At its core, TMTC is a hurt/comfort story about trauma. It's a fic with a problematic ship and flawed characters who are sifting through the pieces of their lives, trying to find something more than the brokenness. The protagonists unglamorously struggle with their own shit and find a way to move forward to the next day. The intergenerational incestuous relationship is a key aspect of the cylcles of violence theme. Substance abuse and various forms of addiction/recovery (exploring adaptive and maladaptive coping) is also a major theme of this fic.
A deep dive into Trauma and Resiliency: One of the explorations of this fic is the various ways in which people deal with trauma. In this fic, Morty is much more resilient to experiences of trauma, but it's much harder for R to move forward. My intention here wasn't to compare R or Morty's personalities as better or worse than, or to lessen the traumatic experiences of either, but to explore each of them as their own unique experience. One reason for the POV shifting in this fic is to demonstrate those flaws, as well as the unreliable narratives of each. Like our characters need each other, both perspectives help us find a greater narrative between them.
TMTC is also a fic about identity and creation of self, the protagonists learn to find a new identity in more than just their various traumas, and they learn to help each other find better ways to cope. The angst will be intense at certain points, but the ending will be optimistic in a psychedelic slice of life kind of a way.
A big theme of TMTC is looking at the insidious cycles of violence. The cross-generational perpetuation of violence. At its heart, however, this remains a story about both of our characters learning how to not only escape from that vicious cycle but learning to find something greater than it while still, in many ways, being caught within it. Both of our characters will grapple through the deep-seated issues that this chapter has brought into focus, and I hope you will continue to follow this story.
Change is another central theme of TMTC, and we meet R and Morty both at a paradigmatic cusp of character growth. It's very intentional that R holds no such assumptions up-front about his ability to change, while Morty insists he can, and this dynamic will continue to explore the idea of change: what it would look like for R, who doesn't think change is inherently possible, to change and grow. What it looks like for Morty, who fully believes in change, to be able to create real and lasting change. This slice of life story tries to earnestly look at how arduous and glamorous actual character growth and self-reflection is. As it has previously been the case with Morty, blind optimism can become an insidious pipe dream for those in abusive relationships that keep them trapped within it.
Love as as Drug; Conflating Dissociation with Experiencing a High: This fic explores the similarities and differences between love, the experience of dissociation and the experience of feeling high. There are also comparisons to abusive relatonships and substance abuse.
Other Courtesy Warnings for deep dive explorations and detailed descriptions of depression and passive/active suicide ideation/attempt, as well as detailed descriptions of child abuse, child sexual abuse, domestic abuse, and physical violence, sexual assault, drug use, and trauma.
Rick/Morty, Substance Abuse, Trauama, Dark Themes
Dedicated to NaughtyOrganic
R owns a small record store and lives within the ritualistic parameters of a routine, daily life. Ricks on the Citadel generally have too much idle time to think, so he buys weed from a pair of squatters, gets high on quality shit, and vibes to good sounds in his shop – because he can really fuckin' start to overthink shit if he can't find a way to "turn on, tune in, and drop out".
His life is taken for a spin when he meets a Morty using music as a means to escape his own shitty circumstances. R hates other Ricks as much as he hates himself, however, and when Morty starts to develop romantic feelings for him, R insists that love's nothing more than a hard-hitting drug, and there is no different kind of Rick.
Songfic 2.0 Music is an integral part of this fic, and below you can find more information about the artists and songs that are referenced.
About Pink Floyd: Pink Floyd’s name was made of two blues band artists “Pink Anderson” (You Don’t Know My Mind), and Floyd Council (Runaway Man Blues) Breathe is opened by a sustained backward piano chord, the slow-paced guitar effect was achieved with a double-necked steel lap guitar. Pink Floyd is generally categorized as a progressive rock band. A genre which was largely informed by the psychedelic movement. Progressive rock in turn largely influenced hard rock.
Pink Floyd band members, Syd Barrett, and Roger Waters have a fuckin’ story. And R and Music Morty are going to explore it as the fic progresses. R idolizes Syd Barrett, often relating himself to the musician, and relates Roger to Morty.
Green is the Color (1969): Many psychedelic songs reference colors and associated meanings. Green was often correlated with life, eternity, and envy.
Jugband Blues (1967): This is Syd Barrett's last contribution to Pink Floyd and the only song on the album that he wrote and sang on. Shortly before it was released, he was kicked out of the band. The song itself is Barrett's self-diagnosis of mental illness, explained by the lines "I'm most obliged to you for making it clear that I'm not here" and "I wonder who could be writing this song?"
Great Gig In The Sky (1973) is about life gradually descending into death. The angrier and more intense first half illustrates a dying person refusing to "go gently into that good night." The second half is gentler, as the dying person gives into the inevitable and fades away. When the band was working on Dark Side of the Moon, most of the songs didn't have titles. They referred to this section as "The Religious Section" or "The Mortality Sequence."
Hey You (1979) Like Comfortably Numb, David Gilmour and Roger Waters share lead vocals on this track. At The Wall concerts (where a wall was constructed on stage, dividing the band from the audience), this was the first song from behind the completed wall.
The line ''Will you help me carry the stone'' is a reference to the myth of Sisyphus, who Albert Camus wrote at length about. Roger relates the imagery in this myth to the thematic bricks of isolation in The Wall album.
Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun (1968) Some of R’s thoughts about the Sun Rocks, as well as some lines in this Pink Floyd song, are borrowed from an untitled poem by poet Li Shangyin (c. 813–858) in the Tang Dynasty, more specifically, taken from Li He’s (790–816) poem “Don’t go out the door.” which talks about a madman pacing out the shape of heaven. (A slight implication of truth equating to madness.)
Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony (1877-1878): During the composition of the symphony, Tchaikovsky wrote to his patroness, Nadezhda von Meck, that he wanted "very much" to dedicate it to her, and that he would write on it "Dedicated to My Best Friend". In their world, patron and artist were considered equals, and dedications of works were not just gestures of humble gratitude but expressions of artistic partnership. By dedicating the Fourth Symphony to her, he was affirming her as an equal and vital partner in its creation.
Wish You Were Here (1975): The song and the album of the same name are both a tribute to original band member Syd Barrett and that during the recording of this album, Syd made an appearance in the studio for one session. His appearance had changed so much since '68 that he had become virtually unrecognizable and it took members of the band nearly an hour to discover the true identity of 'the strange looking man in the corner listening to all of our music'. Roger was so unnerved by the whole experience of seeing what had become of his once best friend that he broke down in tears and could not complete the session.
Shine on You crazy Diamond (S.Y.D.), Syd’s Four Notes: The entire album is rooted in four notes that reminded Roger of Syd. The song itself is slowed down to a chord progression that expands on the four notes and rearranges them to reflect the different stages of grief. The main guitar riff catalyzes the shifting key changes of the song. Here is a great article about it.
All Along the Watchtower (1967) suggests that escape is found through discovering your role in the larger story – understanding the machinations of the reality in which you exist. For R, this can only be achieved through self-aware analysis and mind-altering substances.
Although this song was originally written and recorded by Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, who greatly idolized Dylan, released this cover six months later. Structurally, what makes this song unique is the circular narrative. The last verse begins the story again, manipulating the sense of time in a never-ending loop. R applies this theme of being trapped in a circular narrative to his own life on the Citadel, seeing weed, music, and ritual as his forms of escape.
