YOU ARE CURRENTLY SEEING BLOG POSTS IN PROPER CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. While in this mode, the links at the bottom and top of each page are not correctly labeled. However, the left pointing arrow always advances forward in time, and the right pointing arrow retreats.
I also wanted to mention that I’ve been chatting a bit with some folks who believe that it is possible to achieve physical immortality. Most of these aren’t scientific types — Stephen wouldn’t approve — but it’s interesting that so many people are focused on it.
My direct conversations have been with Dr. Janni Lloyd, a former MD who is a spiritually-inclined advocate for achieving physical immortality. She leads an amazingly popular blog on Oprah.com, and has done a number of interviews online, including this one.
Here are some similar sites.
Here’s one that seems to be scientific rather than spiritual, quite up Stephen’s line: Immortality Institute
I hadn’t realized there were so many of these! — Kate
It’s exciting how active our readership has become! Yet another good question has come my way.
Reader “Iamhealthyever” asks, “What does your research tell you are the best supplements for extending life, health and strengthening immunity?”
It’s true this is something I’ve researched extensively. I am particularly persuaded that a combination of Rodiola rosea, Andrographis paniculata and common marigold will do more than anything else to slow the aging process. I also Chi kung exercises of the western school. But here is not the place for a long discussion on the practicalities of life extension. I’ll email you separately — Glenn
As I continue to research Aubrey de Grey, I am struck by the one significant difference between his quest and ours: Dr. de Grey is looking for something incremental, whereas we are in search of a single definitive step.
No doubt, his approach is the more practical. In the ordinary course of things, medicine will take progressive steps toward immortality. Organs will be replaced by machines, or by artificially grown organs. Degenerative diseases will be slowed. The aging process in general will be analyzed and disrupted. It’s inevitable that, eventually, what de Grey calls “actuarial escape velocity” will be achieved. Whomever survives until that point will live forever.
However, many of us will not survive until that point, as we are already too ill or too old. It is for this reason that our discovery of actual, real life immortal human beings is so exciting. It seems likely that such people possess a mutation or a set of mutations that slows or stops the aging clock. If we could obtain even a small sample of his or her tissue, we could identify the altered genes, and proceed via genetic engineering to alter our own genomes to match. This would bring back the moment of permanent escape from death into the near present.
It is out of desire to pass through this “singularity” that we undertake the many risks involved in publishing this site.
I can only imagine that Glenn has similar intentions in undertaking the great risks of his current quest. — Stephen
Flyss here. Strattera and I are heading home. Not sure what all we’ve learned, but maybe we’ll figure it out after a rest. BTW, I know there are a lot of questions from readers waiting to be answered. We’ll get to them soon. Glenn would want us to.
I wanted to mention one particular thing that happened while we were here, though it had nothing to do with being here, actually It was a show on NPR about physical immortality that just played. (Aubrey de Grey came up.) Here’s what got to me: Everyone on the show seemed to (a) take it for granted that pretty soon we’re going to live practically forever, and, (b) this is a good thing.
What, are they all crazy? I mean, yes, (a) is correct: We are all going to live practically forever. But how exactly is this a good thing? Can’t they see the consequences?
If people don’t die, earth’s population goes through the roof. If you live forever, even a one-child policy like China has leads to crazy overpopulation. So what are we going to do, talk the whole world into not having kids? Never going to happen. Will we just run out of resources so that everyone starves? Not going to happen either. The super rich and the super connected are going to get immortality first. And then they’re going to take control and make sure they and their family and their friends have whatever they need. Whatever it takes.
It’s a nightmare. And it’s coming. — Flyss
[This thread continues here.]
What Flyss says is a special case of the larger principle: that the public good and the private do not always line up. (Perhaps it is more surprising that they ever do.)
For example: As an individual, it may be best to take antibiotics with every cold, as there is almost no downside and some upside (eg., the rare case where a bacterial infection is involved.) (NOTE: My biologist friends assure me that virtually all the problem with antibiotic resistance occurs in the community, not on the person of the individual. In any case, let us take that as true for the sake of argument.) For the public at large, however, broad scale use of antibiotics leads to bacterial resistance. Eventually, this harms the individual too, but in the present, taking an antibiotic is still better for that individual than not taking it.
