Steve Jobs believed he was a reincarnated second world war fighter pilot and his early success turned him into a “demon”, according to a new memoir by his former girlfriend and the mother of his eldest child.
“He’d tell me how, when driving, he felt a strong impulse to pull the steering wheel back as if for takeoff,” Chrisann Brennan, the Apple guru’s first long-time girlfriend claims in her book, The Bite in the Apple: A Memoir of My Life With Steve Jobs.
According to an exclusive extract published in the New York Post, Jobs had the “unadorned glamour from the 1940s. He loved the big-band sound of Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and Count Basie. At the first Apple party he even danced like he was from the 40s.”
Brennan and Jobs met in 1972 when they were both students at Homestead high school in Cupertino, California. They dated on and off for five years and lived together with their friend Daniel Kottke, a computer engineer and one of the earliest employees of Apple.
Their relationship ended on a sour note in late 1977, after Brennan became pregnant with their daughter. Jobs denied paternity, claiming he was infertile, although a paternity test in 1979 proved he was the father. In 1983 he told Time magazine “28% of the male population in the United States could be the father.”
Brennan paints a picture of a driven man whose deep interest in spirituality was combined with a dismissive attitude to people and tasks he thought were beneath him. In restaurants he would order the same meal time and again and complain about the side sauces.
Brennan writes that as Apple took off, so did Jobs’ ego. His “behaviors didn’t improve with success: they changed from adolescent and dopey to just plain vicious,” she writes.
“Steve would run down the waitstaff like a demon, detailing the finer points of good service, which included the notion that ‘they should be seen only when he needed them.’ Steve was uncontrollably critical. His reactions had a Tourette’s quality — as if he couldn’t stop himself,” Brennan writes.
He would be sarcastic toward the restaurant staff. “The host would say, 'Two?' and Steve would reply, 'No, 15!' driving for the implicit 'duh!'" she writes.
At the same time, Jobs was spending an increasing amount of time with long-time spiritual adviser, Japanese Zen master Kobun Chino Otogawa. “I would wake up to find Steve gently ecstatic, speaking to me in symbolic language with the Zen master’s distinct speech pattern. A number of times he spoke to me about how he had been given ‘five brilliant flowers,’” she writes. Brennan believe she was one of the “flowers”.
Jobs tried to take over Brennan’s spiritual development too. He took LSD with her and tried to get her to shout “Mummy. Daddy. Mummy, Daddy” in primal scream therapy while they were high, she writes. “The fact that he had never gone through primal therapy himself didn’t seem to concern him. It was that Pygmalion thing again,” she writes.
Jobs began work on the Apple Lisa in the year of his daughter’s birth. As he denied paternity he claimed Lisa was an acronym for Local Integrated Software Architecture. He later told biographer Walter Isaacson: “Obviously, it was named for my daughter.” She later reconciled with her father.
The Bite in the Apple will be published by St Martin's Press on October 29.
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