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When purple things are pulsating on your mind, I'm the one whose clock you want to clean. Aiding is Sparky, the Astral Plane Zen Pup Dog from his mountain stronghold on the Northernmost Island of the Happy Ninja Island chain, this blog will also act as a journal to my wacky antics at an entertainment company and the progress of my self published comic book, The Deposit Man which only appears when I damn well feel like it. Real Soon Now.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sparky: What you should be reading ... about Enoch Root — the Baroque Cycle and Cryptonomicon!

QuickSilver's MetaWeb:Enoch Root




The King in the Mountain
Could this be Enoch?
Enoch's existence is Stephensonia illustrated. Randy Waterhouse seems to liken him to Gandalf the White. Neal has been quoted that Enoch of Cryptonomicon, is the the same character in the Baroque Cycle; Though, his manifestations may have different corporal bases. One also wonders how much Enoch's name owes to Elihu Root? ...

Authored entries

Community entry

One time Roman Catholic Priest Enoch Root, also known as the alchemist 'Enoch the Red', is a fictional character who appears in Cryptonomicon and Quicksilver, The Confusion and The System of the World.

Enoch's Longevity

Enoch Root's lifespan appears to be one of extraordinary longevity.
Enoch in a Boston Pub?
Maybe Just Enjoying
His Warm Fire

Shave Head And Appear Old

The author mentions this explicitly in an interview, saying "[T]here's a character, Enoch Root, who possesses unnatural longevity...."

There are a few other references to his extended lifespan, not all apparently consistent:

Quicksilver p9: "He is an old man." "Older than you?" "No, but he might seem older."
Quicksilver p24: mentions that Enoch Root had made himself something of an expert regarding longevity.
The Confusion p549: (UK ed.): apparently he must "don identities, and later... shed them" in order to avoid detection. He seemingly has NOT "alchemically" gained eternal life (but most alchemists imply or state this, generally to keep from being hounded by gold seekers and others).

Note that the Biblical character named Enoch is reported to have avoided death, and to have been taken directly by God to heaven. At the end of System of the World, an Ordinary reads Jack Shaftoe this very Bible passage, a part of a set of passages which Eliza is using as a means of communicating with Jack. At the very least, Eliza believes Enoch Root to be the Biblical Enoch.


In the Book of Genesis, Enoch (Hebrew ???? Chanoch or ??nôkh) is a name shared by two individuals.

  • The first was the son of Cain. Cain later founded a city which he named Enoch.
  • The second was the son of Jared, father of Methuselah and the grandfather of Noah, although Noah is thought to have taken the name 'Noah', post-flood, and was originally named "Enoch". Genesis 5:24 tells us, "Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away". According to the Hebrew Book of Enoch, God took Enoch and transformed him into the angel Metatron. In the new testament Jude quotes Enoch as prophesying a day of judgement. According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints's Pearl of Great Price [1], this Enoch founded the righteous city of Zion in a very wicked world. He and the entire city's inhabitants were "translated" by God and vanished from the presence of the earth before the Great Flood. Methuselah and his family (including Noah) were left behind so that righteous people could still populate the earth.

Wikipedia: Metatron

Metatron is the name of an angel in some branches of Judaism and Christianity. However, there is no consensus as to his genesis or the role that he plays in the hierarchy of Heaven and Hell. According to one school of thought, Enoch was taken by God and transformed into Metatron. However, this viewpoint is not shared by many Talmudic authorities.

The Zohar identifies Metatron as the angel that led the people of Israel through the wilderness after their exodus from Egypt, and both the Talmud and Targum identify Metatron as the link between God and humanity. Metatron is also mentioned in the Pseudepigrapha, most notably in the Book of Enoch. According to Johann Eisenmenger, Metatron transmits the daily orders of God to the angels Gabriel and Sammael.

Musician Carlos Santana claims that the revitalization of his career in the 21st century is due to Metatron. Santana claims that Metatron visits him while he meditates and describes it as a white, bearded angel.

Metatron in fiction

Metatron appears as a major character in the film Dogma, where he is played by Alan Rickman. Here he is the voice of God, who cannot speak directly to a human, because Her voice is so powerful it would kill the person. "We went through five Adams before we figured that out," he drolly comments.

In Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's novel Good Omens, the Metatron works like the voice of God, similar to the film Dogma, but it is unsure if people will blow up if they hear His own voice or not.

In Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, Metatron is the Regent of Heaven. God (usually called the Authority) is an extremely elderly and feeble angel with no will of his own, and Metatron rules as a dictator in his stead.


In the Quran, the prophet Enoch is known as Idris.

Wikipedia: Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I

Frederick I (c. 1122/25 CE- 1190), also known as Frederick Barbarossa ("Frederick Redbeard") was elected king of Germany on March 4, 1152 in succession to his uncle Conrad III, and was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1155.

Frederick sends out the boy to
see whether the ravens still fly.

As the son of Frederick of Hohenstaufen, duke of Swabia, and Judith of Bavaria, of the rival Guelph dynasty, Frederick was descended from Germany's two principal families, making him an acceptable choice for the Empire's princely electors as heir to the Imperial crown.

He undertook six expeditions into Italy, in the first of which he was crowned emperor in Rome by Pope Adrian IV in the aftermath of the overthrow by Imperial forces of the republican city commune headed by Arnold of Brescia.

Thereafter, relations between Emperor and Pope descended into bitter conflict culminating in Frederick's defeat at the Battle of Legnano near Milan (1176) by the pro-Papal Lombard League of northern Italian cities.

After making his peace with Pope Alexander III, Frederick embarked on the Third Crusade (1189) with Philip Augustus of France and Richard I of England; he drowned while crossing the Saleph river in Cilicia in south-eastern Anatolia.

However, Frederick is the subject of a sleeping hero legend. He is said not to be dead, but asleep with his knights in a cave in Kyffhäuser mountain in Thuringia, Germany, and that when ravens should cease to fly around the mountain he would awake and restore Germany to its ancient greatness. According to the story his red beard has grown through the table beside which he sits. His eyes are half closed in sleep, but now and then he raises his hand and sends a boy out to see if the ravens have stopped flying.

Frederick was succeeded as king and emperor by his son Henry.

The German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 was codenamed Operation Barbarossa, remembering Frederick I.

The Fictional Frederick

Umberto Eco has his character Baudolino interact with Frederick.

Wikipedia: The King in the Mountains

A king in the mountain, also known as a sleeping hero, is a repeated motif that appears in a number of folktales.

The basic motif is that in a cave in a remote, high mountaintop, a legendary hero dwells sleeping, along with a body of his armed retainers. The hero is usually a historical figure of some military consequence in the history of the nation where the mountain is located. The presence of the hero is unsuspected, until some herdsman wanders into the cave, typically looking for a lost animal, and sees the hero. The stories almost always mention the detail that the hero has grown a long beard, indicative of the long time he has slept beneath the mountain.

Often the hero speaks with the herdsman. Their conversation typically involves the hero asking, "Do the eagles (or ravens) still circle the mountaintop?"

The herdsman, or a mysterious voice, replies, "Yes, they still circle the mountaintop."

"Then begone! My time has not yet come."

The herdsman is usually supernaturally harmed by the experience: he ages rapidly, he emerges with his hair turned white, and often he dies after repeating the tale. The story goes on to say that the king in the mountain sleeps in the mountain, awaiting a summons to arise with his knights and defend the nation in a time of deadly peril; and the omen that presages his rising will be the extinction of the birds that trigger his awakening.

The motif is interesting in that it combines the idea of a supernatural national defender with the concept of conservation. A number of kings, rulers, and fictional characters have become attached to this story. (See the external links below).