For a much more poignant example, consider infant mortality: There can be no more charitable act than to save infant lives — or so it would seem. Actually, if one looks at the demographics, almost the entire cause of the twice doubling of world population in the last century is due to the reduction in infant mortality. That’s the cause: not lengthened mortality or reduced death from infection. It’s saving babies. This, in turn, has led to a whole range of terrible problems, including global warming.
But does this mean one shouldn’t save infants? It’s hard to believe that. On a personal level, this is an unambiguous good. But looked at from a public perspective, reducing infant mortality was an act of incredible risk-taking, as it directly led to a massive increase in population, and this in turn may lead to terrible harm.
The case of physical immortality is similar in every respect but one, and that difference only makes things worse.
As I have an opportunity to briefly access the Internet now, I will post what I have written so far. (To be continued.) – Stephen
In my last post, I pointed out that an apparently unambiguous good (reducing infant mortality)was the primary cause of an arguably unambiguous harm: the last century’s massive increase in world population. Much the same applies to ending aging. (Though with an additional twist as pointed out by Flyss. We’ll get to that.)
For an individual personally, as well as those that individual cares about, ending the “symptoms” of aging and greatly postponing death will almost always be received as a good. Certainly, we would have given a great deal to save Glenn’s life. But this local good is a global harm; for the world at large, the consequences of significant life extension would be dire.
More precisely: Will be dire. Because this will happen. Death and aging are surely on their way out, whether slowly or quickly.
This could be described as a sort of equation not universally applicable but of considerable validity in certain goods conflicts, in particular this one.
The greatest good for the individual (not dying) ≡ The greatest harm for all (far, far too many people)
Contrary to the impression left by the piece on NPR Flyss listened to, Aubrey de Grey is not at all naive with respect to this. I read a very interesting article by him on this very subject, and I would post a link to it if it were not that my Internet access is too limited while I am in hiding to perform a Google search.* But, as I recall, his considerations, while extensive, do not fully extend to the issues of power and class that Flyss brings to the fore. What she has to say is powerful, important, and truly frightening.
(continued in the next post) — Stephen
*Note the constant recurrence of Google. Strattera is right: they represent an entirely new but supremely great power.
As I mentioned at the end of my last post, there is a sense in which ending aging and death presents even a greater conflict of goods than reducing infant mortality. I am referring to what Flyss pointed out.
Flyss is of the post- postmodernist generation, for whose members a class- and power-based analysis of history is as natural as breathing. And the images that this perspective have brought to light are truly chilling.
I have always accepted that when anti-aging technology becomes available, it will be made available first for the wealthy and the powerful. That is only to be expected. But what I had not considered prior to is that these early adopters will do their best to keep the technology away from others. Worse, if they fail to prevent widespread life extension, or even if they anticipate failure, they will seek by all possible other means to save themselves and their friends and family from the dire consequences of exponential population growth. They will use everything they have: their money, their power, and their new longevity.
One might object that the powerful and the super-rich are not currently able to have their own way. But once immortality is an option, the stakes rise asymptotically upward. For when we take risks, we risk only a mortal lifespan; for an immortal, infinity is in the balance. It is plausible to suppose that there is nothing a person would not do to preserve an eternal life. (See this post for a quasi-theoretic analysis of the stake change.)
Thus, we can expect a massive amplification of eternal quest by the privilege to preserve their privilege. If they win, they will enjoy infinity. If they lose, infinity will be snatched from them. With stakes like that, it will be truly a battle royal.
However, now another thought strikes me:The current Immortals would have the same concerns and desires. They may already be at war with us.
[Portion of this thread continued in this post.]
Forget the internal combustion engine: saving babies was the greatest act of war on the planet ever committed!!
What a brilliant and horrible way to say it! Now I suppose ending aging may be even worse. And what Stephen got out of my idea is even more staggering. Battle Royal! Holy sh-it. — Flyss
FYI: Humanspybot is the one who figured out the meaning of the mirrored room. Brilliant guy or gal that one is.
Stephen asked me to look up some data relevant to our recent discussion and report it here. (He’s still on the run, and his Internet access is limited.)
