There is always a truth behind the truth, a reality behind all visible reality, one that no one wants to confront. The dark side of the moon, the deepest deep of the darkest ocean. It’s there, but we actively ignore it. It’s too painful. We rather stay at the surface, where everything feels safe. If we don’t look, it might not even be there. Every now and then something comes to the surface. We treat it like debris, waste, not worth our attention.
As I write these words I find myself in exactly that situation. For weeks I’m trying to write a story about Ian Curtis’ suicide, but all my attempts only seem to move me farther away from something concrete. The story refuses to reveal itself because there is something in me, in the way I look at this tragedy, that keeps it hidden. Collecting more information doesn’t help because deep down I know it’s all a matter of simplicity and courage. I don’t want to know the details of his death, it’s like opening a bottle of wine or buying a pack of cigarettes, the first step leads to the next and before you know it you’re staring at an empty bottle or a full ashtray.
Does it help me that he listened to Iggy Pop’s ‘The Idiot’ that night? Not for me, not with my brain. it only leads to more questions, questions I don’t want to think about, of increasingly ridiculous nature. Did he listen to side A or side B? To the full album or just one side? Did he end his life while listening to it or afterwards? But why was the record than still spinning in the morning? Did he do it during his favourite song? Was it the same as mine, was it ‘Sister Midnight’?
Here’s the real story, the only one relevant to me. Ian Curtis was already dead when I first listened to Joy Division. There is no before and after in my world, no sequence of events, just a simple, static truth. This 23 year old man became both my anchor in the past and my aim for the future. His darkness created my light, because…where there’s darkness…there must be light. Hardly coincidental that on a beautiful day in May 1985 I took the train to Amsterdam to buy myself a pair of black army pants, and two Joy Division singles: Transmission and Love will tear us apart. Was there anything more to be desired?