Old Abrahamic religious mindsets in new IT companies (part 11)
So how does the Apple ethos relate with all those aspects I wrote about in the previous parts? I notice that its way of dealing with the complexity of information the IT field supposes is so idiosyncratically Islamic. It has some awareness of the complexity of the world and it grows around the perception that it is much easier to keep the things simpler in a walled garden where the scope of that complexity stays more manageable. Within this walled garden you can develop a well optimized integration of software and hardware while letting unfold in your mind that mental fluidity that lets you think beyond the existing trodden paths.
Islam is a holistic approach to life that gives you a sense of clarity and valuable mental fluidity beyond the classical human thinking, showing you a coherent, simple and decluttered view in a complex world. This is the kind of experience Apple offers to its customers, its products have a simple, uncluttered beauty and they work well due to the focus on optimizing the integration between software and hardware. This focus is determined by the utter awareness of the complexity of the real life, it is rather a personal necessity in the first place, as a personal need for coherence when you have such awareness. Apple ethos works like in the Hungarian story Stone Soup I wrote about in the previous part of this series, with a refreshed view of mostly already existing things, seeing new ways to connect the dots and improve their value, while for the customers the focus on the stone creates a refreshing approach to the products.
The “soup” in itself has to be good, but there is also the additional sense of mental fluidity and refreshment that declutters the mind. Apple appears to give a new life to the worldview from the Islamic Golden Age, with that refreshed view of mostly already existing things, seeing new ways to improve their value, while for the customers the focus on “the stone” creates a refreshing approach to the products.
Further on, the customers are increasingly locked in the emerging ecosystem growing around the initial refreshing perceptions. The same as the soldier keeps asking for new ingredients, Apple can keep selling additional “ingredients” to the one who bought initially one of their products. Do you want to immerse even more in this cohesive satisfying experience of psychological refreshment? Then buy this, buy that also, and this too, and that too etc.
Most of those engaged in the Apple ecosystem do not need to know how such a cohesive experience is attained, they just sense how this walled garden experience gives them a sense of clarity and psychological fluidity in a complex world. Something similar happens in Islam, some of the Muslims are mujtahid, those who immerse in the study of how the Islamic ecosystem works in real life. Most of the Muslims are mukallit (“imitators”), something like the “Apple sheep”, they don’t need to study by themselves how this ecosystem works, but in the same time they are very invested psychologically in it and defensive about it.
The Islamic patrolling of the allegiance of its believers was not so insecure like in the Christian case (at least in the initial phase, when they were on the roll, not yet stale and with such a feeling of powerlessness as nowadays). The people became themselves invested in the coherence of such an ecosystem, it offered them psychological satisfactions. They were also mentally hedged with “fear, uncertainty, doubt” that this is the way and you should not think about coherence elsewhere and thus they found themselves defensive about anything threatening that coherence. That ecosystem gives an assuring sense of control of the situation and anything else beyond it is presented as a bad chaos if you stray away from the Islamic organization.
Initially, the Muslims were not so exclusivistic like the Christians, they had provisions about the other Abrahamic religions to permit them live under the Muslim rule. It was like Apple creating the Boot Camp Assistant to permit installing Windows within the Apple ecosystem. It is in the idea that “yeah sure, let’s bring Windows into our walled garden too, we are so utterly in control of the situation in our ecosystem anyway.” On the other hand, there is no interest in Apple software and / or hardware products outside of their ecosystem, it is something meaningless in their ethos (the same as in the Muslim case). The “fear, uncertainty, doubt” ingrained in the psychology of this ethos turns meaningless such thoughts. They pay attention to the intellectual life outside the ecosystem, but they process it inside to the extent they feel they are on the roll.
The Christianity has a fear of assuming the hardware, the real life experience, because they know (but they do not want to admit) that their software is not really the ultimate solution they purport it to be. It is about an idealistic belief in an ideal software and that in the future the second coming of Jesus will bring a seamless software and hardware integration. In the meantime, the people need to make do with the operating system Jesus implemented in them and the result is much more insecure, with a need for a much more insidious patrolling of the people’s minds.
They do not have such an ecosystem like in the Muslim / Apple case. People constantly need to deal with real life and manipulate any inadvertences they notice in Jesus’ teachings so that their belief system still stays intact. And when not knowing what to do, just focus on Jesus’ death and resurrection as a fresh start clean of sins. The Windows operating system accumulates the sins of its ongoing relation with the hardware and with the applications, dies and resurrects afresh cleaned of all those sins.
