February 5, 2009
Would you have a chip painlessly implanted that would download and play Joy Division songs directly to your brain, so that you heard Ian Curtis singing in your head – every single hour of every single day for the rest of your life?
I love me some Unknown Pleasures and some Substance (although, I’ve got to be honest: Permanent really tests my patience for repackaging and preys on the nerdy need to have every version of every song; I haven’t listened to Closer as much as I maybe should have – depending on who you ask, because some people are pretty meh on it; and despite their limited output, this is one of the most bootlegged bands ever, so at a certain point, you have to just simmer the fuck down), but this strikes me as a particularly difficult dare. I have a lot of memories associated with Joy Division’s songs – long dance parties in crowded, dark rooms; dizzyingly romantic moments spent listening to them without talking; sobbing at the desperately sad parts of Control.* But having anything piped directly into my head for every moment until I die just raises a red flag with the words You Will Lose Your Marbles on it. Sometimes, my thoughts race through my brain so fast I can barely inventory them; I get nervous just thinking about the additional distraction of round-the-clock Joy Division mucking up things in there even more. You know how maddening it can be to have a song stuck in your head, right? I used to find it so impossible to stop tracks from looping in my brain as I was trying to fall asleep that I’d literally, honest to god, have to picture myself physically turning off the song from the source: radio/CD player/record player. If that didn’t work, I’d imagine myself – and it occurs to me that maybe I’m being too honest here, but whatever – shooting the singer (that had about a 70% success rate). This dare would be so much worse than that. And I have a feeling I’d emerge from it batshit crazy. So, in case it’s unclear, I say no.
*Can I just add something? The film humanized him, which is kind of critical if you’re attempting to make a remotely truthful biopic about someone as mystified and idolized and martyrized as Ian Curtis (or any one of a certain type of pained artist who died young, e.g., Nick Drake or Kurt Cobain or Jeff Buckley or Elliott Smith). But I’ve heard people say that the film makes him seem less deserving of empathy than they’d previously imagined; that he comes off as thoughtless and self-absorbed and selfish. And when I hear that, I always think, he was fucking 23. Who wasn’t so indecisive and fucked up and irresponsible and dramatic and self-centered and even, yes, selfish at that age? I definitely was. It wasn’t that long ago; I have moments when I worry that I still am.
Just thinking out loud here.
As you were.
Absolutely not. The fact that it’s Joy Division has nothing to do with it. It could be Jesus Christ Himself returned to Earth, and I’d still say no. I feel like I’m walking a tightrope when it comes to being somewhat normal and being a complete lunatic in the first place, so why would I want to do something that is so obviously crazy-making? Imagine, if you can, how it would feel to have something constantly buzzing in your head that 1) you can’t turn off and 2) only you can hear. Now imagine this carrying on FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, with no respite. It’s enough to make you want to follow Ian into the void. Seriously–how long would it be before you jumped off a bridge just to make it stop? Gah! I’m getting nervous chills just thinking about it. I’d be ready for a rubber room within weeks (if not days), and while I’m sure $1,000,000 would pay for a pretty nice asylum, it’s so not worth it to me. I’d prefer to stay as I am. Mildly sane and mildly financially solvent trumps kind of rich and totally cuckoo, at least in my book.