What is the cause of inspiration?

Elon Musk settled with the SEC yesterday after it alleged that his “thinking of taking Tesla private” tweet improperly influenced the markets this summer. He remains Tesla’s CEO, but the settlement cost $40 million and forced him out as chairman for three years.

I’m sharing all of this to circle back on something that Kevin Williamson wrote on Musk last month:

Elon Musk tweets that he wants us to read the end notes for T. S. Eliot’s famous poem “The Waste-Land.” He quotes from a brief section of the poem called “Death by Water,” which considers the drowning of a merchant sailor…

“The Waste-Land” is a famously obscure and recondite poem. It is part Grail lore, part social reportage, and part library. The poem, which was originally published with its end notes, is full of references to diverse works of literature, music, and philosophy. Its mood is bleak, and one of its themes is an isolation so deep that “loneliness” doesn’t really capture it — the belief that we are all prisoners inside our own minds (or souls), and that, being unable to pass beyond those walls, we are never able to truly know one another or to be known. …

Elon Musk is not religious. He has a net worth of around $25 billion… He is a man who has, or who could have, almost any material thing a human being might desire. And yet he has spent a year that he describes as “excruciating.” That’s an interesting word, deriving from the Latin word for crucifixion, a punishment that not even the SEC contemplates. (Excrucior is the word Catullus used to describe being tortured by love.) There is excruciating and there is excruciating: Elon Musk’s worst day (as I am sure he appreciates entirely) is not very much like anybody’s worst day in the tragically misnamed Democratic Republic of Congo. But, as Eliot suggests, it’s impossible to know exactly what someone else’s interior life is like. …

Return to Eliot’s divide “between those who believe only in values realizable in time and on earth, and those who believe in values realized out of time.” …

The desire to do great things is in and of itself motivating — but why? There is pleasure in the exercise of our creative faculties, and men such as Elon Musk and Bill Gates have more than a little of what once would have been recognized as moral fervor around them. Gates would heal the world (“Our Global Health Division aims to reduce inequities in health by developing new tools and strategies to reduce the burden of infectious disease and the leading causes of child mortality”) and lead it out of darkness and misery (“creating and scaling market-based innovations to stimulate inclusive and sustainable economic growth”), and there’s nothing to sneer at in that. Musk believes that electric cars will encourage a transition away from fossil fuels, helping to avoid an apocalyptic climate emergency. Agree or disagree, those are well-intentioned programs. But “those who believe only in values realizable in time and on earth” must be, in their own conception, rearranging the deck chairs on an existential Titanic that is ultimately headed for maximum entropy and heat death. And surely none of these men is so abject as to be doing all that work in the hopes of being remembered well. There is very little reason to put any value on the good opinion of the general public in our own time, and no plausible reason to think that the high opinion of future generations will deserve any more weight.

But, still: “Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.”

What Williamson is raising about Elon Musk and those like him is something like Bill Buckley’s lingering question, “What is the cause of inspiration?

Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep seas swell
And the profit and loss.

A current under sea
Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell
He passed the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool.

Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.

Art and its markets

Daniel Maidman reflects on art and markets for art:

I’ve been thinking this over for a while. There are a few consequences to the concept of art as a currency. One of them is the theory of monetary commodities, which are objects that are useful as currencies. There’s a set of properties that you need. It has to have a limited supply, but the supply has to expand slowly, which means you need living artists. It has to be interchangeable, which means that each piece has to be more or less similar to each other piece. It has to have no aesthetic value, because to have aesthetic value confuses the source of value of the object. The object has to be valuable because the market has a consensus that it’s valuable and not because it’s valuable in and of itself. It has to be chemically stable. It has to be transportable. All those things define Koons and Hirst. Koons was a finance guy, right? …

I don’t think he ever left finance. I think he just found a more fun way to do it. And it also resolve the weird collusion between the different high-end entities in the art world. The cool-world art schools are, as far as I can tell, mints. A mint validates the currency. And if you go to one of these schools, then you have been validated relative to a certain target market. The market actively conspires to maintain the value of certain objects…

This explains, to some extent, why so much public art at present tends to look not only materially cheap and also trendy or surprising rather than timeless.

