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“The Hafeem Saul”
I finally got Oxadrenals to begin posting his story about Saul. (You might remember the discussion we had when Oxadrenals quoted some of Saul’s words over on hiddenimmortals.info Back then, though, he wrote his name S___)
The story is written from inside Saul’s mind. He’s not a modern person, and at first, his interior world may seem somewhat plodding and wordy. Also, some of the places the story goes to are uncomfortable, such as very old people suffering in nursing homes. But I’ve read the whole thing, and I can tell you that it will get under your skin. Saul is truly a remarkable, if suffering human being.
Anyway, I highly recommend it. Here’s the link. — Kate
I know it’s hard to switch over from Speed Demon to Saul, but this is the story you get right now. Exercise another side of yourself for a bit, OK? If you’re patient, and nice to me, eventually I’ll tell you a story in the voice of the sexiest girl you ever imagined. JUST NOT NOW. You gotta be patient. — Ox
OK, managed to get sex off my brain and switch gears. The story about Saul is pretty cool. I love the way his mind works. The scene with the prostitute in part 3 is hilarious. And then there’s Alexei. He’s obviously you in disguise, Oxadrenals! With that bizarre sense of humor, he has to be. Does Saul ever figure it out? No, don’t tell me. I’ll wait to read the rest when you post it.
So you speak Russian? Immortals must have to learn a lot of languages. Sounds hard! — Flyss
What touches me about Saul is the way he’s both complex and simple. His view of the world, and of people, is freighted with an enormous depth of experience. And yet, his caring is so uncomplicated by self-interest that he receives others with a beautiful simplicity. I’m especially thinking of his interaction with the Russian prostitute in part 3 of the story. He seems almost a naive innocent there, and this (apparent) innocence is played for laughs. (I agree with Flyss – it’s very funny!) But the very next scene with the gangsters shows that in fact Saul is anything but innocent. This mixture of qualities develops throughout the piece, and I look forward to your reaction when you see more.
It’s also interesting to think how unlike Oxadrenals Saul is, even though this is a story filtered entirely through Oxadrenals’ mind. — Kate
Oh, I just now remembered that you’ve read the whole story from beginning to end. Well I haven’t, and I can tell you I broke out into a cold sweat when she took off her veil! And then it happened again, in the part where she commands him to live.
Here’s the link to just that section: The Eldest
Here’s a link to the whole story: The Hafeem Saul
Perhaps you’ve noted the comment Oxadrenals left on this post by Flyss. He admits there that he “stole” certain expressions from this blog. There are also thematic resemblances, such as meeting the Eldest on a bridge. All this makes me wonder whether his story is genuine, or if he’s just “riffing,” as it were, on the material we post here. — Stephen
In my last post, I questioned whether the story being posted in sections by Oxadrenals is genuine, or merely an improvisation based on this blog.
Whether or not it is an improvisation, the latest addition describes a fascinating method used by Saul to shift his identity.
Here’s the central passage:
“Through certain contacts judiciously nourished, [Saul] learned of Lee Velis, age fifty-five, a man of independent means and solitary habits, long out of communication with relatives and lacking friends or business associates. While visiting Jakarta, the unfortunate Mr. Velis had stumbled in untimely fashion over a crack in the sidewalk and received into his skull a bullet intended to pass ten yards further into the skull of quite another man. Neither of the warring criminal syndicates involved had any quarrel with the United States, nor did they wish to provoke one. They were therefore quite grateful when Saul offered to take the accidentally assassinated man off their hands.
“He did so by becoming Velis.”
A very effective method indeed. Compared to the method of identity shifting I called “raising ghost children on the social security farm,” this technique is bulletproof. – Stephen
Here’s a link to this section this quote was taken from, titled Changing Identities.
Here’s a link to the entire story, titled The Hafeem Saul.
Stephen, I’m a known joker, but I tell you this with all my heart: Saul is real. His story is real. “The Hafeem Saul” is an autobiography with ghost writers. It is not fiction!
Just like on trueimmortals.net, though, some of the details are fictionalized to protect people, etc. And, like you noticed, I’ve followed your lead on many things. Not only in many details but also in styles and mood. That’s because you guys are talented!
