Rachel's Blog: Abbey reads seminal book on nanotechnology.

Wed, 07 Jun 2006

I was recently (gently) berated for not writing more about Abbey on this weblog. That's my excuse for the following tale.

Abbey picks up a book I've just borrowed from the library. She opens it up.
"No pictures. Just words," she observes. "I'll read it to you." Abbey makes herself comfortable while I thaw something vaguely resembling bolognese sauce for dinner.
"One morning," she begins, "Dad went to a meeting." Turns the page. "To see some friends and play games." Turns page. "One morning she woke up!" Abbey gasps, "And she turned into a beautiful butterfly." Closes book. "That's the end of the story."

If you would like to independently verify the text of Engines of Creation it is now available to read online.

Comment by xander on Wed, 07 Jun 2006

The metaphor is clear: each morning is the dawn of an era, a clear reference to the opening act of Kubrik's 2001. In the first era, Dad is mankind grown up. He thinks he controls the world, and has discovered dazzling communication tools and tremendous technology. However, the word "meeting" has duality: besides the obvious reference to modern cooperative methods and progress, it shows us the illusion of modernity and alludes to unproductivity (The Office). Similarly, "games", while impressive and exciting, are nothing but distractions from reality.

Which brings us to the second age, where in the morning "she" replaces Dad as the enlightened thinker. She sees the world at the molecular level, and can manipulate it at will. No longer are form and function governed by our previous primitive notions of entity: matter can be displaced and reformed with nanotechnology. The difference between a man, a woman, and a butterfly? Nothing but perception!

Brilliant stuff Abbey, an insightful interpretation of Drexler.