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“The Immortal Blair”
We will soon be posting a variety of comments on installments of “The Immortal Blair,” placed as the first narrative of the chronicles of the Immortality Project. I simply want to note in advance that I have spent considerable time and energy verifying the facts in this narrative, and believe them to be substantially correct. (It seemed necessary to me to do so, in view of Oxadrenals’ admitted deceptions thus far.) — Stephen
[Editor's note: It has become clear that Blair is the same person as the individual we had been calling "The Aussie."]
I get it that we rushed to start posting the story because we wanted to help protect Oxadrenals’ physical immortality project from attack by the Immortal Illuminati. And I also get it that Kate is releasing the story in small bits so as to influence Alexandros and crew without directly threatening them.
But the first installments of The Immortal Blair are so far removed from all that, it’s hard to concentrate on it.
Still, I remember how much trouble I had switching gears to read the Hafeem Saul, and how much I ended up loving it once I did, that I’m going to try.
So here I go, pitching in:
In the first installment, The Crown Jewel of Creation (which was mislinked before — it’s fixed now) you can already see the narcissism of the guy. Definitely reminds me of the Aussie, and from all the context I assume that’s who “Blair” actually is. But it’s weird to think that having an immortal body is a bit of a curse, in a way.
Not like being a vampire is a curse. We already know that True Immortals can die. It’s more like the kind of responsibility that falls on you when you have custody of something precious.
Like the Queen’s Crown Jewels, for example. — Flyss
“Blair” is seriously into seduction. This is the same sensitive fellow who marries women over and over, even though he knows he’s going to have to disappear after about fifteen years, when his immortality starts to show.
But I think he’s going to get his. Here’s the last paragraph of this installment:
He drove on small country roads, using various tricks he’d seen in movies: doubling back, making sudden turns, hiding his car out of sight. When he felt confident no one could be following him, he took to the freeway. He drove all night and somewhat at random, with no fixed destination other than leaving Texas behind. At dawn, he found himself at the outskirts of Kansas City. The geographic circle of his possible overnight travel now covered thousands of square miles. Menniss couldn’t possibly find him. He was anonymous again. He was hidden and safe.
Somehow I don’t think that he’s going to be as safe as he expects to be. – Flyss
P.S. The letter in “The Letter” is pretty cool.
P.P.S. As an aside, the quote from Saul in the The Letter is almost, though not quite, word for word the same as in The Hafeem Saul.
In the third installment, “… this evaporating creature,” I find it touching the way Blair reaches out to all the women around him. He’s trying to connect to a world of life that his immortality has separated him from. As we already know from Flyss’ investigations, Blair (The Aussie) has to move every 15 years or so, abandoning everything and everyone he knows, because otherwise people will discover that he doesn’t age. In his case, the sense of isolation that anyone on the run might feel is exacerbated by a deep narcissism: He worships his “perfect” body.
It’s also telling how Richard Menniss seems so compelling to him. Menniss is a “hanger-on,” a man driven by desperate hunger for immortality. True, he is “an evaporating creature.” But he’s a real living human being who has allowed himself to be touched by life. This gives him a vividness that Blair himself, for all his perfection, can’t reach. — Kate
In installment 4 of The Immortal Blair, we discover that Menniss has much more to him than one would have thought. I’d been thinking of him simply as a ruthless bounty bunter. But I should have known better: people are never as they seem. It turns out that he once had a teacher, a Sensei, and a true sense of spirituality. He may have become a ruthless man today, but earlier in his life he had an experience that filled him with guilt and pain. This helps explain the tone of his letter to Blair in installment 2.
But Blair has no such depth. Though he too has sensitivity, it’s shot through with narcissism. At the end of the section, he glories in his relative apparent youth compared to Menniss and the advantage it gives him; then, he makes this comment about a woman whose interest he’s attracted:
As she left, she gave Blair a parting smile like a signed work of art.
