Did you bite the magic Apple?
 

By Max Jakob Lusensky

 

As one of the world’s most admired and highly valued companies Apple, Inc., has outgrown its brand and become a cultural icon that embodies the Zeitgeist of today. Other companies have consumers; Apple has fans and an unspoken brand mythology, including a former spiritual leader. Recent neuroscience research reveals (through MRI scans) that Apple’s brand stimulates the same part of the brain in its followers as religious imagery does in people of faith (Rose 2012)—consumption as metaphysics.

This essay explores the phenomenon of Apple, as a cultural icon and a carrier of projections, values, ideas, and aspirations emerging within the collective today. By analyzing the brand’s archetypal roots in the life, philosophy, and psychology of its charismatic leader, Steve Jobs, this paper demonstrates how a magical connection is created to its products, a connection that reveals an underlying, unspoken mythology that seems to offer magical transcendence through technology

My hypothesis is that the Apple phenomenon and the strong appeal of its products goes beyond branding and, in fact, crosses a transformative threshold. Rather than a conventional branding effort that turns a logo into a signifier, Apple has succeeded in creating a living symbol— an image that has become the carrier of psyche, with all the depth, emotion, and meaning that are particular to the archetypal field from which it draws. Apple products can also be said to work as intermediaries between individuals and the world to which they connect. The symbol emerges from the archetypal layer of psyche and constellates a particular field, which, in my view, is that of the Magician.

The World of Apple

Apple Computer, Inc., was established on April 1, 1976, April Fool’s Day, in Cupertino, California, by Steve Jobs and his two partners, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne. The company’s thirty-seven-year history includes milestones such as the launch of the Macintosh in 1984, the first commercially successful personal computer; the design, marketing, and success of the iMac in 1998; and the last decade’s releases of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. This new “post–personal computer era” began when Steve Jobs returned to the company in 1997. Once he resumed leadership, he initiated a restructuring process that involved eliminating less successful product lines, setting up new strategic partnerships with former competitors such as Microsoft, and revitalizing the brand.

The iMac release was the first product launched after Jobs’s return and became an immediate success. This was followed by Apple’s 2001 release of the revolutionary iPod, a device that opened the company to other categories of personal digital devices and changed the way we consume music forever. In 2007, Apple repeated its innovative success when it introduced the iPhone, a smartphone tagged with the moniker “Jesus Phone” by Apple devotees and the media. The third feat, one might say the crown jewel in this trio of magical objects, was the tablet computer—the iPad—in April 2010. With this innovation, the company had invented a completely new product category within the field of consumer electronics.

Today, the commercial success of Apple is unprecedented, and the company has quickly become the world’s fastest growing and one of the most highly valued companies with annual sales of $108 billion (Financial Times 2011). What accounts for this success? As any of its fans will tell you, Apple makes exceptional products. But that is only one part of the story. In order to understand its successes, we must start by exploring the psychology of its former co-founder, Steve Jobs.


In the Mind of Steve Jobs

 

As in all entrepreneurial endeavors, Apple’s products and services are, to a great extent, a reflection of the conscious and unconscious psyche of its most famous co-founder. Jobs was born in San Francisco on February 24, 1955, and adopted at birth; his biological mother was an unwed college graduate student. During his adolescent years, Jobs was a spiritual seeker, interested in philosophy and Eastern religion, and he experimented with drugs, including LSD. His working-class parents saved money for him to attend college, but after six months, Jobs dropped out, not seeing the value of it, yet without any ideas about what to do with his life.

 

During this period, Jobs started practicing various spiritual exercises and attended Hare Krishna meetings. He went to India to “find himself,” visited gurus, and returned to the United States with his head shaved, a proclaimed Buddhist. He continued to be unfulfilled by the answers he received, however. Jobs later said he thought of becoming a monk in Japan instead of starting Apple, but his teacher, Kobun Chino Otogawa of the Los Altos Zen Center near San Francisco, convinced him otherwise.

In a commencement speech Jobs delivered to Stanford University graduates in 2005, he said, “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart” (2005). Steve Jobs was not the average business leader, but as this paper hopes to show, he can be likened to a spiritual leader—a magician with a quest in life that went far beyond selling hardware.