Many suspect it is a biblical reference to the book of Isaiah, which references the Tower of Babylon falling. The Tower of Babel (Babel meaning confusion) is an origin myth meant to explain why the world's peoples speak different languages and are divided.
Come and Get Your Love (1973): A hit single by the Native American rock band Redbone. The word "redbone" is a Cajun term for a mixed-race person, which the band adopted to signify their own mixed blood ancestry. Patrick and Lolly Vasquez-Vegas were a mixture of Yaqui, Shoshone, and Mexican heritage. According to Pat Vegas, it was Jimi Hendrix, himself part Cherokee, who inspired the musicians to form an all-Native American rock group.
Changes (1971): This is a reflective song about defying your critics and stepping out on your own. It also touches on Bowie's penchant for artistic reinvention. Released before Ziggy Stardust, but after Space Oddity, Bowie is speaking of himself and possibly the Vietnam War. It was originally released a day before his birthday.
White Rabbit (1967) One of Grace Slick's earliest songs, written during either late 1965 or early 1966. It uses imagery found in the fantasy works of Lewis Carroll—1865's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its 1871 sequel Through the Looking-Glass. Slick was also inspired by "the bolero.”
Slick stated, “The White Rabbit is your curiosity" in allusion to Carroll's story. For her and others in the 1960s, drugs were a part of mind expansion and social experimentation. With its enigmatic lyrics, White Rabbit became one of the first songs to sneak drug references past censors on the radio.
The Pusher (1968): The lyrics of the song distinguish between a dealer in drugs such as marijuana – who "will sell you lots of sweet dreams" – and a pusher of hard drugs such as heroin—a "monster" who doesn't care "if you live or if you die". Along with Steppenwolf's Born To Be Wild, this was featured in the 1969 movie Easy Rider, starring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. The film is considered a landmark of '60s counterculture, and using this song in the movie was important because it portrayed the downside of doing drugs.
House of The Rising Sun (1964): Traditionally an African-American Folk song, The folk music historian Alan Lomax recorded a version in 1937 by a 16-year-old girl named Georgia Turner. In this traditional folk version, the main character is either a prostitute or a prisoner. The song is about a brothel in New Orleans. The House Of The Rising Sun was named after Madame Marianne LeSoleil Levant (which means "Rising Sun" in French) and was open for business from 1862 (occupation by Union troops) until 1874 when it was closed due to complaints by neighbors. The Animals changed it to a gambler to make their version more radio-friendly.
Crossroads/Cross Road Blues (1968): Cream's version is a compilation of parts of two Johnson songs: Crossroads Blues and Traveling Riverside Blues. This was originally recorded by the blues musician Robert Johnson in the 1930s. According to legend, Johnson went to the crossroads and made a deal with the devil, giving up his soul in exchange for the ability to play the blues. The story originates from an interview with the blues singer Son House, who explained how Johnson went from being a terrible guitar player to a very good one in a very short period of time. Over the years, the story grew into the tale of Johnson selling his soul to the devil.
Hellhounds and The 27 Club: Johnson fueled the legend on his track Me And The Devil Blues, where he sings about his meeting with Satan himself. In that song, Johnson explains that as part of his deal with the devil, the prince of darkness would harvest all of Robert's "Childrens" at the age of 27, which is exactly how old Robert was when he died in 1938. A spooky correlation is the number of music stars who have died at age 27.
In-A Gadda-Da-Vida (1968) This was written by Doug Ingle, Iron Butterfly's vocalist and keyboard player. His father was a church organist.
The Court of The Crimson King (1969): This is a pioneer of the progressive rock movement. It evokes imagery of a funeral march and fire in a royal court, perfect for R in this chapter. An offshoot from psychedelics, progressive rock, stoner rock, space rock, desert rock experimented with classical form.
Sunshine and Blue Roses (1978) & R refers to the Citadel as a glass menagerie: In reference to the depressing play by Tennessee Williams, with themes of mental illness and escapism. Laura, the mentally-ill, melancholic young woman, heavily fixates on the nature of her glass figurines and is called Blue Roses by her love interest. R, similarly, fixates on his self-reflection, and sarcastically references a song, by the Cathedrals, which was the origin of the phrase “Everything is Sunshine and Roses.”
Sunshine of your Love (1967) The references to stars falling is a nod to Jimi Hendrix’s “Love or Confusion”. Eric Clapton told Rolling Stone Magazine, “It was strictly a dedication to Jimi. And then we wrote a song on top of it.”
Jimi Hendrix’s first gig, before he had formed his band, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, was when he spontaneously joined Cream for a jam at the Regent Street Polytechnic in central London. Meeting Clapton had been among the enticements used by his manager, Chas Chandler, Bassist for The Animals (House of the Rising Sun) to bring Hendrix to London. Jimi was highly flattered by, and loved, Sunshine of Your Love, and often sang a cover of it during his live shows.
Figurative sunshine or the experience one has while under the influence, represent a form of freedom to R. And psychedelia is a love he always returns to and nostalgically yearns for. Recreational drug use is an escape that he happily returns to.
Manic Depression (1967): Manic Depression was the original term for Bipolar Disorder. Although there is no record that Jimi was ever diagnosed with the disorder, his eccentric manner and emotional swings caused his manager, Chas Chandler (formerly of the Animals (House of the Rising Sun)), to call him manic depressive, which inspired the song.
Love Or Confusion & Jimi Hendrix (1967) The lyrics show the battle between emotion and logic. Hendrix's mother was a drunk, who abandoned him 5 days after his birth to eventually be raised by his grandmother. Later in his life, after he found fame, he believed he was surrounded by superficial relationships. Many of his songs explore the meaning of love. He often shared the sentiment that his only family was his guitar. Hendrix's mother had cirrhosis of the liver that hemorrhaged, resulting in her death when he was 15.
Castles Made of Sand (1967) is a song about bitter ironies and contradictions in life, it was written as a biographical story about Hendrix's childhood. It is nostalgic, using the metaphor of sand to describe the fleeing, transient nature of existence.
Crosstown Traffic (1968): The lyrics are similar to many Blues songs in that they are filled with sexual references in clever metaphors: "I'm not the only soul, who's accused of hit and run, tire tracks all across your back, I can see you've had your fun."
Purple Haze (1967) Jimi Hendrix’s Return to America: In March of 1967, Purple Haze, the single, was released in England and shot up the charts. The lyrics seem to vividly portray an acid trip, resonating strongly with Vietnam soldiers and returned vets, but Hendrix claimed this was inspired by a dream where he was walking under the sea. When the recording was sent to Hendrix's American label, a note said, "deliberate distortion, do not correct." Three months later, the Experience gave its first U.S. performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. It was at this show that Hendrix doused his guitar with lighter fluid and set it on fire.
Gypsy Eyes (1968): This fic very intentionally connects R to Jimi Hendrix’s music. The line, "Two strange men fightin' to the death over me today" is a reference to two men who claimed to be Hendrix's father in an effort to capitalize on his success and money, however, the song is written about Hendrix's mother Lucille, and a salute to "Field Hollers"... where African American slaves would come up with working songs, on plantations.
The Wind Cries Mary (1967): Jimi wrote this in 1967 for Are You Experienced?; it was inspired by his girlfriend at the time, whose middle name was used in the song. He'd gotten into an argument with her, and a fight escalated between the two, resulting in Hendrix being reportedly hit over the head with a frying pan. The popular culture telling of this story is that immediately following the fight, he locked himself in his apartment and wrote this song.
