People talk about being “devoted” to their iPhones and Air Macs and of being Apple “devotees.” When I finally got my husband to use a Powerbook instead of the IBM-ish Dells and Toshibas he insisted he had to use, I talked about “converting” him to Apple. Apple stores look like “temples, replete with the graven idols of 30″ Cinema Displays and iPhones perched upon pedestals like holy statuary,” Partial Objects observes. Once you’ve entered the store’s gleaming glass front, you make your way (stealing glances of the objects of everyone’s affection, gleaming new iPods, iPads, iMacs) to a counter — an altar — behind which stand those mediators between the death and life of your Apple product, the Genii.
Photo of Apple store in San Francisco by Ping Ping
I am using “Genii” as the plural of “Geniuses,” those Apple employees who have the revered status of not just being sales staff but technicians who have the knowledge to fix your damaged technodevice and, in essence, bring it back from death. Genius is a Latin word meaning “presiding or tutelary deity” and, in Latin, its plural would be Genii. These days, the only place you’re likely to hear Latin (aside from my classroom) is in a religious institution.
But then, Apple has become something of a religion, hasn’t it?
I’m speaking metaphorically. But a BBC documentary called Secrets of the Superbands says that, when a team of neuroscientists took MRI scans of the brain of an Apple fanatic, they found that “Apple was actually stimulating the same parts of the brain as religious imagery does in people of faith.” As the BBC’s Alex Riley notes, the Bishop of Buckingham, who himself read his Bible on an iPad, compares Apple to a religion.
Apple devotees’ fetishism of the company that Jobs (sounds a bit like Job?) built doesn’t really differ from what people feel towards other mega-brands, Partial Objects observes. Apple is just much better at marketing its products and, I would also suggest, creating an experience around those products, including the design of its temple-esque stores and dubbing computer technicians “Genii” and dressing them in austere (in a monkish kind of way) uniforms.
Photo of Apple Store in London by Steve Parker
Photo of Apple store in Dresden, Germany, by magazines
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.