Mar 14, 2011, 07:24AM

Back To The Future, Too

The graceful allusions of the iPad 2.

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The new iPad 2 apparently hovers. At least this is the hopeful evocation of our friends at Apple, per the visual flourishes of their current advertising campaign—all weighted down by their excessive conceit of levity. "Thinner, lighter" they say. Yes, we get the point. You want our money.

I am reminded of the Marty McFly's hoverboard in Back to the Future 2, and all the boys who were to learn their first lesson in physics in the toy store aisle from their parents, tasked to deliver the solemn truth about the hoverboard (at times renamed a "hypeboard"), that it was simply, sadly, just a skateboard. A hoverboard with wheels, in the crushed eyes of a child, will look like a wheelchair.

And now looking at the iPad/hoverboard, it seems strangely retro-prophetic that Apple chose to display, of all interfaces and capacities, a car racing game whose car looks rather like the famous DeLorean. Of course, these are my rhetorical impositions, but they do make it so easy.

The sad thing—and I cannot say this more sincerely—is Steve Jobs' ailment which is taking evident toll on his body. Despite the reticent maneuverings of his publicity office, we know something terrible is happening to him, probably his pancreatic cancer. I mention this not to exploit this cartoon-like mad genius in black shirt and jeans, but to wonder. If Jobs & Co. could design or code a way to pierce the future or recoil back in time, what would they choose? What would they have invented if granted the gift of past? Who would be dead in their future?

There are seven ominous footnotes on the iPad 2's website, each super-scripted numeral like some ladder climbing to where D.F. Wallace left off. "[…] it feels even more comfortable in your hands" is footnoted with "Actual size and weight vary by configuration and manufacturing process," which is a way of saying the former perception is highly mediated.

As for the real Marty McFly, and Michael J. Fox's ailment, I also cannot be any more sincere when I offer whatever sentiments a minor online human has. It seems, in the future, our heroes always wind up in wheelchairs or on hospital beds. That men are fated to be merely men, no matter how shimmering the sheen of the monitor or screen. This hospital bed that you and I will wind up on (separately of course), I'm sure the rooms by then will be equipped with Wi-Fi, or 3G, or 4G, or 8000G, or whatever it will be called in the too near future.


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