“Quoting his subject’s words at the head of the chapter on the design and development of Apple’s iPhone, Leander Kahney makes Jony Ive sound oracular: “When we are at these early stages in design … often we’ll talk about the story for the product — we’re talking about perception. We’re talking about how you feel about the product, not in a physical sense, but in a perceptual sense.” Throughout his biography of Apple’s design magus for nigh on the past two decades, Kahney comes at Ive’s notion of the “narrative” of a product time and again, but it’s this formulation that most closely approaches the metaphysical, seemingly suggesting that all those iMacs, PowerBooks, iPods and iPads that Ive has been responsible for mind-birthing should be considered not as mere phenomena, but actual noumena; for, what else can he mean by “perceptual” — as distinct from “physical” — if not some apprehension of how the iPhone is in itself, freed from the capacitive touch of our fingers?
Listen to Will Self on Radio 4′s Any Questions last month on the iPlayer here. Other speakers include Ken Clarke, Harriet Harman and the editor of Prospect, Bronwen Maddox (where, incidentally, Will has a large piece on the seduction of advertising and Robert Heath’s Seducing the Subconscious in the current issue).
Will Self’s piece about abolishing the monarchy is now on the Prospect website here.