event on stage is more than a spectacle. The intense spotlight beam
isolates the silhouette, fixes it in space and annuls time. Blinded
and dumbstruck for a moment, the illuminated singer no longer discerns
the limits of the room around him. An echo in the heart of the chance
silence strengthens the overwhelming impression of a subterranean
quest. Echoes of grottoes and cold cathedrals, echoes of the infinite
Categories of anguish tend
to merge together: the oppression of depths and the closed evoke dread
of the void, the corridors of the kingdom of the dead resound in the
far depths of ourselves like the idea of the infinite.
This spectacle is a ritual, one infinitely despairing of solitude.
A shudder ... Those few seconds, free from vibrations, are an eternity.
In them, they condense the depths of interior reflections, funeral
exploration of dark labyrinths, from which only the unique and irredeemable
end is certain. Would the music be only punctuation and accentuation,
the frame more or less hewn from an absolute silence, secretly sought
The blinding spotlight is
a setting sun. The horizontal light of dusk, which strikes the eyes
without the head having to look up. It is the hour of unmeasured shadows
announcing the return of darkness. Intermediary time zone and moment
of mixed emotions. Exaltation and depression can be born from these
fires and shadows - the mental ambiguity in echo with that of the
Every being anguished by its
own existence experiences an irresistable attraction for those end
of the day contemplations. Can it itself foresee what its feeling
will be? Weary of life and desiring the Night ... or on the contrary
sparking off internally at the sight of the last flarings? Two extreme
examples, amongst others, to show the nodal character of that moment
when all subjective experiences are summed up, when all of each day's
conflicts are replayed.
CLEMENS BRENTANO, the German
romanticist, wrote this intuitive sentence: "... Impressively,
the night veils the immense porch of dusk, and every human heart knows
who has won, who has lost".
The opposition of clarity
to darkness as a reflection of the battle between reason and the delirious,
but equally a point where the two empires cloud over reciprocally,
as in a kind of reconciliation. Mad and secret hope of the distressed
being ... Hope that the symbolic ritual, cosmic and everyday, will
induce by its exemplarity, the synthesis of that which, in its own
mind, is separated. Perhaps if the Star at that precise moment suspended
its fall. But coexistence never establishes itself, it is usually
melancholy and despondency which accompanies the setting. Destiny
of those who desire the half-light, who refuse to choose between analysis
and delirium. Hesitant people from intermediary zones, from the uncertainty,
from shadows and almost horizontal lights, from half-open doors and
Others opt for the darkness.
They will call up the abstract, will desire the rise of secret forces,
of dream, of phantasms and of the unconscious ... but with some restrictions,
in truth even a certain intellectual dishonesty.
HEINREICH VON KLEIST, that
other great Romanticist, states that "in the organic world, in
so far as the conscious reflection becomes darker or weaker, grace
advances more radiant and triumphant..."; it is no less true
of it that he hesitates to annihilate all conscience in himself. He
seeks only in fact the awakened dream, a kind of somnambulism where
the observer, though in retreat, would remain vigilant. The unconscious
is here a super conscience, a reservoir of occult knowledge in which
the awakened part desires to drink deep. As MARCEL BRION notes in
his work the Romantic Germany, the question is one of "sleep
and active dreams". One enters the night in order to explore
it and the twilight is its threshold. Interior darkness, darkness
of the terrestrial depths, the romantic symbolism passes with ease
and intuition from one world to the other. The nocturnal sky blends
with the subterranean world of hells. The texts of that time testify
to that... Thus half magnificent letter from Caroline Von GUNDERODE
to Beltina BRENTANO (Clemens Brentano's sister): "You don't yet
understand that these paths lead right lo the bottom of the spirit's
mine; but the day will come when they appear to you as such, for man
walks often through deserted ways; the more he has the desire to advance,
the more solitude become terrifying, and the more the desert spreads
onwards. But when you realise how far you have descended into the
well of thought and when you find there below a new dawn, when you
re-emerge joyous, when you speak from your subterranean world, then
you will be consoled; for the world will never be with you".
Most paradoxically, it is the light that she seeks in the blackness
of the inner worlds, a new dawn (that twilight of the morning) with
an essential different quality - the revelation of herself.
O lamps of luminous fires
In your splendours the hollow grottoes
Of blind and dark feeling
Through advantageous favours
Give both light and warmth
To the cherished object of their heart
St JEAN DE LA CROIX
'The dark night of the soul'
Through those who are in misery
seeing themselves without faith, one
sees that God does not illuminate them;
but for others one sees that there is
a God who blinds them
The light is like a meterialisation
of the "ungraspable", the intersection of transcendence
and the visual. It is the very symbol of the Spiritual through antinomy
to the Material. The light is truth, its domain of clarity is also
that of transparence and the aerial. It is opposed to concealment
and creeping. It is honesty and deprivation. The light should therefore
induce only knowledge, its symbolism should be that of analysis, of
description, and of the look ... but there again words mix, the illusions
superimposed one on the other, the end achieved is in contradiction
with the appearance conveyed by the invocation. Light and dazzle of
sunset. Rays of light similar to shafts, crossing the bodies and destroying
them, beams of radiations disintegrating the flesh. The mystic aspires
to be only "pure spirit", to free himself from the corporeal.