But there’s more to it than that. Have you forgotten that you got a lot of your ideas in the first place from messages I left you? As I admitted at the time, only part of what I told you was true. So you built your stuff on my stuff, and thenI let your stuff affect my stuff
Mirrors within mirrors, like Stephen says. — Ox
P.S. I like the way you revised your previous post to include a quote. It’s wonderful to see my own sweet words in print, all pretty and orange like that.
Saul is on a Greyhound bus driving down from San Francisco, and sees the Golden Gate Bridge. Here is his comment.
“The Golden Gate Bridge. Truly a wonder of the world. The Great Pyramid asserted the hard fist of human power and the Parthenon raised a lofty marker of human wisdom, but both these wonders looked backwards; they signified how far humanity had come. The Golden Gate Bridge instead looked forward, signifying in that much ridiculed but nonetheless actual American manner that the way ahead was open wide.
Toward, for example, taking a stroll on the moon. American mortals had indeed set foot on that astronomical body. Surely this was one of the great accomplishments in human history, for all that it had accomplished little more than to create a peculiarly enduring series of boot prints. Yet, there were now more than a dozen living men—very dull men, alas—of whom it could be truthfully said, “He has traveled to the moon and back.” Saul had in the past met shamans who claimed this ability, but he felt comfortably certain they were dissembling.”
How true: Travel to the moon had accomplished little more than creating an enduring set of boot prints left behind by very dull men! And yet, the accomplishment itself was amazing.
Yes, I agree with Kate, Saul has a remarkable perspective. — Stephen
I agree, Stephen, he has a wonderful sense of paradox. It’s in the following passage too.
Saul has just seen American billboards for the first time in his life, including a cigarette ads showing a woman with a black eye captioned, “I’d rather fight than switch.” The following are his reflections.
“A novel message, taken all in all. Females, apparently, were now encouraged to share in the means of shortening an already brief life span previously reserved for males: to consume poisonous intoxicants and engage in combat. Truly an advance toward equality.
And yet, advance toward equality there had been. It had been little more than century since he’d ceased to regard the subjugation of an entire sex as natural. And not much longer since he’d learned to reject literal enslavement. Even so great a man as Socrates had never considered that slavery might be unjust, much less than that a woman might be fully human. In a few centuries, the mortal world had as far transcended its ancient ethical limits as its technological.
Which of his current beliefs would he in future come to condemn? He couldn’t know.”
It’s all there, in a nutshell. — Kate
Here is a link to the story section titled Wonders of the World
Here is a link to the whole story, titled The Hafeem Saul.
I wonder if Oxadrenals is just setting this story in Santa Cruz, or if it actually happened there. And if it really happened there, is Saul’s visit to Santa Cruz the reason why Oxadrenals chose that city as his organization’s base, or was Saul directed to go there because Oxadrenals had already chosen that city?
And why is Santa Cruz “the one place in the world [Saul] hoped never to visit again?” — Strattera
Oxadrenals won’t answer the questions Strattera asked about why the connection between Saul’s trip to Santa Cruz and the fact that Oxadrenals’ Hafeem organization is centered there. However, for the section of the story he just now posted, he kindly asked me to decorate his rather unexciting if pretty prose with some of the fantastic photos I took while Strattera and I were out in Santa Cruz investigating the Aussie’s ghost children.– Flyss
Link to new story section with my photos: Earthly Paradise
Link to entire story: The Hafeem Saul
And suddenly, right at the end, the plot picks up:
“[Saul] pushed forcefully away from his table; he threw down far too much money; he hurried out of the café, his thoughts whirling.
A woman in a nursing whom who appeared fifty, but whose chart said she was eighty-five? A Hafeem? A disabled Hafeem living in a nursing home? One of his own kind subject to the impertinences of mortals, steeping in her own urine, swaddled and bound in humiliation?
A century of apathy evaporated. He would investigate, and if she turned out to be a Hafeem, he would rescue her.
Never mind that it could be a trap, that this benevolent interest could get him killed. He had no choice.”