It’s a beautiful thought, but also pathetic, because moments later his mind returns to its compelling preoccupation: running away. — Kate
I don’t believe he doesn’t care. I disagree with what you wrote, Kate. I don’t think he’s totally narcissistic by nature. It think it’s a reaction to how much he’s lost. He can’t bear it, so he shuts down his feelings. But they’re there.
He’s so terribly lonely. He’s been listening to all the things Menniss has found out by essentially stalking him (things that I’d found out too, by the way) and instead of just being horrified he has this reaction:
Blair found this third-person analysis of his life inordinately pleasurable; it had been more than a hundred years since he’d spoken with anyone who knew he was immortal.
Imagine it: No one knows who he really is. And has to leave everyone to die. — Flyss
Menniss shows him a photo of Kathryn, the woman Blair married when he lived in Australia in the late ’50s and the early ’60s, and then abandoned by pretending to die in the outback.
“She still misses you,” Menniss says. “After half a century. Isn’t that pathetic? ” Blair cradled the photo in his hands and stared at the image: a terribly old woman. A woman dying of age.
Dying of age! Age as a murderer. Because that’s what it is.
And then Blair makes this heartbreaking vow:
He’d made the resolution many times before, and always broken it, but he made it again: No more relationships. No wives, no lovers, no friends, no children. He would live entirely alone, keep company with none but the one companion he never had to betray, never needed to abandon: his perfect, timeless body. – Flyss
In the seventh installment of The Immortal Blair, titled Bondage to a Mortal, Blair’s language becomes grandiose and inflated. The details aren’t entirely believable, but we’re inside Blair’s mind, and the dreamlike nature of the tale expresses his state of mind.
We’re supposed to believe that Menniss has rammed Blair’s car, and that the bumpers have hooked together. This is surely impossible in real life, and so it must represent a fantasy representation of Blair’s. Maybe Menniss actually bumped him. Maybe he only drove up close. But Blair at least imagines that the two cars are attached, and the following thoughts go through his mind:
Bondage to a mortal through the medium of metal. Perishable eternal life hitched to a man who has nothing to lose. Because what does a mortal risk when he risks his life? A brief flash of years, no more. But I have infinity to lose. No transient dying man shall disturb the line of my life. And the universe shall smile on me, its most perfect creation.
The inflated language, the grandiosity, the exaggeration: all these demonstrate Blair’s extreme narcissism. In a previous post, Flyss took issue with this diagnosis. She suggests that he’s not narcissistic by nature, and that he’s just closed down as a response to the pain and loss in his life. But the two concepts are not contradictory. Unlike psychopaths, narcissists do feel pain. They’re not numb. However, they respond pathologically to that pain. Healthy people grow emotionally; they learn to reach out and connect to others. But narcissists respond to pain by loving themselves and no one but themselves.
That’s Blair in a nutshell. He’s a completely typical narcissist in all ways but one: Most people don’t possess an ageless, perfect body, and have to represent the cherished self more imaginatively, in terms of fame, or wealth, intelligence or beauty. Blair, uniquely, has a literal perfection to turn to. — Kate
P.S. For reasons that are hard to understand, narcissists are often irresistibly seductive. Any young bisexual women around here getting a bit seduced? :-)
In this very long new installment of The Immortal Blair, our guy finally arrives somewhere. Strangely, though, where he lands is a disgusting fleabag motel. (It’s in Fort Collins, Colorado, and I’ll shortly be visiting there to photograph the actual sites where this narrative takes place.)
The installment is titled The Woman at the Desk, and I don’t think I’m giving anything way by pointing out that she’s obviously Janice.
The fact is, I don’t know who the heck Janice is, except that Oxadrenals and Saul have spent an inordinate amount of time doing things for her, she’s the first-person-author of narratives 3, 5 and 7, and she’s sexy as heck. Oh, and also she’s central to the entire Immortality Project. God knows why. — Flyss
This latest installment confirms some of my hypotheses, and also expands on them.
We’re viewing Blair. Here are his anxious thoughts.