The version that ended up on the album was their first take, as the emotion was so raw. In our fic, it catches the feeling of shock and confusion in the aftermath of the fight between Ricks.
Hendrix and Alcohol: Hendrix would often become angry and violent when he drank too much. One of his girlfriends said of it, "You wouldn't expect somebody with that kind of love to be that violent...he just couldn't drink ... he simply turned into a bastard." Of himself, Hendrix admitted that he could not handle hard liquor, which, according to him “Set off a bottled-up anger, a destructive fury almost never displayed otherwise." R gets violent at the tavern around other Ricks, but with Morty, he turns into more of the annoying, insistently naked and emotional type drunk.
Hendrix’s Drug Overdose: In one of his final performances, Jimi reportedly told the audience "I've been dead a long time." R uses this same phrase when he shares with Morty the extent of his depression.
Kozmic Blues (1969) Janis Joplin described the meaning to RS Magazine: "'Kozmic Blues' just means that no matter what you do, man, you get shot down anyway…I can't write a song unless I'm really traumatic, emotional, and I've gone through a few changes, I'm very down… ‘No one's ever gonna love you any better and no one's gonna love you right.’ That line is about how different people perceive love and time.” Joplin explained that she was the kind of person who thought that love was supposed to last 25 years, so when it didn't she would be devastated. To her lover, it wasn't as painful because he never expected it to last that long. Joplin spelled it with a K to take the edge off. "It's too down and lonely a trip to be taken seriously," she said. "It's like a joke on itself."
Ball and Chain (1967): Originally recorded by a blues singer named Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton, who also recorded the original version of Hound Dog. The ball and chain is an image associated with prisoners, as a weighted ball attached to a chain would be shackled to an inmate's leg to keep him from escaping. In this song, Thornton relates the image to her man, who is keeping her down.
A staple of her live performances, Janis Joplin sang it at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, launching her career, and also at Woodstock. Joplin's interpretation of this song solidified her reputation as an incredibly soulful performer who could handle the gnarliest of the blues. This fic very intentionally connects Music Morty with Janis Joplin’s music.
The Doors’ (Band) name was taken from Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception (1954), which documented his experience taking a dosage of Mescaline, a form of LSD, for scientific research (Mescaline is the principal active psychedelic agent in the peyote cacti). The name of the book was inspired by William Blake's 1793 romantic era poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.
“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern”
Blake's theory of contraries was not a belief in opposites but rather a belief that each person reflects the contradictory nature of God, and that progression in life is impossible without contraries.
Light My Fire (1967): Inspired by Rolling Stones “Play With Fire”. It conflates the passion of love with the idea of fire, specifically relating it to a ”funeral pyre”. The image evokes spirituality and ancient mythology, as well as death, one of Jim Morrison's favorite topics. Fire is a big theme in this fic.
Not To Touch The Earth: The lyrics to this song is an excerpt from The Celebration Of The Lizard, a Jim Morrison poem that was going to take up the first side of Waiting For The Sun. "Not To Touch The Earth" was the only part of the 24-minute song that was compelling enough to put on the album, but the entire 133-line poem was included on the album sleeve. (A complete performance of the poem can be heard on the 1970 album Absolutely Live.)
Spiritualism was a huge topic in the psychedelic ’60s and Jim Morrison, capitalized on it. Morrison cribbed the title, and also the line "Not to see the sun," from Aftermath: A Supplement to the Golden Bough, a supplement to the 1890 book The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion. Both works were written by the Scottish social anthropologist Sir James George Frazer. Morrison got the lines from the table of contents: Chapter LXV – Not to Touch the Earth, Chapter LXVI – Not to See the Sun
End of The Night (1967): R’s drunken singing is intended to feel jarringly disconnected from the story as if R was lost in his own song. This song is a self-described "confession" of Jim Morrison's aims in life, and the title is taken from 1932 French novel Journey To The End Of The Night by Louis-Ferdinand Celine. It is a nihilistic novel of savage, exultant misanthropy, combined with cynical humor.
“It’s Romantic Bullshit” The remaining lyrics of the Doors song are from Romantic Era poet, William Blake’s, Auguries of Innocence, originally a poem about power, oppression, and poetic justice. Blake also wrote The Marriage of Heaven and Hell from which Aldous Huxley found the title of his book, The Doors of Perception, documenting LSD usage. Jim Morrison’s band name, The Doors was an attribution to Huxley’s work.
Tomorrow Never Knows: The lyrics were adapted from the book The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead by Timothy Leary (“Turn on, Tune In, Drop Out”) Richard Alpert (Be Here Now), and Ralph Metzner, which was, in turn, adapted from the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Its backward guitar parts marked the first recorded use of reversed sounds in a pop song. Music journalist Carol Clerk describes Revolver as having been "decisively informed by acid", following John Lennon and George Harrison's continued experimentation with the drug LSD in the spring of 1965. Through these shared experiences, the two musicians developed a fascination for Eastern philosophical concepts, particularly regarding the illusory nature of human existence. In popular culture, Revolver is widely viewed as the album on which Harrison came of age as a songwriter/recording artist.
George Harrison played the Sitar on "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" on the LP Rubber Soul in 1965, which became the first released Western pop song to feature the sitar. Harrison went on to play the tambura, a long-necked plucked lute, on both Revolver and Sgt Peppers.
Imagine (1971): Probably one of the most idealistic songs in contemporary culture, it encourages us to imagine a place where things that divide people (religion, possessions, etc.) did not exist. It was heavily inspired by Yoko Ono’s book, Grapefruit, which contains instructions like, "Imagine the sky crying..." or "Imagine you're a cloud."
Cyclical violence and abuse towards oneself and others is a big theme in this fic. John Lennon has a unique history with domestic violence. His attitude towards hitting women isn't something he shied away from. During a 1980 interview with Playboy, while insisting his earlier violence motivated his later calls for peace and love, he is quoted saying,
"'I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved' was me. I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically - any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn't express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women...That is why I am always on about peace, you see. It is the most violent people who go for love and peace. Everything's the opposite. But I sincerely believe in love and peace.”
Paul is Dead: A popular conspiracy theory surrounding the Beatles that suggests Paul was killed during a car accident during Rubber Soul, and was replaced with a look alike. Sergeant Pepper’s cover showcases a number of “clues”. The Beatles later wrote Glass Onion to make fun of this group of fans. Take the time and go down this rabbit hole.
Octopus’ Garden (1968): This was one of two songs Ringo Starr wrote for the Beatles. It came about when Ringo left The White Album sessions in 1968 and went on a boating trip with his family. The boat's captain told him everything he knew about octopuses, and how they travel along the seabed looking for shiny objects and stones with which to build gardens. Ringo thought about how tranquil it would be to live down there amongst your friends in the calm waters – the opposite of the chaos and internecine conflict he was going through with the Beatles. With this idea, he wrote the song about living in the octopus’ garden. In our fic, it’s a fun escape for our main characters, because Ringo is too pure for this world.
Golden Slumbers (1969) took its words from a song by the playwright Thomas Dekker, which was couched in his 1603 play, Patient Grissel. This tells the story of a poor basket-weaving woman courted and married by a wealthy marquess, who then subjects her to punishing psychological trials. The lines “once there was a way to get back homeward/Once there was a way to get back home” do not appear: these were McCartney’s alone.