Saul/tormented as he is
By the possible immorality/of all moral choices
Afraid that when he tries to help/he’ll harm
Nonetheless commands himself to act
because compassion demands it.
And that other issue (mere great risk to self)
Only a brief extra beat in that hurt heart. — Kate
There’ve been several new installments of The Hafeem Saul since we last commented on it here.
The segment Cedar Manor introduces Lackman, a nursing home administrator who shares Saul’s history of frustrated good intentions, but has responded with jaded cynicism instead of compassion. (He will prove to be not entirely what he seems!)
The Uniform begins with an interesting reflection on the psychology of uniforms, a subject that has come up here before regarding the supposedly archaic focus on uniforms exhibited by true immortals. Then, it plunges us into a world of the grotesque.
A Nursing Home continues our journey into “nursing home grotesque.” The very title of this section calls attention to the mundanity of this terrible suffering: It’s not titlted “This Terrible Nursing Home,” but simply “A Nursing Home.” Cedar Manor is any nursing home. That this suffering is mundane rather than exceptional cuts to the heart of the matter.
As much as we would like to blame people like Lackman and the nursing homes they administer, or blame ourselves and our society, the true culprit is an evil that transcends us all: Aging unto death, with its attendant dementia, confusion, incapacity and sorrow. In other words, the horror in this horror story is just the way things are.
I have been a sincere critic of Aubrey deGrey, but as a human being I cannot but share his recognition that nature on a daily basis victimizes our very humanity. And it is this victimization that motivates the SENS Foundation, Imminst.org, and everyone else working toward physical immortality. But just as Saul has so often found that seeking to do great good leads to great harm, it may be that trying to overturn the horrible evil of aging and death will lead to yet greater evil. On the other hand, this realization hasn’t stopped Saul from continuing to seek to do good. For, what else can one do but try? -- Kate
The new installments of The Hafeem Saul are coming faster now.
In “A Moral Paradise,” Saul encounters the notion that to work in a nursing home is a moral paradise, because the decisions are so circumscribed.
In “A True Christian Should Wish Never to Die,” the unsettling Lackman provokes Dr. Pierce by suggesting that as a true Christian he should favor physical immortality: for the longer his life lasts, the longer he may be of service to others, while to go to heaven is a personal pleasure only.
“A Frisson of Apprehension” brings us at last to Bonnie Akers, and Saul fears that he is personally at fault for what she has become. He may be right.
Those three are all interesting, funny, thought provoking and painful. But the next one cuts to the core.
“Are You a Hafeem?” takes us to our deepest point yet into the horrors of mortality, as Bonnie Akers reveals herself. There’s something majestic in the nightmare of who she is, and once you encounter her (in this story) you’ll never forget the meeting. Worse, if you go to any nursing home, you’re sure to meet some who reminds you of her. Are they all Hafeems?
After this, Saul goes home, and the story soon veers in an unexpected direction. –Kate
Saul has a marvelously dark sense of humor.
In Mortality Distilled, Saul has spent his first day working at Cedar Manor nursing home, and is now driving home. He had been a physician in the 19th century, but left the profession when he came to believe (accurately, as matters would show) that he was doing more harm than good. Based on this experience, he is deeply cynical about the entire medical profession. However,
“He would have to grant at least this much to the current powers of medicine: at no other time in history could so many people have been retained alive in such an advanced state of decay. Cedar Manor was mortality distilled.”
The remainder of the installment consists mostly of self-reflection, and, I must add, illustrates a type of moral courage that I personally can only aspire to.
And then comes the thunderbolt. — Stephen
So much happens in this installment of The Hafeem Saul, it’s hard to know where to start.
Among many other things, Confrontation shows us exactly what is entailed in an Immortal attempting to identify and link up with another Immortal. Here is an excerpt.
If (to begin) Lackman were in fact a Hafeem as he claimed, then the onus was on Saul to prove himself a Hafeem too. Otherwise, Lackman would conclude that Saul was, in fact, a hanger-on [a mortal bent on stealing the (non-existent) "secret" of immortality], and take decisive action accordingly.
