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10 thoughts on “Touching from a distance: Ian Curtis & Joy Division

  1. says:

    It was small and wrapped from head to toe in dirty rags, swaddled like a new born baby It was suspended from the telegraph pole and fluttered in the breeze before sailing gently down Like an autumn leaf, it landed softly in the brook and its streamlined shape was taken quickly on the surface of the water, disappearing into the distance I squeeze my own whole body to scream but on waking all I could hear were my own muffled sobs My small daughter cuddled closer and tried to comfort me Don t cry Mummy Don t cry My own mother opened the door and in the bar of light she was able to see which one of us was crying I remembered for years an article from the daughter of Ian and Deborah Curtis, Natalie She wrote about Samantha Morton instinctively taking her hand as her mother would when they crossed the street Morton was playing the part of her Deborah Curtis in the film version of this book Control Ian Curtis killed himself when Natalie was already a year old I wouldn t ever have to ask her how she felt about her father killing himself, the no blood tie instinct, sisters in voided family trees Trying to understand, easier with living without It was something she always knew Natalie has said that she feels strongly that it was the fault of the shitty state of health care services in the UK I agree, although I d take it farther into the shitty support system of human beings Ian wouldn t have been able to live on his medication and he really couldn t live on it Deborah was left in the dark from everyone about his sinking life It did not have to be this epileptic mysterious nightmare She had to constrain her husband in bed so he would not hurt himself Made into his nurse, or keeper, nothing to do When Tony Wilson is quoted that their lives would have been harder with Ian in it, that Natalie was better off without her father, well, that was also me When people talk to me I drift into my head to see what they are telling I didn t want this then Bernard Sumner says that Ian designed his own hell to confine and doom him and I believe it Ritual of drugs, self mutilation to not live through this numb testing, stasis He had a kind of wanting it because it was his conviction to die Smoke and mirrors glamour, nothing to do Cries for help had another point and it was the cutting kind that bleeds even when you start to believe it s finally going to scab over To save is out of all reach Never live with it Save Hell, this memoir thing Deborah Curtis is interesting here Why would you want to write a memoir about this unless it is to save someone and I know who is already dead Oftentimes she is honest with brutal edges To herself maybe most of all I finished Touching from a Distance last night and then I listened to a lot of Joy Division than the usual a lot and I wanted to take in Deborah, that I could hold what was hers as she did, as an instinct like bear necessities The movie isn t bad Samantha Morton certainly isn t bad It s not right I felt they wanted to tell about loosening out of grasps, a pain with only one end, and this was about than one kind of dead The someone killed themselves and no one could save them kind of story I had this feeling that this book felt written out of a place of those who couldn t save Cries for help, not of judgement I won t forget soon reading about Ian first exhibiting his drained body with a hose wrapped around him like a snake Could you do anything to stop that snake from squeezing Deborah Curtis was depressed too This is so huge that I am afraid to read anything about this book because I remember those who believed Ian that having a wife and a baby was what killed him he wouldn t hold his own daughter He left his wife in shamed poverty I want to know why she stayed with Ian Curtis The film shows Deborah beg Ian, that she loves him Deborah in the book won t allow herself to lie that she took it for granted that he would want her forgiveness when she discovers a major affair there were others She does not talk about him as if they were ever in love His love letters to her, if they could be called that, were frightening If she were an insect and he a small boy he would have burned her with a magnifying glass She fell into dating him when her relationship to his friend Tony Nutall fell through She doesn t know why I can guess She admits that when they first began dating she saw him as the whole group of his friends that she liked to be apart of, to do something different Her musical interests reminded me of how my mother would like whatever the man she happened to be with liked I was bemused by her favoritism towards A Certain Ratio I swear the vocals on Ocean sound like Ian s no matter what anyone says no one else ever sang like he did Where they did they begin, when they were with them She is the most bitter that he didn t know poverty until the end when he was holed up with his mistress Annik She expresses all of this with clarity This is what I cannot get over, she would say She feels the hole she was shoved in than anything else, I think Everything Deborah writes about her relationship with Ian is textbook battered woman If she stayed with him like this then I am trapped in her purgatory of loneliness The man wouldn t let her have any friends Shit No man can ever have you but me, he says No one likes you, no one wants you I have my suspicions based on nothing and I wanted to chase something tangible than my out of body forcing into their lives No one is saving time travel style but my own feeling is that Ian had wanted Deborah because of Tony It s a memoir style she has of self removal to talk about Ian that I recognize, to know what he went through and why did she stay with him when she didn t love him It s not making herself look good ever it is a going back into her hole I feel for Ian in his depression but fuck no was he the only one who was suffering here Ain t no way no how Have you ever known a person who could be all charm and politeness smiles if they had some family at home to take out all of their dark side on Forget the living for art thing Deborah writes that she wondered if he didn t keep his affair drama going to fuel the song fires , the soul poured into art and murdering life like Voldemort s horcruxes in Harry Potter That s what I ve got.The childhood photo of a gleeful Tony standing next to a fattened flat faced Ian looking identical to another young photo of him on the top of the same page is chilling Yeah, there are photos of Ian smiling with the other guys I felt it run down my spine the Joy Division lyric But I remember when we were young This was his youth, huffing household chemicals and dreams of dying young Never young because old is his shadow Convictions of bullheads and her in the horns Deborah s book is great I should probably say that by now The depiction of Ian as so young and cleaving to his days as a dying man from the start It may very well be true what everyone closed to him said about him living in fantasy pop land dreams That he was only happy when he would be compared to David Bowie or Lou Reed The loss felt in place of anything ever living there I see broken pieces not from ever the same whole But shit, Deborah could not have saved Ian She keeps pointing