Jobs’s typology would best be characterized as an extroverted intuitive type. According to Jung,

the intuitive is never to be found in the world of accepted reality values, but he has a keen nose for anything new and in the making . . . His capacity to inspire courage or to kindle enthusiasm for anythingnewisunrivalled... Thestrongerhisintuitionthemorehisegobecomesfusedwithallthe possibilities he envisions . . . He brings his vision to life, he presents it convincingly and with dramatic fire, he embodies it, so to speak. (1921/1971, CW 6, {613)

People who knew Jobs characterize him as having a sort of magical imagination, a man who placed extreme demands on himself and others, and who was captured by his own vision. In interviews, people who worked with him refer to his unique ability to see possibilities, an attribute associated with the archetype of the Magician.


The Sociocultural Context

San Francisco in the 1960s and ’70s was the epicenter of the counterculture, New Age, and hippie movements. It was a time of great uncertainty and change: the Vietnam War, Woodstock, racial clashes, and university protests. There was growing distrust in traditional authorities, symbolized by the Republican Party and President Richard Nixon. The counterculture largely consisted of people who wanted to expand society through the personal liberation of the individual. These were people who wanted to build a new social and cultural model, without the restrictions of traditions, old structures and hierarchies, and the idealization of public figures. A strong wave of enthusiasm spread for individual freedom.

Jobs grew up in the epicenter of this chaotic yet creative period, and this would profoundly shape the values and beliefs that later would become part of his lifework at Apple. In an interview, he said that people who did not share his counterculture roots would have difficulties relating to his thinking (Markoff 2005, 18–19). By this, he upheld some of the values of the counterculture, such as independence from bureaucratic limitations and structures, the right to be different, and the opportunity to express one’s individuality. At its core was the belief in the creative potential of the individual, a belief that would become a central theme in the corporate mythology that was to be woven into the Apple brand.
 

 

Why the Bitten Apple?

 

The word logotype, or the more familiar logo, comes from the Greek word logos. A logotype is “a sign or character that represents a word, a graphic representation or symbol of a company name and or trademark” (Dictionary.com 2012). Logotypes began to be widely used in a commercial context by companies in the middle of the nineteenth century as the world evolved from the agrarian into the industrial age. In grocery stores at this time people still purchased their goods by weight and quantity. With the acceleration of industrial production, however, prepackaged consumer goods began to populate the store shelves. New technology for printing led to a new way of packaging goods, which included a printed label. Suppliers such as Coca-Cola, Campbell’s Soup, and Heinz Ketchup quickly took advantage of this burgeoning phenomenon. These companies and many more started to use their corporate signatures and logotypes as a way to differentiate their products from competitors, receive instant recognition, and thus build consumer trust (Meggs 1998).

Apple’s first logo, not known to most people, was designed in 1976, by Jobs together with co-founder Ronald Wayne. It depicts Sir Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree, from which an apple, surrounded by a halo, hangs, and which, according to legend fell on his head, giving him the sudden insights about the laws of motion and the theory of gravity. On the outside border of the logo was a poem, composed by the English romantic poet William Wordsworth: “Newton . . . A Mind Forever Voyaging Through Strange Seas of Thought ... Alone”


 

 

 

 

 

Apple computer’s first logo (www.comons.wikimedia.org)

Newton is well known for having been a scientist, a spiritual person, a mystic, who like Jung, was deeply interested in alchemy. Newton also seemed to have been a model for Jobs. “He admired these top people in the world—the Newtons and the Shakespeares. He thought that there were very few people who had really changed life forever for all of us. He obviously wanted to be one of them” says Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple (Wozniak 2008). It is likely that in choosing Newton for the logo, Jobs was identifying with this visionary figure.

 

This logotype was short lived, and during the same year, a new one was designed for the release of the Apple II. An external agency was hired and the designer Rob Janoff proposed two versions of a logo: one was the rainbow-striped apple and the other was the apple with a bite taken out of it. The colorful image paid tribute to the counterculture and hippie ethos, but also communicated that Apple’s monitors were in color, a completely new feature in the world of computers at that time.The company would use this multistriped logotype for the next twenty-two years. It was not until Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 that he decided to change it. The stripes were removed and replaced with a modern monochromatic look, more aligned with the design of the day and the new vision Jobs had for Apple.

According to J. E. Cirlot, “ . . . the apple symbolises totality. It is symbolic of earthly desires, or of indulgence in such desires” (2002). By choosing the image with the bite, the image was linked to the act of having eaten the forbidden fruit: “They ate of the forbidden fruit, And the eyes of them both were opened” (Genesis, 3:7). Abbé E. Bertrand writes that the phrase “to eat the apple” in earlier days meant “to abuse the intellect to gain knowledge of evil, abuse of the senses, to lust after evil, and abuse of freedom to commit evil” (quoted in Chevalier, Gheerbant, and Buchanan-Brown) Just like Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods, biting the apple in Western culture carries the meaning of yearning for divine knowledge. It was Eve, the feminine element, who offered man this sweet fruit. Jobs and Apple reintroduced these feminine qualities by bringing eros into the logos- dominated world of computer technology.

