Brain Pickings

The Zen of Steve Jobs: A Graphic Novella About “The Lost Years”

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Lessons on simplicity, sophistication, beauty, and control from the Buddhist tradition.

Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs may be one of 2011′s best biographies, but it severely skirts a significant aspect of Jobs’ life. The Zen of Steve Jobs, produced by Forbes and data visualization studio JESS3, is a graphic novella that explores the period of Jobs’s life when he was fired from Apple in the mid-80s and how he dealt with it — by turning to Buddhism and reconnecting with a friend he had met nearly a decade earlier, Zen-Buddhist priest and designer Kobun Chino Otogawa (1938-2002), who not only taught Jobs the elements of Zen practice but also shared his passion for sophisticated design and aesthetic rigor. Though most of the book is speculative, reimagining a narrative based on sparse background facts from a relationship that took place mostly in private, it is unexpectedly rich in its graphic simplicity.

A lot of these ideas of simplicity, sophistication, beauty, control came out of this Zen period. The way that we thought about this period in Steve Jobs’s life is kind of like ‘the lost years’ — it is not only the moment when he is the hero, and goes away, and comes back, and does all these triumphant things, but it’s also a period of his life that we maybe haven’t seen.”

The Zen of Steve Jobs might just be the most refreshing thing since the graphic novel biography of Richard Feynman, and is a fine addition to these 10 favorite masterworks of graphic nonficiton.

via Open Culture

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