He wasn’t supernatural. He just lacked sickness and the ticking clock. A bullet in the heart, a knife to the jugular or a skull-breaking blow would kill him as surely as it would kill a mortal. I can live forever, but I could die tonight.
To parse this: That he “lacks the ticking clock” means that he doesn’t age. (Apparently, he also can’t get sick. I didn’t anticipate that. I would expect this is a relative and not an absolute characteristic.)
He faced the mirror directly and stared at the reflection—this perfect, flawless object, inviolate despite the accidents of three centuries. His left knee, once shattered by a musket ball, but now pristine. His right forearm, burned but now unscarred and radiant. His body, as a body, achieved in each moment an effortless perfection that he, as a person, would never match in all of time.
In other words, though he has strong regenerative powers, he isn’t supernatural. His ability to regenerate operates within the limits of nature. While he can fully heal a wound or grow back a body part, it takes time. A wound severe enough to rapidly kill a mortal would kill him too.
To summarize, then: A True Immortal doesn’t age, is resistant to illness, and can fully heal wounds in time. But they are vulnerable to death via severe, sudden injury. They have the potential for eternity, but not a guarantee. And this makes them (or, at least, makes Blair) exceedingly cautious. — Stephen
I’ve been following in Blair’s footsteps, partly to verify if the story is true, and partly just to get a feel for our lonely immortal. Also I feel that I’m the first pilgrim to visit what will be pilgrimage sites of the future.
As you’ll already have noticed if you’ve been reading along with The Immortal Blair, our guy has a tendency to paint his world in saturated colors. Here’s the apartment he had been living in when Menniss found him.
Fairly florid digs, wouldnt you say?
His neighbors didn’t have a lot to say about him, except that he was drop-dead gorgeous.
Here’s the Denny’s he arrived at in Kansas City. I found the waitress he flirted with there. She remembered him all right, even though it was almost a year ago! And she verified that he ran out of there chased by a big guy.
If the Immortality Project succeeds, these places will become pilgrimage sites. On the other hand, if the Immortal Illuminati suppress the project, these places will become pilgrimage sites anyway. Alexandros will have to have them razed to the ground and put up razor wire to stop people coming to visit what might have been. –Flyss
P.S. I notice that we’re back in the darkness again.
I followed Blair’s route into the outskirts of the city. Here’s how he described it in installment 9.
The blocky rectangular form of a bowling alley pushed its yellow shoulders out toward the street, and he imagined the thunder of bowling balls, the friendly clatter of pins. Perhaps he’d go bowling. But not tonight. He passed the auto parts stores, labor agencies, used car lots, all-night liquor stores, pay day loan sharks, thrift shops, pawnshops, downscale strip malls, tattoo parlors, the typical flora at the edge of a city. He loved places like these, so full of gaps, of broken areas to hide in.
I found the city pretty much like that. Here’s the bowling alley, pushing its shoulders out into the street as advertised:
Here’s the auto parts store,
the labor agency,
the cash advance joint,
and the street as a whole:
“So full of gaps, of broken areas to hide in.” — Flyss
In installment 10, Blair is running in terror from Menniss, who’s found him at the motel. He manages to get away, but finds himself in a really sketchy neighborhood. Then he sees a possible refuge ahead.
The back of the supermarket rose high ahead of him, red and gray fake brick. Off to the left, after a gap, he saw the rear side of a strip mall that stretched off for hundreds of yards, a long wall neatly divided by blue doors. Each door had its own matching dumpster illuminated by a bright yellow insect light.
I found the supermarket, and the spot he’s talking about.
He ends up hiding in the loading dock behind the store, feeling a bit too intimate with dumpsters. I checked it out. It’s a truly scuzzy place. It must have been truly humiliating for him to have to hide there.
Then, in installment 11, he looks out from his hiding place, and sees Janice walking across the back parking lot. Here’s the actual view.
She walks through this gap,
and he follows after her.
