Infinity Nietzsche: The Three Metamorphoses Part 1
Written by Ram Samudrala
Of three metamorphoses of the spirit I tell you: how the spirit becomes a camel; and the camel, a lion; and the lion, finally, a child. Thus spoke Zarathustra.
The Infinity trilogy, and the story of Adam Warlock truly epitomises existentialism and, in particular, the Nietzschean philosophy. The ``sapphires in the mud'' present throughout the story likens well with the sapphires found in Nietzsche's work. Explicit Nietzschean themes are italicised as they are encountered, and the implicit ones will have to be discerned by the reader. Clearly, there exists the Apollo versus Dionysean theme throughout, and that in turn gives rise to other lenses/mirrors.
The Infinity Crusade section is different from what is in the comic book series. Unlike the series, where the Goddess brainwashes those who help her, I prefer the use of the Magus (Warlock confronting his dark side) to create balance.
Jim Starlin is the creator of the Infinity trilogy, and all the characters presented here. They are all trademarks of Marvel Comics Group and I have used them without permission.
All these most difficult things the spirit that would bear much takes upon itself: like the camel that, burdened, speeds upon the desert, thus the spirit speeds into its desert. Thus spoke Zarathustra.
The end begins here. Thanos is God. He is Supreme. Anything he wishes to be, is. Anything he wishes, is. Within his grasp rests the Infinite. The moment is upon the Multiverse to realise that the absolute truth is Thanos', for he is the holder of the Infinity Gauntlet composed of the six Infinity Gems.
You want to make all being thinkable, for you doubt with well-founded suspicion that it is already thinkable. But it shall yield and bend for you. Thus your will wants it. It shall become smooth and serve the spirit as its mirror and reflection. Thus spoke Zarathustra.
What choices were made to lead to such a situation? Apparently Mistress Death has long thought the fact that there are more people alive today than have ever died was a type of cosmic imbalance. This was an irregularity she sought to right using the dark powers at her disposal--she made the tragic mistake of reviving Thanos, the mad Titan, from the realm of the dead. Through him, Death would mold the universe to her liking. She gave Thanos greatly augmented power and asked him to destroy half the sentient population in this Universe.
Thanos muses: ``For months, I have contemplated the direction in which I should steer the destiny of this reality. I am now omnipotent. What would I do with such almighty power?''
The answer to that is really quite simple. Anything he wants, of course. Thanos was too arrogant to be anyone's thrall. He gazed into the depths of Death's Infinity Well, where he learnt of the Soul or Infinity Gems' true power and convinced his dark mistress that the task could not be carried to fruition without them. Through cunning, sheer strength, and murder, Thanos wrested the Infinity Gems from those that possessed them, and with each acquisition he gained mastery over The Soul, The Mind, Power, Space, Time, and Reality. As I said, he now has the unbridled power of God. Such force in the hands of a madman--A Nihilist. It could mean the end of all that is.
Thanos' rise to omnipotence was not unchallenged. The Destroyer and the Silver Surfer foolishly confronted the Titan. Thanos used the power of the Soul Gem to steal their spiritual essence and banished them to the metaphysical soulworld, where they met a strange and enigmatic man called Adam Warlock, the spiritual leader of the Soulworld. He returned the two heroes back to reality to warn the Universe of Thanos' coming.
Death, now having become nothing more than the love slave of Thanos, spurns him. A shrine, a proof of Thanos' depravity (sculpting his granddaughter Nebula into Walking Death), and the final completion of his task of destroying half the sentient population in the universe with a snap of his fingers does not change her. She has no need for sycophants and Thanos remains discontented.
Imagine a Universe where half the population disappears in the time it takes to snap your fingers. Holocaust. Chaos. Anarchy. Nihilism.
Of course, how could those who never live at the right time die at the right time? Would that they had never been born! Thus spoke Zarathustra.
All is right in the heavens for Thanos possesses the six Infinity Gems. Let Nihilism Reign Supreme! The universe will now be set right, made over to fit his unique view of what should be. The Great Disappearance has struck, causing panic. Races vent their mistrust on other races. The war to end all wars begins.
Warlock speaks ``I am one who may be able to save your reality from the insanity that is Thanos, but I cannot do it alone. The only hope your universe has is the banding of all champions of righteousness under one leader. I must be the leader. I bare my soul open to you.'' Thusly, he departs from the peace of the Soulworld to go after Thanos. He makes his appearance in the prescence of Earth's heroes: ``In my time, many called me Adam Warlock. I am a man who was supposed to have been killed nearly a decade ago while battling Thanos. I alone am familiar with the secret workings of the Infinity Gems--that knowledge is this universe's only hope.'' Saying thus, Warlock went under.
You who despair! You who are strange! So it is your cry of distress that I heard? And now I also know where to find him whom I sought today: the higher man. He sits in my own cave, the higher man. But why should I be amazed? Have I not lured him to myself with honey sacrifices and the cunning siren calls of my happiness? Thus spoke Zarathustra.