However (on the other hand) if Lackman were a hanger-on posing as a Hafeem, the requirements reversed: In that contingency, Saul must falsely prove himself no Hafeem at all, but rather a fellow hanger-on. Otherwise, Lackman would engage in the usual ridiculous efforts to extort from Saul the “secret” of prolonged life.
Yet (to continue deeper into the logical maze), if Lackman were truly a Hafeem, that second strategy was the worst possible option. Saul would have just proved himself a hanger-on to a Hafeem.
(continued in my next post) –Stephen
The concept of a hanger-on has already been mentioned on this blog by Oxadrenals, and, before that, intuited by Kate, but here we learn a great deal more about the threat they pose, in a passage that is a fine example of Saul’s language: vivid, intense, and yet tinged with consistent humor. Here’s what Saul has to say about them:
There is nothing more dangerous than a man or woman who has discovered your immortality. Mortals may in time resign themselves to aging and death, but this is a resignation forced by circumstance rather than embraced by will. Once he glimpses in your person, the possibility of escape from age and death, even the most respectable of men will become rapacious, his humanity overwhelmed by lust for what he believes you can give him. He will grasp at you with a strength that surpasses sanity, grip you like the old man in the fable who sits on the Brahmin’s shoulders. These tragic and dangerous creatures have been called Peiniea—The Hungry Ones, Rasmeosi—Those who Grip, and Luefelloto Lofelli—Seekers of Lifeblood. In English, they are often simply referred to as hangers-on.
By no means will such a being accept the bare truth: that immortality is an irreducible fact of nature, incapable of being gifted or conveyed. Rather, he will know to a certainty that you possess an herb, a spell, a sacred spring, a mysterious power in the blood that once consumed, will provide the gift of eternity. He will demand access to this gift and will credit no denial.
For example, an alchemical gentleman once came to believe I possessed the Philosopher’s Stone, lodged, peculiarly, within my liver. He wished, therefore, to possess my liver. My flight encompassed three continents before I at last escaped his voracious grip.
No, he is a terribly dangerous thing, your hanger-on, far more dangerous than war, famine, or weather. You must at all times do your utmost never to acquire such a being; and if, by ill chance, the disaster occurs, you must flee upon the instant, letting nothing dear delay you.
There’s much more besides, and a great deal of material to think about. –Stephen
Yeah, I’m in the middle of something else, but this last set of installments of The Hafeem Saul got to me. In Ski Mask Pulled Back, we find out who the guy behind the ski mask was. The answer took me by surprise, and then it made me figure out something I’m not going to say here because you’ll all want the fun of figuring it out yourselves. Unless It’s Not is a short interlude, mostly continuing Ski Mask, but raising the idea that it’s possible to achieve physical immortality. It has this funny bit where Saul runs through all the places where people have looked to find the source of immortality in the past. Is this Saul’s humor, or Oxadrenal’s?
The Philosopher’s Stone, the competent parchment of Satan requiring signature in blood, the forest herb of Wen-zhou, the subjunct Delphic spring, the Island of Endless Fog: These were not found because they do not exist. This quest is long since proven a fool’s errand.
(I especially like the subjunct Delphic spring.) Howard seems to agree it’s a fool’s errand … and then we move to The Essence of Tragedy. A lot happens in this one, enough to spend a long time discussing. (Among other things, Saul gets kissed.)
But here’s the part that got to me:
“I am a very young Hafeem,” [Beatrice] said. “Only a hundred and fifty years old. I don’t know very much compared to all you old guys. But I have something you don’t have: a disease that plans to kill me for certain. It’s a disease that enjoys killing young women, called ovarian cancer. If I were a mortal, I’d be dead in a year. As a Hafeem, I can probably stick it out thirty or forty years … [But] True Immortals don’t get sick, and, within reason, if they’re injured they mostly heal. So if we find their genes and learn how to use them, and if we can do that fast enough, I don’t have to die. I don’t want to die. Do you think I should die, Dr. Pierce?”
A disease that enjoys killing young women. It killed a friend of mine, too.
Damn mortality! But it looks like there’s a plan to fix all that.– Flyss
There’s a fascinating editor’s note to the installment “Essence of Tragedy.”