He wants me to point out a common misconception about advances in life expectancy. What he said surprised me. I had the same misconception as everyone else. I thought since life expectancy has gone up, it must mean that we’re all living longer. But it turns out that it isn’t true. Even though life expectancy has gone up dramatically, people aren’t living very much longer at all nowadays than they were a century ago.
I know that sounds like a paradox. But Stephen turned out to be right. He pretty much had the numbers in his head, but I looked up some published statistics so I could report facts rather than information from his encyclopedic brain. I’m using data from the US to create this report. World data is even more dramatic, but it’s harder to pin down.
First, look at life expectancy at birth:
- 1890: 42 expected years at birth
- 1990: 72 expected years at birth
This is an amazing increase of 30 years of life per individual! But does in mean we’re living longer? Actually, no. Look at life expectancy at age 60.
- 1890: 14.7 expected years at age 60
- 1990: 18.7 expected years at age 60
This is an increase of only 3 life years per person! In other words, though fewer people made it to 60 in the past, once they did they lived basically as long as we do today.
I had no idea. — Strattera
I do want to clarify: though I love that quotation too, I don’t seriously think anyone is guilty for causing the world’s population explosion by reducing infant mortality. *
However, no one intended to heat the earth either, and yet it is happening. And there is one major difference to keep in mind: We are setting out deliberately to extend life span. Therefore, we have a responsibility to look at the consequences.– Stephen
*FYI, infant mortality was primarily impacted by increases in food supply. Sanitation was also important. Vaccinations were a distant third, and all the other efforts of doctors and public health officials have scarcely made any impact on world population levels at all. This, though, may begin to change, as “indefinite life extension” becomes a reality.
I’ve been looking back on our trip to San Francisco. Not a total waste of time. Wee did find evidence that there was once a connection between the Immortal Illuminati and the San Francisco Veteran’s War Memorial, but that recently the immortals left. Which is all very interesting.
But not to the point. Because the Immortals didn’t conspire to kill Glenn! Like Kate said, it was nature who killed him. Nature is a seriously mean bitch who conspires against us all, damn her!
And so, yes, life extension might be bad. But I sure as heck want it anyway. — Flyss
Continuing from my last post.
Among the purely biological, non-supernatural approaches to attaining indefinite life extension, the best known and most worked out is that of Aubrey de Grey. The name of his approach captures its flavor: Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS)
These are “strategies,” or lines of research, not guaranteed methods. The technique involved engineering, that least idealized of all branches of science. The aim is not immortality but greatly reduced aging.
One can take issue with certain of these strategies, and I intend to. But, broadly speaking, this is clearly the approach most likely to succeed. It will be incremental, not sudden, and come in pieces not as a whole. As a thought experiment, imagine this scenario:
(1) It becomes possible via stem cells, to maintain the elastin in skin, thus eliminating the laxity that leads to wrinkles. This is combined with methods for reversing sun damage leading to eternally youthful appearance.
(2) Similar methods (stem cells to restore joint fluid and cartilage) are used to reverse osteoarthritis, eliminating the joint pain that cripples so many and irritates most. Bone thinning is also stopped. (This is possible with currently available medications.)
(3) Age related mental decline is stopped by preventing the mini-strokes that lead to the most common cause of memory and cognitive deficits in seniors; Alzheimer’s disease is successfully overcome via an approach yet to be determined.
(4) Vision loss is entirely stopped through a combination of biological and technological fixes; hearing loss is reversed via cochlear implants (possible today, though expensive)
These together would lead to seniors who look young, have no joint pain, maintain full mental function, and can see and hear clearly. All of these are within reach. This is most likely the first step in the revolution.
Note that these “cosmetic changes” will have life extension consequences, as much of aging involves the sequellae of mental confusion, loss of hearing and vision, and difficulty in maintaining physical activity. But, in general, this is an anti-aging strategy, not a life extension one. For that, we need to consider some more dramatic methods. (Continued in my next post) — Stephen
Continued from my last post.
I had mentioned Aubrey de Grey’s Strategies for Delayed Senescence, or SENS. These consist of a set of seven research approaches, about which the SENS foundation says the following:
“It is important to understand that these seven ‘planks’ are a description of SENS, rather than a definition, and could, in theory, change or grow as we progress in our research efforts and deepen our understanding of the challenges which face us, and their solutions.”