Apple’s logotype 1976–1998 (www.comons.wikimedia.org)
 

Brand Psychology

 

Although unacknowledged, Jungian ideas have increasingly become more relevant to the field of advertising and marketing. Public relations specialists and marketing experts have recog- nized that archetypal themes resonate with the deeper layers of the psyche. Although the economic demands on psychiatry press for the most cost- and time-effective approaches to psychic disorders, and undermine some applications of depth psychology, commercial enterprises rely heavily on archetypal principles.

Psychoanalytical theories, first introduced in America in 1909 when Freud and Jung spoke at Clark University, soon became modified to fit the emerging marketplaces and were introduced to America’s corporations and advertising agencies by opportunistic individuals such as Freud’s own nephew, Edward Bernays. Bernays was to become the founder of what we call today public relations (formerly known as propaganda). In particular, Freud’s discovery of the unconscious opened new territory for marketers and corporations to exploit. The insight that consumer decisions are often made irrationally, driven by unconscious, repressed sexual and emotional instincts, offered companies new opportunities to sell products that were not materially needed, but psychologically wanted.

What Bernays and his fellow marketers did was to introduce eros to the marketplace and to explore a new technique to infuse products with its energy. Products turned into pseudo-symbols when charged with psyche, mana, emotional appeal, and the promise to still the desires constantly stirring within the consumer’s unconscious. Influenced by the insights of psychoanalysis, a new method of marketing was born, one that would reshape the field of advertising and form a psychological framework for the industry that today is referred to as branding.

 

Branding—What Is It?

The word brand derives from Old Norse, a Viking language spoken in Scandinavia until the fifteenth century. Brandr meant “to burn” (Etymologically Dictionary Online 2012). Later in history, the word came to identify the process of marking cattle, criminals, and slaves using a hot iron, a precursor to the logo. According to marketing guru Seth Godin, a brand is “the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another” (2009). In the early and mid-twentieth century, many people thought of the logotype as the brand, what today we think of as only the visible sign, the signifier. Today a brand is much more—a sort of symbol that carries its own set of intangible elements of contextual values, emotions, aspirations, and projections. Companies today depend on a strong brand personality and sell not only a product, but also what is often referred to as a lifestyle that carries a corporate mythology with which people can identity.

Brands today are more than mirrors for our unspoken, often unconscious, psychological wants and desires. When successfully constructed, they activate what anthropologist Levy Bruhl in his studies of the psychology of “primitive” people referred to as a “participation mystique”: a symbiotic and unconscious identification “where the subject cannot clearly distinguish himself from the object but is bound to it by a direct relationship which amounts to partial identity . . . . an identification with a thing or the idea of a thing” (1921/1971, CW 6 {781). A psychological symbiotic relationship is formed where part of the consumer’s identity is to be found in the brand and vice versa. Though not articulated as such, this has led to what I would describe as a renaissance of Jung’s theories of the collective unconscious and the archetypes within the world of popular culture.

 

Whereas a sign or a logotype is an entity that always signifies another entity, a symbol and a brand is emotionally charged; it leads you to something unknown, and it has the capacity to transform and direct libido. Jung differentiated between the sign that he saw as “a commonly accepted indication of something known” (1956/1967, CW 5, {180) and the symbol as “The best possible expression for something that cannot be expressed otherwise” (1921/1971, CW 6, {814). The symbol always points to something not fully knowable.

Jung’s view was that psychic energy cannot be destroyed and that the symbol is the transformer of psychic energy: “They are the manifestation and expression of excess libido. Symbols are the great organizers of Libido” (Jung 1928/1960, CW 8, {91). Today, when religions and traditions have lost much of their power and society is no longer “a carrier of religious content, but an economic-political organization” (Campbell 2010, 387), brands in the marketplace seem to become important organizers of libido. The advertiser’s and marketer’s role is to transmute a client’s product and its logo from a sign to a (pseudo) symbol.