Root appearances - Stephenson's Enoch in his Physical Manifestations


  • in Grantham (England), 1655, where he meets young Isaac Newton (pp. 24-34).
  • in London, 1670, to demonstrate the newly-discovered elemental phosphorus to Charles II and certain members of the Royal Society (p. 213).
  • in Bockboden, 1684, where he meets Jack Shaftoe in the apothecary's shop (p. 448) and in the mine (p. 461).
  • in La Hague, 1687, where he warns Eliza and Fatio of an approaching "meteór" (actually a private yacht associated with the French Navy by dint of its owner) (p. 756).
  • in London, December 1688, where he vaguely talks with Daniel Waterhouse about both the nature of alchemy and himself, and gives to Daniel a bit of information about the whereabouts of a person Daniel is seeking (pp. 879-882).
  • In La Hague, 1689, where he seems to have provided Dr. Alkmaar with some useful medicine for Eliza. (pp. 900-901).
  • in Boston, 1713, where he meets young Ben Franklin and talks with Daniel Waterhouse (pp. 4-23, pp. 34-46). His first appearance is chronologically his last appearance in the Baroque Cycle.

The Confusion

  • As tutor to Lothar von Hacklheber and his two brothers, under the name of Egon von Hacklheber (The Confusion, p549). This information is imparted in a flood of staggeringly blunt Enoch-talk... someone else can do the spoilers for this at a later date!
  • In Hindoostan in 'late 1696' Enoch appears to have been summoned by the Ten for the last stage of their boat-building project as the most trustworthy messenger (an aspect of Mercury). He stays with them until 1700, when he leaves to search for the Solomon Islands. (The Confusion pp. 564-694)

System of the World

  • in London, October 1689, (as described in a document found by Daniel Waterhouse in 1714, The System of the World pp. 470-474); where he prepares a restorative medicine that restores Daniel's life.
  • ... other people please enter more here!


  • Of his youth — we've this quote (p. 524): "...Enoch shrugs modestly. 'Where I grew up, memorizing the digits of pi was the closest thing we had to entertainment.' "
  • on a beach (coming down from the mountains) working as a spotter for the good guys after the China Raider Bobby Shaftoe seems to have had a nightmare encounter with a big lizard. Enoch meets Bobby
  • in the hospital where Goto Dengo is convalescing during WWII after Bobby convinces him to surrender ...
  • during the Second World War as an Army chaplain-of-sorts, with Cpl. Bobby Shaftoe detailed to a special division Dept. 2702 acting on information massaged by Lawrence Waterhouse.
  • is part of a gold pirating conspiracy with Bobby Shaftoe, the crew of the V-1 Million, and Rudi.
  • has some sort of family connection to Rudolf Rudi von Hacklheber seemingly based upon the Societas Eruditorum, and now most likely has the Leibniz Archives — that Göering collected for his escaped slave.
  • Enoch is pronounced dead from wounds inflicted by Germans. Bobby Shaftoe witnesses a body being hussled away afterwards. Later, Enoch is alive.
  • on the phone/email with Randy Waterhouse describing the Pontifex cryptosystem
  • In prison in the Philippines in a cell adjacent to Randy where they have a mostly silent conversation with the help of the Pontifex system.
  • the 'present day,' in the Philippines where Andrew Loeb is encountered, America Shaftoe's life is saved, and the gold is regained ...
  • America Shaftoe, while ill from her injuries, meets privately with Enoch and then has a rapid recovery. She declines to mention anything specific about what Enoch did to treat her.

A GI Joe™ Enoch Root and a Strange Padre

The Diamond Age

In The Diamond Age the character PhyrePhox (The chapter: The torture chamber of Judge Fang; A barbarian is interrogated; Dark events in the interior of China; An unignorable summons from Dr. X p. 139ff) might be another manifestation of Root. He has red hair. He is immune to pain. He travels to rural areas to rescue orphaned baby girls. He is member of the CryptNet, a probable secret society, in which he has a level of 25, when the highest level is thought to be ten. (I welcome discussion on this hypothesis ... Possible print error, decimal missing, should = 2.5?)

E no chroot AKA Enoch Root as Author

E no chroot being an UNIX command. Enoch, as the sole immortal, see-all know-all character in all the Neal Stephenson novels, is the avatar of the author within his created universe. This is why he has memory problems (particularly in that he wrote the Baroque Cycle AFTER the later 20th and 21st century novels in the same universe). Stephenson wrote his modern novels on a Mac, later OSX, an UNIX derivative, ergo his universe is written in a Unixverse.