out that she never got to hear those songs from Closer That his songs that could have told them all what he was going to do were never in her hands Yeah And what the hell about Deborah Her shame to ask for help, asking for help in spite of the shame and getting sent back to her hole again I am so lost about something about Deborah I don t think she was ever in love with Ian She writes about him as a human being, if sometimes like something she needs to do for herself and no doubt for her daughter What I see is Ian is dead and everyone he knew thinks about the songs he was writing and they should have seen it all along Okay, Samantha Morton is going to have to help me here She did an interview for UK radio station XFM years ago I want to say 2002 and played her favorite tracks Joy Division s She s Lost Control was her song I remember something about it being the song of her life that said all about her I can dance to that song and believe every word of it too She had to have been filming Jesus Son because of the stuff about dancing around in the her USA apartment at the time If you have seen Jesus s Son you know that Morton has this incredible dance scene to Tommy Roe s Sweet Pea that is just mesmerizing let loose and letting loose if you were in the chair unable to tear eyes away Not freedom loose Helpless to something I think you can know a lot if you get to see someone dance and lose that control If someone lets you see it If it is free or if it has to say something He doesn t remember his epileptic attacks when they are over.And she turned around and took me by the hand and said,I ve lost control again.And how I ll never know just why or understand,She said I ve lost control again.And she screamed out kicking on her side and said,I ve lost control again.And seized up on the floor, I thought she d die.She said I ve lost control.She s lost control again.She s lost control.She s lost control again.She s lost control.Ian Curtis dancing I am not sure about freedom and control His dancing he is famous for and people would go to see him I was upset that people came to see him the sicker he got He drank alcohol and had fits through the medication meant to stop them I wonder if this was on purpose, because maybe he had another life on stage I don t know about the letting everyone watch him loose part as by all accounts their success would cease to mean anything to him once the dream came true It had a name, this dance It was his epileptic attacks Was he helpless to it as to those fits Deborah writes that her husband danced those measured beats at their wedding too so it wasn t a stage thing, exactly He had exhibited signs of it in their early teens before the disorder owns him Ian Curtis would fly off stage and lose control in the audience The dancing became mesmerizing to those watching the he lost control So they say I keep thinking about this dancing for him than the song lyrics that he denied had any meaning other than art to anyone who asked him The people he leaves behind think about his lyrics after he is gone as a cry for help Before he died it was inconceivable that they ever could be I keep thinking about what Tony Wilson I kind of think he was a douche bag, personally This review is too long to get into that said about how Ian got what he wanted Deborah was miserable either way That s what I really keep thinking about and not if anyone could have saved Ian I don t know why he wanted what he did except to know that Ian Curtis didn t try to do anything other than his songs and his dancing He had his love affair with the Belgian reporter, Annik Annik rejected him when he had his fits She wouldn t or couldn t deal with it Deborah describes Ian as coming home with his tail between his legs What was the saving No one could stop him from having his attacks Bernard thinks that it was the medication that killed him I think it was the attacks and there was nothing they could have done I think it was because he was born the old dying And I remember when we were young line haunts me a little I wonder if he didn t drink to bring on the attacks, on stage, despite the ill affects combined with his pills Okay, a point I thought was pretty damned important was that Ian asked Bernard Sumner to pick which woman for him Bernard refused well yeah All of his before death shit of watching Werner Herzog films about a man who kills himself rather than choosing between two women Is it like when he okay, this I learned from Chris Ott s Unknown Pleasures book says David Bowie sold out because he didn t kill himself after twenty five like in his All the Young Dudes lyrics.There has to be to it than this Was he this attached to bullshit childhood ideals His soul outgrowing small mind and too large for it only in his lyrics His life was not lived beautifully.I also thought it was interesting that the people in his life didn t think he had the great empathy required to write the songs he did and they had to be about himself The songs don t feel like lies There seemed to be a lot of past second guessing and replaying about what to be done No one could be with him at all times What I ve got is no cries for help I don t feel that way about these songs There s the songs and I will write about them later I have feelings about Ian Curtis music that are not about sticking fingers through a chest and stopping a heart less life Why didn t he have one for Deborah and Natalie Deborah did divorce him I wish I had than she fell in with him and it was easier when he made her quit school and get married and then he kept a photo of their dog in his wallet and not his wife and child I felt so bad for her when she had to give up her beloved dog because they couldn t afford to feed Candy any longer Ian blamed her and did nothing to help the situation I don t wonder how she didn t hate him just why did she stay and kill her own life by him I get the feeling he wasn t living at all and that was the way he was going What about her She writes this book about him and their lives Okay, when one of the guys in the band, Morris, has a girlfriend that Ian doesn t like her gets her to come over to their house Deborah finds her comfy as an invitee Ian tells Deborah that Stephenie is threatening suicide because her boyfriend dumped her She has razor blades in their bathroom and go get her father to come fetch her Deborah is confused because it doesn t look that way at all Stephenie gives her a betrayed look when her father shows up or maybe I m just remembering it that way now because Deborah feels she betrayed Stephenie Mostly because she s the girl shoved out of their lives Deborah wasn t allowed in Ian s life But she did it and she knows she did it and she s disturbed that she did it I get this and I want to know why I wish I could be there and watch her face Maybe if I knew that it wouldn t feel so sick to balance remembering people in your life and not remembering them when they were old and young too soon On purpose, like a suicide, before they could ever get there The songs from the other side, maybe It feels that way sometimes, when you think about dying and there s no future and the past is something you can t think about happening and the present disowned you Or some ghosts of some kind.Staying in the same place, just staying out the time Touching from a distance Further all the time.