I’ll have more to say about their meeting in my next post. — Flyss
In installment 11 of The Immortal Blair, titled “So Much for His Vow of Solititude,” Blair follows Janice into an all-night liquor store, which he describes as a “gaudy, warm hidden space, its vivid labels and brightly colored bottles a crow’s idea of paradise.” Bizarrely, the man at the cash register wears a button that reads “10 years of sobriety.” Blair may have his 10 -15 years of sobriety each “frame” of his life. (That’s how he describes the periods during which he lives in one place, before he has to change identities and disappear.)
He means to seduce her so he can hide from Menniss. He’s very good at seduction. Extremely good! But, to his surprise, he finds himself touched by her. — Flyss
In the very first paragraph of the first installment of the The Immortal Blair, he writes,
In the distance, the red lights of a refinery or fertilizer factory hung in the sky like ephemeral constellations.
The same phrase reappears in installment 8, and it soon becomes clear that Blair is on his way into Fort Collins.
Now here’s the interesting part. I’d driven into Fort Collins from the south, and so I missed it. But Strattera was exploring other approaches, and she discovered that if you arrive from the north east (which fits just as well considering Blair’s erratic route out of Kansas City), you see these in the distance:
This can’t be a coincidence! –Flyss
P.S. Yes, I’d even used my images of those lights to decorate the Immortal Blair web page. But I was just fooling around trying to create something mysterious looking. I hadn’t expected any actual connection.
Installment 12 of the Immortal Blair,” has so much in it I think we’ll be discussing it for a while. It’s called Waiting Centuries for You.
Janice lives in terrible surroundings, and seems to be a badly damaged woman. But she turns out to have hidden depths. She might even be an Immortal. That’s unclear at this point, but her poetic insight is undeniable.
She’s talking to Blair about an Imax movie she saw. Here’s how she describes it.
There were two skydivers, a man and woman, doing tricks in the air before their parachutes come out. Somersaults, holding hands and spinning. They can’t do it forever, of course, or they’ll go splat. The man lets out his parachute first, all bright and billowy above him. But the camera is with the woman, and she hasn’t let out her own parachute yet. So you know what it looks like? It looks like the man is yanked up and away, really fast, torn out of the picture. But actually, he’s just slowed down, and she’s the one who’s moving. One moment he’s in her world, skydancing with her; the next moment the air grabs him and he’s gone.
The air is so light and thin. How can it do that? How can it grab someone and take them away?
But time is even lighter than air. Time is the lightest thing there is. And yet it grabs people and takes them away. Every one of them.
I found this almost unbearably beautiful. It’s certainly a description of what life is like for an Immortal: Everyone is snatched away from them. I’m beginning to more fully understand their loneliness. — Kate
You might have found installment 12 unbearably beautiful, but, shallow me, I found it almost unbearably sexy.
Instead of a black hoody, she now had on a black cotton shirt that could have been worn by a man, but was unbuttoned far enough to show the top of a lacy black bra. Around her neck, she wore a thin strip of leather like an evaporated dog collar. She’d ruffled her hair and it showed a hint of curl. Though rounded, she wasn’t heavy. Along with the nose stud and the bars in her ears, she now had a ring through her lower lip. She wore red pants that reached a few inches beneath the knees, and on one calf a long tattoo in the shape of a dragon extended down to her ankle. Her feet were naked in brown sandals. He thought she might be wearing clear lipstick.
Yeeii. — Flyss
The photo Blair can’t take his eyes off is of what’s called a corset piercing. Here’s an example I found online. It’s not exactly the same as what Blair describes, but in case you’ve never seen one at all it’ll give you a sense of what they’re like. (Corset piercings are generally temporary. FYI: They’re popular in the bondage community.)
Is she an Immortal? She could be. I’m not sure the sordid lifestyle rules it out. We’ve witnessed respond to the trauma of immortality-induced isolation by becoming a narcissist. Coming to hate oneself is the other side of the same coin.
