A hat with no rabbit

I am thinking of buying my wife an iPhone for her birthday.  Earlier I had been thinking about an iPad. You may think that either of these pieces of magic is an extravagant luxury, but someone has to stop the recession, and anyway, she’s worth it.

Magic? Close enough. Someone once said that any technology distinguishable from magic is not advanced enough, and Apple seem to be in the magic business.

It’s odd that eating forbidden fruit – often portrayed as an apple – was the temptation that Adam and Eve fell for, propelling us down the road to the mess we’re in now. Even odder, the tree involved was said to be the Tree of Knowledge. Maybe that’s Google, but Apple have the logo.

Either way, you can see what T S Eliot was getting at when he asked: “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” He might have been talking about the Internet.

The precise location of the Tree of Life is probably not to be found in the garden of advanced technology. For all the magic technology produces – and if you think computers are magic, wait for replication technology – it lands you with a disproportionate amount of frustration.

The problem is not that it is insufficiently advanced, but that is too advanced in some areas, and inept in others.

The iPhone has a wealth of features, most of which I do not want. The same is true of video recorders and washing machines, and anything electronic.

But let’s stick to the iPhone. It’s absolutely wonderful, but much of the time it will be useless. Why? Well, leaving aside the possibility that the battery will run out, what is definitely going to happen is that you will soon find yourself somewhere where you can’t make or receive phone calls.

We are not talking Outer Hebrides here. We are talking large chunks of Norfolk, my home county, and practically anywhere I’ve been on holiday this year, which happens to be Aberdeenshire, Dorset, Devon, Catalonia and Normandy.

OK, that’s an obscene number of holidays for one year, but they all have one thing in common. The area I happened to be in was out of range.

That’s not magic. That’s a hat with no rabbit.

I know this is not Apple’s fault. The intricate technology they provide usually works very well, but if you can’t actually use it to do what it’s intended to do, is it worth the trouble?

Maybe that’s what the Tree of Knowledge is all about, in the end. Anger and frustration. Not delivering what it promises. The Tree of Life was the one to go for. Can we start again?