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BW Businessworld

Art Of Apple Maintenance

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The summer of 1986. At a zen monastery in the US, Kobun Chino Otogawa speaks in a husky voice: "Going around the corner is essential. The natural rhythm of breathing is a…" (and the page flips; the colour changes) "…circle," completes Steve Jobs emphatically. The scene shifts to City Hall, California, and Kobun's mantra has survived 25 summers to attain new meanings and more listeners. Kobun was to Buddhism what Jobs was to personal technology: a renegade and maverick, says author Caleb Melby as he begins The Zen Of Steve Jobs (John Wiley & Sons). The graphic novella is a re-imagining of their time together, which was integral to Apple's big leaps in product design and strategy. Though Jobs had embraced Buddhism during his days in India, he found a friend, philosopher and guide in Kobun. Their discussions are relevant to the corporate world; behind every visionary, there is a vision.

Jobs's official biographer Walter Isaacson had given a clownish portrayal of Kobun — as a hapless bore who spoke in needlessly cryptic ‘haiku', but Melby is full of reverence for him. He also spares enough frames for the Zen master's tragic death. The artwork is beautiful and elegant — a combination of manga and western styles with clean lines and sweeping tones in muted greens, blues and purples. Its richness lies in its minimalism and simplicity — just like any Apple product. And as a timely tribute to Jobs, the book matches up to his last words in the last frame: "It's perfect."
(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 06-02-2012)