'Pataphysics (French: "'Pataphysique"), a term coined by French writer Alfred Jarry (1873 – 1907), is a philosophy dedicated to studying what lies beyond the realm of metaphysics. It is a parody of the theory and methods of modern science and is often expressed in nonsensical language. A practitioner of 'pataphysics is a 'pataphysician or a 'pataphysicist.


The term first appeared in print in Alfred Jarry's play text "Guignol" in the 28 April, 1893 issue of "L'Écho de Paris littéraire illustré". Jarry later defined it as "the science of imaginary solutions, which symbolically attributes the properties of objects, described by their virtuality, to their lineaments" ("Gestes et opinions du Docteur Faustroll", II, viii). Raymond Queneau has described 'pataphysics as resting "on the truth of contradictions and exceptions."

Jarry mandated the inclusion of the apostrophe in the orthography "to avoid a simple pun," the pun possibly being "patte à physique" (leg of physics), as interpreted by Jarry-scholars Keith Beaumont and Roger Shattuck, or possibly "pas ta physique" (not your physics), or maybe "pâte à physique" (physics-dough).

The "Collège de 'pataphysique", founded on May 11, 1948, in Paris, is a group of artists and writers interested in the philosophy of 'pataphysics. The motto of the college is "Eadem mutata resurgo" (I arise again the same though changed), and its head is His Magnificence, Baron Jean Mollet. According to Warren Motte, noted members of the college have included Noël Arnaud (Regent of General 'Pataphysics and Clinic of Rhetoriconosis, as well as Major Confirmant of the Order of the Grand Gidouille), Luc Étienne also known as Luc Etienne Périn (Regent), Latis (Private General Secretary to the Baron Vice-Curator), François Le Lionnais (Regent), Jean Lescure (Regent of Anabathmology), and Raymond Queneau (Transcendent Satrap). As such, its members are linked with Oulipo. Publications of the college include the "Cahiers du Collège de 'Pataphysique" and the "Dossiers du Collège de 'Pataphysique".

The authors Raymond Queneau, Jean Genet, Eugene Ionesco, Boris Vian and Jean Ferry have described themselves as following the 'pataphysical tradition. Pataphysics and pataphysicians feature prominently in several linked works by science fiction writer Pat Murphy. The philosopher Jean Baudrillard is often described as a 'pataphysician and did consider himself as such for some part of his lifefact|date=February 2008. One American writer, Pablo Lopez, has even developed an extension of the "science" called the pataphor.

Although France had been always the center of the 'pataphysical globe, followers have grown up in different cities around the world. In 1966 Juan Esteban Fassio was commissioned to draw the map of the "Collège de 'Pataphysique" and its institutes abroad. In the 1950s, Buenos Aires and Milan were the first cities to have 'pataphysical institutes. London, Edinburgh, Budapest, and Liege — as well as many other European cities - caught up in the sixties. In the 1970s, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, The Netherlands, and many other countries showed that the internationalization of 'pataphysics was irreversible.

In the 1960s 'pataphysics was used as a conceptual principle within various fine art forms, especially pop art and popular culture. Actual works within the 'pataphysical tradition tend to focus on the processes of their creation, and elements of chance or arbitrary choices are frequently key in those processes. Select pieces from Marcel Duchamp and John Cage characterize this. At around this time, Asger Jorn, a 'pataphysician and member of the Situationist International, referred to 'pataphysics as a new religion. Rube Goldberg and Heath Robinson were artists who contrived machines of a 'pataphysical bent.

During the Communist Era, a small group of 'pataphysicists in Czechoslovakia started a journal called "PAKO", or "Pataphysical Collegium". Apparently, Alfred Jarry's plays had a lasting impression on its underground philosophical scene.

In music

*Perhaps the most famous mention of 'pataphysics remains the Beatles' 1969 song "Maxwell's Silver Hammer," from "Abbey Road", which mentions Joan, a student who "was quizzical/studied 'pataphysical science in the home." ["Beatles Complete Guitar", Hal Leonard Corporation, 1986]
*Professor Andrew Hugill, of De Montfort University, Leicester, is a practitioner of 'pataphysical music. A CD, "Pataphysics", was curated by Dr. Hugill for the Sonic Arts Network's CD series. [ [http://www.sonicartsnetwork.org Sonic Arts Network - News ] ]
*British progressive rock band Soft Machine has songs "Pataphysical Introduction" parts I and II on their album "Volume Two".
*Acid Mothers Temple's 1999 release "Pataphisical Freak Out MU!!" references pataphysics in the title.