But there’s something profound about Janice. I’m sensing that. A Dionysian energy, certainly, but also something more. I can’t put my finger on it, and perhaps it’s “only” that she’s an Immortal. I’m not sure. — Kate
Here’s where the clock stands now:
The Immortality Project narratives will catch up to present right about when the clock reaches 100%. At least, that’s the plan. But, as the infant grandchild I never had will say when she’s on her deathbed: “Plans are like the suction cups of an amoeba floating in the eyeball of a small green frog hopping from cloud to cloud in a thunderstorm.” (Also, Alexandros has different ideas.) – Ox
P.S. Keep your eye on Janice. According to the Eldest, she’s the hinge of fate. Why? Because. I happen to like Janice, but that’s not why. Maybe there’s no reason why. Whoever said fate was reasonable? Not me. If you know someone who said so, make ‘em take it back pronto. Not wise to say things like that. Not when it’s raining small green frogs, especially.
Oxadrenals has posted a “Sequencing Countdown” without explanation. However, the penultimate installment of The Immortal Blair appears to explain what this “countdown clock” refers to: At the present moment, the DNA sample Richard Menniss so violently tore from Blair’s body is undergoing sequencing in order to identify the genetic source of his immortality.* Presumably this is occurring somewhere in Santa Cruz County, most likely hidden underground somewhere among the redwoods.
But installment 13 contains much more than this crucial information. Here’s one quote that caught my attention:
(Blair has, for the first time in his life, abandoned caution and taken a risk with his life. He does so, in a sense, by gathering himself up and throwing himself at Menniss.)
Was this how mortals did it? Blinded themselves at the moment of crisis, for a moment let themselves forget?
The question he’s addressing here is one I have chewed over for some time: Why is it that we mortals are ever willing to risk our lives for pleasure, excitement, profession or for other people? Once life is gone, it’s gone. Yet, people hang-glide, rock-climb, drive drunk and join the army. Is it simply that for a moment we blind ourselves, let ourselves forget? — Stephen
*Of course, even when the sequencing finishes, physical immortality will not be achieved. There will remain many obstacles, even aside from the possible intervention of Alexandros.
I think it is important to remember that a person’s importance to history does not necessarily rest on fantastic gifts. True, Napoleon’s phenomenal mind put him so far above the norm that he almost literally played the role of a lone super-hero. But other people around whom history has turned have simply been the right person for the moment: George Washington was the essential man for the time, and it is difficult to imagine the US Constitution becoming what it is if the framers didn’t have him in mind as the first President. But, while gifted in his own way, Washington was no Napoleon (or Jefferson, Locke, Hamilton or Madison, for that matter.) He was merely a human being around whom history turned. The same may be the case for Janice. – Strattera
*At least, she is not a True Immortal. She could be a Hafeem.
(On the final installment of the Immortal Blair, “No one is Immortal.” )
He who loves himself so much / he cannot see others
Cannot even see himself / but only worships
the body that he wears
Has now seen two women:
Kathryn the mortal wife he loved / and now Janice
For whom to his own surprise / He risked
His beloved: His body
His precious self!
A slight crack / in the narcissistic armor.
A third person too he’s seen/ Saul, his mentor
Whom we have met before / and now have seen from two sides.
Abandoned and abandonee / still faithful to one other.
A fourth seen at last /the body that he wears
Seen with the mind
rather than just the passionate ardor of a lover
And understands why it does not age.
Steps toward humanity!
Yet, though he has lived
three centuries / Blair has so much less soul
She is badly damaged / broken
Wounded to the core / and yet
Sheened from within with glowing life.
Soon we will hear her own voice speaking.
NOTE: Oxadrenals has asked me to mention that “The Hafeem Saul” is meant to be read between Narrative 1 and the not-yet posted Narrative 3. He admits that it’s written in a more formal style that some people may find it difficult, and adds that it can be skipped without missing any major plot points. I suppose that’s true, but I highly recommend giving it a try. It tells so much about Saul, a Hafeem who plays an important role in everything that comes after. — Kate