And so selfish.
(And so when one is doing rock criticism one gets
to the point where one would just like to emit an
And so I could place Joy Division in that order.
And so I could not.
And so I could write – with intention – about Joy
Division’s central role in it all, the it all of rock et al, and yet
how they are also so off – centre: but then to be so central
to the story they have to be off centre as well, because
the central beauty of pure rock is that it is off – centre.
If they were just central they would not be central: that
would be too banal for words. They must be off centre to
be central, to be properly obvious and mysterious, to be
(in the skipped beat of a missing moment) enigmatic.
And so they are.
And so good.
And so moving on from the centre where we have
placed them off – centre in the history of (rock) things, the
myth still rises, and obscures, and provokes.
And so I was just thinking.
And so their music could form a soundtrack for Godard
or Bergman or Fassbinder or Wenders or (...) Herzog. It
could worm through the words of Sterling or Gibson, and it
could buzz around the up-sense and down-data of Ballard
or Burroughs. And it could be called cyberpunk or cyber-
phunk, perhaps their one true location is lost in cyber-
space, they're scattered, vastly out there, intimately in here,
and they’re as hyperreal as the next hyperreal thing and
imagine how hyperreal that is, and girl oh girl are they ever
so hypersensitive. There was something (the way they got
the human spirit dancing on the end of pins and needles,
the way they didn’t smile much in public, the way they
could evoke derangement with such cool clarity, the way
they wore their second hand clothes, the way there was
something cruel lurking behind the beauty) about them
that was ancient and, so, gothic (1548 and all that). They
were postmodern (postmodern as something atmospheric,
something bored and fanatical, a volatile mix of this, that
and the approximate other, fraught with an eerie, brittle
significance) from the moment – if not the moment before,
but let’s not get too date specific at a time like this – they
facelessly if not namelessly produced ‘Unknown Pleasures’
and said that they were waiting for some guy to come and
take them by the hand and there were these gulping black
noises and squirming off white sub – noises going on way
out beyond their realish rock that sounded like they were
giving birth or operating on themselves and yes Joy
Division’s music could form a soundtrack for Lynch but not
Tarantino oh no that’s the point Joy Division never had any
intention of wanting to cut The Universe down to size.
They love – and hate but with respect – the size of The
Universe. The size of the Universe is everything. And so
the size is in the details. And one of the great things
(count the things) about Joy Division is their appreciation
of size and their attention to detail.
And so I suppose. And so believe me it was as if,
whether they intended this or not, they were trying to warn
us about dangers to avoid.
And so according to Joy Division whether they knew
it or not nothing is neutral nothing is impotent in the
universe an atom may ruin all an atom may ransom all.
And so you wake up frightened with the feeling of having
overslept. And so they made us think of another separate
world that maniacs and exiles invent when the normal
everyday world seems impossible. And so the mood
And so then there were the writings of Ian Curtis, who
was underground by the time he was 23, and he wrote
these overloaded and penetrating autobiographical frag-
ments, these notes and notices from the above ground
underground, these tensing of the senses, that seem to
come from the life of someone who lived so much more
than twenty years and a bit. Something was concentrating
his mind dramatically. It was like he suspected it – the all
embracing it, the it of all its – was coming to end one way
or another sooner rather than later. Even without having all
that I’ve mentioned – their off centred centrality, their
essence–ness, their zero, matrix, symbolic status – Ian
Curtis’s impressions and depressions would have lifted Joy
Division into greatness. He sang from the knife edge with
a kind of suave sordid middle of the road disconnected-
ness. He sang suffering with an almost tender listlessness.
He put this awkward but handsome spin on despair.