Testimony of Ian Van Tuyl, Author of Popstrology

Some people go through life like they've got all the answers, but I never did. Like a lot of people, I spent my childhood growing and nurturing a wide range of neuroses and insecurities, and I entered adulthood lacking both a plan and a guiding philosophy. At times I wished that religion had been a bigger part of my upbringing, but even if it had been, I think I still would have been troubled by questions that fell outside the spiritual realm. What was I meant to do with my life? How was I to find true love and know that I'd found it when I did? I was raised near the epicenter of the New Age movement, so I did not lack for exposure to belief systems that might have provided me with some answers, but I was also raised by an electrical engineer, and the hyper-rational frame of mind this instilled in me always trumped my desire to believe in any of those systems.

And then one day I came upon a piece of information that changed my life. I discovered that on the day I was born -- January 24, 1967 -- the #1 song in America was I'm A Believer, by the Monkees. On an intellectual level, I wasn't exactly sure what to make of this fact, but I knew in my gut that there was something deeply, even disturbingly right about it. It wasn't just that I could look at Michael Nesmith and Mickey Dolenz and see in them little pieces of myself, and it wasn't just that I shared a birthday with Neil Diamond, the man who wrote I'm A Believer. It was that so much of what defined me -- my strengths, my weaknesses, my struggles -- made perfect sense when viewed against the backdrop of the enterprise that launched the wholly artificial, yet clearly irresistible Monkees. I began to ponder the implications of being born at a moment when America threw its embrace around a made-for-television rip-off of the most important group in pop-music history, and suddenly the pieces started falling into place.

Why was I so obsessed with originality? Why did I have trouble taking many important things seriously? And why did my occasional moments of originality yield things that many people would never consider taking seriously? My head was spinning and my hands were shaking as I realized that the answer to these nagging questions lay in my response to the powerful sonic and psychic vibrations that penetrated my soft little skull at the moment I entered the world. I wasn't just born to the sound of the Monkees -- I was a Monkee, and with that realization, a sense of peace and comfort settled over me that I'd never experienced before. Of course I was a Monkee. I'd spent a large part of my adolescence trying to act as if I were a Beatle or a Rolling Stone, but the fact is that I was born at a moment when America was throwing its record-buying dollars and its collective psychic energies behind an entity that was those groups' antithesis, and it was high time I learned to live with it.

The process by which my personal moment of clarity led to the fully realized science of popstrology is somewhat murky even to me. Was it a matter of seconds, or was it a matter of months before I realized that I had tripped upon something much bigger than myself? All I can say for certain is that the science of the pop stars seemed to emerge fully formed once I began to look at the world through a popstrological lens. The dawn of Elvis Presley as the Big Bang that opened the popstrological era, and the twilight of Richard Marx as the quiet whimper that closed it thirty-three and a third years later, the 450 stars in the popstrological firmament, and the forty-five constellations into which they fall -- these structures were revealed to me in what seemed like a mere instant, and their interpretive power was undeniable. Learning that Courtney Love was born under the influence of the #1 song I Get Around nearly convinced me I'd discovered something real, and learning that Kurt Cobain was born under the #1 song Kind Of A Drag sealed it.

It wasn't just myself that I could understand better through the science of popstrology, I realized -- it was my friends, my loved ones, and everyone around me. Where once I saw each of them as an utterly unique bundle of gifts, contradictions, and idiosyncrasies, I now saw them as quintessential Double Beatles, blameless Carly Simons, and stubbornly oppositional Breads. And most gratifying of all, I found that when I began to introduce others to their popstrological identities, they made leaps of insight I'd never have been capable of making myself, and so popstrology began to spread, and its methodology began to take shape.

Popstrology is a powerful and flexible science, and where its adherents take it in the years ahead is anyone's guess. This book represents a mere scratch at the surface of popstrology's potential, and if its insights are someday replaced by those of an entirely new school of popstrological thought, so be it. The important thing is simply that we acknowledge the power of the pop stars to shape our mortal lives, and that we open ourselves to the lessons the pop stars have to teach us.

2004 All rights reserved. "Popstrology" is a trademark of Ian Van Tuyl.

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