Earth reels under the onslaught of Thanos caused by Death's rejection of his love. It is fortunate, for the Dark God's physic wave of power rises from the stellar monument of love and washes out into the Ether, destroying a quarter of a galaxy, and was only a fraction of its peak strength when it hit earth.
Whenever your noise and smoke were gone, very little had happened. What does it matter if a town became a mummy and a statue lies in the mud? And this word I shall add for those who overthrow statues: nothing is more foolish than casting salt into the sea and statues into the mud. Thus spoke Zarathustra.
Infinite power at play. An ego gone wild. Depraved creativity manifested in the building of shrines. Thanos has still not won Mistress Death's heart, yet he continues to try. He is forlorn.
Do you love tragedies and everything that breaks the heart? But I mistrust your bitch. Your eyes are too cruel and you search lustfully for sufferers. Is it not merely your lust that has disguised itself and now calls itself pity? Thus spoke Zarathustra.
The news of Adam Warlock's rebirth stuns the community of Earth's super heroes. They all agree with apprehension that he is the one most suited to lead the task force to oust Thanos. A cosmic summit then happens involving the mysterious Watcher, the powerful and enigmatic Stranger, the embodiments of Love and Hate, the mighty destroyer of worlds Galactus, Lord Chaos and Master Order who maintain the galactic balance, Kronos, the titan God of time, Eternity, the actual embodiment of all there is, and the Living Tribunal, the cosmic judge of all realities.
The Living Tribunal hears Eternity's case (demanding Thanos be stopped because he seeks to usurp Eternity's place in this reality) and rules against him. Galactus challenges Warlock's claim to leadership. But Master Order and Lord Chaos side with Warlock for they know that he is one outside the loop of destiny and capable of wondrous deeds. Their choice prompts all the other divinities to join forces with Warlock leaving the proud and mighty Galactus with little choice.
Fools taking up arms against omnipotence. The heavens will run with blood. Thanos controls all aspects of time, reality, space, power, the soul and the mind. Warlock has sent Earth's greatest heroes against Thanos. The true purpose of their attack is diversionary; they are sacrificial lambs. The weight of their deaths will rest of Warlock's shoulders--but he is what circumstances have made him to be.
Alas, that is my sorrow: they have lied reward and punishment into the foundation of things, and now also into the foundation of your souls, you who are virtuous. But like the boar's snout, my words shall tear upon the foundation of your souls: a plowshare will I be to you. All the secrets of your foundation shall come to light; and when you lie uprooted and broken in the sun, then will your also be seperated from your truths. Thus spoke Zarathustra.
The heroes are no match for Thanos. He has mastery over time itself and the heroes are stopped even before the attack begins. Omniscient Thanos sees Adam Warlock and the Silver Surfer observing the battle and seeks to dispatch them. But he stops and decides that courage might be the way to win Death's heart. He decides to cut off from sensory input from all his gems except for the power gem and hopes that is good enough to impress mistress Death. The battle begins anew, but the heroes are just bothersome fleas to Thanos. Yet hope never dies. It is a universal condition within the species. To your sorrow, there are truths that cannot be denied. He is Thanos and his name means death.
You should have eyes that always seek an enemy--your enemy. And some of you hate at first sight. Your enemy you shall seek, your war you shall wage--for your thoughts. And if your thought be vanquished, then your honesty should still find triumph in that. Thus spoke Zarathustra.
To Warlock, this is all a game. If he allowed it to be any more than that, he could not go on. Thanos rises his fist to strike and the Silver Surfer springs to action. His Goal: To remove the Gauntlet from the Titan's grasp while his sense are dampened. The Surfer misses his mark and Thanos retains his Godhood. The echoes of failed plans and good intentions wasted in futile acts.
Thanos, realising he almost lost it all, reverts back to full power, for he senses a far greater struggle is about to begin.
Change of values--that is a change of creators. Whoever must be a creator always annihilates. Thus spoke Zarathustra.
You can deny neither your white nor black shadows. --Thanos of Titan
A contingent of cosmic entities challenges Thanos' might. Such a conflict may well prove more than this fragile reality can bear. With all the celestial grand forces allied against him, Thanos will unleash the full fury of his power. It will be quite a show.
Entire solar systems in the immediate vicinity are ravaged by the effects of this celestial clash. Mistress Death however, creates a safe chamber for Earth's heroes. Her hatred for Thanos must reach unfathomable depths. A doom birthed and nurtured within the mad ambition of a black soul, Thanos defends his divinity--let the heavens tremble! Lord Order and Master Chaos seek to dichotomise the Titan, but Thanos refuses to surrender his individuality. Mistress Love and Sire Hate invoke conflicting emotions within the Titan, tearing him apart, but Thanos' subjectivity cannot be tampered with. Mistress Death, along with the celestials together attack Thanos, and he imprisons all of them in a single instant. Finally, there is no one left to argue the sentiment that Thanos is supreme.