  2. says:

    This is a wonderful peek into the Iconic Ian Curtis private life however I suggest that you keep in mind who is telling the story My suggestion would be to read The Life of Ian Curtis Torn Apart by Mick Middles and Lindsay Reade either while reading this book or directly after reading it This may help to buffer some of the incriminations Deborah Curtis brings forward against her long deceased husband My problem with Deborah Curtis and this book is that she is generous with details on accounts from Ian s life provided that they are negative or horrific in nature Or at least that is how it seems to me Deborah will relay a detailed account of some horrific incident between her and Ian after which she will blandly give a two or three sentence account of a good deed Ian performed then makes some blas comment about how Ian was always doing nice things Is this supposed to balance out the two page account of Ian Curtis monster manifesto I can t help but feel that Deborah still hasn t forgiven her husband for either his infidelity or his abandonment of their little family.

  3. says:

    I started reading this book around 4 or 5 years ago, and was really enjoying it at the time And then I put it down for some unknown reason I finally got around to picking it up again, and decided to read from the start because I couldn t remember where I d left off before and I m so glad I did.This is a very touching and painful biography of Ian Curtis s life to read, as told from the close, personal perspective of his widow Deborah Curtis I am glad that I have never idolised Ian Curtis, because this book would truly shatter people s ideas of him as a person Having to read about the textbook domestic abuse in Ian and Deborah s relationship even from the very beginning was quite upsetting, and left me feeling both angry yet conflicted towards him The description of his newly discovered epilepsy was also quite emotional to read about, and quite scary at times particularly with the amount of grand mal attacks he would experience in a short amount of time.The insight into Ian s life and the origins of Joy Division was incredibly interesting, with the perfect amount of detail and quotes without it being overloaded At around 150 pages I felt this book to be a great length, and a very touching read The inclusion of a gig list and song lyrics was also excellent, and it s quite disturbing reading some of Ian s later lyrics for the album Closer, after having read of his personal life and emotional state at the time of writing those songs.A great read if you re a fan of Joy Division s music, truly fascinating.

  4. says:

    A tell all of everybody s favorite suicideIan Curtis You like Manchester, you like New Order, a fan of Joy Division, want to know about the man, the myth, the deceased frontman.then read this If you don t then, don t read thisduh, what did you think I was going to say Beg you to read this Whatever you probably LOVE Interpol and think they are so originalwithout Joy Divsion you wouldn t have any of that stuff Original PERIOD Me lady is a big fan of Joy Division New Order so we happened to visit Macclesfield Ian s home and place of death eternal resting place Very eerie, especially after reading the booksaw his grave, heard creepy stories, mingled with english white trash locals Yeah, this book is also the basis for the Joy Division movie Control which should be coming to theatre s soon and THEN you will read this book.