Rittenhouse Square, early autumn

As I was walking along Walnut Street to the Collegium Institute’s symposium earlier this week, it was nearing 6pm and families and folks were out and about, walking home from work, walking to dinner, biking wherever, and still-green Rittenhouse Square was accompanied by two young musicians:

I stopped to admire the scene, experience the moment, and appreciate the whole thing. These are the little sort of moments we miss all too often in the rush to experience something else.

L e t ‘ s  s l o w  d o w n . . .

‘Strangers’ in Philadelphia

It was really great, late-summer-feeling weather in Center City Philadelphia yesterday. I’m in town wrapping up odds and ends, and as evening came on walked over to the Catholic Philopatrian Literary Institute at 19th and Walnut for the Collegium Institute‘s “Strangers in a Strange Land” talk/symposium.

Fran Maier led a fruitful conversation on the topic of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput’s book of the same name, released last year. While the role and place of Christianity in American life is increasingly in doubt, there’s no doubt about the necessity of the theological virtue of Christian hope.

I think the last Collegium event I attended was Roger Scruton’s talk at Penn.


An evening conversation about Archbishop Chaput’s recent book and the future of American Catholicism.

Fran Maier: Senior Advisor to the Archbishop of Philadelphia and former editor of the National Catholic Register.

Michael P. Moreland: University Professor of Law and Religion, and Director of the Eleanor H. McCullen Center for Law, Religion and Public Policy at Villanova University.

Jessica Murdoch: Associate Professor of Fundamental and Dogmatic Theology at Villanova University, and member of the National Advisory Council of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Scruton on the sacred and transcendent

I’m sharing the second of two excerpts from Roger Scruton’s The Soul of the World. Each comes from “Believing in God,” his first chapter, and conveys the challenge of belief in light of reason with the conclusion that what both faith and reason share is an interest in knowledge “beyond the horizon” of our world and a pursuit of transcendent experience. Today’s speaks particularly to the human desire for the sacred and the transcendent, and knowledge and experience which are not properly part of observable nature:

That God is present among us and communicating directly with us is a central claim of the Old Testament. This “real presence” or shekhinah is, however, a mystery. God reveals himself by concealing himself, as he concealed himself from Moses in the burning bush, and as he conceals himself from his worshippers in the Tabernacle (mishkhan) and the Holy of Holies. The nouns shekhinah and mishkhan are both from the verb shakhan, to dwell or settle: sakana in Arabic, from which is derived the noun sakīnah, used here and there in the Koran (e.g., al-Baqara, 2, 248) to describe the peace or comfort that comes from God. Dwelling and settling are the underlying themes of the Torah, which tells the story of the Promised Land, and of the people who finally settle there, to build in Jerusalem the Temple whose design and rituals were given to Moses, and which will be a dwelling place for God. As the narrative makes clear, it is not the chosen people only who are in search of a place to settle: it is God too, who can dwell among them only by being ritually concealed from them. As God says to Moses, no man shall look on my face and live. And the whole tormented story of the relation between God and the chosen people brings home to us the terrible truth, which is that God cannot show himself in this world, except by hiding from those whom he traps into trusting him, as he trapped the Jews. The knowledge of his presence comes with the failure to find him.

Metaphysically speaking, this is what we must expect. It is not just that the intervention of a transcendent God in the world of space and time would be a miracle—though miracles, for reasons made clear by Spinoza and Hume, are not the simple exceptions that their defenders make them out to be. It is rather that it is difficult to make sense of the idea that this, here, now is a revelation of an eternal and transcendental being. A direct personal encounter with God, when God is understood in the philosophical way of Avicenna or Aquinas, is no more possible than a direct personal encounter with the number 2. Now you see through a glass darkly, wrote Saint Paul, but then face-to-face. However, by “then” he meant “beyond the here and now,” in the transcendental realm where God resides. Saint Paul may seem to be denying the hidden nature of God; in fact he is affirming it.

