A paper zine for people who hate people.

Sosumi: an explanation


For some reason, I thought more people would ask me what I meant by “Sosumi.” I guess some must’ve assumed it was a Japanese thing, or perhaps something to do with Sumo wrestling. Not at all. It’s actually one of the many things about Negative Capability that I’m proudest of. The fact that a lot of the time, things are left open to interpretation that actually mean something and will reward an informed or interested reader.

Anyway, when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak formed Apple Computer, they were sued by Apple Records, because of the similarity in their names. Apple Computer was clearly doing something in a field outside of music, but people love to fucking sue each other. As part of an agreement, they were obviously allowed to keep the name Apple, provided that they never competed with Apple Records by making music of any kind.

A few years go by and Apple innovates the idea that computer users might like to use their machines to record things, so their computers included a free microphone for that purpose.The sounds they installed for demonstration purposes were: a simple beep, Quack, the sound of a duck, Wild Eep, Indigo, Droplet and finally, one staccato E-flat, which was technically music, so as a way to thumb their noses at Apple Records, they called it “Sosumi.” Apple Records did not sue.

I thought that the material contained in “Sosumi” in Negative Capability #1 was my way of thumbing my nose at assholes in the world who can’t sue me for exercising my rights to criticize and mock.

In 2004, after Apple had successfully launched the iTunes music store, Apple Records sued again, once again claiming that there would be confusion in the marketplace between Apple Records and the iTunes store. The case was dismissed. Then Apple Computer changed their name to just "Apple Inc." because they were making a lot of things besides computers. In late 2010, Apple Records finally made the Beatles catalogue available on iTunes, but are there really people who have never bought these albums before?

Web Bonus Info: I have always felt like it was cheesy and pretentious when English-speakers named things that were not in English and were willfully obscure. The reason I think this one is OK is because it’s not actually a foreign language, it’s a made up word and I like that it has a secret meaning. For the NegCap #4, I had named the story of my life at work ”Karoshi” before I ever started it. I got the name from a book I read about the effects of work on the human body. “Karoshi” is a Japanese word for someone who is worked to death and combines two words, “work” and “death.” In a case like that, I felt that I had to use the Japanese word because there are no words in any other language that describe this as perfectly. There are certain words in many languages that are just so perfect that it seems wrong to translate or approximate their meaning, so I called the story Karoshi and figured that people can either figure it out or enjoy the mystery.