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Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art Paperback – 7 Jun 2016

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Export (7 Jun. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1501147072
  • ISBN-13: 978-1501147074
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 1.8 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 713,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

"Heffernan is a new species of wizard, able to perform literary magic upon supersonic technology. Her superpower is to remove the technology from technology, leaving the essential art. You might get an epiphany, like I did, of what a masterpiece this internet thing is. Heffernan has the cure for the small thinking that everyday hardware often produces. She generates marvelous insights at the speed of light, warmed up by her well-worn classical soul. It's a joy and revelation to be under her spell."--Kevin Kelly, author of "What Technology Wants "and co-founder of "Wired"

""Magic and Loss" is the book we--or at least I--have been waiting for, the book that Internet culture, and the way it's changed the expression and reception of art, language, and ideas, deserves and demands. Virginia Heffernan argues that the Internet, broadly conceived, is a 'massive and collaborative work of realist art, ' and she illuminates it with the best sort of cultural criticism--humane, personal, and extremely smart, with a frame of references that includes St. Thomas Aquinas, Liz Phair, Richard Rorty, Beyonce, and the pairing of Dante and Steve Jobs, two 'labile romantics.' Whether writing about how the Kindle changed reading, how the iPod and iPhone changed listening, or how the demise of landline telephones changed communicating, Heffernan goes right to the heart of the lived experience... Virginia Heffernan quotes Harold Bloom to the effect that 'to behold is a tragic posture; to observe is an ethical one.' In "Magic and Loss," she observes, in the best sense of the word."--Ben Yagoda, author of "The B-Side "and "How to Not Write Bad"

"Heffernan's rhetoric is so dexterous that even digital pessimists like me can groove to her descriptions of 'achingly beautiful apps, ' her comparison of MP3 compression to 'Zeuxius's realist paintings from the 5th century BC.' And Heffernan is subtly less optimistic than she at first seems--she knows that magic is not the opposite of loss, but sometimes its handmaiden. She's written a blazing and finally wise book, passionate in its resistance to the lazy certitudes of a cynically triumphal scientism."--Michael Robbins, author of "The Second Sex "and" Alien v. Predator"

Heffernan is a new species of wizard, able to perform literary magic upon supersonic technology. Her superpower is to remove the technology from technology, leaving the essential art. You might get an epiphany, like I did, of what a masterpiece this internet thing is. Heffernan has the cure for the small thinking that everyday hardware often produces. She generates marvelous insights at the speed of light, warmed up by her well-worn classical soul. It's a joy and revelation to be under her spell. Kevin Kelly, author of "What Technology Wants "and co-founder of "Wired""

"Virginia Heffernan spins the straw of the Internet into analysis that s solid gold: a brilliant book.. Mark Edmundson, professor at the University of Virginia, and author of "Why Teach? "and "Why Football Matters""

"Magic and Loss" is the book we or at least I have been waiting for, the book that Internet culture, and the way it s changed the expression and reception of art, language, and ideas, deserves and demands. Virginia Heffernan argues that the Internet, broadly conceived, is a massive and collaborative work of realist art, and she illuminates it with the best sort of cultural criticism humane, personal, and extremely smart, with a frame of references that includes St. Thomas Aquinas, Liz Phair, Richard Rorty, Beyonce, and the pairing of Dante and Steve Jobs, two labile romantics. Whether writing about how the Kindle changed reading, how the iPod and iPhone changed listening, or how the demise of landline telephones changed communicating, Heffernan goes right to the heart of the lived experience... Virginia Heffernan quotes Harold Bloom to the effect that to behold is a tragic posture; to observe is an ethical one. In "Magic and Loss," she observes, in the best sense of the word. Ben Yagoda, author of "The B-Side "and "How to Not Write Bad""

Heffernan's rhetoric is so dexterous that even digital pessimists like me can groove to her descriptions of achingly beautiful apps, her comparison of MP3 compression to Zeuxius's realist paintings from the 5th century BC. And Heffernan is subtly less optimistic than she at first seems she knows that magic is not the opposite of loss, but sometimes its handmaiden. She's written a blazing and finally wise book, passionate in its resistance to the lazy certitudes of a cynically triumphal scientism. Michael Robbins, author of "The Second Sex "and" Alien vs. Predator""

About the Author

Virginia Heffernan writes regularly about digital culture for "The New York Times Magazine". She s a Visiting Scholar at NYU, and the Editorial Director of West, a creative capital firm. In 2005, Heffernan (with cowriter Mike Albo) published the cult comic novel "The Underminer" (Bloomsbury). In 2002, she received her PhD in English Literature from Harvard.

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Format: Hardcover
Virginia Heffernan observes, “These are exciting times, filled increasingly with the desktop zines and other transitional forms that presaged blogs, but cultural loyalists are still hoping to hold on to old paradigms.” In Leading Change, James O’Toole suggests that the strongest resistance is cultural in nature, the result of what he so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.” I agree, adding that those who defend the current status quo were probably among those who overthrew the previous one.