And yet the experience of the “real presence” is at the heart of revealed religion, and foundational to the liturgy and ritual both of the synagogue and of the main Christian churches. It is important to grasp this point. Many of those who currently write against religion (and specifically against the Christian religion) seem to think that faith is simply a matter of entertaining beliefs of a cosmological kind, concerning the creation of the world and the hope of eternal life. And these beliefs are imagined to be in some ways rivals to the theories of physics, and exposed to refutation by all that we know of the evolution of the universe. But the real phenomena of faith are nothing like that. They include prayer and the life of prayer; the love of God and the sense of his presence in the life of the faithful; obedience and submission in the face of temptation and the things of this world; the experience of certain times, places, objects, and words as “sacred,” which is to say, in Durkheim’s phrase, as “set aside and forbidden,” reserved for uses that can be understood only on the assumption that these experiences mediate between this world and another that is not otherwise revealed to us. …

People who are looking for God are not looking for the proof of God’s existence; nor would it help them to be persuaded, say, by Aquinas’s Five Ways, or by Avicenna’s version of the cosmological argument, or by any of those specious arguments that have been doing the rounds in recent years, concerning the improbability that the universe should be just as it is, and there be no God as its creator. They are not looking for arguments but for a subject-to-subject encounter, which occurs in this life, but which also in some way reaches beyond this life. Those who claim to have found God always write or speak in those terms, as having found the intimacy of a personal encounter and a moment of trust. The great witnesses to this—Saint Teresa of Avila, Margery Kempe, Saint John of the Cross, Rumi, Pascal—surely persuade us that one part, at least, of the encounter with God lies in the irruption into consciousness of an intersubjective state of mind, but one that connects with no merely human subject. And included within that state of mind is the sense of reciprocity: the sense of being targeted by the Other, I to I. …

One thing is clear, which is that the old theories of magic, associated with Sir Edward Burnett Tylor, Frazer, and the nineteenth-century schools of anthropology, do not explain the sacred. There is a prosaic quality about magic, a here-and-now character, and a practicality too, which have little or nothing in common with the awe-inspiring otherworldliness of sacred things. Consider the examples familiar to us: the Eucharist, and the instruments associated with it; the prayers with which we address God; the Cross, the scroll of the Torah, the pages of the Koran. The faithful approach these things with awe, not because of their magic power, but because they seem to be both in our world, and also out of it—a passage between the immediate and the transcendental. They are both present and absent, like the mishkhan and what it hides from us.

That indeed seems to be a feature of the sacred in all religions. Sacred objects, words, animals, ceremonies, places, all seem to stand at the horizon of our world, looking out to that which is not of this world, because it belongs in the sphere of the divine, and looking also into our world, so as to meet us face-to-face. Through sacred things we can influence and be influenced by the transcendental. If there is to be a real presence of the divine in this world, it must be in the form of some sacred event, moment, place, or encounter: so at least we humans have believed.

There is truth in Durkheim’s view that sacred things are in some way forbidden. But what is forbidden is to treat a sacred thing as though it belonged in the ordinary frame of nature: as though it had no mediating role. Treating a sacred thing in this day-to-day way is a profanation. One stage beyond profanation is desecration, in which a sacred object is deliberately wrenched from its apartness and trampled on or in some way reduced to its opposite, so as to become mean and disgusting. …

Is there anything that answers to this search for the sacred? Can the eternal be present among us in the way that rewards our search for it? We must not think of this merely as a theological or metaphysical question. For it is a question that inhabits the religious sentiment itself. It is the source of religious doubt and also the challenge offered to faith. …

The real question for religion in our time is not how to excise the sacred, but how to rediscover it, so that the moment of pure intersubjectivity, in which nothing concrete appears, but in which everything hangs on the here and now, can exist in pure and God-directed form. Only when we are sure that this moment of the real presence exists in the human being who experiences it, can we then ask the question whether it is or is not a true revelation—a moment not just of faith but of knowledge…

Roger Scruton on reason and faith

I’m sharing two excerpts from Roger Scruton’s The Soul of the World, one today and one tomorrow. Both come from “Believing in God,” his first chapter, and convey the challenge of belief in light of reason with the conclusion that what both faith and reason share is an interest in knowledge “beyond the horizon” of our world and a pursuit of transcendent experience. First, on approaching faith:

There are, it seems to me, two ways in to the topic of theology: the cosmological and the psychological. We can speculate about the nature and origin of the world, in search of the Being upon whom the natural order depends. And we can speculate about the experience of holiness, in which individuals encounter another order of things, an intrusion into the natural world from a sphere “beyond” it. Both ways point toward the supernatural. There could not be an explanation of the world as a whole in natural terms since the explanation must reach beyond the realm of nature to its transcendental ground. There could not be an account of holiness—of the “numinous”—that did not relate the experience to a transcendental subject. The experience of sacred things is, I have suggested, a kind of interpersonal encounter. It is as though you address, and are addressed by, another I, but one that has no embodiment in the natural order. Your experience “reaches beyond” the empirical realm, to a place on its horizon. This idea is vividly conveyed in the Upanishads, in which Brahman, the creative principle, is represented as transcendental, universal, and also as atman, the self in which all our separate selves aspire to be absorbed and united.

