Rick/Morty, Themes of Death, Existential Angst
Dedicated to Squikkums
The only kind of afterlife that exists, Morty, is the kind you'd create for yourself.
Morty Smith decides to abandon his timeline and catch a one-way ticket 55 years into the past (1971) with plans to meet up with 24-year-old Rick Sanchez, and give them both a shot at the life neither of them had the chance to experience together.
He wanted a fresh start, but Morty hadn’t fully understood that he was also condemning the both of them to live it. A story about two self-hating headcases as they learn how to put in the work it takes to love each other, despite the mental-health and trauma struggles each of them brings to the relationship. Not so much a timetravel story, as it is a story about time relentlessly moving forward, even when you can go back.
Spoiler Alert!: I'll be listing the endnotes for the entire fic here instead of ao3.
Here is a link to the ending scene of Thelma & Lousie. Damn! Those gay feels!
The part where Morty remembers rick introducing him to recreational drugs? Dazed and Rickfused, by KousKousx is my absoloutle perfect fucking headcannon (minus the sex) for how that night would have gone down. Go read this fic.
Please Watch Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
Where do Morty-Ricks come from?
More info on Rick's Crying Kink: To explain in more detail my HC for Rick's dacryphilia, it's triggered when he sees a person shed genuine emotional tears. This is because he's more or less forgotten what it's like to be able to cry so authentically. He correlates Morty's crying with a truly authentic gesture. Couple that with Rick's self-hatred, and his arousal is further heightened with the knowledge that Morty has cried authentic tears for him.
Because Morty is able to cry so easily, In Rick's Mind, he represents a person who isn't 'broken' like him - someone who is not afraid of being honest, open and vulnerable to another human being. Rick doesn't want the streets to ruin Morty like they have ruined him, and it's why he tells him to go home. In his own mind, he desires to protect Morty from hardening, and it is this motivation that leads him to decide to pick up the stray Morty. (Hopefully my fic did a good job of getting this across, but I want to make it clear comment if you have questions or wanna talk HC's)
Shoutout to The Butterfly Project: Morty struggles with self-harm in this fic, and I HC that since Rick’s eyes are like the Blue Morpho butterfly’s wings, then by metaphorical extension, Rick is Morty’s butterfly. While Old Rick is more understanding of Morty’s self-harm and cutting, Young Rick is going to struggle with understanding it.
Safeword’s “Macaroni”: Nod to another one of my favorite Rick and Morty Fic’s “Couple’s Only” Rick and Morty pose as a couple in order for Rick to make a deal with an alien who owns a ‘Couples Only’ spa. Things get out of hand when they have to prove that their relationship is legitimate. Go give it a read!
Here’s a quick link that explains my HC for how Ricks’ portal gun works using Quantum Mechanics.
When talking about linear time travel, Rick refers to the Grandfather Paradox , I think this is absolutely hilarious when applied to Rick and Morty. (Little nod to the plot of Back to the Future there, and in the context of this fic, poses some interesting questions.)
The Chapter Title: Time’s Arrow refers to the thermodynamic arrow of time, which suggests that in an isolated system, entropy will increase with the progression of time, even though the laws of physics don’t fundamentally require it. Real-world events will always proceed in the direction of decay and chaos.
The Quantum Arrow of Time Theory , however is more optimistic. It refers to all potential arrows of time within the multiverse, suggesting that the universe continually expands - rather than shrinks into entropy.
It suggests that because the fundamental laws of physics have no preference for a direction in time, entropy-reducing events are possible, but they always erase any evidence of ever having occurred. While also playing with the Teletransportation paradox , I interpreted it to mean that Morty understood the act of walking through the portal would essentially be an act of suicide/rebirth. (Hence the title of the fic, afterlife.)
I'm taking a lot of interpretive liberties about entanglement to argue for the idea soulmates in this fic, But there's some really cool discussions about the quantum coherence of consciousness out there.
Rick references that Rumi may have had Quantum Intuition, a really interesting scientific concept that argues that people without formal training in the field, actually have a more intuitive grasp of the concepts of quantum physics. I'm am here for that.
While we are on the topic of intuition and interpretive liberties. I'm also playing with the concept of gravity in this fic. Stephen Hawking said "Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing." Gravity is the weakest of the forces in the universe, but has the largest effect. It is the force that holds the universe together, and there is still so much that is still unknown about it. I took liberties to play with the idea that Morty felt the gravitational pull of the universe his entire life, but had dismissed it as suicide ideation. This is a lot of liberties for the sake of metaphor and this story, and I'm not arguing that if you feel suicidal, that the universe is calling you.