Now that his foot soldiers have fallen, proud Eternity at last designs to show himself to reclaim that which is his and himself. The universe. Eternity, however, is no match for the Gauntlet and Thanos now thoroughly usurps Eternity's rightful position as the centre of all reality in this sphere of the galaxy. The death of God, you might say, or the creation of a new one. Thanos has gotten rid of the flesh and shed all vulnerability during this process. Has he? As he did once before when in possession of the Cosmic Cube, Thanos underestimates the strength of the flesh, especially charred flesh, spurred by hatred.
Deep within withered, maggot-eaten Nebula, vengeance stirs. A senses shattering return to flesh, a reversal of dire fortunes, and Nebula grabs the gauntlet from Thanos' body and steps away from the edge of oblivion. Her first act is to banish Thanos to the deep interior of the galaxy, but he is saved by Adam Warlock.
The lust to rule: the earthquake that breaks and breaks open everything worm-eaten and hollow; the rumbling grumbling that breaks open whited sepulchers; the lightning-like question mark beside a premature answer. Thus spoke Zarathustra.
Warlock to Thanos: ``I was part of the soul gem while you possesed it, which permitted me access to your inner heart. I know you as no other being in the universe does. Better than you do yourself. Look back onto your life, Thanos of Titan, and what do you see? A man always seeking power and losing it as soon as he attains it because deep in his soul he knows he is not worthy of it. Aid me, or I will let the truth be revealed.''
Everything among them talks; everything is betrayed. And what was once called the secret and the secrecy of deep souls today belongs to the street trumpeters and other butterflies. Thus spoke Zarathustra.
Sudden omnipotence would be a crushing load even for the finest mind. For Nebula's scarred psyche, it must be overwhelming. The thought of escaping into catatonic obvilion enters her chaotic soul. Pray she does not surrender to this urge, for an entire reality would join her in that dark journey. The universe is clay waiting to be moulded at her hands, but she does not have time for that--Thanos and Warlock and the rest of Earth's forces seek to challenge her might while she is still adjusting to her new found power.
All citadels are built on the ruins of what has come before. --The Magus
The Will to Power is a quality that must be cultivated and nurtured. It is a reward earned through intellect and patience and cannot be gained and held through chance. In the wrong hands, it will only prove self-destructive: Nebula is unaware of Warlock's prescence. She lets everything be as it was twenty four hours ago, and thus, all of Thanos' doing has been undone. Half the universe is resurrected because a mere wish gave birth to reality for dear Nebula willed that everything be as it was.
The celestials once again attack Nebula. Inexperienced as she is, they are still no match for the power of the Infinity Gems. Once again the Universe needs saving and Warlock, the beast of burden, has the unenvious task thrust upon his shoulders. It all sounds rather mundane when said like that, but it is simply that--he defends reality. Especially a reality in which a soul can expand to fill a need, to reach out into the infinite and perhaps change the face of the cosmos.
Warlock is nowhere and everywhere. He is one with the universe of the Soul gem and from the one, he reaches out to the five. There is disharmony and retribution. The Gauntlet falls from Nebula's hands; Godhood is a mantle, she has realised unfortunately, not easily worn. The entire superhero group strives to reach the Gauntlet. ``Let the conflict end'', says Warlock as he materialises and takes possession of the Gauntlet. There is a new Supreme Being in the neighbourhood, and He will deal with all matters in His own fasihion. The Infinite power is Adam Warlock's. Seek not to dispute that claim, for he will use it wisely. Adam Warlock is a God who can be trusted.
The now and past on earth--alas, my friends, that is what I find most unendurable; and I should not know how to live if I were not also a seer of that which must come. A seer, a willer, a creator, a future himself and a bridge to the future--and alas, also, as it were, a cripple at this bridge: all this is Zarathustra. Thus spoke Zarathustra.
Yet Earth's heroes mistrust him. They realise that even before Thanos they lived under the tyranny of some God, but it was a benign reign; random and unfocused. They are unsettled by the fact that the reign is now calculated. They are afraid that replacing their usual chaos with order might prove unpalatable.
Thanos, preferring death to imprisonment, detonates a thermal nuclear device on his person. But he does not fool Warlock, who is all-knowing now. Adam Warlock, a being who wished nothing more than to spend the rest of his days within the peaceful environment of the Soul Gem. He now possesses the Infinite Power and all that responsibility that goes with it. While Thanos, whose entire life was dedicated to the pursuit of power, now finds himself scraping out a living from the soil. Irony worthy of drama. Yet strangely enough though, envy not Adam Warlock. In the long run, Thanos of Titan came out ahead in this particular deal.
But who could take your melancholy off your shoulders? For that I am too weak. Verily, we might wait long before someone awakens your god again. For this old god lives no more: he is thoroughly dead. Thus spoke Zarathustra.
To be continued with commentary on Infinity War
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