I spent the best part of today falling down a Google rabbit hole for the artist Mac Miller, real name Malcolm James McCormick, who tragically passed away last week from a suspected overdose. The first words that stopped me in my tracks were ‘Divine Feminine’, but the cryptically named album has little to do with femininity, or indeed the divine. Instead it seems to me a painful depiction of love addiction, and now it hurts to listen.
“They told me never fall in love, it never works out in your favour. You’re way too young, and right now that’s just human nature.” Malcolm James McCormick, aka Mac Miller
Love addiction is a strange sort of self-sacrifice. I suppose it’s a form of spiritual self-harm as you push yourself down so far from your lover’s pedestal you’re forever slipping up to climb back. It is indulgent and painful and it sucks you in but the dirty truth that this type of ‘oblivion’ feels so good is why it can’t help being a little alluring and divine. Which is, of course, why it is so lethal.
Mac Miller’s latest and (tragically) final album, Swimming, focuses more on the withdrawals of love addiction, in particular, the track Self Care. And there is an irony in the idea of self care when withdrawing from intense sexual love. One which you can probably only see the humour in if you feel things that deeply.
Self-care is a hot topic right now as we all struggle to cope with a hyped-up digital pace – but this is an anthem that turned sour. The song of a man tripping on sexual energy because he can’t connect to it fully – he just can’t merge into it, which is the only way a love addict in active addiction can feel complete.
This is the tragedy, of course. You can’t ever merge completely with anything. Maybe not until death. And this subject matter is what turned Mac Miller into a top tier artist. I guess that now Mac Miller, and his music, have become iconic.
Sex will make you high. The energetic exchange that pulses and promises to connect you to a higher realm instead turns dark, and gorgeous, and mysterious – like the song, it is stuffy and submerging – an intoxicating play on both heaven and hell. The irony is that after sex and love comes withdrawal, and the emotional pain hits you on a whole different level to drug withdrawal – you don’t really care that you’re dying… any more.
Mac Miller was an artist – a poet who languished in his indulgent narcotic numbing of intense sexual feelings. Not love – codependency, the root of all addiction and the belief you just can’t survive – you can’t even live without something or someone to carry you through.
This is displayed in the video for Self Care (shown below) which involves Mac calmly making his way out of a coffin as he puffs on a cigarette. Maybe the joke is that it doesn’t actually matter whether he escapes the coffin – he will still be proverbially stuck inside it. There’s a bitter humour there – as there is throughout his work. The self care he needs comes in the form of drugged up oblivion – of losing himself and his pain, only inevitably to gain more pain.
He carves ‘remember we must all die’ in Latin, before further carving his way out.
The depression is almost catatonic. A contrast to the anxiety and agony of withdrawing from love. ‘Feeling like you’re hot enough to melt.’ The shock and trauma of withdrawing from love is no joke, but it’s also evocative of an overdose.
“You remind me of the colour blue
Girl I’m so in love with you
You were everything I ever wanted
Feelings that we had were so alarming”
An addiction to sex can manifest in two ways – the first is emotional, soul-destroying sex, the second emotionless, soul-destroying sex. Of course, the emotional variety is much more devastating because rather than left feeling empty and dirty, you’re left feeling abandoned and destroyed, gasping for air as though you can no longer breathe, as though your vital organs, your lungs, your heart, your skin have been meticulously yet clinically removed.
Both Self-care and the Divine Feminine are influenced by his ex girlfriend of two years, who broke up with him a few months ago and is now engaged to someone else. This intensely sexual person, Ariana Grande, whose most recent tour (coined ‘Dangerous Woman’) culminated in the Manchester bombing which killed 22.
It was Picasso, who once said: “There are only two types of women — goddesses and doormats.” But I guess the question a lot of people are asking is, what does it really mean to be a ‘dangerous’ woman? Sexy, powerful, modern? The real meaning probably lies in the power, and if you’ve got it, you’ll get the burden that comes with it. It comes with immense responsibility. You need to be careful with sexual energy – that shit is powerful.
“I’ve been way to high for way too long i’m exhausted” he slurs. That sort of intensity of love… if you have it, and there are things that drive you apart – busy schedule, drugs, other people, then of course the break up is like death. Worse than death.
A ‘dangerous woman’ in bunny ears, Ariana Grande is pure sexual energy. This energy is the most powerful source of energy… it is life itself. The real divine feminine, of course, that both brings life to creation and also to its end. And although Mac Miller’s death was in no way Ariana’s fault, the chain of events that followed their ‘toxic relationship’ led to his death.
Altered states are associated with the sacred feminine. Divine Feminine isn’t just an intensely sexual album, it’s total infatuation. This extreme of sexuality is perfection, sexual energy in its most glorious and beautiful and vibrant and climactic form, but this energy also needs a proper reign, and a respect and knowledge of its power.
In this case it is the artist’s joke, because the toughest reality for a love addict to have to face isn’t losing the one they love. It is learning that all of this ‘love’ they are dying over is actually an illusion. That is truly heartbreaking. That realisation is when the real self-care begins.