Carry That Weight (1969) was designed to blend with Golden Slumbers, and features unison vocals from all four Beatles (a rarity in their songs). This song segues to The End, the final song of the last album they made together as a band: Abbey Road. The popular culture interpretation of the lyric was that McCarney was singing in acknowledgment of their end, while simultaneously acknowledging that nothing they would sing as a solo career would surpass what they had created together.
R often relates the idea of love to a drug, and the themes of the song fit perfectly with Morty’s world tinted worldview about being in an abusive relationship, and how addicted he is to it.
Glass Onion (1968) and “Paul is Dead” John Lennon used meaningless lyrics to confuse people who were reading too much into his songs. A glass onion is a coffin with a see-through lid. Because of this, it became a big part of the "Paul is Dead" hoax. Lennon sang, "The Walrus is Paul." In many European countries, a walrus represents death.
Dear Prudence (1968) During a Retreat in India, Lennon encountered Prudence Farrow, who was deeply depressed and would lock herself in her room in meditation. He said this about writing the song for her: “No one was to know that sooner or later she was to go completely berserk. All the people around were very worried about the girl, so, we sang to her.”
According to Donovan (Season of the Witch), who was also on the retreat, he taught John Lennon the "clawhammer" guitar technique that he used on this track. "He was so fascinated by fingerstyle guitar that he immediately started to write in a different color and was very inspired."
I Want You (She's So Heavy) (1969) was written by John Lennon and closed side one of the Abbey Road LP. Lennon wrote the song about his love for Yoko Ono. He commented in an interview to RS magazine, “When you're drowning you don't say 'I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me,' you just scream. And in She's So Heavy I just sang 'I want you, I want you so bad, she's so heavy, I want you,' like that.”
Blackbird (1968): Paul McCartney stated of the song, “I had in mind a black woman, rather than a bird. Those were the days of the civil rights movement, which all of us cared passionately about, so this was really a song from me to a black woman, experiencing these problems in the States: Let me encourage you to keep trying, to keep your faith; there is hope...As is often the case with my things, a veiling took place, so rather than saying, ‘Black woman living in Little Rock’ and be very specific, she became a bird, became symbolic, so you could apply it to your particular problem.”
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (1968): Harrison was thinking about I Ching, the Book of Changes and the Eastern concept that whatever happens was always meant to be and that there is no such thing as coincidence and everything has a purpose. In practice of this idea, he decided to write a song based on the first thing he saw upon opening any book, believing that it would be relative to that moment, at that time. On opening it, he saw the phrase 'gently weeps', and started writing the song. The initial incarnation, however, was not the final version. Some of the words to the song were changed before he finally recorded it.
Martin Luther McCoy Cover (2007): The San Francisco native and appears as one of the six lead characters in the 2007 Beatles musical Across the Universe in the role of "Jo-Jo", who reflects Jimi Hendrix. In the film, this scene is a nod to Musical folklore: Jimi Hendrix’s legendary performance following the assassination of Martin Luther King. As the lore goes, Hendrix was playing a gig in the South, when he got news of the assassination, abandoned his setlist, and dedicated the next song “to a friend” following with what people describe as the most hauntingly beautiful songs ever played by Hendrix, straight from his soul and fully improvised. Everyone was so mesmerized by the moment, that not a single recording exists.
Because (1967): The vocals are a 3-part harmony by Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison that was overdubbed twice, creating a 9-part harmony. This is the only Beatles song with three singers throughout. John Lennon got the idea for this song when he heard Yoko to playing Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" on the piano. He asked her to play it backwards and came up with "Because" based on what he heard. The lyrics are widely thought to be influenced by Ono’s work, specifically grapefruit.
Disturbia (2007) Rihanna’s abusive relationship with Chris Brown is subject matter that is often explored through her music, but this dance/pop track about being in a state of mental anguish was co-written by Chris Brown, who was her boyfriend at the time, and who also contributed the backing vocals.
Love the Way You Lie (2010): Rihanna told Access Hollywood that when Eminem approached her to be featured on the track, she felt a powerful connection with its lyrical content. The singer, whose domestic violence history with ex-boyfriend Chris Brown made headlines around the world, discussed her decision to collaborate with Eminem. "It's something that, you know, we have both experienced, you know, on different sides, different ends of the table...It just was authentic. It was real. It was believable for us to do a record like that, but it was also something that needed to be done and the way he did it was so clever. He pretty much just broke down the cycle of domestic violence and it's something that a lot of people don't have a lot of insight on, so this song is a really, really powerful song and it touches a lot of people."
Love on the Brain (2016): The lyrical content left fans wondering if Rihanna was referencing her tumultuous relationship with Chris Brown, who left her with visible injuries on February 8, 2009, after an argument escalated into physical violence and was highly publicized. She wanted the song to be old school – a mix between Prince and Al Green. The slower time signature gives it a feeling of nostalgia, with a timeless and soulful feel to it.
Stay (2012): Applies to R and Music Morty’s relationship at this point of the story, defined by themes of fear and apprehension. Both R and Morty’s lives are explored through circular themes, and the references to “round and round” capture many of the ideas that culminate at this moment where all the motion crashes to a halt. Read in their context of Rihanna's history with domestic violence in a relationship, the lyrics take on a much darker tone. The line "if you dare come a little closer" is, on the surface, a simple, relatable evocation of how love makes us vulnerable, but there is a contradictory promise of threat and intimacy which seems to characterize the relationship in the song.
Anyone who knows What Love is (Will Understand) (1963): Irma Thomas was an American singer known as the "Soul Queen of New Orleans". Thomas is a contemporary of Aretha Franklin and Etta James, but never experienced their level of commercial success. This song was co-written by a young Randy Newman and future country star Jeannie Seely.
Rihanna's song Love on the Brain, from Chapter 12, pays homage to this song using the same chord progression and addresses the same themes.
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (1958): This traditional jazz standard was originally written in 1933 for the musical Roberta, starring Bob Hope. The lyrics were written by Otto Harbach and the music by Jerome Kern. It was covered and charted at the tail end of the psychedelic movement by a band called Blue Fuzz.
Higher (2016): Speaking to Vogue, Rihanna compared the song to a drunk voicemail. She explained, "You know he's wrong, and then you get drunk and you're like, 'I could forgive him. I could call him. I could make up with him.' Just, desperate."
Take Me to Church: This fic and each chapter title was named after Hozier’s song, Take me to Church, but the phrase was also a colloquialism in the 70’s gay community in San Francisco for giving a blowjob while on your knees.
Come As You Are: A song seemingly about acceptance and leveraging the popular religious theme/colloquialism, according to Cobain, was a song about contradiction: “About people and what they are expected to act like.” Cobain used the same effects pedal on his guitar that he used on Smells Like Teen Spirit to produce the "trippy, psychedelic, watery effect.”
Rape Me (1991): I thought this was a great select for R’s self-flagellating mental state as he enters the bar. Cobain wanted to make a strong statement in support of women and against violence toward them. In his words, the song is a sort of poetic justice. A guy rapes a girl. He ends up in jail and is raped there. It's also believed that the song was in direct relation to his feeling of being raped by the media, in particular, Vanity Fair and MTV.
Heart-Shaped Box (1993): I like to interpret it as a symbol for being allowed inside another person, mentally and physically, and this is the idea I played with in the fic. R has literally fled into the darkest part of his heart, symbolized by the tavern, and Morty follows him into it.
The idea of the song reportedly came from Courtney Love when she presented Kurt with a heart-shaped box full of precious possessions. There is no clear explanation for what it symbolizes in the song.