The Muslims / Apple fans think in terms of an ecosystem that works and become themselves invested in its sense of control of the situation that it offers. This sense of control of the situation like in the classical masculinity means on the other hand that it is difficult for them to accept that something may be wrong in that ecosystem. Especially when that wrong aspect challenges the overall sense of control of the situation (and they have the tendency to manipulate the perception in a way that the overall sense of control of the situation stays intact). On the other hand, the Christian / Microsoft approach has the advantage that it does not need to assume responsibilities for the sense of control of the situation beyond their own software. This is what enables it for good or worse to deal with a huge amount of information while still believing in classical masculine sense of “knowledge”.
Both these worldviews have the tendency to set on the others the onus for any software and hardware integration issues, the Muslims / Apple use this too. Like the Muslim conspiracy theories about how it is every time the others’ fault or Apple “explanations” for functioning issues like you are not holding the phone correctly. But Christianity / Microsoft turns the presentation of such moments of reckoning with issues into a saving solution. If Windows dies and resurrects (which in the Muslim / Apple ecosystem would show a lack of personal coherence if faced for what it is as a recurring issue), it is in this case for the others’ sins.
The focus is on a supposed ideal software as classical masculine sense of knowledge as control of the situation. In the Christian/ Microsoft case, the masculine peace of mind is based on a supposed software that works and the real life issues in the existing software do not affect so much the mental relaxation of the belief in that ideal software as control of the situation. Add to this that they do not really assume leadership responsibilities about anything beyond their own software. They integrate the hardware and software beyond that, but they are careful to not overextend and end up really assuming leadership responsibilities (the part where Jesus was a smart aleck, as, while he was believing in a perfect solution and he had such an immediate and imperious feeling that a perfect solution must exist, he did not really have ideas about how to unfold such a perfect solution).
The popular use of Windows shows also an accumulation of folk experience with these Christian antics, many people kind of live with them while lacking other alternatives with such a cohort of optimized applications. The contemporary Christian societies are in fact rather post-Christian, a process that gathered pace after the The Thirty Years War, when the people started to drift out of the psychological clout of Christianity and to discover the modern scientific quest as a way to face the complexity of the world.
Contemporary Communism can give an idea about how the Christian societies were in the past, those Communist dictatures where officially everything is so hopeful and in the right direction, irrespective of the “hardware” reality on the ground, and even manipulating the real life suffering to turn it into something meaningful. Also the savior approach to the problems they create themselves, like the boasting of the Chinese Communist Party that they reduce poverty, when in the first place they were the ones who caused the most massive loss of life in human history. Or the boasting of creating facilities for economic development, when in the first place they were the ones who were suppressing it for so long in the past with their own policies.
They are smart alecks who know to not overextend in assuming leadership responsibilities, to not just go with the first classical masculine impulses when asserting control of the situation. Originally, this was a feminine approach to the complexity of real life, but in Christian terms this is assumed to support a classical masculine knowledge of the world as control of the situation, with very aberrant consequences.
Communism is a sort of a resurgent Christianity in the modern context seeking to restore that feeling of the universal Abrahamic religions that they are the whole world (and some nuances in Communism are adapted to respond to the modernity). The vibe around Bill Gates’ Microsoft is that of accumulation of folk experience with Christian practices. There is a feeling that life is more than such an ideology, but, when sensing how easily you can create an empire in this new IT environment with such a self-righteous mindset and what a great feeling of mental clarity and achievement it creates, the mind kind of slides into immersing in its inner logic. Much of the contemporary Christian belief too is in these terms, it does not really have that pre-modern feeling that such an universal Abrahamic perspective is the whole world. Deep down, they kind of sense that they are self-righteous smart alecks that just manipulate the perceptions of the people about the complexity of the real life.
The Apple ethos too looks like taking into consideration the current state of Islam and all the experience accumulated since its beginnings. Previously, I got into more detail about what happened with the Islamic vitality in time because it appears that Apple creates a new version of Islam, an Islam 2.0 that tries to answer the issues that turned the historical Islam so stale. This new version continues to have the nuance of real belief that such an universal Abrahamic perspective is the whole world. Unlike the Western societies that largely transitioned into a post-Christian mindset, the Islamic world still thinks in Islamic terms, it did not have a Thirty Years War moment of reckoning with what is bad in Islam and of having some mental relaxation that life is more than that (the current unfolding turbulence may turn into such a moment of reckoning).