I will acknowledge that I basically claimed meeting your hypothetical entangled soulmate would release enough cosmic energy to essentially create an entire universe. I'm not apologizing for that scientific BS loosley based on Conservation of Energy , and you can fight me.
Also not apologizing for using entanglement theory to drop the idea of a soulmate sixth sense.
Although I'm using the idea of "Spooky Action at a Distance" to imply some sort of soulmate entanglement or connection, this fic intentionally leaves itself way open for reader inpterpretation. Did Rick's original consciousness somehow entangle with another version of himself, allowing him to be psuedo-reincarnated into the Rick who Morty met? Or is the Rick he just met the actual hypothetical soulmate, and Morty only sensed original Rick's death because he had already entangled their particles together from using the portal gun. Do all Ricks and all Mortys, share some sort of an entangled soul that is rooted in the central finite curve? Maybe soulmates don't actually exist and our unreliable narrator Morty just wants to believe they do. I think the cosmic horror of any of these interpretations lies understanding that this both is and isn't our original Rick, but trying to discern where that line falls and why. I'll leave it up for you to.
The science behind the different kind of tears we cry, and why we cry is fucking crazy, and I HC so hard that Rick can look at tears and tell what kind they are.
Rick’s Blue Hair, Diffraction (Interference): Nearly all the vibrant blues in animals and plants are created by structural coloration rather than by pigments. However, some ocean species do possess vesicles of a cyan biochrome of unknown chemical structure in cells named cyanophores. I HC that Rick’s hair, like many oceanic cyanophores, is a mixture of both structures and pigments. I HC hard that the structures of his eyes and hair follow suit with the blue morpho butterfly and interact with light using light diffraction and interference. I’m also applying diffraction to the concept of superstring theory to play with the idea of Morty’s involvement in Young Rick’s life, as well as the complexity of the universe showing itself through the color blue.
Survival of the Fittest & Consensually Symbiotic: I’m 100% applying ideas of consent and symbiosis to intergalactic, sentient, interspecific interactions, and I made up this word because it’s really fun to think of consent on a level that goes further than sex, and applies the ideas to all necessary biological actions for a variety of sentient species. It’s a whole other concept.
Memory Guns: I wanted to take a stab at the potential science behind the device in the show . This Rick deviates from the C-137 canon by choosing not to use the Memory Gun, however, his justification leans towards the Neitziean stance of Amor Fati, which is still very Rick Sanchez.
The Science of Scars: Scars form because of overcompensated healing of skin cells – and that’s a damn metaphor for Rick and Morty both in this fic.
Mempurgare (Cthulhu): The Mempurgare use Rick’s blue hair to access his memory, and the science I used for it is a good read. The Mempurgare pose the dark idea that Rick is consenting to engage in a form of consensual non-con edgeplay where he is forced to remember traumatic life experiences, of which, involve sexual assault and abuse. For Rick, being able to not forget his experiences is how he copes with them, and it offers a kind of amoral therapy for him. He's able to experience the memories in a safe, controlled environment, but essentially it is a forced PTSD trigger . He is also able to find a connection to the Cthulhu alien, who he sees like himself, as somewhat parasitic, because he trusts the parasitic mutualistic relationship over the mutually symbiotic one. In the story, it illustrates how a lifetime of fighting has created a fixation of survival that has turned Rick into a nihilistic ruthless character, even towards himself. His obsession with teaching Morty everything he knows so that he can survive is a reflection of that.
Superstring Theory (The Theory of Everything): Stephen Hawking’s The theory of everything is a very poetic cosmological idea that tries to define the basic, fundamental, indivisible, constituents that make up and connect everything in the universe, then, argue for an ultimate universality – That everything, across ten dimensions of space and one dimension of time is connected by the same vibrating strings of energy: matter particles, electrons and quarks, radiation particles, photons, gravitons, are all built up from one entity, which we can measure and define using our language of mathematics. Like with the soulmate discussion, this theory plays with the idea of entangled/connected Ricks along the Central Finite Curve, and purposefully leaves itself open to interpretation.