The skeptical response to those observations is to say that they are both illusions. It is an illusion that the natural world has some other explanation than itself. For what is explanation, if not the demonstration that some phenomenon belongs in the natural order, the order of cause and effect as this is explored by science? It is an illusion that there are sacred things, sacred moments, holy mysteries. For we explain such things as we explain everything else, by showing their place in the order of nature. These experiences arise from the pressure of social life, which causes us to read intention, reason, and desire into all that surrounds us so that, finding no human cause for those things that most deeply affect us, we imagine a divine cause instead.

… We cannot, for reasons made clear by Kant, reason beyond the limits of our own point of view, which is circumscribed by the law of causality, and by the forms of space and time. We have no access to the transcendental perspective from which the question of the ultimate ground of reality can be meaningfully asked, let alone answered. And we cannot, for reasons made clear by Hume, deduce from our religious experiences that they are not illusions. …

Reason aims of its nature toward a kind of final narrative of how things are, in which all the contradictions (which are contradictions only from a partial perspective) are overcome. If Hegel is right, then the cosmological path points beyond the edge of the world as science describes it, to a place where another kind of question can be asked, a question that cannot be answered with a cause, but only with a reason: the question “why?” asked of the world as a whole… We can answer such a question only by giving a teleological, rather than a causal, account of things. That account will make no difference to, and have no contact with, cosmological science. …

Of course there are idolatrous religions and religions that muddle the natural and the supernatural in ways that make nonsense of both. But there are also religions that turn their backs on idolatrous practices, that invite us to address the specific moments of ritual involvement with an alertness that reaches precisely beyond what is present to the senses, toward the perspective lying on the edge of things, which addresses us I to I. The narrative of a religion is like a commentary on these moments, a prop to be discarded when the experience, the sakīnah, has been fully grasped. This “reaching beyond” of the religious moment is not different, I shall suggest, from the transcendental urge of reason itself. Ultimately the cosmological and the psychological paths are paths toward the same destination, and that destination lies on the far horizon of our world. …

Autonomy of violence

Bobby Schindler articulates a view of autonomy that he and I have been talking through for a while, which is that an “autonomy of violence” and self-harm pervades life and ethics issues. He writes in CatholicPhilly.com about this, and includes a survey of practical examples around the world that’s worth looking over if you’re not familiar with what’s happening:

Attacks on autonomy and human dignity appear to be intensifying.

Autonomy, of course, refers to our ability to act as independent human beings, with an innate and inviolable human dignity inherent to each of us, regardless of our physical, medical, emotional, psychological, or financial circumstances.

It seems as if so many, however, are intent on reconsidering autonomy to mean something like an “autonomy of self-harm.” In other words, many are using autonomy as a means to advocate for forms of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Yet autonomy has traditionally referred to human good; our ability and desire as well as power to achieve a good life in cooperation with our loved ones, neighbors, fellow citizens, and others. It’s a tragic and perverse situation to use autonomy as a rhetorical battering ram for advocating the rights of human beings to intentionally end their own lives.

As so much of our attention is focused on dramas of the political arena, stories which ought to be receiving attention are simply not. Certainly, meaningful public dialogue surrounding issues like autonomy and human dignity are not taking place in any sustained manner. …

Autonomy means nothing if we allow laws or medical perspectives to compromise the innate and inviolate human dignity each person possesses, regardless of their state of health. When someone is encouraged to accept euthanasia or assisted suicide, and even worse, when individuals are forcibly euthanized against their will or without consent, the power of law and medicine become weapons rather than shields.

No humane society can accept the normalization of intentional human killing.

In practice, we’re too often favoring a simplistic “might makes right” sort of ethics when it comes to life and death issues, where autonomy exists in a limited way—enabling a sort of “autonomy of the powerful” to impose themselves and their judgments on comparatively weaker persons.

