Qty:1
  • List Price: $21.95
  • Save: $2.82 (13%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
Add to Cart
Want it Monday, April 28? Order within and choose Two-Day Shipping at checkout. Details
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Eligible for FREE Super Saving Shipping! Fast Amazon shipping plus a hassle free return policy mean your satisfaction is guaranteed! Good readable copy. Worn edges and covers and may have small creases. Otherwise item is in good condition.
Add to Cart
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more

The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace: A History of Space from Dante to the Internet Paperback


See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from Collectible from
Paperback
"Please retry"
$19.13
$4.08 $0.06

Frequently Bought Together

The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace: A History of Space from Dante to the Internet + Pythagoras's Trousers: God, Physics, and the Gender War + Physics on the Fringe: Smoke Rings, Circlons, and Alternative Theories of Everything
Price for all three: $58.84

Buy the selected items together

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Image
Looking for the Audiobook Edition?
Tell us that you'd like this title to be produced as an audiobook, and we'll alert our colleagues at Audible.com. If you are the author or rights holder, let Audible help you produce the audiobook: Learn more at ACX.com.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (May 17, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393320537
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393320534
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,427,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Pythagoras' Trousers, science writer and feminist Margaret Wertheim took an astute look at the social and cultural history of physics. She explored how the development of physics became intertwined with the rising power of institutionalized religion, and how both of these predominantly masculine pursuits have influenced women's ability to join the physics community. Now she has turned her attention to virtual reality, looking at similarities between how we view it today and how art and religion was viewed in medieval times. Her assertion is that rather than carrying us forward into new and fabulous other worlds, virtual reality is actually carrying us backwards--to essentially medieval dreams. Beginning with the medieval view, with its definition of the world as spiritual space, Wertheim traces the emergence of modern physics' emphasis on physical space. She then presents her thesis: that cyberspace, which is an outgrowth of modern science, posits the existence of a genuine yet immaterial world in which people are invited to commune in a nonbodily fashion, just as medieval theology brought intangible souls together in heaven. The perfect realm awaits, we are told, not behind the pearly gates but the electronic gateways labeled .com and .net. How did we get from seeing ourselves in soul space (the world of Dante and the late medievals) to seeing ourselves as purely in body space (the world of Newton and Einstein)? This crucial transition and the new shift propelled by the Internet are convincingly described in this challenging book. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this serious and intriguing, if far-fetched, study, Wertheim (Pythagoras' Trousers) argues that cyberspace gives us "a technological substitute for the Christian space of Heaven." She explains that early Christians hoped to trade "the troubled material world" for the next one, where bodies would be perfected or disappear and "injustice and squalor" would vanish. Internet partisans make similar claims: in cyberspace everyone's equal and nobody's ugly. Christian theology, as espoused by medieval art and literature, imagined a place for bodies (this world) and a place for minds and souls (the next world). But modern science and modern thought (the Renaissance invention of perspective; Copernicus, Newton, Einstein) have explained and demystified physical space, leaving "no place more special than any other," nowhere for us to imagine that souls can be. Wertheim discusses hopeful fictions of "hyperspace," from H.G. Wells to Cubism to Star Wars, before turning (in chapter 6) to the Net, whose denizens?especially users of MUDS (multiple-user dungeons)?have, she contends, found a space for the soul online. This is, she adds, cause for both celebration and worry, since the "cyber-utopians" haven't found a clear way to make cyberspace stand (as Heaven did) for an ethics. Wertheim is intent on explaining the Net's meanings, not its workings. If her book belongs to one particular field, it's the minuscule?but mushrooming?one in which literary and cultural critics consider Net phenomena. As such, it's both provocative and worthwhile.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By MargaretWertheim on June 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