  5. says:

    I read this quite a while ago I have a first edition copy of this somewhere Unlike my heavy reading habits, I don t feel like this subject matter needs to be fresh in my mind to write a review I just started listening to Joy Division again after many years of not listening to them I often go through periods of genre listening I suppose what sparked a renewed interest in Joy Division and Post Punk was the fact that I just started listening to The The and I ve been pretty impressed I m not sure if I should be glad or disappointed that The The somehow passed by me as a kid but it has caused me to revisit other bands I liked from this era e.g The Cure, early New Order, The Smiths etc Anyway, this was a really good biography Some reviewers hate it because they idolize a very flawed human being and are disappointed by his foibles More than likely many of them are floored that Ian Curtis was a Tory conservative GASP I think Deborah Curtis did a good job representing her husband Is she unbiased No Does she know him better than his legions of blissfully ignorant adorers Undoubtedly

  6. says:

    I wouldn t say Deborah Curtis is a great writer but the way she manages to convey her complex feelings about Ian Curtis is both believable and touching If you ve seen the movie Control and or 24 Hour Party People , you might want to read this book as it strips away the myth from the man to reveal Ian s, rather intense, character flaws and emotional issues that pre date his epilepsy I was especially surprised to read about his violence and control issues He controlled what Deborah wore, who she saw, even what time she got up He contributed little to their household financially and even less as a father and mate Even though Deborah writes about the bad, and you can feel her frustration with Ian, she doesn t come off as vindictive If anything, she comes off as still having a bit of hero worship for the guy even after he lies about her to the band, picks up a mistress, and abandons her.Ian Curtis was a young man with serious problems and as his popularity grew he turned away from his family, especially his wife Maybe the band or Tony Wilson could have done for him but they seem to have been blinded by ambition and youth Or maybe no one could have done a thing Ian lied to all those around him his parents, band mates, wife, and doctors, all the people who might have been able to help him.

  7. says:

    I think you can skip the book and just read this article from The Guardian article is eloquent, poignant and shorter I liked this bit I saw a review on once, somebody had written, She doesn t understand her subject And I thought, Well, surely that s the point She sighs.This middle section of Touching from a Distance dragged for me Lots of arguing about carrying amps at gigs.I hate it when Northern types bang on about London Just do your thing and that s fine If you re happy and having fun, there s no reason to whinge about it Londoners finally realized that perhaps their city was no longer the centre of the Universe as they had previously thought, and then It put Manchester at the centre of what was happening in the music business and slated Londoners for their smug complacency Okay, but you re happy, right Just relax My sister Jill had a friend who worked looking after the teeth of people in institutions and Ian loved to hear of patients with extra breasts along the nipple line A simple harmless deformity would fire his imagination I really don t understand this Is extra breasts along the nipple line a teeth thing An extra nipple could be described as a simple harmless deformity , but I m not sure why a dentist would know about this Is an extra breast a simple harmless deformity It must be quite emotionally involved to have three tits I m too scared to Google extra breasts along the nipple line I m so confused This edition has Ian s lyrics, so you can discover that, whilst Deborah spells realised with a z , Ian opted for an s Interesting

  8. says:

    If you ve built your idea of Ian Curtis through the biopic Control, or if as a fan you insist on perpetuating the idea that Ian was a troubled misunderstood soul, you re probably missing part of the picture I won t deny that Ian must have been all that, but he was a human being who also contained flaws within the net of his personality.This biography is also a partial and subjective look into Ian Curtis life, but by accessing many partial views perhaps we may aproach the truth of who Ian really was not , not less, than a fascinating human being.

  9. says:

    4 Stars.

  10. says:

    Readers of this book have to remember that just because Deborah Curtis was married to Ian, she doesn t have special insight into his personality All biographies are CONSTRUCTS and reading this book brings you no closer yes, I used that word to Ian than simply spinning one of Joy Division s records.The essential problem with the book is that DC presents IC as such a one dimensional character a rat bastard and terrible husband An exercise Listen to ANY Joy Division song and ask yourself a question Is Ian one dimensional Also, the narrative reads like the product of an author with a personality disorder yes, I used that word, too Although DC does throw Ian some bones once in a while, she s mainly interested in assassinating his character In fact, the things that he couldn t help his epilepsy and depression are somehow his fault and her problem The writing indicates no warmth, no compassion Finally, if you read this book, pay specific attention to its diction, especially when DC discusses Ian s lyrics There s a sense that she undermines his creativity and genuine interest in human suffering by saying that he read books on human suffering by giants such as Dostoevsky, Ballard, Kafka, and Burroughs, etc to craft lyrics to accompany JD s gloomy music This is total bullshit.We need to give the artist the benefit of the doubt always and assume earnestness and the best intentions.

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