Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art
“A thoroughly engrossing examination of the Internet’s past, present, and future.”—Kirkus Reviews
“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, like the way when talking via cell phone, “You don’t know when to talk and when to pause; voices overlap unpleasantly. You no longer have the luxury to listen for over- and undertones; you listen only for content.” On nearly every page, she makes an observation or connection like that, which dials a vague sense one may have had into sharp focus. 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
Heffernan is a sought-after speaker on the idea of leveraging the intrinsic capabilities of the Internet for cultural, political, and professional purposes. A former editor at Harper’s and Slate, she has her Master’s and a Ph.D in English literature from Harvard. Her book Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art is forthcoming in June 2016 from Simon & Schuster.
The Internet: Understanding the Medium for Businesses
Many companies underestimate how immersive and robust Internet culture is. They fail to recalibrate their messages for an online world that is rapidly displacing traditional media as the hub of conversation, content viewing, shopping. In this talk, Virginia Heffernan shows businesses how to capitalize on the intrinsic (and limitless) possibilities of the Internet. What are the important distinctions between the Internet and, say, television or print? How do Internet users think, behave, search, watch and consume? Plain spoken and lively, Heffernan offers corporate audiences—product sellers, service providers, content producers—an abundance of insight and real-world examples. The Internet is not just a reformation of stuff found in the real world. The Internet is its own world, with its own rules of engagement, its own expectations. It’s a force to be reckoned with—and profited from.
The Pleasures of the Internet
In the past five years, the Internet has morphed from merely an extension of traditional media, into its own full-fledged civilization. It is among mankind’s great masterpieces—a massive work of art. The Internet has “a poetics, a scale, a palette, a rhythm, a sensibility, a system of metaphors and an emotional range.” We all inhabit this fascinating place. But its deep logic, its cultural potential, and its societal impact often elude us. In this urbane and probing talk, Virginia Heffernan presents an original and far-reaching analysis of the Internet, unlike any that has come before. She shows how the Internet is much more than a new technology or new business. It’s a ubiquitous yet seldom examined world that is profoundly changing the way we live.
Judy Metro National Gallery of Art
Your talk was fabulous: the perfect blend of engaging, smart observation and provocation that one prays for at the beginning of a conference. Everyone was quoting you. People who came late and didn't make it to the talk were plainly jealous of their colleagues who did. I owe you big time for getting our conference off to a terrific start with ideas that kept us fueled until the end.
Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art
Just as Susan Sontag did for photography and Marshall McLuhan did for television, Virginia Heffernan (called one of the “best living writers of English prose”) reveals the logic and aesthetics behind the Internet.
Since its inception, the Internet has morphed from merely an extension of traditional media into its own full-fledged civilization. It is among mankind’s great masterpieces—a massive work of art. As an idea, it rivals monotheism. We all inhabit this fascinating place. But its deep logic, its cultural potential, and its societal impact often elude us. In this deep and thoughtful book, Virginia Heffernan presents an original and far-reaching analysis of what the Internet is and does.
Life online, in the highly visual, social, portable, and global incarnation rewards certain virtues. The new medium favors speed, accuracy, wit, prolificacy, and versatility, and its form and functions are changing how we perceive, experience, and understand the world.
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