K.O.D. (2018) The recurring theme of K.O.D. is the pain that makes people escape into addictive behavior. If features Kill Edward, J Cole's alter ego, who is an addict that uses drugs and alcohol as his coping mechanism. Cole explained that he tried to channel things he didn't like about himself into the Kill Edward character, who was inspired by his stepfather.
"When I say Kill Edward, what I'm talking about is shit that I feel like I inherited from him," he said. "There's aspects of myself that I wanted to overcome and beat, I feel like I got that from him… Cleansing myself of that traumatic experience."
Dark Red (2016): This song is from “Steve Lacy’s Demo” music created by using only his iPhone and Apple’s Garageband. He was trying to evoke Prince’s style in this song.
On & On (1997)This song is heavily influenced by the Nations of Gods and Earths, an Afrocentric belief-system that utilizes incremental degrees of learning and a deeply esoteric oral tradition. The N.G.E. is a system that promotes education, morals, ethics, self-empowerment, and self-realization through the awakening and illumination of the inner and divine light.
Cranes in the Sky (2016): I thought the tone and theme of the song fit this moment very well. “I was just coming out of my relationship with Julez's father. We were junior high school sweethearts, and so much of your identity in junior high is built on who you're with. You see the world through the lens of how you identify and have been identified at that time. So I really had to take a look at myself, outside of being a mother and a wife, and internalize all of these emotions that I had been feeling through that transition.”
Elastic Heart (2013): Morty is having to assess and re-evaluate both himself, and his past and present relationships, in order to move forward, and it is a painful awakening. The contradiction of “fighting for peace” shows how love is inherently a battle – between two people or sometimes internally. Every time Sia falls in love, she finds herself being pulled apart by the toll of the relationship, describing the idea as “These two warring 'Sia' self-states of emotion and reason.”
La Fee Verte (2011): Shoutout to one of TMTC’s readers, Heyothere33, who introduced me to this song and artist, Alex Turner. It fit R so well that I had to add it into the story! Thank you for reading this story and sharing music with me!
Between the Bars (1997): This song makes a canon appearance in the show, during the Tiny Rick episode. It’s a song about the cyclical nature of depression and alcoholism. Elliott Smith, who struggled with depression and substance abuse, took his own life in 2003.
Click on the images below to view titles and captions. More art for these two can be found in the continuation fic Kaleidoscopic
Spoiler Alert!: I'll be listing the endnotes for the entire fic here instead of ao3. They are loosley organized right now, but I will clean them up with the next update.
“Fuck Me”: I love that Ricks say “Fuck Me” to each other. Sexualized statement and self-loathing all in one. A big theme in TMTC is exploring Rick’s self-hatred and destructive habits, and how these aspects of his self deprecating personality have affected the Citadel society as a whole.
Ricksonas and Identity on the Citadel, “To be is to be perceived”: R challenges Morty to fuck the Rickstyem and name himself. Earlier in Ch1, he observes that it’s an unspoken rule that a Rick is named based on how other Ricks and Mortys perceive them, and usually, their perception is shallow and pedantic, only reflecting the things a Rick does, rather than who he is. In R’s perception, naming oneself is a very counterculture gesture.
The Starry Citadel AU is a heterotopia and plays with the theme of reflections. Further exploring George Berkley’s idea of “To be is to be perceived.”, Rather than see the meta-self-perception and meta-self-reflection as a validation of his existence, R takes Cioran’s pessimistic approach, believing that, at best, it is self-serving and self-aggrandizing. Foucault’s idea of heterotopia was that reflective structures were just as important as the people, arguing that the reflection and its inherent function was a vital aspect of society.
The Infinite Motel: Nod to a thought experiment about Hilbert’s rate of infinite increase. I’ll add a video to the TMTC youtube playlist. R’s thoughts consider infinite death, rather than growth rates of infinity.
Morty Town and The Heights in the Starry AU: In the Starry AU, following the arrival of Mortys, the Heights and Morty Town were separated into the two current existing neighborhoods. Because of this, they are fairly integrated, whereas, in other parts of the Citadel, there exists a more obvious segmentation. The setting for this fic takes place on the outer ring/lower class of the Citadel, and while social mobility is a strong motivator for Ricks and Mortys, it is generally a pipe dream, or very rare, that a Rick or Morty breaks into the inner circles through honest means.
Mortys Coming to the Citadel, Treatment as Second-Class Citizens: Similar to the Galactic Confederation Controlled Earth in Rickshank Redemption, where Morty’s age jumps to 35 in the new Earth society, Mortys on the Citadel enjoy the full legal status of an adult citizen. While Ricks interact with Mortys as if they are adults, they are still, nonetheless, treated as second-class citizens in many instances.
Citadel Laws and Societal Structures: R observes how Rick’s most toxic character traits of narcissism and self-hatred are reflected within the societal structure of the Citadel of Ricks, believing that these toxic traits are such a fundamental aspect of his collective self that they inevitably are woven into the everyday fabric of Citadel society. His perspective would be that Ricks enjoy exploiting their interdimensional counterparts to climb the social ladder as an expression of deeply internalized and fetishized self-hatred.
Labcoat Activism on the Starry AU Citadel: While most lifers on the Citadel lose their lab coats in favor of a new Ricksona, and use the term “Labcoat” to describe the tourist Ricks or vanilla Ricks living on the Citadel, many working-class Ricks who are unable to create a unique identity revert back to their dimensional name as an intentional claiming of unique identity, and don the lab coat to declare that they are still Ricks, and as such, are just as valuable as every other Rick on the Citadel.
While many Ricks have re-adorned their labcoat as a symbol of their freedom, the action can be interpreted as a very dark gesture by those on the Citadel. There is an implication that Citadel Ricks wear the lab coat when they have nothing left to lose. The lab coat then becomes a public demonstration of Rick’s embracing of this idea.
R’s Scar reflects the scar of our Rick in Afterlife. Because they share a dimensional letter, my headcanon is that this event is a deviation point or crossroads for similar timelines. Where Afterlife Rick chose to become a runaway from an abusive household, this Rick chose to remain, and while young Rick in afterlife openly shares information about his scar, R is uncomfortable with Morty even acknowledging its existence.
Morty’s Rose-Tinted Glasses Disclaimer: In this fic, Morty is a victim of pervasive forms of abuse, and even as this chapter is told from his perspective, and carries a certain level of self-awareness, Morty is still an unreliable narrator who heavily romanticizes his thoughts and reflections when they involve his grandfather, and he will continue to do so. This fic is gonna explore this idea more as it progresses.
Canon-Not-Canon Phrases: Nearly every statement Rick says in chapter 12 (aside from a few obvious deviations) is a direct or slightly altered quote from the show. Of course, the context of these phrases changes their meaning greatly, and I cranked my own intended meaning in this fic right up to 11, but the intention was to use actual dialogue in the show as a lens to show how the close the canonical characters could be to this iteration.
Transference, and intentional similarities between R, Morty’s grandfather, and Ricks: This fic intentionally contrasts moments that are unsettlingly similar between R and Morty’s grandfather, to illustrate the emotional paranoia and confusion that follows many abusive relationships. The idea of transference is an interesting concept to explore with the Citadel because we are dealing with literal iterations of the same character, and Morty is constantly comparing the multiple versions for similarities and differences. When considering Morty’s attraction to Ricks in general, it questions how much of it is due to these similarities, and his grandfather’s grooming, and how much of it is Morty’s own decision-making. The cosmic horror leaves us with the question of how unique each iteration truly is. This fic is gonna dig into these ideas more as the fic progresses.