"The Ecstasy of St. Teresa"
by Bernini (1598-1680): the light is sharp, made from golden metal.
The saint, in an ecstatic state close to fainting, has half-closed
eyes (the detail is important) ... It is like a voluptuous agony,
the prolonging and the translation of the Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian.
The marble, ghastly pale, sets the body in a specific moment, between
flesh and crystal, just before the tangible disappears and the soul
flies away. The illumination, in the literal and mystical sense of
Extreme pallour of the death
desired as the passage to immortality. Coldness of the renouncement
of the palpable, anticipation of the infinite, timeless, absolute
and fixed. But what is it internally, what is the reality behind the
The sunset burns with its
last flames. Light/warmth, star energy, echo in the internal fire
of emotions, the ecstasy is a fire devouring the being, and seeming
to consume it literally. Interior and exterior loose all signification,
the body sublimating its substance, becoming all gradually transparent,
is consumed in harmony with the illumination. The Mystic touched by
the light feels he himself becomes immaterial radiation; but that
the subjective transmutation operates from the interior, at the source
of illusions. It finds its origins in the depths of the being, it
springs from the secret imperiousness of desires, of which it is only
the symbolic resurgence.
It appeals then, that the
aim of the mystic in his search for the light is not so much as to
be dazzled. That dazzling blindness is the triumphal way, although
diverted, of a descent to hell. (The eyes which close indicate the
withdrawal to the interior of oneself, introspection, self-spelaeology).
The difference between the blinding of the black nights and the white
blindness of the illumination is minute ... The Mystic abandons the
exterior look in order to see better within himself, to be no more
than Vision. His call to the elevation of the soul is a return to
the primitive essence; is desire to be freed from pleasures of the
flesh only opens the way to an intellectual orgasm embracing the whole
body and not the sex alone.
That desire to escape the
body and valorize the spirit does not lead to an analytical knowledge
but to another more intense and more animal. Mysticism is the universe
of illusion par excellence, of the opposition between the said and
the experienced. It is not that animal that in us, at the moment,
is destroyed, but on the contrary the "I", the spectator
and the critic. Chastity and asceticism are not the negation of desire
but rather one of the means of transcending pleasure and rendering
it avowable. The light is a way to invoke the darkness of the "self".
Esoterism was right to state that what is above is like what is below
... to adore God would be only to sanctify the strength that one feels
in oneself, a fervent homage to the unconscious, to the interior double
that one forebodes as so much more consistent.
Religiousness, beliefs are
only the dregs justifying a dionysiac behaviour. A new exaltation,
in some way purified, can be born and developed. Departing from less
illusory bases, the atheistic Mysticism will produce new emotions,
widening thus the spectre of ecstasy.
Georges BATAILLE, exploring
the territories of transgression, as Sade before him, and some others,
indicated one of the ways, but it would be boring to limit it to that.
Certainly, pornography and intellectual violence permit interesting
excesses, but the modern world conceals equally a quantity of experiences
of which we don't yet perceive the whole oneiric and symbolic interest.
At the heart of daily punishment and sufferings, in the very wheels
of encroaching mediocrity, are found both the keys and the doors to
inner worlds. Modern symbolism finds the source of its images and
its myths in the sufferings of the present ... it reconciles itself
with Naturalism by sublimating it. Thus the Factory is not solely
alienated. Machines and cadences find in us certain secret correspondences
... The 8 hour shift beyond the destruction it operates daily, brings
the organism into a point, anti-natural, where the disordered state
is expressed among other things through a kind of waking delirium.
The maddest images are then born with ease, the unbridled established
without the conscious being able to do anything but register them.
How not to effect a parallel with Sufism which utilises giddiness
and conjugate fatigue ... and the methods of western mystics centred
on abstinence and prayer.
If to ponder at every moment,
in a quasi-superstitious way, the hidden significance of daily events
is a wide spread fact (evil?), to consider the modern world in its
symbolic expansion is less so.
Society of the Spectacle,
modern mythology, generalised Publicity, are capital concepts but
nevertheless insufficient to define the nature of our relationships
with the universe and society ... we perceive the world, unconsciously,
as an omnipresence of signs ... signs without significations, whose
sole interest is to evoke, to make us look back into the concealed
part of ourselves. The look and subjectivity ... we must reconsider
our relationship with the event in the most innocent appearance ...
thus is it the spectacle, minute fragment of Spectacular society.
What happens in the concert
is outside the ordinary. Anguish and concentration, between the fire
of dazzling spotlight and the moving darkness of the crowd, vaguely
disturbing, below the stage.
JOY DIVISION passes beyond
simple entertainment to retranscribe musically the worlds of half-light
and the intensity of ecstasy. Sometimes disillusioned or nostalgic
accents intrude, for the experience is multiform and its complexity
cannot be translated in a sole concept. A music at the intersection
of luminous and dark worlds, between silence and the cry, a bridge
between the past and present mystical symbolism. Key of the rock concerts
(doesn't the word "rock" in itself refer to the subterranean
world?) modern rituals of which till now we saw only the entertaining
or sociological aspects.
from Sordide Sentimental SS 33002 | written November/December 1979 and
released March 1980 | Translation by Paul Buck | Included in the accompaning
book of the Heart and soul CD package