Big lakes, small ripples

Joseph Bottum writes on the Midwest and the prairies:

There’s a metaphor there, I suppose, in the way the white wake of the motorboats out in the middle of the lake turns to a small wash, a gentle swell, by the time it reaches the shore. Events in the national news are like this, in the small towns of the Midwest. There’s the roiling of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination over accusations that he assaulted a psychology professor, back when they were in high school, for example. The coming release of the Apple watch, Series 4. The loss of the aging New England Patriots to the Jacksonville Jaguars in football. The 12,000th blockbuster article about how Trump’s unpopularity has doomed the Republicans in this November’s midterm elections. Splashy back in D.C. and out in San Francisco, certainly. But just a swell, a small up-and-down motion, by the time it reaches the lake’s edge.

The metaphor is a reach, of course. A fun one, maybe: Will the waves caused by the national media’s distaste for Donald Trump, the relentless denunciations of all he does, splash high enough to swamp Midwestern politicians before the freeze of the election locks down the political season for another two years? Will a national repudiation of the Republicans raise the local waters enough to carry the Democrats to shore? But in the end the metaphor seems a failure, the figure more complicated than the phenomenon it’s trying to explain.

In truth, political views out on the prairie are fairly simple. They turn with the national tides, but more slowly and sedately. …

This is fairly level land, scraped smooth by the glacial ice sheets somewhere around two million years ago. West of the Missouri, the earth is rougher: the Badlands, the Black Hills, the high plateau rising to the Tetons. But to the east, the ice flow sanded off the peaks and filled in the valleys. And in their retreat, glaciers left behind the melt water that gathered in all the thousands of little lakes that dot Wisconsin, Minnesota, and eastern South Dakota.

These are the lakes the motorboats prowl. The water-skiers bounce in the white wake as the boats turn away from the far shore to take another lap. The children shout as they bob up and down in inflatable cushions tied to a line from the stern. In the bright sunlight, under the pale sky, hardly anyone wants to notice the leaves on the shoreline trees turning brown. The grass fading to a dry yellow. The long slant of the late afternoon sun. All the signs of fall closing in.

If it’s true that somewhere out there, in the vastness of the American prairie, that our politics “turn with the national tides, but more slowly and sedately,” then it sounds like the prairie is a place many of us want almost achingly to experience.

McCartney’s untold stories

Chris Heath’s lengthy, deep conversations with Paul McCartney on the occasion of his latest album, Egypt Station, captured me for a while today. Like Bob Dylan, McCartney is in some ways a living monument to an era whose figures are generally long past. And like Dylan, he’s a balladier who is still as present as ever and deserves to be met on his own terms. McCartney and The Beatles, in brief:

Paul McCartney met John Lennon and George Harrison when they were schoolboys in Liverpool. An early group, the Quarrymen, evolved into the Beatles. They learned their craft principally by playing cover versions in clubs in the red-light district of Hamburg, Germany, and also in an underground Liverpool club, the Cavern. Ringo Starr replaced their previous drummer, Pete Best, in August 1962, and two months later the Beatles’ first single, “Love Me Do,” was released. They were soon the biggest group in the world. After making a series of increasingly innovative records that remain a template for much of what has come since, they split up acrimoniously in 1970. Lennon was shot in New York by a deranged fan in December 1980. Harrison died of cancer in November 2001. Since the Beatles’ split, McCartney has mostly made records as a solo artist but also, between 1971 and 1979, with his group Wings.

Here’s one of the tamer little vignettes; one that resonates for a few reasons:

“I quite like going on public transport,” he points out. “It’s just my character enjoys the sort of thing that I always did. It’s a roots thing. I’ll sometimes go on the Underground in London, which I did the other day.” He and his grandson went to see Ocean’s 8 at the cinema—”quite good”—and afterwards McCartney suggested they take the Underground back. Mostly, it went fine, though McCartney realised that the French guy (as he turned out to be) opposite them was surreptitiously trying to take his photo. McCartney tried to signal that this was unwelcome. … “I’m being me,” McCartney says. “I’m not being the celebrity me. And those moments are quite precious. …”

… McCartney tells me a further such story of a time he took the Hampton Jitney, the slightly upmarket bus service that runs from the Hamptons into Manhattan, because he was deep into Charles Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby and he wanted to finish it, and how he then took a local bus uptown, and when a woman blurted from across the bus, “Hey! Are you Paul McCartney?” he invited her to sit next to him and chatted all the way uptown. “It’s a way of not worrying about your fame,” he says.