Also, in an article in the Guardian, Thursday November 4, 2004,,12597,1343417,00.html, Stephenson says: ‘The way I actually produced the Baroque Cycle novels was markedly low-tech and disorderly: writing them with a pen on paper and keeping track of all of my notes in notebooks with no indexing system’. Compare with Enoch Root to Ben Franklin and Godfrey Waterhouse in th opening chapter of Quiksilver: ‘the way I remember things is most disorderly’.

This literary device is not new. Heinlein used both Jubal Harshaw and Lazarus Long to be the voice of the author (Lazarus being immortal much like Enoch Root). Heinlein even posited that universes were created by the acts of their authors (see Number of the Beast). Stephenson has even stated that to "state what Enoch Root is would destroy his purpose."

Who is Enoch? He is Neal Stephenson (or his alter ego).

Johann Faust and John Dee:

(I'm a little surprised this isn't mentioned yet...) The Enoch Root of Quicksilver seems connected to the legends of Johann Faust (a real character, fictionalised by Marlowe, Goethe and others). Marlowe's Faust was based on a chapbook description, and also on John Dee, alchemist to Queen Mary and Elizabeth I, whose name means John Black. Dee promoted the idea of a National Library (as Enoch does throughout Quicksilver), travelled the courts of europe meeting the great minds of his day, and he also claimed to have been dictated books by angels in the Enochian language. John Dee seems to be a clear inspiration for the Enoch of Quicksilver, but his longevity may be another Faust connection: the contract of Goethe's Faust means he cannot die until he is satisfied with the state of the world. A perhaps more convincing 'Red/Rood/Root' connection with Dee is his association with the Rosicrucian order of alchemists ('Rose Cross').

The Wandering Jew

A somewhat unpleasant medieval myth had it that when Jesus was on His way to Calvary, he asked a local shopkeeper if he could rest in his shop doorway awhile. The shopkeeper said "Nay, get thee gone!" or something similar, to which Jesus replied "I go, but thou shalt tarry here till I return!". Since then, the shopkeeper, sometimes named Aherserus, Carthephilus or Melmoth, is supposed to have wandered the earth until judgement day. An Armenian Archbishop visiting England in 1228 claimed to have met him, and reported that he had converted to Christianity.

The Wandering Jew has been claimed by some conspiracy minded folk as an earlier guise of Le Comte de Saint-Germain, and that far from being punished he has deciphered the secret of immortality.

Comte Saint-Germain

Perhaps another root of Enoch lies in this enigmatic historical figure? Although a contemporary of Louis XV, post-Baroque Cycle, there are some striking similarities. "A man who knows everything and who never dies," said Voltaire of the Comte de Saint-Germain. Saint-Germain was a noted alchemist, and had apparently worked as a jeweller for the Shah or Persia or the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, depending on which account you read. He is supposed to have adopted several guises, for example as Mr Welldone in England, in direct contrast to Enoch, who is always Enoch.

Another Idea On Enoch Root: Two Enochs

Note: While this is an entertaining theory, there is extratextual proof to the contrary. See [1] below.

I'm surprised that no one else has made this deductive leap, but after finishing System Of The World, I suspect that the sudden aging of Enoch Root between WWII and the present after about 300 years at a steady 30 years old has a very elegant explanation-WWII Enoch Root,hereafter refered to as RootPrime, is The Baroque Cycle's Enoch Root. The older, grizzled, hacker-saavy Enoch Root, hereafter refered to as Root2, is Daniel Waterhouse.

Waterhouse ends the series as an admitted and active member of the Societas Eruditorum, with complete access to the Solomonic Gold and personal knowledge of the construction of Elixir Vitae. Therefore, even if a one-shot administration is not adequate, which it may be; none of the characters in Crypto or The Baroque Cycle who ingest the stuff demonstrably die of natural causes. Even WWII Bobby Shaftoe doesn't definitely die, but that's a stretch. Regardless, DW has the means to make more and a sense of personal burden to maintain and protect the system of the world.

Root2's interest in the well-being of Randy Waterhouse, i.e. why he contacted and dealt with Randy instead of Avi Hallaby, whose ancestor's acquaintance RootPrime had also made in The Baroque Cycle and his conniving to get into prison with Randy to teach him pontifex instead of just hanging Randy out to dry and passing on the info to one of the other crypto-hackers available can be handily explained by a familial connection to Randy. RootPrime's association with the house of Hacklheber would seem to demonstrate that Stephenson's alchemical immortals tend to stick by their families, adopted or otherwise.