Chemical Scum on a Pale Blue Dot : Rick is quoting both Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan here. I really love the idea of Toxic Rick representing a literal chemical scum. Even though the idea of being chemical seems pessimistic, Hawking goes on to acknowledge the unique point of reference of being a human, “But even chemical scum can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.” A big cosmological concept in the 70’s was Carl Sagan’s “We Are Stardust” or a loose idea of optimistic nihilism , that humans are the sensory organ of universe, and that our ability to recognize ourselves within it , was a defining aspect of what made us human, and an essential moment for sentience as a species.
Music Theory & Math: There is a lot of overlay with music and math, and it’s worth checking out. I am 100% here for using music and math to make an extended visual metaphor for superstring theory. I HC that the central finite curve takes the shape of the the calabi , and a Rick’s interdimensional travel is capped at the 6th dimension. The Calabi is believed to have the same shape as a horn, because vibrational energy, like vibrational sound, is believed to travel more freely in such a structure.
Carl Sagan Writes about Recreational Weed: Carl Sagan published an anonymous essay as Mr. X in 1969 for publication in Marihuana Reconsidered (1971). Sagan was in his mid-thirties at that time. He continued to use cannabis for the rest of his life. Read this, then get high and look at the stars, like the greatest minds before you.
The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean: Carl Sagan often referenced the cosmos as a cosmic ocean , and I’m just gonna keep doing that in this fic. Rick could be figuratively seen as a cosmic oceanic cyanophore, the equivalent of which would probably be like a quasi-stellar (star-like) being. Quasars, the brightest blue objects in the universe, don’t fuck around.
Playing a bit with Sun Tzu's philosophy, AKA Joss Whedon's modern Firefly interpretation, “Live with a man 40 years. Share his house, his meals. Speak on every subject. Then tie him up, and hold him over the volcano's edge. And on that day, you will finally meet the man.”
Rick is a character with a very hard exterior. At his darkest and most nihilistic, he puts off a Nietzschean "übermensch" vibe, rewarding the mindset of, "What doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger". His response to suffering of those he cares about is not to offer comfort, but to do what he thinks will help make them become stronger.
Look on Down From The Bridge
Planet Caravan (Black Sabbath) : This song appeared on Black Sabbath’s 1970 breakthrough album Paranoid . Geezer Butler has stated that the song's meaning is floating through the universe with one's lover. I thought it was a nice thought/song to end the chapter with.
Heart of Gold: While containing references to the gold rush, Neil described it as the song that "put me in the middle of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore, so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there."
Roky Erikson (13th Floor Elevators): Roky is the same age as Rick in this fic, and his band 13th Floor Elevators was one of the pioneering bands for psychedelic/acid rock. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and received involuntary electroshock therapy.
San Francisco Rick Mentioned that he originally came to San Francisco in '67 for the summer of love/season of the witch. Record Rick has a fic about that , and made a playlist about it Rick's Psychedelic Acid Rock. So much of the Rick and Morty art style is inspired by psychedelic art, and I love it Gimme dat 4/20 sin!
The Vietnam Draft & Rick’s Military Habits: Rick gets accused of skirting the draft. In this fic, Rick is 70 in 2017, and would have been in the draft. My HC is that he skirted the draft, and his obsessive military habits come from a combination of a father in the military (crotchless Uncle Sam daddy issues), and that a lot of those behaviours are very practical for a homeless person to have and use, many of which he may have picked up from returned homeless vets. In my HC, Rick’s military behaviours carry some trauma and he obsessively carries them into old age.
Morty accidentally teaches Rick the term “sex worker” , which became popular in the late 1970s, after it was invented by Scarlot Harlot, a prostitute and activist living in San Francisco. Ideas of consent, sex, and prostitution were very different in the 70’s. San Francisco, with the Tenderloin District in its heart, has a unique history with prostitution in the US , and this fic will explore it more.
Most of the songs on this playlist are centered around '71-'76, the year Morty's arrives in San Francisco. This is the lost beatnick generation, fumbling through a collective post-psychadelic existentialism, following the summer of love, pentagon papers, Nixon, and the Vietnamn war. There are a lot of songs about searching for answers, and moving forward, but still have a glimmer of hippie counterculture. Songs which I think set the tone for this fic's theme about time.
Really diving into the time travel theme here, and made a spotify playlist for the radio: LHR's Rixties and 70's. All song's on this list released within a 4-ish year span of 1971.