Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Kanye West at Oxford

I came across this guest lecture via Jim Dalrymple, who quoted and then commented:

“I love Steve Jobs, he’s my favourite person, but there’s one thing that disappoints me. When Steve passed he didn’t give the ideas up. That’s kinda selfish. You know that Elon’s like ‘yeah, take these ideas’. Maybe there are companies outside of Apple that could work on them and push humanity forward. Maybe the stock brokers won’t like that, the stock holders wouldn’t like that idea, but ideas are free and you can’t be selfish with them.”

What a moron.

Name-calling like this, without additional substance or proof, is unproductive and unbecoming of anyone with a modicum of intelligence or clarity of thought. Shame on Dalrymple for stooping so low.1

West is clearly and decidedly not a moron. Regardless of whether you like him or his music, his talent and intelligence are undeniable. I dislike his strong personality much of the time, and I think the way he treats women in his lyrics is deplorable, but he is a brilliant and skilled performer, producer, lyricist, designer, and tastemaker.

And, regardless of whether you agree with me or not, you might be able to see some validity to his argument: there are plenty of ways in which patents are regularly abused. Even though I’ve regularly said — and I do believe — that there remains a place for patents, there’s a fair and reasonable argument to be made to the contrary.

Just before the Steve Jobs bit, West said:

This humanity that I talk about, this civilization that I talk about, this future utopia I talk about…it can only happen through collaboration.

And, later in his speech:

Clothing should be like food. There should never be a $5,000 sweater. You know what should cost $5,000? A car should be $5,000. And you know who should work on the car? The people that work on the $500,000 cars. All the best talent in the world needs to work for the people. And I am so fucking serious about this concept that I will stand in front of anyone and fight for it. Because I was 14 and middle class. I know what it felt like to not get what I have.

People say to me ‘you’re successful, what are you crying about?’. I’m crying about the people. I’m crying about their daughters. Our daughters, as one family. What good is it. What good is anything that everyone can’t have. Every ism. They think we’re done with racism. What about elitism, what about separatism, what about classism? That’s all.

He makes a lot of good points. In typical West style, there are plenty of tangents and parenthetical comments in the transcript, but it’s a smart, well-considered argument. And that’s what makes something interesting and valuable, even if you don’t necessarily agree with it.


  1. Dalrymple’s comments in a 2013 interview with Tuts+: “You have to make sure that there’s content posted, and it has to be interesting content. Sometimes I go longer not posting anything than other people do because I don’t want to post any junk.”

    I don’t see that mantra reflected here, nor did I see it in Dalrymple’s post yesterday about Kanye. Seriously: what does he have against Kanye West? ↩︎