Apple is immersed in that religious vibe that the Christian societies had in the past, with a feeling that this is the whole world. It finds the possibility to start afresh the Islamic worldview in this new IT environment, unencumbered by all the accumulation of historical scaffolding. While it continues some of the problematic issues, like the control of the situation as “truth”, it is weary of overextension, there is an obvious experience of not ending up like in Maslahtak of Ehab Tawfik and needing to be present psychologically in so many places and directions to project control of the situation and thus become so low-energy and stale.
While being weary of overextenstion, the vibe at Apple is that they do not really know how to tackle this historical experience, they do not address the underlying structural problems of Islam. It feels like “I found back the Islamic vitality as a real life application (i.e. not just as the theoretical Mecca period vibe from the call to prayer by Sheikh Abdullah Al Zaili), this time I will be ultra-careful to not lose it”. They abandoned much of the approaches that created stagnation as a result of the Medina period pedophile worldview. There is some increase of attention to the fact that it is not enough to just have a peace of mind from the success in finding added value at other people’s discoveries. There is an increased sense of the need for mental fluidity necessary to keep you relevant and on the roll, a more direct gaze into the mental abyss of creativity. It looks increasingly more like dealing with an adult woman, but not finding a way to be open about it in organizational terms. All this continues in the original Muslim terms of a walled garden of controlled “truth”. It is not about acknowledging the complexity of the world beyond the walled garden.
They are very parsimonious with the information they offer, they are very secretive in order to limit as much as possible the instances where they need to assume overall responsibilities (and implicitly, in their mindset, overstretching control of the situation). A retreat is not a bad thing in itself if you need for a while to have some peace of mind while elaborating something. But this is not about that, it is about the fact that the care to not overextend the leadership continues in the original Muslim terms. It is about projecting the concept of having the “truth”.
There may be some cultural Jewish influence in how to work with the psychological fluidity of that walled garden like in a masculine relation with an adult woman. It is said that Robert Friedland had some influence on Steve Jobs around these topics. But the overall structure continues to be a Muslim walled garden of “truth” as control of the situation.
Steve Jobs’ nuance was to limit as much as possible the need to give answers about that abyss of creativity, in order to not face the questions about the inadequacies of the classical masculine terms of knowledge and “truth” as control of the situation. It is a situation of eating the cake of creativity and having it too as easy classical masculine control of the situation, which still makes the unfoldment of the creativity too difficult. This is an ongoing structural problem at Apple, plus the associated issues in dealing with their “sheep” and the rest of the world that result from not accepting to face the complexity of real life beyond the walled garden.
The mindset is still in the terms of Ehab Tawfik in Maslahtak, that of a man who has a classical type of control of the situation even in such a complex perception of the world. The concept of a walled garden is not bad in itself, it can be very normal to see how things work in a psychological walled garden, but it is inhumane and suffocating if it is not about facing the complexity beyond. The original design of that feminine inner space was in relation to the diachronic complexity of the world. The Muslim mindset relies on this structure, it did not bring new relevant developments and it suffers structural problems as a result of not taking properly in consideration the full course of the diachronicity.
Notice also how Steve Jobs designed Apple Park as that ring-shaped building enclosing a piece of the complex fluid unfoldment of nature, groomed enough to stay within some limits that classical sense of organization can work with, while still not losing its diachronic gist. The building around it is the possibility to have an intellectual sense of organization, fruitful as a result of the diachronic freshness at its core, while feeling like able to project a self-centered sense of organization outside of it.
But a direct relation to the gist of the full-course diachronicity is not there, and then you see them feeling unwarranted the way Facebook works with the information. The original feminine approach has such a psychological inner space in relation to the huge diachronic fluidity of real life, in which it can let the thoughts unfold in some more manageable proportions, but the process is done by taking in consideration the full-course unfoldment beyond it. The thoughts within the inner space tend to be about the overall direction in life and also about processing external happenings, usually by immersing fluidly in the long-term accumulated culture. Outside of that space, the mind is immersed in the diachronic unfoldment of life.
