See also: [Literary Terms] On this page: {Opus} (Latin: work) {Op Cit} (Latin: The Work just sited) {Magnum Opus} (Latin: The Great Work)


Opus (Latin: "the work"). The body of work by an individual. A collective noun. Thus, "When we examine the opus of Mingus' in toto, we are struck by the under-laying order and simplicity of the complex forms. It is for that reason (more than any other), that I refer to Mingus as the 'beethoven" of jazz".

Op. Cit.

Latin: Opus citato. (oh-puhs cih-tato --or-- oh-puss cee-tato). Literally "in the work just cited" (citato --> citation (to refernece)). For example, if we quote James Burke's "Connections", we might refer to Page 127, and then later we might make a comment upon the quote by someone else, then we WANT to refer back to Burke -- it all becomes quite complex. In the following example, the PAGE numbers and quotes are bogus (i don't have my copies of the texts with me at the moment) On the one hand the trend towards de-humanising us all by making us into numbers is evident, when we BECOME our number; something resisted by "The Prisoner" when he says, "I am not a number, I am a free man". And yet, this is in fact what is happening. As James Burke puts it, "It is this single fact of plastic as the infinitely maleable object that becomes stratified. And in fact we can instead of making things differently, make them same. We can all own the same pitchers, plates, and flatware -- all identtical" (Connection, Pp.123-4). But this only half of the story, if we are "plastic" in the sense that we *are* cookie-cutter copies of each other, then there *are* differences. As Jacob Bronowski points out in "The Ascent of Man" (Pp.123-4) "This is where people are turned into numbers" (he at this point picks up the mud that is all that remains of the people burned at Auschwitz. Indeed, numbers *are* what we are, at the end of the episode of Connections (Burke, Op. Cit), he turns into a Gingerbread man on a conveyor belt and then along comes a long line of identical credit cards. The distinction between OP CIT and LOC CIT is that OP CIT referse to the SAME work, but not necessarily to the SAME LOCATION within that work.

Magnum Opus

Latin "The great work". For example, "One must admire Beetven's magnum opus (the 9th) for several reasons, not the least of which is that it was a clear sign that he had (at last) emerged from the despondency of his deafness. When we hear the 8th, we hear that painful sense of loss, but in the 9th we experience an elation not un-like when Anne Sullivan teaches Helen Keller the word WATER". Et. Al. (et alisquam) -- and the others, or and "the rest". As in Often the phrase refers to the one-trick pony concept; ie, a person who has only one really outstanding achievement to look back upon. This is often the case, where the nature of their work spans such a diverse and expansive vista that unless we try to put it in perspective, we would be struck senseless (something like being shown the "you are here" sign when we are in the Total Perspective Vortex (42 reference). For exmample, if we look at Asimov's work (see map), where shall we say is the ONE GREAT WORK? The Guide to Shakespear? For any other author, this *would be* their one great Magnum Opus. The Guide to the Bible? Again, the same can be said. But, for me, it has to be that great synthesis of his knowledge of history, science, and belief -- summed up in an oddly familiar, and yet strangely fantastical work of science fiction. I am speaking of course of THE FOUNDATION TRILOGY (natch). Where else, do we see "the great man's" thinking as he read his Gibbons "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", his tongue-in-cheek way of viewing the politics of his time -- esp in the later editions where we see him putting himself and our world into the narrative? For me, this (Foundation) will have always have been in the futre and in the past, Asimov's MAGNUM OPUS. (With applogies to Dr. Streetmentioner; again with the 42 reference ;)