In this blog, I write as a music fan as well as a sexologist and erotologist. Sexology, you see, is the study of “what people do and how they feel about it.” Erotology is the study of intentionally erotic and erotically charged artistic, literary, and musical creation. And to me, nothing is more evocative of what we sexually do and feel than rock music of all persuasions.
I open this blog with a homage to Adam Ant, who is set to tour the United States in 2012. I, for one, can’t wait! I’ve always considered Adam Ant to be one of the more audacious explorers of sex and gender (as well as an amazing performer), and though he sometimes seems to burn his neurology at both ends, no shame to him! When you take on that much sexual energy and bring that much variety in gender personae into the spotlight, you attract a relentless feeding frenzy, and receive zero understanding, support, or wisdom from the culture. So people like Adam Ant function as modern heroes (and lightning rods!) as they hang their whole selves out on the line for excruciating scrutiny, and work the moment for all it’s worth. Ant is obviously not the only one to do this – Michael Jackson also comes to mind – but he happens to be one of my faves. Plus, he was born just two days after I was, so I have a sort of “big sis” soft spot for this younger Scorpio “brother.” From afar, I wish him well. And I think there are a tremendous number of fans who feel exactly the same way.
So, I want to hearken back to the distinct feeling I had the night of the Kings of the Wild Frontier concert, in San Francisco, whenever that was – back in the 1980s. I had just gone through my first bewildering, spiritual epiphany which also seemed to consist of a wild unleashing of kundalini energy (though I didn’t know it then). This became a profoundly creative period for me, as well as a somewhat overly sensitive one. I use the word “sensitive” in the sense that I was also picking up “vibes” from all over, in that good ole’ California way, and it was almost, almost too much. Fortunately, the intellectual side of what I was doing helped to hold me together during that time. But smack dab in the middle of it, there I was at the Ant concert and Adam Ant blew me away. It wasn’t just the music, or his wonderfully riveting and sexy performance – it was the energy behind it. I had this awfully strange feeling that he was someone who had experienced something similar to my whatever-it-was epiphany and I also had the feeling he was having a bit of a hard time grappling with his whatever-it-was when he wasn’t on stage. I know now that when something like this happens outside your cultural context, it can be overwhelming, even to the extent of causing mental or spiritual emergencies which will be inevitably misinterpreted or misdiagnosed.
I have no way of knowing if my perceptions were correct. And of course part of the appeal of famous people is that they become a sort of fantasy mirror for the people who need such reflections. Sure, I could have been reading a lot into this “energy” because I sought the same kind of oneness with the performance and performer as everyone else at the concert.
But when I watch and examine music videos, and from what I’ve read of Adam Ant’s career since that night in San Francisco, I just can’t help thinking of a strange book by Gopi Krishna, Kundalini – The Evolutionary Energy in Man. It’s a truly terrifying book because this poor man – already adept at yogic practices – experienced a spontaneous and ultimately exhausting kundalini surge for months and the energy just wouldn’t shut up! Finally he happened upon a meditative practice that got the stuff flowing in the right channel and was able to be at peace again. But he almost didn’t make it. Krishna writes:
“The sudden awakening of Kundalini in one whose nervous system has reached the ripe state of development as a result of favorable heredity, correct mode of living, and proper mental application, is often liable to create a most bewildering effect on the mind.”
Notice that Krishna writes of someone who is resilient due to heredity, etc., but what of those who are taken by surprise without these advantages or inner resilience, or who have, as Adam Ant is said to have, a history of bi-polar episodes and suicidality? I also know from experience how rough this Kundalini stuff can get. Years after the era of the “Wild Frontier” concert, I experienced another spontaneous energy/epiphany episode. This one turned out to be a 10-month Kundalini slamdunk. I only got through it by focusing on my children, but it was rocky, very rocky all the same. If I had been in a different life situation, something more precarious, I don’t know what would have happened. I hadn’t yet begun to explore Tantra and had no knowledge of spiritual practices that could have helped control and contain what was essentially a spontaneously-ignited initiatory process.
And so, from a Tantric or shamanic viewpoint, I wonder about certain public figures, including rock musicians, who may become the lightning rods not just of public adoration but for their own template of energy. Perhaps the famous propensity for “self-medication” (sex and drugs and rock and roll) are – at times – efforts to dampen and dull the painful, excruciating, erotic, and powerfully creative chaos of Shakti Kundalini, she who seeks union with Shiva, the personification of cosmic consciousness.
That’s one way to put it anyhow. Or there’s that line from Repo Man, something like “people just explode, it happens”).
Fortunately, I can put it a lot of different ways. I am a sexologist, erotologist, tantrika, writer, artist, and a bunch of other things (though emphatically not a psychologist). I can select from a wide assortment of lenses as I write in this blog. But there’s one thing that’s more important to me than any intellectual construction or process of musing – and that’s the sheer enjoyment of the music, the performances, and my admiration of the people who create vehicles for “what I do and how I feel about it.”
And that goes double for Adam Ant. As he tours the UK, Australia, and the US this year, I hope he can “maintain an even strain.” May he live long and prosper!