Exuberant Nuisance

15 August 2007

He had marked me out as the man who would write the history of Joy Division. I initially resisted the role, annoyed that he was putting me in a place where he wanted me to be. His presumption that everyone would fall in with his version of events could make him seem like a bully. Even as it was happening, he seemed to know that 25 years later there would be films, and documentaries, and books about this story, which was both his story, and not his story. He realised more than I did that I would be writing about this period, from the Sex Pistols in Manchester to the death of Ian Curtis, for the rest of my life, hunting down the meaning of it all, following the clues that Wilson alone seemed to leave.

Reading Paul Morely's obituary and then article about the "exuberant nuisance" Anthony H Wilson. I liked Morely's sense above that he lived through something, the significance of which only became clear to him later – that sense of life lived in the present as a blind machine laying traps and possibilities for the future. Only later – in the moments of return (personal or communal) – do our guesses on the weight of things get confirmed or denied.

Also, and slightly different to the above, that strange sense in which lived experience comes to value, not as its lived, but in the future – at the point of its being history, and therefore (these days) potential commodity, cultural capital. The present as a machine for eating the past.