[1] When Neal Stephenson was in Atlanta, GA for a signing of Quicksilver, the following exchange took place during the Q&A session:

Q: What's the connection between the Enoch Root in Cryptonomicon and the one in Quicksilver?

A: It's the same guy.

Theory:Enoch the Alien

One problem we have is that we look at Enoch from our perspective, trying to work out who he is. Let us instead look at us from his perspective and try to work out WHY he is, and WHY he is doing what he is doing TO US. If you were a concious being, capable of independent, rational, even scientific thought, stuck on a primitive, backward planet full of savages for a long, long time, how would you get off that planet? Particularly if you really weren't FROM there, at least not in a long time.

Back in the days of Atlantis, when your son Noah was building an ark to help preserve knowledge and endangered animals through a major cataclysm (flooding of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea, sinking of an Atlantic archipelago, whatever) some dude in a space ship you befriended took you on a trip across the galaxy (i.e. you were walking with or were taken by God), learned all about his technology, about the galaxy, and for some reason wound up back on earth, marooned here or whatever, but motivated to advance the human race to the point where it is a species capable of space exploration.

You had learned in your travels about technological singularities, about financial means of accellerating a cultures rate of advancement, and about the evolution of technology. Once back on earth you found the Hacklhebers, a financially brilliant family for its time (an analog of the Rothschild family) and insinuated yourself into it, teaching it, perhaps, the secrets of financing governments with money made from absolutely nothing.

You needed a system of the world to build, through industrialization, science, technology, and via the wars between governments that depend upon all three, a culture capable of getting you back into space. Which might be why we don't see him in Diamond Age or Snow Crash: In Snow Crash he is busy building a space infrastructure that is immaterial to the plot of the book, while in Diamond Age, he is gone entirely.

Theory: Enoch as Hercules

Enoch could be Hercules' actual representation in this universe. Cunning instead of strength, could apply. What if the Solomonic Gold really is composed of golden nanomachines that can repair organic entities and sometimes reverse death? Suspect fire or a certain Biblical tale may activate them.

Theory: Enoch as Hermes

In Quicksilver Enoch is sometimes associated with quicksilver (the element Mercurium, Mercur being the Roman name for Hermes). In the Cryptonomicon the battle between Ares and Athena is described and the Arrow Books editions feature Ares on the cover of Confusion, Athena on the cover of The System Of The World and Hermes on the cover of Quicksilver. As Hermes is the patron of Hermetic alchemy (alternativly called Hermes Trismegistos and also identified as the Egyptian god Thoth) he is often a catalyst for knowledge. Enoch is described as a messenger and a trader in the beginning of Quicksilver and Hermes is the messenger of the gods and also the god of merchants (and thiefs). Also, the first word of the first chapter of Quicksilver is Enoch.

Enoch and eugenics

After finishing up with the Baroque Cycle last term I couldn't help but notice similarities between Enoch and Frank Herbert's Bene Gesserit. With obvious gender differences aside, Enoch's work in the Baroque Cycle and Cryptonomicon left me considering some ulterior motive.

Consider that throughout the books in which he is present, Enoch works as a shepherd and in some cases protector of the Shaftoe and Waterhouse families. The end result of this is the union of Randy Waterhouse and America Shaftoe. Perhaps a child would serve as Stephenson's own Kwisatz Haderach.


While the skill and cunning of many of Stephenson's characters is clearly a bit out there, Root is the only character in the Baroque Cycle who is markedly supernatural, living longer, traveling faster, and knowing more than the novels ever give a satisfactory explanation for. Hackers exist in real life, but gods do not. Yet many people believe in the existence of a magnificent root user in the sky, a deus who, every once in a while, appears ex machina to save the plot. There is nothing preventing the author from thinking of some fanciful naturalistic explanation for this character later; he has explained weirder things away in his literary career ever since the radio-active rats in The Big U.

Related entries

External links

A better question?

Sleeping Heroes:

Stay weird! - Sparky


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