Sometimes it is a material thickness. But more often it exists as a lack. Its absence is weightier than its presence. It is matter both as noun and verb: to comprise matter, to be of matter, to matter.
New Order released Substance in 1987. Before you were born. Before you were or had any substance. Factory Records released a posthumous Joy Division compilation of the same name the year after. Ian Curtis first performed “Ceremony” in his last live performance. Before either Substance. He then hung himself in his kitchen, his own substance perhaps too much to bear. “Ceremony” is also the opening track on New Order’s Substance. Two Substances, divided by a single death — one constituted through lack, another through a kind of material residue.
Sometimes it is just a residue rather than actual content. Ersatz emotion. Ceremony is both a leftover fragment and a metonymic substitute of a voice now split in two. Is substance then just a fungibility of form?
Yes, but it always matters, because it can never escape its own matter.
The best kind of substance is the kind that still somehow eludes you, despite its matter. Like Ian Curtis’s voice. The voice, a disembodied materiality, existing in ether, suspended between forms. The performance that preceded your materiality, track one, disc one, feeding into each other, a mad fueling of the other’s substance in a recurring loop, played on repeat.
Regulated, distributed, controlled, abused. Liquid, powder, pill. Crushed, injected, snorted. One substance into another substance. Going up just to come down again. God, please let it last this time.
In recent years, the browser window has become a pathetic Greek chorus: hardened faces wheeling through familiar memes. The latest Clive Owen vehicle; those newly posted photos in which you so deftly avoid the camera; spring break albums in which you repeat the same open-mouthed black smile. Perhaps we can agree that interface is a misnomer; rather, we encounter an ongoing, unrelenting face fuck. Is it possible to resist the assemblage of physiognomies made familiar through each advancing click — a teary-eyed hunger made more insatiable with each successive image? Is this sustenance or celery: a flavorless grey matter that consumes more caloric energy than it yields?
Is it possible to cite Deleuze without being implicitly Deleuzian? This has nothing to do with Deleuze.
“The clouds are gray with pristine white lining, perfectly framing the tree line that, honestly, was glowing. At that exact moment, the light was illuminating everything. It was eerie; it was unsettling; it was peaceful, and it was beautiful. The angle of the sun, the intense color of the foliage and the sharp roofline of Woosely Hall all merged in a moment of true art. I stopped, taking it in. I pulled out my cell phone to take a picture…”