I would prefer to address SENS on these terms. However, one must deal with the fact that within the SENS foundation there is a strong tendency to fall into habits of guru worship and doctrinal certainty. This is a natural human temptation, but it is unfortunate as it weakens a very strong underlying argument.
Keeping this in mind, the seven planks of SENS may be summarized and critiqued in very simplified form as follows:
(1) OncoSens: To delay death, cancer must be prevented. This is probably the most difficult aspect of the program. The specific techniques of interest to the SENSF may or may not be the most fruitful for dealing with cancer. Ultimately, this set of diseases involved mistakes in the copying of information when cells divide, and, as such, is a hard problem to solve from scratch. The body itself uses a variety of ad hoc methods to address the problem; we may need to augment them.
(2) MitoSens: This component of SENS is truly staggering and original. The mitochondria are, in a sense, cells within our cells, the remnants of ancient more primeval life forms that our own single-celled ancestors gobbled up and kept alive. (This is not controversial in mainstream science.) However, the DNA in the mitochondria is less protected from damage than the DNA in the cell nucleus. Since gradual decay of mitochondria may play a major role in aging, why not move mitochondrial DNA to the cell nucleus? This could be accomplished via therapeutic retroviruses, for example.
(3) LysoSens: This approach is based on the notion that many problems come from accumulated “junk: within cells. Some planks of this theory may be currently falling apart, but there is no doubt some truth to it. It may be possible to introduce external processes to remove this junk.
(4) AmyloSens: A similar problem occurs with accumulations outside cells, and similar critiques and solutions apply.
(5) RepleniSens: There is very little doubt that many aspects of aging are caused by loss of entire cell lines. Treatment for this is probably not far from the realm of currently known science, and could lead, among other things, to the benefits I described in this post.
(6) ApoptoSens: Certain cells are meant to die, to “apoptose.” When they do not, they may need help with their sepuku. There are numerous means proposed for accomplishing this.
(7) GlycoSens: Cells may become entangled with each other, leading to brittleness and other problems. This too is amenable to an engineering fix. (To be continued.) — Stephen
In my last post, I described the seven planks of Aubrey de Grey’s approach to achieving indefinite life span. I also suggested that many of the specifics in these approaches may be incorrect. It is very easy to be overconfident about what we know about the body; the entire history of medicine could be described as a narrative of such overconfidence. Thus, I do not necessarily believe that these seven planks are in fact precisely the way forward. What they are instead is a means of looking at the problem as solvable. Dr. de Grey is telling us is, “Don’t just explore. Aim at accomplishing!”
One might therefore compare him to Francis Bacon: In his Novum Organum, Bacon laid out the general direction that science would take for the next several centuries, and opened up the vistas in which it would succeed. He was writing in 1620, and got many details wrong. But his fundamental perspective was entirely right.
Thus, various specific components of SENS may include errors: e.g, telomere shortening, amyloid accumulation and mitochondrial free radical damage may all be red herrings. But the overall drive is undoubtedly correct: We can and will do this. — Stephen
That all sounds like a painfully slow process! I can’t bear to wait that long.
I totally agree with Flyss that death is grotesque, a travesty, a bad joke. But it’s a big bad joke, the 800 lb gorilla in every room, and it’s waiting to snatch some very good friends of mine. I don’t like that one bit, and I don’t mean to stand idly by. Something has to happen by this fall. And I think it will. Winter at the latest. Once we find [so and so] we’ll go ahead and [do this and that] … and then we’ll [do that and this]
Terrible idea to spill the beans too soon. Must keep those beans in the Ball jar for now, but verily I sayeth unto you, big stuff is going to happen, this Fall, or Winter at the latest! Stay tuned. — Ox
As you may know, I’ve been dialoging with members of the SENS foundation, the major science-based life extension organization dedicated to achieving indefinite lifespan, and I must say it has been a disappointing experience. Here on Trueimmortal.net, we live in the real world, where people have emotions, desires and passions, can be selfish and erratic and may lash out under stress. People associated with the SENS foundation, in contrast, seems to live in an alternate fictional universe where everyone is rational and nice, and all problems can be solved without pain. (Or, at least, without pain to anyone other than inferior people.)
