“Kurt Cobain has a right to be upset.” On a moon in the middle of the solar system Thanos sits on his throne and watches the action on earth. A rock god passing judgement on humanity from his palace of absolute authority. Often he is disappointed. “The more I watch the music video for ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ the more convinced I am that Kurt Cobain is haunting the tape like some lonely devil, trapped in the re-enactment of the song that he felt killed his credibility … the one song that both perfectly encapsulated and destroyed his music.”
Some days I want to marry you, said Thanos, to the empty air of the moon palace from which he watched billions of humans go about their daily lives. “Kurt Cobain just wanted to make music, and after he was done making music, he killed himself. Or after he tired of making music. But he never died. ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ has over 165 million views on Youtube. Today’s teens are as free to discover Nirvana as their counterparts twenty years ago.”
Thanos is walking very slowly through the fields of golden poppies on the plains before his moon palace. In his mind the lives of billions pass.
“In what is often regarded as the novel that most closely represents César Aira’s theory of the novel—although every one of his novels contains an explanation of his poetics, somehow more than other novelists because his style seems so impromptu, in other words conceived in plain sight for the reader—anyway, in this novel, How I Became A Nun, there’s a scene in which the main character, César Aira, a young boy or girl, is told by the teacher that they will be a menace to society, a kind of monster that will devour everything in their path. Actually, the teacher explains this to the class as revenge against Aira’s mother as Aira looks on with shame or horror.”
The truth is, thought Thanos, that nothing is ever asked of me. And that when nothing is asked of me I feel dead inside. I’m dead, thought Thanos.
“In any case, whether this was prophecy or just a cruel trick, what the teacher says comes true. Aira will always be the monster the teacher describes, separate from the others, tearing up the fabric of society in order to feed its need to create. Or somehow the isolation of being a monster creates this need. Or the destruction creates the monster.
“In any case, it’s not so horrible, being a monster. It’s different. Lonely, maybe. Tenuous, perhaps, because you’re not really part of society, you never know what’s right—only what others do. I used to think it was horrible. But it’s really not so horrible. Monsters don’t have to be evil. Or maybe they aren’t really monsters, they only appear that way to people because they’re different from most people and will never quite fit in in the way that other people expect.”
No, it’s not me that’s dead, thinks Thanos, almost frantically. He ascends the stairs to the top of the viewing platform he doesn’t really need. The architecture of the moon palace is entirely redundant because his body is made of hard mineral and it has no need of sustenance or rest. Because the lives of billions pass through his mind constantly at all times.
No, no, I am alive and the people are dead, thinks Thanos. They’re dying and I will never die. This is living and that is death. He needs to convince himself of this in order to enter the viewing platform.
The viewing platform is a black sphere, completely stripped of detail. On a black stage Thanos sits on a black throne and watches as life on Earth unfolds. Sometimes visitors ascend the stairs and ask him questions. The light as the trapdoor opens hurts his eyes. Of course, he is never surprised by their arrival. He understands their motives and desires, perhaps more even than they do himself. But his answer is always the same, regardless of cause:
“Thanos answers to no human!”