Life & Culture

An Imaginary Conversation With Oscar Wilde and Frank Zappa

To celebrate Wilde’s birthday, Another Man brings an impossible meeting to vivid life with quotes from the two cultural luminaries

Taken from the A/W12 issue of Another Man.

WILDE: Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about.

ZAPPA: The whole universe is a large joke. Everything in the universe are just subdivisions of this joke. So why take anything too serious? I think it’s really tragic when people get serious about stuff. It’s such an absurdity to take anything really seriously.

WILDE: Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow.

ZAPPA: I make an honest attempt not to take anything seriously – I worked that attitude out about the time I was 18. I mean, what does it all mean when you get right down to it, what’s the story here? Being alive is so weird… You’ve got to be digging it while it’s happening because it might just be a one shot deal.

WILDE: To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.

ZAPPA: Everybody believes in something and everybody, by virtue of the fact that they believe in something, uses that something to support their own existence… Those Jesus freaks, well, they’re friendly but the shit they believe has got their minds all shut.

WILDE: Religion does not help me…

ZAPPA: The only difference between a cult and a religion i s the amount of real estate they own. My best advice to anyone who wants to raise a happy, mentally healthy child is: keep him or her as far away from a church as you can. Tax the fuck out of the churches!

WILDE: My gods dwell in temples made with hands; and within the circle of actual experience is my creed made perfect and complete: too complete, it may be, for like many or all of those who have placed their heaven in this earth, I have found in it not merely the beauty of heaven, but the horror of hell also.

ZAPPA: There is no hell. There is only France.

WILDE: Each of us has heaven and hell in him.

ZAPPA: Well, I believe that those energies and processes exist. I just don’t think that they’ve been adequately described or adequately named yet, because people are too willing to make it all into something that supports a religious theory of one flavour or another. If you start defining these things in nuts-and-bolts scientific terms, people reject it because it’s not fun, you know. It takes some of the romance out of being dead… but, basically, I think when you’re dead – you’re dead. It comes with the territory.

WILDE: Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one’s head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday and no tomorrow. To forget time…

ZAPPA: Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.

WILDE: Music makes one feel so romantic – at least it always gets on one’s nerves, which is the same thing nowadays… I like Wagner’s music better than anybody’s.

ZAPPA: Most people wouldn’t know music if it came up and bit them on the ass. All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff. But I think pop music has done more for oral intercourse than anything else that ever happened, and vice versa.

WILDE: Everything popular is wrong.