The Meaning of Life (video)
The Meaning of Life
the human desire to fulfill some special existential purpose has existed throughout 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. It's 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
The Randomness of The Universe
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 is far more important than 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 to 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 an 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 their 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 finds 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 to 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 than not existing, or not knowing why you exist is existing and having no one to 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, don't take everything so serious and only do what you love.
Words by: Will Schoder
Source Rick and Morty and Examily