“Hafeems heal better than ordinary mortals. True Immortals heal perfectly, if given time. That is to say, if a wound doesn’t kill them outright in the first few days, they will usually fully recover. No scars, no missing fingers, no gray hairs.”
This answers a question I had posed early on, regarding whether True Immortals accumulate scars as time goes by. It is also eerily consistent with Kate’s fictional story, The Healing Power of Endless Time. – Stephen
We’re coming up toward the end of The Hafeem Saul now. Please forgive me if I seem a little bit emotionally involved, because I am.
In the most recent section, Saul shouts “GODDAMN SON OF A BITCH” along with Bonnie Akers, in a kind of Infuriated Mantra. It’s freeing for him, and he says of the experience that he “dug up buried corpses of sorrow and pitched them into his voice.” Buried corpses! It’s often like that with one’s conscience: the expression “I know where the corpses are buried” applies more often to oneself about oneself than to a blackmailer.
After they share this moment, Bonnie admits her fatal crime, but to us as modern readers, it scarcely registers. She’s gone mad because of this? I found it devastating. I don’t know why, exactly, as the historical reality of it is scarcely a new discovery for me. But Bonnie Akers is alive now, and I felt in the gut.
Then there is a touch of the comic as Carol Denning and several other women Bear Witness that they’ve done the same. The section concludes with these paired passages.
Bonnie ceased to thrash or scream, and spent much of the day watching the ocean. For his part, Saul felt a certain inward calm, but an unsteadiness too, rather like a sailor stepping ashore after years at sea. After living so long with self-reproach, he found it difficult to achieve balance without it.
But it’s only a brief respite. In “Bloodletting Hasn’t Lost its Currency,” Saul notices the first physical changes in Bonnie, and we are now on our way to the end of the story.
The final three installments will be up soon. — Kate
The final three installments of The Hafeem Saul are up now, a bit early.
In Discovered him to himself Howard tells how he met Bonnie Akers.
The story concludes with Stretched Out toward the Infinite, ending on a grand and poignant note.
Saul lets go of his pride and carves a probably futile message to a True Immortal he once knew. While doing so describes himself as:
… once more stretched out helplessly toward the infinite: that forever varied, endlessly repeated gesture of all mortal beings.
Continued from my last post.
I’d mentioned how Zeke’s behavior, while amusing, also had a dark, violent edge. But Zeke is obviously meant to be the same person as Howard of Narrative 2 –The Hafeem Saul. And in that narrative, Howard admits to being identical to Alexi, the man who came close to mugging Saul in Moscow in installment 3 of that narrative.
In other words, Howard/Alexi/Zeke have a distinctly weird and frightening side. But think about his:
Description of Oxadrenals: “He wore a theatrical handlebar mustache and a goatee…” (from our sighting of him.)
And, of course, there are other connections, obvious to those who have been reading the narrative.
If Howard = Alexi = Zeke also equals Oxadrenals, and we know that Alexi and Zeke have a real dark side, then maybe our friend Ox isn’t quite so cuddly and innocent as we’ve all been thinking. And, if so, than what if his “arch-enemies” the Immortal Illuminati aren’t so dark as he’s led us to believe?
It’s worth thinking about, anyway. — Flyss
(For new readers: All of the narratives cited here are accessible, and arranged chronologically, here.)
I wonder if anyone else shares my guess about the identity of the woman who met Blair in the bar in Installment 8. Here’s the description:
“She was very feminine and tiny. Asian, I think. But utterly sure of herself.”
She essentially dares Blair to abandon Saul, in a maneuver calculated to cause Saul immense anguish; and if my guess is right, it is a maneuver acted out with gusto by someone Saul trusts and reveres.
And then, 75 years later, that same person commands Saul to return to the scene of where he was so badly hurt, and to “cease penance and live!” (as described in the early part of The Hafeem Saul.) Possibly this is all some kind of cruel kindness intended to help him grow and develop, but it is breathtakingly manipulative.
Much as I am enjoying my conversations with Soraya’s representative, there is no question that these people, too, are masters of the art manipulating people for their (supposed) own good. If Oxadrenals is a brazen manipulator, he is in good company. - Strattera