They remind me considerably of some engineering students I knew in college who pretty much thought the world would be made a perfect place if only everyone would behave more like engineers. Not that these engineers behaved any better or more rationally than anyone else. They were fully as arrogant, self-centered and inclined to getting drunk as my fellow mathematicians, or my friends in the English department for that matter. It was just that they truly believed that they were rational beings, and that everyone in the world ought to be too.
That seems to be the SENS foundation in a nutshell. (continued in my next post.) — Stephen
In my last post, I continued my discussion of the SENSF (the leading scientific force for physical immortality), in particular my disappointment with the level of discourse present in their community. In that post, I mentioned that Aubrey de Grey, the moving force of SENS, is somewhat different.
But his difference may be as much of a problem as it is a benefit. It is this subject that I will begin to discuss here.
Aubrey de Grey is clearly a genius. But he also plays the genius, and at least allows if not actively encourages guru-worship among his followers. Cults of person like these are inherently problematic. One adverse consequence is that his ideas, such as the seven elements of SENS, are taken as doctrinal truths. While such fixation on the words of the master is de rigueur for religions and cults, it is only an obstacle to scientific progress.
It also typically damages the master a swell, swelling his ego and making him think of himself as universal rather than a particular genius. Something of the kind seems to have happened to Aubrey de Grey, for has he turned to pronouncing on subjects where he is not only markedly less than a genius, he is little more than a talker.
For example: I have recently been thinking about one particular consequence of life extension, that it will inevitably lead to the end of children (or, at least, their conversion to rarities in a world of immortal adults.) To me, this has huge emotional consequences for humanity. (I hope to explore these consequences in a piece of fiction.) When I mentioned this subject on the SENSF site, I received such edifying responses as, “Nonsense, the world can support a hundred billion people easily, but anyway we’ll go to other planets or dimensions,” or, conversely, “Countries that still have children will just starve, and it will serve them right.”
As it happens, when it comes to this subject de Grey operates at a somewhat higher level than his community. In this published article, he bluntly admits the premise. I quote:
The choice that humanity will face once aging has become optional is, therefore, every bit as stark as those who raise overpopulation as an objection to curing aging claim it is. We will have to choose between a high death rate or a low birth rate – it’s as simple as that.
This is bracingly forthcoming!
However, from there, his argument takes a downward turn, culminating in a conclusion that, while grand in tone, is pure sophistry in content. (continued in my next post) — Stephen
As I mentioned in my last post, Aubrey de Grey, the public face of physical immortality, seems to be succumbing to the guru worship that he has allowed to grow up around him. Among the symptoms of this descent is a tendency to believe himself a universal genius, fit to pronounce not only on mitochondria but on moral philosophy. I have some doubts about his mitochondrial opinions, but of his moral philosophy I am certain: it is nonsense.
In my previous post, I introduced de Grey’s essay on one of the consequences of life extension: the inevitable need to reduce birth rate to near zero. The title of this essay is, “Aging, Childlessness or Overpopulation: the Future’s Right to Choose.” In its conclusion, de Grey deploys what might seem to be a virtuosic thrust. Invoking the cherished principle of autonomy, he upends the subject under discussion by claiming that we have an ethical duty not to consider these consequences of our present choices. I quote:
But is it better to have a hard choice to make, or to have it made for one? … Future humanity has just as much right to make its own choices as we do. Just as parents have a duty to give their children guidance in childhood but freedom thereafter, so we have a clear, indisputable duty to give future humanity the opportunity to choose. And the sooner we cure aging, the more people will have that opportunity. That opportunity, that choice, is their right; conversely, it is our duty to give them it.
These ringing words are purest sophistry, presenting as they do an argument brilliant on its face and nonsensical at its core. Among the many logical objections to this shimmering conclusion, I shall state just this one: Using the same reasoning, one can conclude that we have a duty to encourage birth rate to rise, since that too will give more people the opportunity to make all kinds of choices.
The reader, I am sure, can think of innumerable other ways to dissect the paragraph quoted above. However, I would like to add another critique beyond that of its sophistry.