Morty's Anger: Especially Season 3 Morty expresses rage and anger issues. I wanted to have that character trait be present in this fic as well. I HC that Morty, in general, doesn't deal with shit until he explodes at his limit, unable to avoid it any longer.
Allen Encounter: Stories that explore consensual sex usually fall into cut-and-dry consensual (good) or non-consensual (bad) encounters. The question of consent in this fic gets messier when considering (underage) Morty’s grooming, and his attraction to Ricks, who are, essentially, variations of his grandfather. BUT I wanted (still underage) Morty’s encounter with Allen to highlight an instance of a consensual (as in Morty is choosing it for himself) experience that Morty leaves feeling negatively about. I think it’s important to also show that sex can be consensual, but can still be terrible sex, or in other words, consent does not automatically guarantee a good or healthy sexual experience or relationship.
Azulito, cielito lindo: The name R’s mother calls him by is the name for a bluebird, however, the direct translation is little blue, or baby blue. Bluebirds are symbolized as a harbinger of happiness and joy, and are often referenced in older depression era and wartime songs, either arriving, singing, or taking flight. They have also symbolized angels, or a prayer being sent or answered. Cielito lindo means beautiful little sky, or beautiful small heaven. Earlier in the fic, R calls Morty Rojito (Red Bean, or Little Red…) and sings Golden Slumbers to him. Morty wonders why most Ricks have stopped singing, and this chapter expands on the significance of R wanting to sing to a loved one, and what that means for him.
Spanish Surnames: A general Rick and Morty headcanon of mine in both TMTC and Afterlife is that R’s mother was the Spanish speaking family member, and his father was a military figure and eventual alcoholic veteran (crotchless Uncle Sam daddy issues). The Sanchez surname headcanon is that Rick claims only her surname, because of his long-standing hatred towards his father. Building onto this, as a child of the free-spirited ‘60s-’70s, he hates figures of authority and government.
“Mal tiempo, buena cara”, “Canta y no llores”, R’s smoke-tinted nostalgia: Similar to Morty's unreliable narration, R holds the memories of his mother as near-sacred. “Canta y no llores!” or “Sing and don’t cry!” is a nod to a traditional Spanish folk song, while “Mal tiempo, buena cara.”, “in bad times, a good face” or “put on a brave face” is used in reference to Peter Pan's adult Wendy, and her drawer of dreams. In context, these are really shitty advice of willful ignorance, but advice which R internalizes, and learns to live through his mother’s example, trying to follow it for his entire life. R being able to cry in Morty’s arms so openly carries a deep significance for his character.
R Describes the Summer of Love (1967) as his “First Love”: Kicked off on July 16-18th at the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967, and ending with the iconic Woodstock on August 14th -17th. In this story, and in my general headcanons for Rick Sanchez, R attended the Summer of Love in his early 20’s, and that was where he began to experiment with drugs and to develop a distaste for authority and government. Nearly all of the songs that will make an appearance in this fic were released during the peak of the psychedelic movement (1967-1971), with a special focus on this year.
Church, Religion, Worship, Sexuality, and Psychedelia: R calls his smoke room “Church”, playing with ideas of truth, spirituality, religion, and worship. Ideas of spiritualism, subverting it and challenging the existing ideas surrounding it, were a huge part of the psychedelic movement. We will see this theme play out more through the story and the song selections.
R often speaks in phrases and his actions carry double meaning or are sensually/sexually charged. Psychedelia heavily explored sexuality and the nature of reality in a way that defined the psychedelic movement of the 60s. My headcanon is that the Summer of Love was the most influential time in his life, and as a result, R, is a living embodiment of the ideas.
The Psychedelic Movement of the 60’s & Summer of Love:R finds escapism through drug use, existing in a state of disillusionment and detachment on the Citadel. I’m playing with the idea of "Turn on, tune in, drop out" originally a phrase popularized by Harvard professor turned acidhead and counterculture guru, Timothy Leary, in 1966 (Co-Author of The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead). The phrase kicked off the 1967 Summer of Love. Leary explained it in depth in a later essay: "Turn on" meant go within to activate your neural and genetic equipment. Become sensitive to the many and various levels of consciousness and the specific triggers that engage them. Drugs were one way to accomplish this end. "Tune in" meant interact harmoniously with the world around you – externalize, materialize, express your new internal perspectives. "Drop out" suggested an active, selective, graceful process of detachment from involuntary or unconscious commitments. "Drop Out" meant self-reliance, a discovery of one's singularity, a commitment to mobility, choice, and change. Its contemporary use focuses more on drug use as an escape; the phrase originally focused on metaphysical ideas that challenged perceptions of reality.
“We tread with bare feet on hallow ground”: Is a reference to spiritual practices of removing shoes when walking on sacred spaces as a sign of reverence.”
Absinthe DIY Bong: Van Gogh called absinthe, "The Green Faerie of Late Madness". It was an alcohol steeped in heavy ritualism, and held rumors of causing latent insanity among creatives. Leave it to R to make a DIY bong out of it and suggest chasing rabbits with it.
Drug use and the Doors of Perception: Ideas of perception, perspective, and subjectivity are big themes in this fic. While drug use is the most obvious theme, this fic will explore it in other ways as well.
R’s Sense of Touch & Sensory Experience: Skin absorption is a thing, but to what extent your skin/fingers can absorb THC oils is up for debate. R is a character who relishes sensory experience, elevating his engagement with them to a form of worship, and demanding conscious indulgence in their sensual aspects. His rituals surrounding music and drug usage reflect this, often equating the experience to sexual ecstasy.
The 4 virtues and 20 rules of thumb: go read it. It’s written in parabolic verse and is fantastic.
The Psychedelic Experience is an instruction manual intended for use during sessions involving psychedelic drugs. A contemporary version of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, authored by Timothy Leary (Turn on tune in, drop out guy), Ralph Metzner and Richard Alpert – all of whom took part in experiments investigating the therapeutic and religious possibilities of drugs such as mescaline, psilocybin and LSD – the book is dedicated to Aldous Huxley and includes a short introduction citation from Huxley's book The Doors of Perception. Part of this text was used by the Beatles in the song Tomorrow Never Knows.
The Doors of Perception: Ideas of perception, perspective, and the subjective experience of reality are big themes in this fic. See Ch 1 endnotes for Huxley, The Doors, and William Blake’s Poem.
R Equates Getting High to Turning On and Mindless Sex to Turning Off: This reflects the ideas behind the original phrase, "Turn on, tune in, drop out" popularized by Timothy Leary in 1966.
The Drug Effect: R Equates ecstasy to Truth: R believes that mind-altering substances allow one to more easily grasp the essence or truth of something, and defines the resulting experienced moment of awareness and understanding as reaching a state of ecstasy or nirvana. For him, ecstasy is a state of mind, rather than a sexual feeling. He goes on to talk about the drug effect, implying that one can use drugs to turn on or turn off, depending on their drug effect factors.
The word “angst” is existential: Soren Kierkegaard, a French existentialist, was the original philosopher who coined the term angst, deriving it from the word “anxiety”.
On Existential Choice, Eternal Anguish & Rick Sanchez: Satre said, “Existence precedes essence” in Existentialism is a Humanism, and this phrase became the fundamental tenet of his ideas. He elaborated on Rene Descartes’ idea of “I think therefore I am” and George Berkeley's “To be is to be perceived” saying, “I create myself through what I do, the choices I make in a world without fixed values. I am what I do. What heightens the anguish is that every sincere decision I take presents a picture of what I believe any human being should be like. In fashioning myself, I fashion humanity.”