There are contexts in which that outside immersion in the full-course diachronicity retreats within the inner space, like when a man stays in a child-like relation with an older woman, like in Uftanma of the Tatar singer Radik Yulyakşin/Elvin Grey. Or when the feminine immersion in the outside diachronicity feels too much pressure from the scope of the diachronic unfoldment of the real life, like in O’zbegim of the Uzbek singer Kaniza. Then you can have in the inner space also the side of the mind immersed in this unfoldment. The “broken telephone” from Judaism to Islam led to the impression that this is the Holy Grail of a classical masculine sense of organization working in some manageable proportions with the diachronic fluidity of life.
Steve Job’s psychology had some improvements that took in consideration what turned Islam so stale. The working space is between the inner space and the outside world, thus the diachronic unfoldment of the outside world is much more taken in consideration. But it still continues with the impression that it can be processed through a classical masculine organizational structure. In practice it is not like this when really immersing in the full-course creative diachronic fluidity, Steve Jobs had no answer about what is going on in the mind in such moments, and this determined a propensity for being secretive, as a protection of the viability of such process while the classical organizational structure is still employed.
There is traditional Jewish secretiveness around the psychological work with diachronic fluidity, like the heavy restrictions around the Holy of Holies or around pronouncing the name of God. But this is something that takes in consideration the full-course diachronicity and this meant that they had to learn the hard way historical lessons about what that means. The subsequent approach from Talmud has some new organizational developments going beyond classical masculine sense of organization. The modern Jews can be in some aspects very open and immersive in the workings of the mind, think of Freud, Kafka etc.
This creates a feeling that the Apple model is going to crumble down if others use outwardly this immersion in the full-course diachronicity. For example, for some reason, Apple leadership has an ongoing intense aversion for the Facebook model. At a first glance, this does not make much practical sense, as they rather compete with Microsoft and Google. A closer look shows that, structurally, Apple and Facebook have similar basic premises of focusing on the psychological ecosystem in one’s mind. However, Facebook does this with an openness to the myriad divergent ways such ecosystems can develop. For this, they pay attention to the specific details of the ecosystem of meaning in one’s mind and they can grow an organizational structure to sustain all such ecosystems concomitantly.
This done without further thought opens all kinds of issues about privacy, about hooking people too much around things that arouse their interest, about the development of echo chambers of like-minded people who end up living too much only in their own bubble etc. These issues need to be studied and see what to do around them (which can open even better business models, with more depth). But I see as good the basic concept of Facebook.
The issue for Apple is that this basic approach of Facebook challenges too much their own way to work with psychological ecosystems, namely as a magical walled garden where you can sustain some refreshing psychological fluidity by limiting its complexity. The openness to the myriad ways the ecosystems of meaning can diverge into brings to the forefront the psychological complexity that the Apple ethos avoids.
Their interest in informational privacy stems in the first place from the need to keep the simplification created by the psychological walled garden. If the personal nuances of one’s psychological ecosystem are kept on a private level, Apple can sustain its specific brand of one-size-fits-all ecosystem. They seek to keep the people focused on the refreshing sweetness of that simplified walled garden and apprehensive about the possibilities to manage their own specific private nuances in public.
In this way, lots of people can share and identify with the same universal ecosystem, while having their private specific nuances, many times divergent, kept at a less formal, less conscious level (like in the Muslim approach to universality or like in the survival of classical Arabic as the official language in all Arab world, while in practice people speak divergent Arabic dialects / languages). This also means that lots of personal aspects are left unaddressed while everything feels so good and rewarding as control of the situation over the diachronic fluidity (while in the Facebook approach they are mostly left to unfold by themselves, it would have been good for Zuckerberg to have a Freudian and Kafkian tinge and pay more attention to that, because Facebook itself kind of develops itself such tinge).
I don’t see the concept of a psychological walled garden or of a circular building with nature in its middle as bad in itself, but it should be done with an identification and solidarity with the complexity beyond, as in the original Jewish worldview. Otherwise, it turns awry, inhumane, inconsequential after a while. Whatever happens inside the walled garden should take in consideration the complexity beyond, not as an island of simplified righteousness. No problem with the simplification in itself either, sometimes it is good to do this (this is why that inner space developed in the classical feminine psychology after all), but with a deep underlying natural connection with the complexity beyond.
In order to survive on long term, the Apple model should be open to that complexity and sense how natural and consequential it is. It is not only about the Facebook model thriving out there. The whole concept of modernity is open to that complexity and this in time erodes the Apple / Muslim approach. The current issue noticed by the Apple leadership is that of privacy, as though, if this defense line is broken, its whole business model crumbles down. I see the issue of privacy as a practical one that needs to be taken properly in consideration at the universal level unfolded by these IT companies. But I don’t see it as the main structural issue. Instead, it appears to be rather about seeing how natural and consequential is the complexity beyond the walled garden.
