Sunday, November 20, 2005

Root Reps in Cryptonomicon

While reading Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon I came across an interesting exchange between Enoch Root and Randy Waterhouse about Root Reps. A Root Rep (short for Root Representation) is an internal representation of Enoch Root, a mystical character in the novel. As stated in the book, the Root Rep is "some pattern of neurological activity," while the physical Enoch Root is some "big slug of carbon and oxygen and some other stuff." This concept was introduced by Enoch Root to reinforce the idea that the Root Rep is "the thing that you'll carry around in your brain for the rest of your life." Enoch Root said to Randy that instead of "thinking about me qua this big slug of carbon, you are thinking about the Root Rep."

I think that people should be aware how their actions influence their Reps (representations of themselves for other people). In this case a person's Rep is the neurological activity that is induced in another human's brain. We (made up of matter) can never truly enter another's person direct consciousness in a way that transcends the Rep. Although each one of us has a self-Rep that might be difficult to alter, each time we spread our Rep (by allowing others to communicate with us, read about us, or think about us in any way) we can influence the Rep creation.

What do you want to be today? Perhaps you cannot alter your own self-Rep very easily, but you can easily alter the Rep that is created inside other minds. Essentialy the Reps that represents us which is located inside other minds is based on a finite set of observations and thoughts that were most often a result of direct interactions. By carefully controling our interactions with others we can help shape the Rep. Cultivate a Rep today, be anything you want tomorrow.