In making his argument, de Grey betrays a fundamental lack of comprehension of human nature. For, of course, people as a whole will not simply decide not to have children, or at least they won’t so decide quickly. For, humans are not purely rational. Rather the opposite: We are driven by passion and instincts far more than by reason. And once all those children are here by the billions, we can’t just say, “whoops, made a mistake. Let’s take them back.” — Stephen
P.S. I want to reiterate: I believe that life extension is coming. I’m greatly in favor of it, too. But I believe in seeing the consequences with open eyes, rather than pretending them away.
[Thread continued by Kate here.]
Basically, high minded as we try to be, Hafeems and True Immortals bump each other on the chins. Not one-on-one. It’s happened a lot that a young True Immortal gets mentored by a Hafeem. But once True Immortals get pretty old they usually find us irritating pretenders; and we don’t like them much either because they never get wrinkles or nose hairs.
Not to be so flip, I’m in favor of physical immortality for all, they’re not and hence the problem. I’m doing some things to to get there the SENS foundation never dreamed of, and the upshot is that I’m racing toward a head on collision with the Trueimms (God, they’d hate to be -called that, but a reader suggested it and I approve) when they step athwart my plans. This fall or winter at the latest the showdown starts.
Now, about a delicate subject: The Eldest, (blessed She) has not taken sides. To use her own words, she chooses to “hold the powers equal and let chance decide.” The one power is my group, the other power is Antipollus and his True Immortal Illuminati (with Sollaya and the Blue&blacks and bunches of others.) Truth be told, Antipollus is a hell of a lot stronger than me. (Smarter too, richer, wiser, cleverer, more perceptive … but I’m twice as handsome.) If he stepped in with all his might I’d be boot polish.
But the Eldest (blessed She) is stronger than either of us, and she’s holding us apart. In the mean time, we’re getting closer and close, and the pressure is building, and if she decides to stop maintaining the peace we will snap-to at war, with the hounds of hell baying and sniffing each other’s butts, and the cats of hell massing into vast cat herds, and also lots of shouting. And killing, and guns and nasty comments so hurtful they can never be taken back. Or worse. — Oxadrenals
Continuing where Flyss left off.
Here’s my attempt at an analysis.
As we’ve noted in various posts, there has recently been a consolidation of True Immortal force in Santa Clara County, California. Some of these Trueimms have decamped from complex installations in the Midwest (including the tunnels shown in that link and these previously off-the-map “factories”) while others merely abandoned nearby garrisons in San Francisco, at the Veteran’s War Memorial.* The two known leaders of these True Immortals are the individuals we are calling Antipollus and Sollaya.
The county of Santa Cruz abuts Santa Clara County in deep redwood forest along the ridge of the Santa Cruz mountains. This area appears to be more closely associated with a group of Hafeems allied with Oxadrenals.
The two groups appear to be in conflict. The True Immortals are more powerful, but another individual, yet more powerful still, is enforcing an armed peace. This is Yahahnna, called The Eldest.
A particular True Immortal,** “The Aussie,” owns property in Santa Cruz, via one of his ghost children. He does not seem to be allied with others of his kind. His property, however, links to an isolated rock on an isolated beach, and that rock contains a peculiar variation of the famous Illuminati eye and triangle.
Oxadrenals has told us the he hopes to soon find the current location of The Aussie. He also speaks of an event he calls The Big Show, due to occur in the fall of 2010 or the winter of 2011. This event is expected somehow to further the cause of physical immortality for Hafeems and mortals, and is also linked to the enmity between the groups.
The details, however, are obscured by the fog of future events. I believe that in order to unravel them, it may help begin analyzing some symbols. (Continued in my next post) — Straterra
* They may still have a certain brooding presence in San Francisco.
**He could be a Hafeem. But Oxadrenals informs us that he is aging too slowly for that.
What do you mean it’s happening now? What’s happening?
You wrote: “Once we find [so and so] we’ll go ahead and [do this and that] … and then we’ll [do that and this]” And then, somehow, physical immortality is on its way, that is if Antipollus doesn’t stop you.
Have you found the Aussie? Are you close to physical immmortality? Are you fighting against Antipollus?
Stephen, do you know what he means? — Flyss
Yes, I do know. Let me explain.
First, a review. The first immortal for whose existence we had solid evidence is a man we have nicknamed “The Aussie.” What we know about him is summarized here.