 

Viewed from this energetic perspective, consumption could be likened to a secular pseudo-religious ritual of sacrifice and gratification. The sacrifice being the psychic energy we invest in a purchase (money and attention) and the gratification, the brand’s promise of fulfillment of an underlying psychological (emotional) desire—a ritual that Jung might have described as magical. “A ceremony is magical so long as it does not result in effective work but preserves the state of expectancy” (Jung 1928/1960, CW 5, {89). Rather than giving back energy to us as consumers, it creates a sort of addiction and desire for more. Performed globally, this ritual seems to function as a sort of underlying psychological engine to drive consumer demand and secure the constant growth that our consumer economy craves.

But—as a disclaimer—just as religion lost its power over people when the symbols of religion failed to carry the power and meaning they once held, our modern-day economy depends on the continued manufacturing of belief—the power to tap into the deep psychic strata and successfully capture the consumer’s imagination. This is why companies annually spend more than $467 billion on advertising (GroupM 2011) and why the success of a brand like Apple is largely dependent on drawing us into its brand mythology.

 

 

Brand Archetypes

It is the weaving of a unique story and mythology into and around a product that creates our belief in a brand, a phenomenon that has led marketers and companies like Apple back to Jung and his theories on archetypes. By associating with the positive traits of a certain archetypal image and weaving communication, advertising, and marketing messages from strands that partake of a specific archetypal field, the marketing specialist today considers him- or herself able to form an instinctual identification with and awaken a state of participation mystique in the consumer.

One of the forerunners in this development was the sport’s giant Nike. Over the last three decades, Nike has worked strategically to find creative ways to capitalize on and connect to the

archetypal field of the Warrior by using battle imagery in their brand communication. Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, indirectly by her image evokes a message that the corporation wants to awaken in the consumer—the idea of becoming a winner. Scott Bedbury, former marketing executive at Nike, articulates the Jungian theme apparent in the field of marketing: “A brand is a metaphorical story that . . . connects with something very deep—a fundamental human appreciation of mythology . . . Companies that manifest this sensibility . . . invoke something very powerful” (Webber 1997).

Apple as a Living Symbol

 

When Apple entered the computer market in the late 1970s, it stepped right into a big-business corporate world structurally dominated by masculinity and logos. A technocratic and instrumental view dominated the field, with IBM being exemplary of this attitude. What Apple brought into this cold world of computer technology was eros, a more feminine and humanistic approach, together with a vision of democratizing computer technology by making it universally available to individuals.

The eros that Apple embodied was more explicitly the aesthetic, cultural, and spiritual beliefs of Steve Jobs, most likely inspired from his own spiritual values and the visionary imagination of his extraverted intuition. With its products, Apple introduced a more intuitive and direct way to engage with and relate to computers by breaking down the traditional borders between human and machine, subject and object. An example of this was the introduction of the mouse with the first Macintosh computer, which opened up a new, more immediate way to relate to the screen’s graphical interface. Rather than a masculine, technological aesthetic, Apple’s products, in their sleekness and simplicity, evoked a Zen sensibility and a beauty that might be considered feminine.

The Mythology of Apple’s Early Days

James Hillman wrote: “we emerge into life as creatures in a drama, scripted by the great storytellers of our culture” (1989, 206). The strength in these dramas, or in another word, myths, is that we live them unconsciously as truths. What is lived unconsciously by people is projected outside, and in the case of Apple, we will see how it takes the form of a magical belief in its products and the stories it tells. To understand how this happened we first have to look back.

“It is now 1984. It appears IBM wants it all and is aiming its guns on its last obstacle to industry control: Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire information age? Was George Orwell right?” (Jobs 1983). This extract is from a keynote speech Steve Jobs gave before showcasing the new Apple television commercial promoting the release of the Macintosh in 1984. The commercial (directed by Ridley Scott) took its inspiration from George Orwell’s novel, 1984. It showed a female heroine dressed in a white tank top with a picture of a Macintosh computer on it, carrying a sledgehammer in her hand. She ran through a dystopian landscape that cinematically referenced the opening scene of the classic film Metropolis. She raced toward a large screen with a big-brother-like Orwellian figure preaching to rows of gray, robotic men. She swung the hammer, and it crashed the screen. An explosion occurred and the commercial ended with the speaker and copy text, “On January 24, 1984, Apple will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984” (YouTube 2012).