Pessimism, Determinism & Free Will: Our Rick in this story, R, finds great comfort in choosing to live a ritualistic lifestyle, believing the choice is the only thing he has control over. He later pessimistically dismisses the idea of choice to also be an illusion. This fic will explore these ideas in future chapters. R, and Ricks in general are inherently pessimistic characters. Emil Cioran, a Romanian philosopher, unflinchingly explored the philosophy of pessimism. Concerning Society, he said, “What we want is not freedom but its appearances. It is for these simulacra that man has always striven. And since freedom, as has been said, is no more than a sensation, what difference is there between being free and believing ourselves free?”
The Illusion of Having a Self:R seems skeptical that he has an identity that is unique from his interdimensional counterparts, taking the existentialist perspective that we only ever have the illusion of having a self.
Pickle Rick & Existentialist Choice: In the Pickle Rick episode, Dr. Wong discusses the idea of choice, taking a French existentialist perspective. Summarizing it with a statement of living simply being a type of maintenance that some people are willing to show up to do the work for, while others are not.
Jean-Paul Sartre, a French existentialist who heavily explored the idea of choice, reached the conclusion that we are “condemned to be free” or, in other words, we are thrown into existence, become aware of ourselves, and have to make choices.
R attempts to separate himself from other Ricks and create some sort of meaningful experience in his life through self-aware ritualistic choice. Sartre and Simone De Beauvoir similarly suggested that the choice itself was the only meaningful thing that existence could offer; however, the ambiguity of having a choice was what caused endless anguish. They optimistically explored the beauty and meaning that could be created by exercising the choice itself.
Slow Dance With The Absurd Another French existentialist, Albert Camus encouraged people to slow dance with the absurd, and to laugh at meaninglessness. On exercising choice, his perspective was, "Kill yourself or have a cup of coffee, it doesn't matter either way.” What sounds pessimistic at first glance, offers an optimistic perspective, which is "The meaning of life is whatever keeps you from killing yourself - so you can find the meaning of life in anything." Thus, even the innocuous act of drinking coffee is an affirmation that life is worth living. Similarly, for Ricks living on the Citadel, that meaning is what R describes as their various forms of worship. Ricks embrace a "don't think about it" life of hedonistic excess, and I headcanon that Rick’s entire "Wubba lubba dub dub!" mentality reflects this idea; it's a satiric scream into the abyss.
Cioran on Worship, Ricks Living on in the Citadel: R, and Ricks in general, are inherently pessimistic. Emil Cioran, a Romanian philosopher, unflinchingly explored the philosophy of pessimism. Concerning religion, Cioran said, “Let us speak plainly: everything which keeps us from self-dissolution, every lie which protects us against our unbreathable certitudes is religious.” R believes that every Rick worships by telling themselves “Don’t think about it”. I’m playing with this idea, using R to explore it with Sartre's notion of the existential choice.
Gaze Into The Abyss: “And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.” is a popular quote by Friedrich Nietzsche from Beyond Good and Evil, that reflects many of his ideas surrounding Nihilism. Nihilism, another, more pessimistic exploration of existentialism. According to Nietzsche, it was never meant to be a place of permanence, but a threshold to cross. R is continuously forced to confront the abyss living with his infinite selves on the Citadel. Even while attempting to create meaning, he has a very pessimistic stance toward his efforts. My headcanon is that most Ricks inherently have these thoughts, but R makes a deliberate choice to be more self-aware about them, and as a result, is unable to find relief from them outside of Church and his recreational escapism (Playing into the very patterns of worship that he harshly judges other Ricks for participating in.)
Rolling a Pair of Dice Into a Black Hole: is a nod to the lecture by Stephen Hawking that explores gravity, black holes, chaos theory, and predictability. R attempts to control the predictability in his life but, when he decides to interact with Morty, in his mind the consequences are unpredictable.
R on Essentialism and Pessimism: R studies Ricks through a lens of essentialism, similarly to how we think of human nature in general. R argues that there are inherent qualities that are unchangeable within a Rick, himself included, while Morty suggests that R is “A different kind of Rick.”
While R’s perspective reflects a despairing pessimism – ideas of futility and inevitability towards his true nature, Morty presents a more optimistic point of view, and this fic will continue to explore how these character perspectives and philosophical viewpoints forward the plot.
Discovering Truth: This idea is very much in line with psychedelic ideas of spiritualism, but it can also be a loose interpretation of Plato's theory of forms: the idea of truth as a distilled essence or the “soul” of something. We can understand and recognize a “Rick” even if he is a Pickle Rick because he has an inherent Rick-ness; a bit more complicated, but this fic also poses the same questions about metaphysical ideas like love.
Omnipotence Paradox: Weird Rick has a god-complex the size of God’s ego, so naturally R would bring this classic philosophical thought experiment into a conversation. The Starry AU Has a Fic about him.
Radical Freedom, R’s Choices & Bad Faith: Weird Rick’s assertion that R could make a choice to start over on the Citadel is reflective of Sartre's notion of radical freedom, which asserted that everyone always has a choice, and every act is a free act, even the choice of death. He called mauvaise foi (“bad faith”), the habit that people have of deceiving themselves into thinking that they do not have the freedom to make choices for fear of the potential consequences of making a choice.
Much of R’s ritualistic behavior is a result of R participating in the illusion of giving himself control over his life through choice, but he believes hatred, specifically self-hatred and fear, are unchangeable cornerstones of his identity. Sartre might argue that R is making a choice in bad faith and that his self-hatred is as much of a blind ritual/addiction/worship as the rest of his behaviors – fully within his choice and control – R is just unable to see his own contradiction, fearing the responsibility of having to bear the burden of true choice.
Cioran On Madness, Suicide & the Philosophy of Pessimism: “The decision to kill yourself always arrives too late.” is a quote from Emil Cioran, a philosopher who explored pessimism, and believed the function of suicide ideation was to find relief in the potential that you could take your life at any given moment, therefore giving you control and choice over it. Note: Pessimism as a philosophy is not to be confused as the equivalent of suicide or depression.
Only optimists kill themselves: is a quote from Romanian philosopher of pessimism, Emil Cioran.
R’s is fundamentally pessimistic. His perspective is that all Ricks are so deplorably unethical, that the best thing they could do is embrace a collective suicide, or at the very least deny their nature. R’s attempt to use choice to control the kind of Rick he is, and remain self-aware and turn on, reflect his darkest ideas about his collective self.
R calls his loneliness on the Citadel a hedgehog's dilemma: This metaphor, used by both existentialist Arthur Schopenhauer and Sigmund Freud, explores the challenges of human intimacy. It describes a situation in which a group of hedgehogs seek to move close to one another to share warmth. They must remain apart, however, as they cannot avoid hurting one another with their sharp spines. Though they all share the intention of a close reciprocal relationship, this may not occur, for unavoidable reasons.
R is in a Prisoner’s Dilemma Towards His Infinite Selves on the Citadel: R believes that the most logical course of action for a Rick on the Citadel is to always assume bad faith in every other Rick, and benefit themselves at the others’ expense. Mortys present a wildcard in this Prisoners’ Dilemma scenario; R is unable to treat him in the same manner as a Rick, however, he can’t help but observe the effect other Ricks have had on Morty.