Of note, though we lost the trail of the Aussie, we discovered a person who was following the Aussie too, the “Bounty Hunter.” We have nurtured hopes that by following him we would find the Aussie. In the process of observing the Bounty Hunter, we were contacted by Oxadrenals. After a number of interactions that are not directly relevant to the current topic, Oxadrenals provided special training to Flyss and Strattera. They were led to believe that the ultimate purpose of this training was to allow them to observe the BH as he closed in on the Aussie, and possibly also to covertly enter an underground world.
But then other adventures intervened.
Flyss and Strattera investigated the San Francisco War Memorial, and found a surveillance equipment in a secret room. this led to a gambit designed to flush out True Immortals in the SENS foundation, and also allowed us to observe the Blue&blacks in action.
In the past, we had used a number of very time intensive methods to search out immortals, only some of which succeeded. But then I discovered the method of tracking ghost children identities. This powerful technique led to a series of discoveries. The first merely involved symbols on a beach in Santa Cruz, but next we we able to detect and observe the arrival of two True Immortals: first Speed Demon and then the Molly.
In the midst of this, Oxadrenals published The Hafeem Saul, a fascinating biographical narrative.
These events kept us quite busy. So busy, that we all forgot for a time that Flyss and Strattera were supposedly in preparation for observing the Bounty Hunter close in on the Aussie.
It now appears that we have been somewhat deceived. But justifiably so! (Blockbuster revelations in my next several posts.) — Stephen
As I was discussing in my last post, it is now safe for me to reveal the details of a significant but necessary deception that has been practiced on us by Oxadrenals. Here are the major points, arranged in logical order.
(1) The Aussie in fact arrived in the US one year ago.
(2) The Bounty Hunter (the real one, not the man we call by that name) discovered him on his arrival.
(3) This led to the fruition of certain of Oxadrenals’ plans.
(4) Oxadrenals could not risk interference with those plans by outside parties. Therefore, as a matter of tradecraft, he obscured the event, paying one of his other Bounty Hunters to take over certain elements of the identity of the first.
(5) We stumbled into the story by discovering the Aussie ourselves. But, fortunately, Oxadrenals’ technique worked, and we were derailed onto the wrong Bounty Hunter.
(6) I say “fortunately,” because I am in full agreement with what Oxadrenals is doing. His behavior was honorable. He has been honest to us in almost all respects, taking precautions only that we would not interfere with the great work he was undertaking.
(7) He himself informed me of the deception, and asked me to reserve publication of the facts until that great work had progressed to its climax.
(8) That point has been now been reached. (continued in my next post) — Stephen
[Editor's note: The actual bounty hunter, Richard Menniss, is discussed in the narratives of the Immortality Project.]
Continued from my last post
(10) Now that the project has reached its climax, the extensive caution we have thus far employed may be relaxed in one of its elements.
(11) We have been calling Oxadrenals great antagonist “Antipollus.” But his true name is Alexandros.*
(12) NOTE: Though Oxadrenals is in conflict with Alexandros, this does not mean that Alexandros is evil. Oxadrenals himself does not regard him as such. There are many sides to this matter. It is a classic conflict of competing goods. Oxadrenals has taken a position, but he respects that of his antagonist.
(13) But Alexandros is implacably opposed to physical immortality for mortals.
(14) Thus the stakes in this final crisis are very high.
(15) There may be a battle.
(16) Oxadrenals himself is not sure he will survive. — Stephen
*Oxadrenals” is an anagram of “Alexandros.” This is another example of the remarkable gifts at word play possessed by our esteemed Hafeem colleague. For not only does it directly mock Alexandros, it is also a pun: The adrenals of oxen are used in Taoist medicine to lengthen life.
In addition, may I add that I have independent confirmation that we can trust what Oxadrenals is telling us now?
In order to persuade me to withhold certain information, he had to give me certain facts, and these allowed me to test his claim. I know what he is doing, where, and how he arranged it. I can trace his suppliers, identify the transfer of funds, track the arrival of the equipment, and generally verify the proceedings as they have occurred thus far. I’ll send this material to you privately. I would ask you to please reserve judgment until you have reviewed it. Sincerely — Stephen
Oh. Yeah, I see. Yes, you’re probably right.
I’m sure you are.
Anyway, no real harm. The adventures were great!
P.S. They used someone’s ear? What the heck?
