Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art


Product Details

Simon & Schuster
Publish Date
5.5 X 0.8 X 8.3 inches | 0.55 pounds
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About the Author

Virginia Heffernan is a former geoscientist with an Master of Science from the University of Toronto's School of the Environment and an MFA from the University of King's College. Her articles appear in publications such as CIM Magazine, Explore, and the Globe and Mail. She lives in Toronto.


"In melding the personal with the increasingly universal, Heffernan delivers a highly informative analysis of what the Internet is--and can be. A thoroughly engrossing examination of the Internet's past, present, and future."
-Kirkus, Starred Review
"Heffernan is a gleeful trickster, a semiotics fan with an unabashed sweet tooth for pop culture...MAGIC BRINGS JOY [in this] enjoyable snapshot."--The New York Times
"Magic and Loss is an illuminating guide to the is impossible to come away from this book without sharing some of [Heffernan's] awe for this brave new world."--The Wall Street Journal
"Goddamn, Virginia Heffernan is brilliant."--Lenny Letter
"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 Gain!"--Frank Wilczek, Winner of the 2005 Noble Prize in Physics and author of A Beautiful Question
"Readers will be enthralled by Heffernan's unique take on this popular entity. Tech-savvy readers will be drawn to this book, but the concept of technology as creative expression should also entice art lovers. Most important, readers will be encouraged to appreciate the Internet not only for its ability to connect us to one another and information but also for its beauty."--Library Journal
"My copy of Magic and Loss is sloppily scrawled with all-caps pencillings of words like 'YES!' and 'TRUTH!'"--Mark McConnell, Slate Magazine
"Her book (thankfully) is more like an essay than like a treatise. Heffernan is smart, her writing has flair, she can refer intelligently to Barthes, Derrida, and Benjamin--also to Aquinas, Dante, and Proust--and she knows a lot about the Internet and its history."--The New Yorker
"This is sumptuous writing, saturated with observations that are simultaneously personal, cultural, and strikingly original--and she's writing about software. I love it. Ultimately, the art here is her prose style."--The New Republic
"One of the writers I most admire."--Gwyneth Paltrow
"The best writing on Angry Birds you'll ever encounter."-- WIRED, #1 Summer Beach Read
"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
"Marrying this study with her own fascinating personal history with the internet as a pre-teen, Magic and Loss is a revealing look at how the internet continues to reshape our lives emotionally, visually and culturally."--The Smithsonian Magazine

"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, Beyoncé, 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