“Today holding on [to old paradigms] is just about impossible. The tectonic shift has happened…Like all new technologies, the Internet appears to represent the world more faithfully than the technologies that preceded it. And the Internet is an [begin italics] extraordinarily [end italics] seductive representation of the world. We’ve never seen a work of art like it.” Heffernan then adds “that the Internet is a massive and collaborative work of art…the Internet [seems to be] life” but in fact isn’t. “That’s why the Internet becomes more deeply meaningful and moving when ‘read’ as an aesthetic object than lived or reported on as firsthand human experience.”

Frankly, until reading this book, I never looked at the Internet that way and still have some reluctance to do so. However, credit Heffernan for making a far more convincing case in support of the assertion “that the Internet is [of course not] a massive and collaborative work of art…[nor is] the Internet life” more than I could when challenging that assertion. Definition of such terms is, at best, subjective.
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Format: Paperback
Virginia Heffernan’s existence seems to be ruled by tech. She lives on gadgets. She gets invited to all the launches, and seems to have internalized every iteration of every product, hardware, software and service. And she remembers everything about them. The book is a compendium of famous and not so famous events, happenings, launches, failures, and trends. It’s a nostalgic trip through the evolution of tech and cybertech. The magic and loss of the title refers to disappointment at the quality of music on gadgets. It is an entire book of miscellany that develops into nothing and is not memorable.

Heffernan says Americans are particularly enamored of pathologizing culture, which is precisely what she has done here, for some reason. She tries to be clever: “Those lucky enough to be sick or jobless get to watch talk shows and soaps.” Occasionally, there is an insight of sorts: “Program icons at the bottom of the screen are hardly a team of miracle workers. It’s more like a bagful of foreign coins.” Mostly, there are lists of brands or types or examples from the past 30 years, in the hope the reader might relate to one.

The last chapter is autobiographical. It is all about her in college, entering the work world and her struggle with religion. It does not tie everything together or even connect to it. I could not find the point of it all. Or maybe that was the point?

David Wineberg
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars 37 reviews
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Magic and Loss Review 14 Jun. 2016
By Brandon M. Standing - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the description above for this book, "Magic and Loss", it says that Heffernan reveals the Internet in a way that Marshall McLuhan awakened our imaginations in his work on media--a pretty hefty claim. In ordering this book, I had the high expectation that I would read something deeply insightful, philosophical, and thought-provoking. The Internet as art? I loved the idea!

But, I would definitely consider this book a very light, enjoyable read. The author's sentences, diction, and craft all come across as professional, enlightening, and soothing to the ear, heart, and mind of the reader. Reading over some of her sentences and perfectly-chosen adjectives to describe the visual/auditory sensations found on the internet, was a real treat! She is a master at her craft, and it was a pleasure.

However, if you are looking for something of an intellectual challenge when considering the Internet, it is not so much of one. The book reads more like a memoir than it does a philosophical take on the Internet as art. The last chapter is completely framed as memoir, in which the author describes her time in college without mentioning much of the Internet at all. Overall, it is hard to say if I really liked the book or not. She is undoubtedly a skilled writer, but her book left me wondering if I really learned that much about the Internet. In truth, I feel as though I learned a great deal about how one person, Heffernan, feels about the Internet.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm so glad the designers made a book that feels good (literally 25 Jun. 2016
By CathyD - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Finally, a witty book about the Internet! This one gets past the sanctimony and the scare tactics to help us all understand why we are so in awe of our devices--and so resentful. I'm glad the designers made a book that feels good (literally: it has little bumps!) . . . because it feels good to read this, an answer to questions you didn't even know you had. I love it. I'm grateful for having such a pleasant, smart, and useful read. I'm giving it to friends for beach reading. I guarantee they will be reading passages out loud to friends (all of whom promised--absolutely promised--to leave their devices at home and who are surreptitiously checking those emails every chance they can). Guilt-free reading for the digitally guilty! Ready for download!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you're tired of hearing about how smart phones are destroying the very fabric of civilization--and the ... 15 Nov. 2016
By Alice Rose - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're tired of hearing about how smart phones are destroying the very fabric of civilization--and the kids are all "addicted"--this is the book for you. Brilliant contrarian and stylist extraordinaire Virginia Heffernan goes high and low in this part memoir/part philosophical treatise on how and why she loves the internet. For Heffernan, Twitter is a poet's paradise and youtube has revolutionized the moving image. Dip in and out or read it in one fell swoop. Either way, you will not be disappointed.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and Engaging. A MUST summer read. 24 Jun. 2016
By Heidi Rose Robbins - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book had me from the first page. Virginia Heffernan is brilliant, funny and engaging. The whole premise of this book is fascinating and made me look the the internet in a whole new light. In fact, it's hard to imagine thinking about the internet in the same way ever again. Heffernan is erudite, vulnerable and totally enrolling. Read this book!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great philosophical ride 11 Aug. 2016
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Heffernan has written a tremendous book, ostensibly, about the impact of the internet on our lives, but she goes much deeper, showing how our very existence and our souls have been lost-and found-in cyberspace. You will never sign on again without wondering what aspect of your soul will be twitched this time.
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