I listened to Egypt Station on drive to Washington earlier this week. “Who Cares” and “Confidante” are favorites.

Apple and Infinite Loop

As Apple moves into Apple Park, Steven Levy tells the story of the Infinite Loop campus through incredible vignettes from those who were there. These are the story of stories that just transport you , as if you’re in Cupertino and watching from a place outside of time:

Slade: Most meetings with Steve, no matter who was meeting or what the topic, he did 75 percent of the talking. It didn’t matter who it was, he’d just talk. ….

Forstall: Whenever I ate with Steve, he insisted on paying for me, which I thought was a little odd. Even if we went in together and he selected something quick like premade sushi, and I ordered a pizza in the wood-burning pizza oven, he would wait for me at the cash register for 10, 15 minutes. I felt so awkward. Finally, I told him. “Seriously, I can pay for myself, so please don’t stand there and wait for me.” He said, “Scott, you don’t understand. You know how we pay by swiping your badge and then it’s deducted from your salary? I only get paid a dollar year! Every time I swipe we get a free meal!” Here was this multibillionaire putting one over on the company he founded, a few dollars at a time. …

Cook: It was an awful time. The stock crashed, it goes down by 60 to 70 percent. We get a call from Ted Waitt, founder of Gateway. He wants to talk about acquiring Apple. Steve and I went to a meeting with Waitt and their CEO, and it’s a different Steve. Very calm, listening to the comments they made, how they’d probably keep the Apple brand. I was sitting there feeling like my organs were being cut out. Then they said maybe they could come up with a role for Steve, and I’m thinking—he’s going to blow! He’s going to blow any minute! Then they start talking about price. And Steve looks at them—he could look at you with eyes that just penetrated your soul—and says, “Who do you think is worth more, Apple or Gateway?” The meeting lasted only two or three minutes more. And in a few weeks they had some accounting scandal, and their stock crashed. …

Schiller: Steve would say, “Let’s not have a meeting sitting in a chair, let’s get up and walk.” The campus is Infinite Loop—it’s a circle—and Steve would take you for a walk around it rather than be cooped up in an office. We’d do laps. When people talk about walking to close your rings on the Apple Watch, I always think back to that. …

Fadell: My now-wife and I both worked at Apple but hadn’t met. Once we locked eyes at Caffè Macs and I wondered, “Who is that?” Then in 2002, someone in HR told me about her boss and said, “Tony, you have to meet this woman. Go sit in the lobby of IL1.” Dani came down the elevator and sat down with me on the old chairs outside the security zone. Now no Apple employee sits down in the reception area. You just don’t do that, you’re always running around. Because we’re going so long, Steve comes down the elevator, comes out of the secured area, locks eyes on me, sees Dani. I could see it in his eyes—“What the hell are these two doing talking to each other?” So he beelines over and says, “Whatever you’re doing, you guys better not be doing this.” So Steve Jobs shows up on my first date with my soon-to-be wife. We got engaged 11 weeks later. …

Cook: I felt I was filling in for a period of time and Steve would come back. I was always good with that, and that’s how I wanted it to be. I thought that until literally 48 hours before he passed away. …

Cook: We locked up Steve’s office. I would not have moved into his office, and no one has. I decided early on it didn’t feel right to change that office at all. There are some personal things he had in there that are now with Laurene. But it’s the same desk and chair, credenza, bookcase. As a matter of fact, there’s still drawings on the whiteboard that his daughter did. Last summer she came by, and I showed her the stuff that she had drawn. You can still feel him in there, because I saw him in there so much. Some people go to the grave site to reflect on someone. I don’t do it frequently, but I go to his office.

Forstall: Soon after Apple bought land for the new campus, Steve and I walked around the property to get a feel for it. I expected Steve to be happy. But he was melancholy. He explained why as we passed a deserted building on the property and saw an old Hewlett-Packard sign. Apple had purchased the land from HP, which had been one of the most storied companies in the history of Silicon Valley, started by two legendary founders. Steve looked at the building. “Eventually everything comes to an end,” he said. We looked at each other for a few moments, then walked on.

As much as it makes me miss Steve Jobs, and the wonder I remember from observing his later years at Apple, it also makes me incredible grateful to have been alive to have watched it in the first place. Not every generation has such dynamic leaders, and America is fortunate to have had not only Steve, but also to still have Elon Musk.