I am the author of this book and I would like to agree with the gist of many of the reviews here. The first half of the book - which traces the cultural history of Western concepts of space - is the real meat of the text and is by far the strongest part. The final part of the book, which deals with cyberspace, is weak by comparison. Actually when I wrote the book, I only wanted to write the first part, with a final short and tentative reflection on the then emerging realm of cyberspace. But the publisher - who thought cyberspace was a hip topic - pressed me to make cyberspace a bigger part of the exercise. I too feel that these final chapters have to a large degree been superceded by the development of the Net since 2000. But the real story of the book is the first 5 chapters which trace a critical transition in Western culture's conception of what it means to be a human embedded in a wider spatial scheme. It is this part of the book - which the European reviewers especially praised - that stands as the real achievement and that I would still urge apon readers.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The ground that this book is trying to cover is certainly expansive, and it's no wonder that some of the topic areas get short shrift. The initial chapters on our conceptions of space are fantastic: I was aware of how our conceptions have changed from absolute space to relativistic and beyond, but Wertheim did an excellent job of demonstrating how much of this change was conceptual rather than purely a change of scientific theory. More importantly, she shows how these changes affect our world-view and spiritual beliefs, and how these affect science and art in turn. For example, she argues that the flat & "unreal" nature of early religious paintings is a reflection of the idea of heaven being outside of normal space. Thus the adoption of three-dimension perspective drawing techniques signaled a shift towards the dominance of physical space. For anyone seeking good examples of changes in scientific paradigms, this book is an excellent place to start.
After recording a history of space to date, Wertheim tries to describe cyberspace as being the next significant shift in our conception of space. To most steeped in our current physicalist tradition, the concept of cyberspace as being an actual space is pretty way-out, but it does make sense in light of the previous world-views described by Wertheim. However, Wertheim characterises cyberspace as a place we enter, but in many ways it is the opposite- the projection of another space into our own. Viewed this way, the radical conclusions Wertheim makes seem rather far-fetched.
Where I was most disappointed was in Wertheim's treatment of "cyber-soul-space".
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 13, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I have always wanted to read a cultural history of space, something that would help me understand how humans have conceived and poeticized the nature of the dimensions that surround them. Wertheim's book gave me all I wanted, and more. Wertheim shows us that space is part of a story that we humans are always telling ourselves about where and who we are. Unlike most science writers, Wertheim navigates the dire straits between science and the cultural imagination with intelligence and grace....._The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace_ isnt just longago history. In the closing chapters, Wertheim uses her fascinating tale to help us understand the psychological and even spiritual motivations that draw so many people to the Internet and electronic communications. Wertheim's basic argument -- that modern science banished the phantasms of the "soul" from our surroundings, and that those powerful images and yearnings are now returning inside the synthetic "space" of electronic information -- both acknoweldges the metaphysical yearnings expressed by cyberspace and refuses to give in to naive cyberhype. She ends her tale with some strong moral arguments rooted in both the eternal realities of the human imagination and the pressing historical demands of our time.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Forget the title - the real story here is in the subtitle "A History of Space from Dante to the Internet". That's what attracted me, and it lives up to the promise. In less than 200 pages Wertheim gives us the story of space from the middle ages to today. The medieval space of the afterlife, Renaissance perspective space, Copernicus' discovery of astronomical space, Einstein's relativistic space, and todays theories of cyberspace -- Wertheim connects the dots as if she is solving a complex historical puzzle. Even if you don't give a damn about cyberspace this is an amazing book. After reading this you will never take the word "space" for granted again. As Wertheim shows, there is a never-ending morphing of this quintessiential concept.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is really divided into 3 parts: history of expression of space through paintings, history of physics, and Wertheim's views on cyberspace. The first two sections are top notch research articles, comprehensive, easy to follow, and very accurate. These two sections alone could have be made into a book. The last section, however, is quite subjective. It basically states that cyberspace will replace the Christian heaven, becoming New Jerusalem, where all will be good, and none shall die. It is where our bodily restraints shall be no more, and we can live with a new image, created through our likings. This is all well in theory, but there are too many problems with utopians created by man. There is also mention of downloading our souls into cyberspace, where we can live after our bodies die. Quite far fetched, and it presents problems as well. Nothing is wrong with new ideas being presented, but wishes for the impossible will never be granted. Living human beings belong to the physical world, and without a body one cannot really be called human...
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Product Images from Customers

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Search
ARRAY(0xa2776d2c)

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?