Sunday, September 10, 2006

Suicide, the loudest silence: Ian Curtis

Ian Curtis, frontman of the post punk electronic band, Joy Division, took his life on the 18th of May, 1980. I had just turned eight. I remember that month well. Aside from it being my first birthday in Utah, I had just made new friends. I thought I was all grown up because I could ride my sister's big ten-speed bike. I had no clue about Ian or his group, Joy Division. I had no idea that a man who killed himself, while I was discovering secrets in the shady, wooded foothills, would help me later in life discover secrets in the dark forest of my soul.

There are pics on the web of him hanging from an electrical cord in his kitchen. They are rather disturbing and I will not sink to that level. He had Iggy Pop's "The Idiot" on his record player and a cut out pic of a grey sky lying on the album cover. The pic was one of David Horvitz's.

The last song he performed live was "Digital". Just a few verses:

"Feel it closing in; the fear of whom I call; every time I call; I feel it closing in; day in, day out."

Who was Ian, besides an artist?

He was a husband to Deborah. While they started out happy, eventually Deborah wanted a divorce. She felt his recurring themes in his songs were solely about him and she could not bear to share that load. Ian always stated that his songs were more than just his feelings. He wrote those songs for the many alienated souls that he felt he was tapped into. I feel that the rejection he experienced through Deborah's misunderstanding was a heavy blow to Ian. While maybe not the sole reason for his suicide, it surely didn't help.

He was a father:

A little girl left behind: Natalie.

Now all grown up and bearing her father's likeness and ever the artist, herself.

I listen to "The Eternal":

Procession moves on, the shouting is over
Praise to the glory of loved ones now gone
Talking aloud as they sit round there tables
Scattering flowers washed down by the rain
Stood by the gate at the foot of the garden
Watching them pass like clouds in the sky
Try to cry out in the heat of the moment
Possessed by a fury that burns from inside
Cry like a child, though these years make me older
With children my time is so wastefully spent
A burden to keep, though their inner communion
Accept like a curse an unlucky deal
Played by the gate at the foot of the garden
My view stretches out from the fence to the wall
No words could explain, no actions determine
Just watching the trees and the leaves as they fall.


Pokey said...

There is no way I could ever commit suicide if I were a parent. I would want to live for my child. But I also understand that life sucks. It is sad he was gone before his time.

The Grunt said...

Hey, Pokey, good to see you over here. Suicide is horrendous. I do not condone or glamorize it. I hope that through some more of these posts, people will be even more aware of the problem of suicide.

Anonymous said...

I am sure there many reasons why he didnt see a way out, yet no way to go. I was only one when he passed away and I grew up Listening to new order without knowing its beginings. I love the lirics of joy division but at the same time they make me sad because they were a cry for help. Regardless ian managed to touch me from beyond, I just wish he would off being able to fight his demons. :(

Anonymous said...

Hi, I think it is really moving that people find time to write about Ian Curtis. However there is that much myth surrounding his suicide that to come to the conclusion he killed himself due to his wife misundrstanding his lyrics is strange to say the least.
The truth is no-one will ever know what happened that night, It died with him.
Rest in peace

Anonymous said...

After watching the movie "Control" and reading the opinions of those close to him, I don't think Deborah's misunderstanding of the lyrics had any relation to his suicide.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention the fact that Ian had been cheating on his wife. That's why she wanted a divorce. He was already writing tormented lyrics which indicates that before he had problems in his love life he had emotional problems. That compounded with his health issues probably led to his demise, not his wife leaving him.

Anonymous said...

Ian was having an affair with Annik, that's why his wife wanted a divorce. It had nothing to do with her not understanding him. Besides he had horrible problems with epilepsy. Many times he couldn't even finish their shows and had seizures on the stage. When he commited suicide, Ian had drunk a large amount of whiskey and had a major seizure...So he probably wasn't thinking straight at the time.

Anonymous said...

Use to think how selfish to leave a wife & child. Never knew he was epileptic until I saw Control. A whole nother prospective. I know what it's like to be tied to a bed w/ a room spinning for 14days straight. Let alone the loosing time from blacking out & feeling like your not even part of this world. Those are the effects of a single anticonvulsant on your emotions plus the physical pain your succumed to. Control mentioned a multitude of meds he was on. We'll never know why, not in this life. God rest his soul!

Anonymous said...

I was never alive at the same time as Ian Curtis. I'm only fourteen, and just discovering Joy Division and New Order. I recently found out that someone I know vaguely knew Ian quite well, and this absolutely devastated me, because it made it seem so much closer. Such a sad story. I'm not religious, so I can't hope he's in heaven, but I can hope that he has left behind the pain he felt in life.

Baby Grace Blue said...

I think people try to identify themselves too much with either Ian's reality at that time...or his wife's reality...or his relatives'/friends/lover's reality, in order to try and find an explanation for his death.I think it wasn't one thing that made him do it. I think that yes, he was misunderstood by his wife who was supposed to be by his side thru thick and thin...I don't think she cared much for his music or his poetry in any way either, all she wanted was to get married and procreate...that's why he cheated on her in the first place, possibly. He might have even had a child in an attempt to save the dying marriage or just to "be normal", like everybody else was around him. His lover was closer to him because she was connected to him thru his music rather then by bonds of family-but lovers are the people we try to look and act our best around, and he didn't have that luxury. His disease was largely misunderstood, poorly treated and ignored on a larger scale by people around him. He must have been going thru heavy guilt trips regarding him cheating on his wife and not being able to take care of his baby. He must have been tortured constantly by his inability to participate in any sort of "normal" activities people engage in, or interact with people "normally", or please pretty much anybody or make anyone around him happy. He dreaded his upcoming American tour -he could hardly finish a show due to his illness taking over almost every time he was on stage...and yes, I believe he was drunk when he took his life and I personally know how horribly anticonvulsant drugs clash with alcohol-and whatever he was taking was poorly developed medication they used for then poorly understood disease... there are so many variables in this equation. I don't think his lyrics were a "cry for help" was the way he felt, and it still is the way so many souls feel when they can't connect with the world, but strangely enough can connect with poetry of a man that died purely from being lonely, though surrounded by people. Ironically enough, most of us listening to Joy Division might feel exactly the way he felt, and it might surprise us that he couldn't find a compassionate soul to connect to. That's just the way it goes. Poor young, extremely talented and very lonely boy that nobody really paid much attention to until he offed himself..and what is New Order comparing to Joy Division.

Anonymous said...

I watched 'Control' last night for the first time, of course it is based upon Debbie's book, the end made me cry and cry and I was left wondering why I had watched the film as it made me so sad. I saw Joy Division perform in Leeds years ago and bought Joy Division records in the early days but cannot bear to play them anymore as it makes me feel too sad after what happened to Ian. Recently a friend of mine committed suicide and perhaps this film wasn't a great choice with it all so new but I just wanted to say that the sun ALWAYS comes out after the rain, and that if we want change badly enough we will always find a way to make it happen for us. Anyone who is thinking of giving up on life, please don't do that to yourself and to those you love.

Mariam said...

HE just lost contol, the lyric he recited to show that sometimes things get out of hand. well I guess the novel and also the "control" movie made him remembered ..even for new and oncoming generations.

Anonymous said...

joy division is one of the few things on earth i have that makes everything ok.