 

The commercial was screened only one time, during America’s primetime media mega- occasion, the 1984 Super Bowl. This singular ad further enhanced the mythology that was forming around the company and its products. The young woman in the commercial appeared as a living personification of the Apple brand—the embodiment of a Promethean figure who represents the feminine, liberating force within a technological and instrumental world until then dominated by masculine sensibilities. Apple was symbolically slaying this old dragon and thereby also the values they represented. Embedded in this symbolical act was the revolutionary idea of embracing computers as transforming tools, liberating individuals in a society still dominated by the structure of patriarchal authority, which was viewed as inhibiting them from becoming authentic individuals. A personal computer revolution, inspired by Jobs’s counterculture beliefs, channeled through the marketplace.

Interpreted this way, the 1984 commercial and Apple’s launch of the first Macintosh can be seen as a marker of a paradigm shift in collective attitudes. The materialization of a counterculture hero and archetype in the marketplace, an archetypal constellation that had been brewing in the collective since the late 1960s, pregnant in Steve Jobs’s psyche, was born into new life through Apple. It found its corporate body, entered the market place, and spread throughout the world, exporting its associated values to consumers. Apple became an attractor and a symbol for this powerful psychic energy. Jobs’s attunement to this collective shift was his visionary strength, but like the magician who allows lightening to run through him, he was open to allowing the archetypal energies to channel through his personality. For a long time, Apple’s brand mythology would hover around the theme of the countercultural hero.

Apple’s myth and the warrior figure in Nike’s commercials share archetypal and mythic roots. They both have the characteristics of an instinctual drive toward progress and success, as well as a search for an identity by conquering the material, quantifiable, and external world. They both evoke the image of vanquishing an ever-present enemy or opponent—life lived as a series of battles and challenges, as embodied in the life of Jobs and Apple.

 

Transitional Phase

 

Jobs was forced to leave Apple at the age of thirty, an experience that would change him deeply. During this time he continued to be successful; he bought and developed the animation graphics company Pixar and founded another computer company called NeXT (later bought by Apple.) Jobs described these years as some of the most difficult but also most important in his life. “The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything,” an indirect reference to the Zen Buddhist concept of looking at the world with a “Beginners Mind.” This transitional phase in Jobs’s life could be viewed as what Joseph Campbell describes as the initiation part of the characteristic hero’s journey, an initiation that often involves a separation from the collective, a period of inward looking and questioning of old values, attitudes, and behaviors, and the maturation of new values that emerge from the unconscious (2010). Soon Jobs would embark on another heroic quest by returning to Apple.

 

 

A New Myth Materializes

By 1997, Apple was a company in crisis and Jobs’s comeback carried the heavy projection of him as its savior. As soon as he returned to the company, Jobs made massive changes, canceling unprofitable projects and firing staff. In one of his famous keynote speeches, he announced his re-visioned Apple. Jobs made it clear that the focus would be on Apple’s core expertise and building the brand. He seemed to have understood that the true value the company had developed was not in hardware but in their brand, and that future success depended on having more people believe its mythology. The launch of this re-visioned Apple included retiring the rainbow-striped logo that had been used since the 1970s and cultivating a more sophisticated persona.

Jobs’s transitional phase and separation from Apple had changed him. He seemed to have laid the old warrior attitude behind—something that became obvious as he, to everyone’s surprise, formed a partnership with Microsoft and his long-time enemy Bill Gates. Jobs was now back in charge of Apple to fulfill his life quest. True to his intuitive typology, this included being equipped with new visions and ideas of where he, Apple, and the collective were heading.

A counterculture heroic attitude could not save Apple from its economic problems. Collectively, the archetype with its attributed mythology and psychic attitudes of rebelling against authorities seemed to have lost some of its attraction. Beyond the social and political strivings of the 1960s and 1970s, there was another dimension. Often looking behind political reformative ideas, we find deeper, sometimes unconscious spiritual needs and wants, symbolically disguised in their rhetoric. Some of the spiritual ideas that formed the backdrop of the politically expressed counterculture liberation and the individual’s right of self-expression would take full bloom in the emerging New Age movement, which was characterized by the lack of an organized authority and an emphasis on the individual’s self-transformative potential. It was a spiritual blend of Eastern and ancient wisdom, but it had strong roots in American positivism and individualism.

Self-expression was no longer enough, neither for Jobs and Apple, nor for the collective.

