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The human desire to fulfill some
special existential purpose
has existed through out history.
There's a scene in Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland's
sci-fi cartoon, Rick and Morty
that addresses this desire with what I'd call
an uplifting cynicism.
In it, Summer finds out that she was, an unwanted pregnancy.
She breaks down and wonders if there's any real meaning to her life.
Morty then tells her his equally unsettling experience of burying his own body
from a different reality. He concludes by saying
"Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody's gonna die"
"Come watch T.V?"
While this may be an especially dark moment, it contains a comforting message:
For people like Summer, its devastating to think we weren't created for some
"special purpose"
to Rick and Morty, life's been that way forever
Why get depressed about existential meaning, when life is full of stuff to enjoy?
As Morty said, like watching T.V. together
This struggle with meaninglessness is central to the show.
Its doing part to the sheer scale of Rick and Morty's exploits
Not only is there an enormous universe,
but that universe has infinite dimensions and those dimensions have infinite realities
Indeed it shows us how common, short-lived, and fragile our existence is
but that scale is intended to cause a redirection of meaning
Once you confront the randomness of the universe, the only option is to find
importance in the stuff, right in front of you.
Rick and Morty in particular tells us that friends, family, and doing what we enjoy
are far more important then any unsolvable questions about existence
It's a message best explained through the work of philosopher Albert Camus
and what he called "The (Capital A) Absurd"
He saw a contradiction between humans desire to find meaning in life
and the meaninglessness of the universe.
To Camus, we are Sisyphus, the king of Greek Mythology condemned to repeat the same task
of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only too see it roll down again and again, for the rest of his life.
But Camus says one must imagine Sisyphus happy
he argues
we have to recognize the absurd meaningless background of our existence
and accept it
Once we do, it frees us too find our own subjective meanings and purposes
Rick and Morty show us where we can find meaning, primarily through Rick-C137,
who we follow for most of the show. He's aware of the meaningless of existence
and it no doubt bothers him
He's the most genius scientist in the multi-verse, yet, he's an alcoholic
If he can't find a (Capital T) Truth, about his own existence,
what hope does anyone else have? it's clear however that science is one of Ricks best avenues
for finding a sense of meaning in his daily life
His projects allow him to go on adventures, make himself laugh, and bond with his grandkids
Indeed, science doesn't help find and existential purpose because it doesn't provide agreeable
absolute meanings to life
and Rick knows that
He's better off using it to experience the wonders of space around him
with the people he cares about
Now Rick, at times, tries to convince us he doesn't care about his family
his relationships with them aren't perfect, they're far from it.
And I think that's a point Harmon and Roiland are trying to make
His family relationships are terrible and Rick's not happy; in fact,
he's only happy when he fosters a good relationship with them
It's revealed to Morty for example, that Ricks "Off use" catchphrase "Wubba Lubba Dub Dub!"
means "I am in great pain, please help me."
Later in the episode Rick freezes time, making sure that Morty and Summer
can clean up a party before there parents get home
But they spend most of their time having fun and watching movies together
When Morty mentions Rick hasn't said "Wubba Lubba Dub Dub!" in a while
he responds with "Don't need too, I have a (burp) new catchphrase"
"Oh yeah, what's that Rick?"
"I love my grandkids"
This is only reiterated by the fact that he freezes time for six months
just him and his grandkids
and that's just one, of many examples
Here, Rick can't wait to go to the intergalactic arcade with Morty for the day
In the episode "Rixty Minutes" he bonds with Morty in front of the T.V. the entire episode
Then, there's this moment where Rick sacrifices his own life for Morty
Although he end's up surviving the situation, it's clear he found more meaning in his relationship with Morty
than any special existential purpose for himself
These moments allow us to see through Rick's hardened shell
He's a man who find's meaning in almost nothing
but is happiest when he is with his family
Most of our lives we filter our actions through the idea that we have a "special purpose"
It's hard to accept that our efforts would be largely pointless and quickly forgotten
in our indifferent universe
That search for our big, existential purpose often blinds us from the stuff we actually enjoy
and keeps us from being with people that truly matter, in this way, Rick provides some serious catharsis
for the audience
we see someone who is so disaffected and cynical
actually gain enjoyment from being around his friends and family
Its through Rick, that the show tells us too embrace life, revel in it, and ultimately... not take it too seriously
"The answer is, don't think about it"
In our post modern age, religion, ideology, science and even common values
don't always provide a meaning for our existence and it can be extremely isolating
Rick and Morty doesn't suggest that our search for existential meaning won't continue
It only asks, if it's a question worth answering when a meaningful life can be found
through friends, family, and new experiences
Indeed, the only thing more terrifying then not existing, or not knowing why you exist
is existing and having no one too share it with.
Phew! That took a long damn time! I hope you've taken something from this video!
Love everyone, even if they don't love you back, dont take everything so serious
and only do
what you love
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Rick and Morty - Finding Meaning in Life

1075 Folder Collection
王柏文 published on August 8, 2019
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