Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Project/Object opus

In his biography, Zappa, author Barry Miles, quotes a 1988 interview with FZ:

“The conceptual continuity is this: everything, even this interview, is part of what I do for, let’s call it, my entertainment work. And there’s a big difference between sitting here and talking about this kind of stuff, and writing a song like ‘Titties and Beer’. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s all part of the same continuity. It’s all one piece.”

Zappa built an opus. “Conceptual continuity” is the term he and his fans used to describe the cohesion that bound together the disparate elements of Frank Zappa’s life’s work: surf music, avant gardism, do wop, potty humor, Suzy Creamcheeze, poodles, First Amendment advocacy, eyebrows, Beefheart, German, usw. He called his opus the Project/Object.

The quote from FZ underscored for me this simple, trenchant insight of psychologist James Hillman:

Creative people are occupied not so much with creativity as they are fascinated with an opus.

The creative Frank Zappa left behind an opus, his project.

In college I worked for a short time as a reporter for the campus newspaper and had the opportunity to interview the famous atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, in town for a fundraiser. I had the temerity to ask her why she was so preoccupied with preaching the gospel of atheism. She snapped back, “Your life has to be about something.”