 

Behind the desire to be different was the individual’s search for personal transformation: to climb to the highest level of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs—transcendence—and enter a state of being that surpasses our physical existence and that, in one form, is also independent of it. It was a time of growing spiritual drive in the secular age, and the technical innovations of our time captured something of that spiritual yearning. Jung wrote already in the late 1950s about how the archetype of the Self is projected in our modern age. “It is characteristic of our time that the archetype, in contrast to its previous manifestations, should now take the form of an object, a technological construction, in order to avoid the odiousness of mythological personification”

Since the 1990s and the rise of digital communication, technology has offered virtual transcendence of the limits of our biological existence. We can now connect with anything and anyone at any time. Looked at in this way, Apple today offers consumers more than individuality. The company markets what has been likened to transformational products and services (Cawthorne 2011). As a brand, Apple is able to take us as consumers to literal or metaphorical places just through a touch on the screen. No longer the counterculture hero, Jobs had reinvented himself and started to shape a new myth that connected to the yearning for the relationship with the numinous. And he had found a weapon more powerful than any sword of the strongest steel, the archetypal force of magic.

The Magic Apple

Magic was, in essence, the spiritual ethos of the New Age movement, and yet again Jobs and Apple would manage to capitalize on the change of collective values to become a psychic container and symbol for collective projections and needs. Anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski writes that magic expresses confidence over doubt and optimism over pessimism. It differs from religion in that it is purely practical and is always performed as a means to an end (Malinowski 1954). The counterculture’s ideas of collective change had warped from the countercultural heroic, political, and rebellious attitude of the 1960s and 1970s to a “magical” and ego-centered attitude focused on the individual’s need for self-transformation and the search for transcendence in the 1980s and 90s.

David Tacey points out in his article “Jung and the New Age: A Study in Contrast” how the New Age movement was deeply inspired by Jung and the search for self-realization. But in the positivistic, capitalistic soil of the American culture from the 1970s and 1980s and on, it lost its potential political and spiritual components. He explains how instead “it aims to bring new enchantment and mystery into a world that has grown tired, depressed, and disenchanted” (Tacey 1998).

It is this collective constellation of the archetype of the Magician and magical attitude toward the unconscious that we see Apple capitalizing on today. To fully understand how Apple again has attracted the psychic energy flowing in the collective, we once more turn back to Jobs.

 

The Magician

 

The Magician archetype is one who finds opportunities at every turn. The Magician experiences life as a flow and stays open to all possibilities. Steve Jobs’s personality seemed to personify and embody the characteristics of this archetype. In interviews with people who worked closely with Jobs, there are frequent references to his “reality distortion field” and how with a mix of superficial charm, charisma, marketing, appeasement, and persistence, he could prevail. By virtue of his will, he was able to distort an audience’s sense of proportion and make them believe a task is possible (Wikipedia 2011). Bill Gates expressed it perhaps most clearly by saying in a joint interview with Jobs, “The way he does things is just different and, you know, I think it’s magical” (GDGT.com 2011).

 

The power of magic requires both the magician and his or her audience. Jung describes magic as an archetype that always needs the Ergreifer, the one who is possessed or seizes as well as the Ergriffener, the audience, the one whom the magician possesses. For the magic to occur, what is required is “the performing magician just as much as the thing to be charmed and the means of charming” (Malinowski 1954). The magician always needs an audience. The powers are not only the magician’s, but are powers of mutuality.

How Jobs, the Magician, communicated Apple’s new myth to its followers becomes most clearly visible when studying his keynote speeches, which developed into evangelical-like gatherings watched by a global audience of millions. They all followed a similar ritual: Jobs casually entered the stage, praised the new product with superlatives, and the audience enthusiastically responded.

A word, often repeated, in these well-rehearsed presentations was the description of Apple’s products as magical, together with other superlatives such as awesome, amazing, and incredible. To quote Rob Johnson, Apple’s Senior President of Retail, on the occasion of the iPad launch, “This product has to be touched, it has to be held to truly understand how magic it is” (Johnson 2011). These products transcended existing product categories. Through the introduction of the touch screen, they added sensibility and eros and a more human way to relate to technological gadgets. They offered a more intimate way to access information—touch and the simple caress of our objects of desire.

In the performance of magic, repeating a magical spell transforms words into an unconsciously accepted truth. What a magician “does to a material object will affect equally the person with whom the object was once in contact, whether it formed part of his body or not” (Malinowski 1954). Apple today, even after Jobs’s death, continues to cast spells at the launch of a new product. Collectively, we seem happily spellbound by its products, and it can rightly be said that the energy that pulls us toward those objects is magical.

For more on the same topic, get your copy of Brandpsycho - Four essay's on debranding.

END NOTES & BIBLIOGRAPHY

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