon, even unheard of, for Steve Jobs to initiate chit-chat. His conversation openers went straight to the point, and often straight to the jugular. Jim managed to hide his surprise and responded in kind.
“Just fine, Steve. What about you?”
“Better than yesterday. I’d say it’s getting better all the time.”
“That sounds great,” Jim said. “I guess you’re finally getting adjusted to life on The Cloud.”
Steve didn’t elaborate, so they finished their meals in silence. Jim bussed his dishes and when he turned around, Steve was gone. No goodbye. Left his dishes on the table. Maybe he said all he could, Jim thought to himself.
Next stop: work. When he arrived on the seventh floor of the iTower, he found the music librarian backed up against the desk by a crowd of patrons who were making too much noise for a library. She caught his eye and beckoned him over.
“Help,” she said.
“What?” he asked.
“Find out the name of the new Dylan album, get a list of the songs, and get it to me as soon as you can! These folks heard about it, they want it, and I don’t have it!”
A new Dylan album?! Steve legged it up to the tenth floor, ran to his personal reserved iMac, googled “Dylan new album” and there it was: “Tempest”. Released September 10 in the UK and September 11 in the US. His hero, Bob Dylan, 71 years old, still inventing himself.
Steve was soon lost in the Rolling Stone and New Yorker reviews. In the Culture Desk blog he read, “the album’s curtain-closer, the stately Lennon elegy “Roll On, John,” concludes with a benediction that movingly paraphrases Blake: “In the forest of the night / Cover him up and let him sleep.” Isn’t Dylan, in eulogizing his kindred spirit and one time friendly rival, really singing about himself, telegraphing his own anxieties about art, fame, and immortality? Couldn’t we just as well call the song “Roll On, Bob”?
He couldn’t wait to tell John. Bob had written a song about him.
There was a tap on his shoulder. It was Marian, the tenth floor librarian, reminding him that he had an urgent task to complete. Over to trusty Wikipedia for the list of songs. My God, he thought, but Wikipedia is amazing. The Tempest article was first posted July 12 and had over 500 revisions so far. Well, everybody loved Dylan.
Steve printed out the song list and raced it down to the seventh floor. He made copies, handed them out, and the crowd dispersed, adjusting their earbuds as they left.
To this day Steve had not figured out how the implanted earbuds worked. Somebody up here had one-upped him and designed a magical interface between the brain and the earbuds. All you had to know was the artist name, album, and song title and, presto, it was playing in your earbuds.
He was determined to find the genius behind this iPod upgrade.
(to be continued tomorrow)