These words have been distracting me over the last few days, and I've been trying to figure out what they might mean for me. Obviously they will have different meanings for different people..
Since 2005 these words have been attributed to Steve Jobs, the king of Apple. They sound quite philosophical for someone who actually sounds like a megalomaniac. They were attributed to him because he used them to close his address to a graduation ceremony at Stanford University. However, they go way back prior to this, and were first used by Stephen Brand when he wrote the last page of the final edition of The Whole Earth Catalogue, back in the 1970's. Any Flower Children from the 70's (whose brains are still reasonably intact, and not too worn out from excessive use of hallucinogens) might remember The Whole Earth Catalogue. It was founded by some young & idealistic folks of the period, who were led by Brand, and as Jobs said, it was probably the virtual grandparent to the Google of today. The function was probably similar- but being printed and published, it just all took a million times longer than any search engine of today. Anyway, the plan was that the Whole Earth Catalogue was to revolutionize the world, with its counter-cultural message, and was intended as not just a catalogue, but also as a tool for the exchange of ideas and the promotion of those products which were somehow seen as the antidote to industrialized America. And of course it was all developed in and around Hippy Central (later to become known as San Francisco), during the mid 1960's- 70's.
What was Brand (and later, Jobs), really meaning with these words of farewell? Certainly it was unlikely that he was telling us to physically starve ourselves, when he said to stay hungry. But we know there is lots to be gained at a personal level if we stay hungry for the possibility of the new. Whether it is learning new stuff, trying new experiences, going to new places, experiencing new sensations. We should not have a mild curiousity, but instead a strong and driving hunger. So maybe that is reasonably clear..But what does it mean to stay foolish? I'm thinking that this is not about being foolish in the sense that we might also use the term 'stupid.'' Maybe though there similarities between foolishness and naivety- there are certainly times that is sensible even useful, to be naive, to be open, to be curious. I've certainly found that in therapy situations, and it will have relevance elsewhere. Taking a position of ''not knowing'' can mean people will often then go to some lengths to explain things in detailed black and white ways, as a result.
By being very open about not knowing something may appear at a surface level as being foolish- we might make ourselves appear rather ''un-smart.,'' and most of us do not want to appear that way. Yet, what is worse than having someone try to explain something to us, when it is patently clear that they do not know what they are talking about, but will not say so?
I have a belief that most of us need to be able to feel more comfortable about saying "I don't know...." Anyway, this is all probably something of an aside, and Brand did not likely mean that. Instead, he is simply suggesting that if we stay foolish, we are therefore not-knowing, and in need of educating, we will then be open to learn. In effect it is the same as staying hungry. By being either hungry, foolish or both, we will remain open to the potential for change and possibility.
"Some occasional thoughts about families, relationships, and other things that distract us...."