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Sex, La Petite Mort, and the Apple Product Announcement

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It is a sad truism that after the warm, slow-burning anticipation, and the rush and fury of the climax, there comes a silence.

A hollow introspection, and a saturated feeling of bloated decadence mixed with mild, moist disgust.

A powerful sense that the only thing you to do is sit in a dark place, drink some tea and try to recover from your sordid indiscretion.

To purify. To be better than you were.

The French call it The Little Death. Scientists explain it as a release of oxytocin in the brain, and literary critic Roland Barthe claimed its effects for works of great literature.

But while it was once the sole preserve of post-coital couples and drug addicts, there is now another place where the Sad Hammer has made its lair: the Apple announcement.

It may seem a strange comparison, but then Apple keynotes aren't entirely dissimilar to sex. Statistically they're most often experienced alone on the internet, for instance. They're also both more fun naked.

And both are also a way to cheat death.

Because no one wants to die, and we live now in an a world where changes in personal technology have marked the passing of our lives far more obviously and regularly than shifts in politics, art or the occurrence of natural disasters.

So without any equivalent to the rise of Communism, the birth of cinema or the Spanish Influenza with which to make sense of our lives, we chalk up our years by the phones in our pocket, the TV on our table and the number of retinas in our display.

People used to wonder what the world would be like after the nuclear holocaust. Now we speculate on what the world will be like after the iPad 6 comes out. And so, over the last 10 years or so, Apple have allowed us to cheat death at regular, four month intervals.

Hence the Apple Product Announcement; the Super Bowl of the disenchanted dweeb.

We wait for the day, speculate pointlessly over haptic display technology and new form factors, and when Steve Jobs, and latterly Tim Cook, finally steps up on stage we hope to watch The Future (c) unfold, one processor upgrade at a time.

When the promise delivers, as it sometimes does, it's briefly glorious. A shining moment of purity. A transcendence of the self, that delivers us to a new world of expanded possibilities.

But when it doesn't quite match up to expectations, the pain is overwhelming. 'Is this it?', we ask. 'Is this the last iPad I will ever see? Is this as good as it gets?'

And then we remember we are going to die. And we weep.

Either way, whether exhilarated by the new or crushed by the familiar, the rush of the One More Thing is always followed by pain. This is the little death; the realisation of mortality.

So if you're an Apple fan pleased by the recent promise of a new iPad with a better screen and you see someone moaning on Twitter that it doesn't have a magic display that shoots lasers at your enemies, let it go.

Make them some tea. Give them a cuddle. And suggest they take a shower.

The little death is part of life, as is anticipation and disappointment. We're all only human. And we're all going to die.

Enjoy your new iPad.

Around the Web

Apple - Press Info - Apple Launches New iPad

Apple - The new iPad - It's brilliant from the outside in.

New iPad: The Third Generation

Apple new iPad hands-on (update: video!) -- Engadget

Hands On With The New iPad | TechCrunch