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January 20, 2005

{     The Cult of Mac - Leander Kahney - published by No Starch Press     }    

As a recent inductee into the world of Apple/Mac, I wasn't quite sure how this slab of collected writings (culled from Leander Kahney's WIRED blog of the same name) would strike me. Before sitting down with it, I had almost convinced myself that I was above the fetishistic obsessions that were sure to be outlined in the book. Sure, I love my iBook, but I'm not some kind of freak about it... right? Then I started thinking about how every time I walk past it I'm compelled to touch it. And I began to notice that whenever I'm away from my iBook, I worry about it's safety and well-being; whether I plugged it back in to recharge, and if I remembered to leave my iPod nestled atop it (they like to "spoon"). It dawned on me that I AM a bit obsessed. Reading The Cult of Mac has been like joining a support program for Apple addicts- everybody shares their story, together we plumb the depths of fanatacism and the extremity of our love for all things Mac. Much like a support group, nobody passes judgement- that guy with the warehouse full of broken Apple IIe's is no different from the kid with the Mac logo tattooed on his ass, they're both members of the Cult who've just found different ways of expressing it. The sense of community that already exists amongst Mac users is further recognized and celebrated here, our obsessions and urge to own the latest and greatest products and peripherals are given full creedence. After all, as Kahney points out in the first few pages, Mac hardware and software inspire such fanaticism by their very design, and to deny that is to turn a blind eye to everything your heart, mind and soul know to be aesthetically pleasing and technologically superior. The Cult of Mac serves then not only as a record and overview of the history of Mac users and their obsessions, but as one of the first substantial documents to recognize that this is much more than just rampant techno-fetishism or mere gadget-gobbling consumerism. The Cult of Mac and the phenomenon it observes concern a relationship formed between human and machine- between the user and a brand/company that has come to earn a level of trust and respect we usually reserve only for family members and life-long friends. We LOVE these machines, and while showcasing some of the more spectacular expressions of that love, The Cult of Mac exposes the tender and filial side of our obsession as well. Taking a cue from the design and aesthetic of it's subject matter, the book is presented in a clean and minimal format with plenty of well-placed color photos and Apple/Mac inspired artwork. Hardbound and slipcovered, it makes a breathtaking coffee-table piece. While non-Mac users may find some of this material a little too wacky (I must admit that the Mac-O'lantern carvings of Ellen Fein momentarily caught me off-guard, though I soon grew to appreciate their level of genius and beauty) it still makes for fascinating reading/browsing, whether you're a member of the Cult or just popping in on a Visitor's Pass.

     » No Starch Press
     » distributed by O'Reilly
     » buy from Amazon for $26.37

By Adam in Reading


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