God is dead. He Who Brightened Our Lives ascends to the Pantheon. But the religion lives on, in the sweaty thumbs, in the tweets and, most of all, in the wallets of his followers.
And it is a religion. The half-bitten apple has replaced the via dolorosa, “I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC” has supplanted the sermon and the click-wheel the rosary beads, but the dogma, the unthinking devotion and the faithful masses remain.
Brands are religions: loyalties once sworn to popes are now pledged to CEOs. This much is commonplace. But the hallmarks of religiosity are not confined to our consumerist culture. We have our religions, and we also have our Saints. The death of Steve Jobs was a rare confluence of these two phenomena.
John Paul II is still dutifully waiting his turn, but celebrities are swiftly canonised upon the first news wire of their demise. Steve Jobs becomes St. Jobs. Panegyrical facebook statuses regurgitate trite epitaphs. Any criticism not expressed in excruciating Newspeak-esque euphemism is censored. Dissent amounts to blasphemy.
Just as we were not allowed to say that Amy Winehouse was just a singer, we were again, last week, bound by lèse sainteté. Candle-lit tributes to Jobs were eagerly lapped up by the media. President Obama paid tribute to the man that “changed the way each of us sees the world”. Idiotic pseudo-aphorisms infected social media feeds: “Three Apples changed the World, the first one seduced Eve, the second fell on Newton and the Third was offered to the World half bitten by Steve Jobs.” One Guardian columnist, diligently buying his Indulgences, gushed that Jobs “transformed our lives…[and] changed the way history was headed…there seem many reasons to fear the future, but somehow I am not afraid. The dark warnings seem to melt away when you fall in love with Apple”.
But The Holy Blessed Jobs was, by all accounts, a bit of a dick. Indeed, his character flaws were infamous. He bullied his employees and mercilessly abused anyone who disagreed with him: he would, as one commentator put it, have made “an excellent King of France”. Yet we were told to mourn Jobs’ passing.
We have our religions, then, and we have our Saints. Both are remnants of antiquated cultures and ultimately pernicious. Both should be resisted. But what are religions and Saints without the Divine?
The Homeric gods have returned: they walk the earth and meddle in human affairs. We deify our elite, exalting the rich, the powerful and the gifted. Humanity will never rid itself of religion; every religion has its Saints. Faith in the ethereal is fading, but not in the Divine: our gods are real.
Nietzsche killed God but gave us gods. The Over-humans dominate the proletariat; our Lords live by a different code. Some of us are not burdened by the stultifying morality which constrains us mortals. Managing-Directors of the IMF may treat their maids as serfs, rappers can beat their partners without censure or commercial loss. The higher race must seek only Beauty and Glory: narcissistic, arrogant entrepreneurs are idolised for their creations. Multinationals are our religions, dead celebrities our Saints. These are our gods: the politician, the artist and the businessman.
The iBermensch no longer sits atop Mount Olympus. God is dead. Long live the gods.
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