And who’s this Janice chick everyone’s running around for?
Thank you for being so understanding, Flyss! I knew you would.
About physical immortality: It may be really happening. But we’re not there yet. There’s some kind of battle going on between Oxadrenals and Alexandros, with The Eldest playing a role as well. As I understand it, events are coming to a crisis at one or more large underground installations. It could turn out well, but it could turn out very badly. I don’t think anyone can know how it’s going to turn out. But we are really, truly, on the cusp.
Look for a series of important announcements soon. – Kate
Like the Hafeem Saul, this is a story based on fact and composed by Oxadrenals and his scribes. But the style is altogether different. It is a thriller; a love story; a voyage into the world of immortals; and it is the record of a quest for physical immortality that is reaching its crisis now.
If Oxadrenals succeeds, the narrative will reach up to the present and beyond. But if he falls, and our current hope for immortality is lost, at least the record of this grand attempt will be given to the world.
The first installment will appear by morning. — Kate
P.S. Flyss, I wonder if you’d like to decorate the narrative with a few photos? :-)
P.P.S. And, I promise, the detail regarding the ear will be made clear.
Remember when Flyss met The Eldest? One of the things Flyss heard her say is, ”I hold the powers equal and let chance decide.”
I have no idea everything she meant when she said it. But one thing I know she meant, because she told me so, is that she’s protecting The Immortality Project from Alexandros and Soraya with their blue&black militia and their red&white military police. That’s the only reason why the Immortal Illuminati haven’t shut us down. They have an army of suited up knife-throwing fire-eating lovelies ready to move in and protect us from ourselves, but the Eldest is holding the powers equal.
For now. Remember the part about “letting chance decide?” She means it. Any moment, if she wants, she can take back her protection.
As for defending our own selves from Alexandros and company: Well, don’t think see. It’s taking a lot of holding to make the powers equal.
On the one hand, they got armies.
Squaring off against them, we got nearsighted Joe on watch in the Crows Nest, a troupe of butt naked shock troops with their underarmor between their ankles, a set of bright new pennies in all the fuse boxes, and a brigade’s worth of smoke alarms unplugged.
That’ll show ‘em! — Oxadrenals
The “opening quotation” of Narrative 4: The Hanger-On, is supposedly a quote from The Cask of Amontillado, by Edgar Allen Poe. But a close look shows that it is not the actual quotation at all, but a bizarrely altered version. The attribution explains the change: Supposedly,this is the “King James Revision” of the story!
God seems to be the narrator, rather than Montressor (the man bricking in Fortunado in the original.) From my reading, this appears to be a depiction of God bricking us in with mortality and taking credit for giving us peace by killing us in the end. I read the “tiers” here as decades; we are supposed to imagine God blithely bricking us from the moment we are born. The victim (us, or Menniss) first notices what’s happening in his fifth decade, at which point he shakes his chains. God listens for a moment, and then goes on bricking. I supposed this means that we first notice we’re mortal in our 50′s. (That has certainly been the case for me.)
It’s a bizarre yet moving burlesque. We see here how beneath his humor Oxadrenals (for this has to be a product of that peculiar mind) is deeply serious.
But is he reliable? Can we trust him? Or would we in fact find greater security in the experienced, parental, aristocratic realpolitik of Soraya and the True Immortals?
I share the dilemma Kate speaks of.
Clearly Oxadrenals is trying to give us what we want. But is it what we need?
On the other hand, can we, in the modern world, allow an elite, no matter how wise, to choose for us and tell us what we can and cannot have? — Stephen
In the storm’s eyeball now. Because this just happened:
Dr. Francine (who you’re reading about in Narrative 6) is just now staring at a bunch of letters and numbers on a screen. Knowledgeable sources tell me that what she is squinting so ferociously at is the genetic code of a True Immortal (our buddy Blair), scribbled out in that funny DNA language the Almighty likes so much.
I’m sure we’re in the stormtroopers’ sights. Of course, if Dr. Selis can’t figure out anything to do with the aforementioned genetic scribble, those narrowed eyelids will shutter down. But if she finds a way to use it to make us immortal — and I’m betting she will — then we got narrow-lidded storm troopers coming at us.
Or not. It all depends on that little finger I mentioned. — Ox