Kierkegaard’s Existentialist Leap of Faith: “Leap of faith – yes, but only after reflection.” Søren Kierkegaard, a theistic existentialist philosopher suggests that it is impossible to understand faith in times of happiness and that one can only experience true faith when at the end of rational thought. In a time of great suffering, there can be no rational source of hope or comfort, therefore, faith by virtue is described as a continuous choice to take the leap, despite the inherent irrationality of the action. Note: Faith in this context does not imply a belief in God, but emphasizes an individual faith in hoping, despite irrationality.
There is but one fundamental question of philosophy: In The Myth of Sisyphus, existentialist philosopher, Albert Camus argues that the only relevant question concerning existence is of suicide. Although he is speaking of a philosophical suicide, where one chooses to turn off or “not think about it.” He suggested that the absurd truth exists within juxtapositions, and that contradiction must be a lived experience. At the cost of comfort, one must continuously embrace the inherently contradictory nature of existence and “slow dance with the absurd.” Such a life requires constant confrontation and revolt in what Chamus calls the most beautiful act of rebellion.
Chamus also presents the idea of “Kill yourself or have a cup of coffee.” suggesting, paradoxically, that the meaning of life can be affirmed by that which gives your life meaning. Or when nothing matters, everything can subjectively matter.
The lyricism of negative possibility: Nod to Eugene Thacker, a contemporary philosopher, who studied the idea of cosmic pessimism and published a collection of thoughts on the subject. In it, he explores the strange recurring connection between existentialist philosophers and their deep love of music that borders on idolatry.
Gazing into the abyss is only a threshold: According to Nietzsche, the abyss was never meant to be a place of permanence, but a threshold to cross, at the other side of the threshold is a re-evaluation of fundamental values. A paradigmatic shift of one's character. This fic plays with the idea of the Dark Side of the Moon being a physical manifestation of this philosophical space, and Church, the space where each of our characters renews a sense of meaning.
Falling in love as an act of suicide: R uses Kierkegaard's leap of faith to draw parallels between choosing to fall in love and choosing to commit suicide. He equates the concept of faith to a hope or prayer that the risk of jumping into the unknown will pay off. This chapter calls back to Dark Side of The Moon in chapter 4 and suggests that the idea of crossing over the edge of madness, like light passing through the prism is a metaphorical leap of faith. Here the concept of change is played with as a form of metaphysical or philosophical death.
Falling in love as a surrender of self: Alan Watts (1915–1973) was a British-American philosopher who interpreted and popularised Eastern philosophy for a Western audience. In contrast to Timothy Leary (Turn on, Tune in, Drop Out) who focused on the paradigmatic shift and ego-death that occurs when using psychedelics, Alan, explored the psychedelic movement not with a with a focus on mind-altering substances, but on the search for spirituality, delving into the emotional and psychological condition of individuals who used psychedelics, and how that influenced the “free love” movements.
Jay and Silent Bob: Rick and Silent Morty are a complete nod to Jay and Silent Bob. Their conversation was right out of this scene from Clerks II. Their creator, Kevin Smith, stated that he sees Jay as ambisexual.
37 Dicks in a row: Nod to popular quote from Clerks. This movie, written by Kevin Smith (Silent Bob), was the cult classic that introduced the characters Jay and Silent Bob. In our fic, Rick tells Music Morty that he is on the “road to recovery” this is a nod to Jay and Silent Bob’s actors, Kevin and Jayson. Jayson struggled with a lifetime heroin addiction, and Kevin remained his friend and support system through all of it.
"Mostly Void, Partially Stars" is a nod to one of my fav podcasts, Welcome to Night Vale.
History of Corner Stores and Bodegas: In Central and South America, and the Caribbean, they have bodegas on every corner to serve the poor but are iconic for becoming centers of their communities. It’s unique that supermarkets have not been able to put the bodega owner out of business. “Bodega” is also used as a colloquialism for a crime scene (R often refers to Rick and Silent Morty’s backpack bodega) “
Dan Harmon is a Belieber and hates capitalism.
This Is Water: A lot of R’s thoughts about living a self-aware life are nods to this amazing speech by David Foster Wallace. DFW struggled through a lifetime of mental illness and eventually took his own life.
“Only smart enough to have problems, not smart enough to fix them.” Is a nod to “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” It's Kind of a Funny Story is a 2006 novel by American author Ned Vizzini. The book was inspired by Vizzini's own brief hospitalization for depression in November 2004. Ned Vizzini later committed suicide in 2013.
R says he’s living a Catch 22: “I’m just sane enough to know I’m not well.” This is a reference to the 1961 novel by Joseph Heller. Catch-22 is a military rule typifying bureaucratic operation and reasoning. The rule is that if one is crazy, one does not have to fly missions, and one must be crazy to fly. But one has to apply to be excused, and applying demonstrates that one is not crazy. As a result, one must continue flying, regardless. One of the characters, Orr, fakes his death to escape war. Catch-22 became very popular among teenagers at the time, embodying the feelings that young people had toward the Vietnam War.
R relates his life on the Citadel, and his resulting mental health, as a similar paradox.
R References John Lennon’s Assassination: J. D. Salinger, a Returned war veteran and an American author known best for his novel The Catcher in the Rye, explores loss of innocence, existentialism, identity, belonging, alienation, loss, and connection. After fatally shooting John Lennon, his assassin, Mark David Chapman was arrested with a copy of the book that he had purchased that same day, inside of which he had written: "To Holden Caulfield, From Holden Caulfield, This is my statement".
R says that Holden/Salinger couldn't figure out how to become a “catcher in the rye”, which is a reference to Holden’s fantastical desire to act as a guardian, and protect children from losing their innocence and growing up. R is much more pessimistic than Salinger, and views Mortys and their innocence through a similar lens of grief. Where Salinger optimistically sees beauty in the continual return to innocence, R sees a cycle that pointlessly spins, and blames Ricks for forcing Mortys to grow up too quickly.
The Smell of Mustard Gas and Roses: This is a nod to one of my favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut. This motif/phrase is from Slaughterhouse 5 . The imagery is referencing the traumatic experience of war, specifically burning bodies which had just been bombed. Contextually, it was a phrase used to describe a drunkard’s breath, but with a heavily romanticized tone that correlates the meaning to that of war and traumatic experience. I really thought that it was a beautiful metaphor to use for Morty and his grandfather because TMTC very much plays with the themes of fire and trauma. Vonnegut’s purpose in using repetitive, specific imagery and phrasing is to connect ideas/scenes, to keep the focus on those ideas.
“The tab for seven dollar shots caps at seventy”: is a biblical reference where Jesus said church members should forgive each other “seventy times seven” or 490 times, a number that symbolizes boundlessness. R references a running tab of what he sees as unforgivable sins (all falling into the category of self-desecration), and questions whether forgiveness should have conditions or limits. Crowbar Rick cleverly makes a reference to this, seven dollar beers and the seven deadly sins.
Sunshine and Blue Roses (1978) & R refers to the Citadel as a glass menagerie: In reference to the depressing play by Tennessee Williams, with themes of mental illness and escapism. Laura, the mentally-ill, melancholic young woman, heavily fixates on the nature of her glass figurines and is called Blue Roses by her love interest. R, similarly, fixates on his self-reflection, and sarcastically references a song, by the Cathedrals, which was the origin of the phrase “Everything is Sunshine and Roses.”
Most of R's songs in this fic were released between 1967-1971 (The Summer of Love). Rhianna is a big focus for Music Morty's songs.