When I was wondering how comes that Apple appears so structurally Islamic, the only cue that came to my mind was that Steve Jobs’ father was a Syrian Muslim. But Steve was adopted by other pair of parents, he did not have any meaningful contact with his genetic father. I looked for other cues, but I did not find any. Regarding Steve Jobs’ father, in the meantime I paid attention to the extent the mindset of a person is transmitted genetically (it was some years ago when I noticed these Abrahamic mindsets in the major IT companies, I had time to think about it).
I noticed cases of adopted people who found out how many idiosyncrasies they shared with their genetic relatives when they met them later in life, although they did not have any contacts during their upbringing. Studies show genetic transmission of information from one generation to another, like that on mice made to associate the scent of cherry blossom with pain. Their offspring were nervous when smelling that scent even though they were not exposed themselves to associated pain. My thought was that this also means that the current genetic traits can change too (i.e. not just take as a given the experience of the ancestors, my own life has some unfolding experience too).
Steve Jobs had a trajectory that kind of retraced some basic issues Muhammad had to confront with when starting the unfoldment of the Islamic organization. Initially, he was not able to make the people at Apple abide by the code of conduct the unfoldment of such a walled garden requires. He had a Hegira moment, he was expelled from the company, he started a new one developing his worldview like Muhammad at Medina, until he got back at the faltering Apple now ready to accept the exigencies of his organizational approach. In a sense, probably you kind of end up in such situations if you need to abide by a rigorous code of conduct required for that walled garden to function as control of the situation. Structurally, this organizational approach kind of invites such life trajectories.
There were also situations that did not unfold as in the past. The government was adverse to monopolistic companies and Microsoft gave a helping hand to Apple to recover, in order to look like having some competition. Imagine a government in the past taking measures against the monopolistic spread of Christianity. The Christian leadership looks at the struggling Muslims, let’s give them a helping hand to not look like were are the only ones, we are so strong anyway, they barely manage to make a dent, Muhammad barely managed to get a firm control of Mecca, it doesn’t hurt so much.
In this new unfoldment however, the Islamic leadership does not immerse so blindly in the easy expansion facilitated by a pedophile worldview. It has a new unexpected chance with all the accumulated historical experience, it is weary of overstretching the control of the situation and, crucially, it pays more attention to the fact that it has to move things forwards in terms of what it can offer to the people, with a more direct gaze into the psychological abyss of creativity. It develops a new field of usage for this expertise of working with a huge amount of information. The Christian leadership is dismissive of that, “good try, but you can’t get people invested in that, that’s another expensive stuff of yours with limited appeal, we are the smart ones who know how to swim in this informational environment, look at our success”.
However, this new field proves to be so popular and, when Christianity wants to jump on the bandwagon too, it is late and it does it rather clumsily. In the meantime, a universal Abrahamic religion of direct rabbinical Jewish extraction, with openness to the complexity beyond one’s bubble, filled in the space that the walled garden concept of Islam could not cover. And its specific self-limiting organizational approach meant that much of the practical real life organization was spearheaded by a Korean polity and then also by some Chinese polities expanding worldwide in an Age of Exploration.
The self-limitation is about the same as that of Christianity, but with some other nuances, given some differences of ethos. The focus is not on the sense of organization it provides to the people, but on the practical information. This is what gives a sense of real life to this religion. And the similarity with Christianity in self-limitation is only about this specific context, as the scope of this Jewish universal religion starts from another direction, originally providing to the people arrays of ranked answers about the informational complexity of the world, banking on the experience of the long-term honed answers of the rabbis to the Jewish laymen’s questions.
This is how that opportunity was missed for Christianity and gone are the days when it was grilled by the government for monopolistic practices. A new Hindu leadership gave up much of those previous nasty practices, turning the religion towards a more relaxed and collaborative approach to the rest of the world, you can actually prosper well like that too.
But I should add that Microsoft is still a giant company that can bully its way when necessary, as for example in the case of the workplace messaging app Slack. They noticed the value of this field and they tried to buy Slack. It didn’t work and they created a rival platform, Microsoft Teams, which grew much faster that Slack with the overall backing of the company.