So.. yesterday I was thinking…. thinking about the different ways that people seem to seek pleasure and/or what kinds of stimulation seems to be their preferred choice.
As such, one of the easiest–and also often very accurate–ways to summarize this phenomenon is to think of the classic phrase of “Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll..” I say this because as I’ve observed and interacted with people, it always struck me how powerful–or not–certain kinds of pleasure were to them and how their particular pleasure preferences did or did not match up with mine.
Let me say–at first–I just assumed that everyone was into sex as much as I was. That’s what always drove me and what I always sought out long before anything else.
I did it all for the nookie.
However, I discovered in college–or at least started noticing–that this was not the case with everyone. In particular, I realized that there were people who were far more interested in drugs than in the opposite sex (or the same sex as I was finally made aware..)–and that kind of blew my mind.
How could that be? Why would you want to imbibe some substance more than making out with someone… or to be just a bit more subtle about this since nothing is absolute in life–how could it be that obtaining and using a substance seemed to take a higher priority in one’s life than engaging in hot, raunchy sex!
It took me a while to fathom this.
In any case–it was a while later–mainly because it took me a while to really observe people in great detail and to focus my analytical powers on their behavior–that I also observed other kinds of priorities. For example, I finally noticed that–more than drugs or sex–some people found pleasure by obtaining and basking in the attention of others. Now perhaps that sounds bad, but I don’t mean it as such necessarily. In some people, attention seeking is quite obnoxious and there are more than enough attention hogs and whores out there… but there are also people who just like putting on a show for others and who become really connected with others when they can create a situation where they get people’s attention and give them something in return.
This is where the “Rock & Roll” aspect comes in–for while it may not be 100% accurate as a label in this context–it’s pretty close. The process of Rock & Roll is not just about music–but about the show and about the audience and about how people focus attention to something….
Now.. as I thought about these things yesterday my mind started visualizing them and sketching out their relationships… and then it started adding in other concepts.. trying to map where they fit into the scheme my brain was fleshing out..
What I came up with is this:
Now.. after I set up the circle with Sex/Drugs/Rock & Roll–I tried to flesh out a bit more what might fall between them and what sort of range of experience was embodied in these relationships. I picked the pie chart, for example–because I don’t think these things are on a linear continuum or that they are necessarily separate from each other. I think they are three possible (and prominent) aspects of pleasure that humans experience and that they share commonalities between them as well as differences.
For example–Drugs and Sex are definitely different things–to me at least–but they are both aspects that are intimately tied to the body itself. They involve the chemical pathways that create pleasure in the body by means of material elements–whether from an external chemical that is imbibed–or by the physical practice of getting it on… Our bodies and the sensations that course through them are what unites these two things…
In addition–as I threw into the diagram later–I think food fits in between these two someplace… as food can be very sensual and is often related to sex in various ways–but it is also often called a drug–and it can function in that manner also.
In comparison–between Sex and Rock & Roll–I think the commonality comes from movement and music and that’s where dancing falls. On the one hand–dancing is directly connected to Rock & Roll–it is what part of the main goals of Rock&Roll is! On the other hand–and perhaps this is just my thing–dancing is a lot like sex to me. It’s one of my most common metaphors for sex and I will consciously judge/assume that how someone dances is likely to be how they are in bed.
In my empirical tests of this theory–it’s proven to be remarkably true far more often than not. Poor dancers tend to not know their bodies well whereas beautiful dancers are far more in touch with themselves and both of these play out similarly in bed. Importantly–the metaphor seems to work the more you extend it–dancers who are enthusiastic, but klutzy, are often similarly precocious and inexperienced in the nookie sphere..
Anyway–you can take this further–but the overall thing that unites Sex and Rock&Roll is the goal of communication and connection. Both of these pleasures relate to practices and processes of expression that are common to humans and are often used to unite them. These processes may be physical or mental–but they usually are active and social in nature…
Now.. I’ve spoken about these two communal areas first because they are the ones I feel most comfortable in. As I’ve noted–my primary pleasure priority has always been sex–but as I grew older–the realms of dance and food have become important areas of my experience. Learning to dance in my early 20’s on the goth/industrial monday nights at the local gay club(the only place we had!) and also learning to cook well(it’s where I get to be creative!)–and becoming proficient at both of these things–pretty much describes a lot of the joy I find in life. These are the things that I have striven to master–and they are ways that I cut loose and take pleasure in the world.
In contrast, I am far less at home and familiar with the intersection of drugs and rock&roll and am honestly on much shakier ground there. I would argue that there is definitely a realm of commonality between the two–and that the commonality deals with the mental states that these two things can create in people. In the picture–I noted this as “Altered States & ???? ” because I’m not sure how else to describe what goes on here–as it’s not really something that I intuitively grok or relate to all that much… I can understand intellectually how people would seek such a space out–and I do also think that religion very often describes the kind of phenomenon that goes on here–that it has aspects of the pleasure created by drug use–but also is deeply connected with the focussing of attention between a group and certain individuals by means of a particular medium of communication (music/speech/art/etc..) that is so central to Rock & Roll… In any case–it is very important in this area that consciousness is changed/tuned/altered and that this is what is so unique and important for people who seek this out…
In any case, I can also note that I’ve never really been a religious person. I don’t get it. I don’t connect to people in that way and I don’t really understand how that all works. I’m not someone to seek out and lose myself in an altered state of consciousness very easily…
If people have comments or feedback about this area–I’m all ears and welcome it.
Finally–I just wanted to remark about one last perception that I gleaned from making this chart. Namely, that if you look at the items that appear “opposite” of the main categories of “Sex/Drugs/Rock&Roll”–there are some interesting relationships that crop up. For example–how sex relates–or doesn’t–to religion seems important. Some religions try to repress sexuality and therefore take the energy it creates and use it for their own ends–whereas others employ sexuality within their practices to reinforce their ideas. Similarly–the relationship between Drugs and Dancing also has a similar kind of either/or dynamic. Some kinds of dancing are deeply tied with drugs–either illegal ones (ecstasy) or legal ones (drinking)–while other kinds of more formal dancing–usually require an absence of drugs or are greatly diminished by them.
Finally–the Rock&Roll/Food connection. This is the one place the connections seem to fall a little flat, but the aspect where they are similar is that both are something that is consumed in an immediate and experiential manner. Reading about Rock & Roll or about food in the abstract is not the same as being there at a concert or eating something. The main difference, however, seems to be that the power of each comes from a different place–Food is material sustenance that we incorporate into our bodies, whereas music and Rock & Roll are much more of a mental phenomenon that we use to color and shade our mental experience of reality. Both are consumed–but each satisfies different needs.
In any case–those are my thoughts on this. As I noted earlier–I welcome thoughts or comments.