The "pataphor" (Spanish: "patáfora", French: "pataphore"), is a term coined by writer and musician Pablo Lopez ( [http://www.paulavion.com/pata.html "Paul Avion"] ), for an unusually extended metaphor based on Alfred Jarry's "science" of 'pataphysics. As Jarry claimed that 'pataphysics existed "as far from metaphysics as metaphysics extends from regular reality," a pataphor attempts to create a figure of speech that exists as far from metaphor as metaphor exists from non-figurative language. Whereas a metaphor is the comparison of a real object or event with a seemingly unrelated subject in order to emphasize the similarities between the two, the pataphor uses the newly created metaphorical similarity as a reality with which to base itself. In going beyond mere ornamentation of the original idea, the pataphor seeks to describe a new and separate world, in which an idea or aspect has taken on a life of its own. [ [http://www.elclarin.cl/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=5947&Itemid=1189 (Spanish) Luis Casado, Pataphors And Political Language (El Clarin: Chilean Press)(2007)] ] [The Cahiers du Collège de Pataphysique n°22 (December 2005), Collège de 'Pataphysique]

Like ‘pataphysics itself, pataphors essentially describe two degrees of separation from reality (rather than merely one degree of separation, which is the world of metaphors and metaphysics). The pataphor may also be said to function as a critical tool, describing the world of "assumptions based on assumptions," such as belief systems or rhetoric run amok. The following is an example.

Non-figurative:Tom and Alice stood side by side in the lunch line.Metaphor:Tom and Alice stood side by side in the lunch line, two pieces on a chessboard.Pataphor:Tom took a step closer to Alice and made a date for Friday night, checkmating. Rudy was furious at losing to Margaret so easily and dumped the board on the rose-colored quilt, stomping downstairs.Thus, the pataphor has created a world where the chessboard exists, including the characters who live in that world, entirely abandoning the original context. [ [http://www.illposed.com/philosophy/pataprogramming.html Computer Programming Using Pataphorical Modeling] ]

ee also

*Atlas Press
*Situationist International



*cite book |last=Beaumont |first=Keith |title=Alfred Jarry: A Critical and Biographical Study |publisher=St. Martin's Press |year=1984 |isbn=0-3120-1712-X
*cite book |last=Jarry |first=Alfred |authorlink=Alfred_Jarry
title=Gestes et opinions du Docteur Faustroll, pataphysicien
year=1980 |publisher=Gallimard |location=France |language=French |isbn=2070321983 |id=ISBN

*cite book |last=Schonberg |first=Bo |title=Beatles Complete Guitar |publisher=Hal Leonard Corporation |year=1986 |isbn=0-88188-605-X
*cite book |last=Shattuck |first=Roger |title=Roger Shattuck's Selected Works of Alfred Jarry: Ubu Cuckolded, Exploits and Opinions of Doctor Faustroll |publisher=Grove Press |year=1980 |isbn=0-8021-5167-1
*cite book |last=Taylor |first=Michael R. |year=2007 |title=Thomas Chimes Adventures in 'Pataphysics |publisher=Philadelphia Museum of Art |isbn=978-0-87633-253-5

External links

*fr_icon [http://www.college-de-pataphysique.org/ Collège de ’Pataphysique]
*fr_icon [http://perso.orange.fr/claude.ognois/ Philosophie pataphysique]
* [http://www.atlaspress.co.uk/theLIP/ London Institute of 'Pataphysics]
* [http://www.toutfait.com/issues/issue_3/Articles/williams/williams.html 'Marcel Duchamp and 'Pataphysics']
*es_icon [http://www.thecurrentlyoff.org/patasite/ Novísimo Instituto de Altos Estudios Patafísicos de Buenos Aires]
* [http://www.mti.dmu.ac.uk/%7Eahugill/ Dr. Andrew Hugill, 'Pataphysical Music]
* [http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=569 Pataphysics] by Jean Baudrillard (translated by Drew Burk)
* [http://www.ubishops.ca/BaudrillardStudies/vol4_1/nechvatal.htm Jean Baudrillard's Pataphysics] by Joseph Nechvatal

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  • pataphysics — [pa΄tə fiz′iks] n. the study of a realm beyond that of metaphysics: a notion devised by French absurdist writers as a parody of modern science pataphysical adj. pataphysician n. * * * pa·ta·phys·ics (pä tə fĭzʹĭks) n. (used with a sing. verb) The …   Universalium

  • pataphysics — [pa΄tə fiz′iks] n. the study of a realm beyond that of metaphysics: a notion devised by French absurdist writers as a parody of modern science pataphysical adj. pataphysician n …   English World dictionary

  • 'Pataphysics — Jarry in Alfortville Pataphysics (French: pataphysique) is a philosophy or pseudophilosophy dedicated to studying what lies beyond the realm of metaphysics. The term was coined and the concept created by French writer Alfred Jarry (1873–1907),… …   Wikipedia

  • pataphysics —    by Gary Genosko   Baudrillard discovered pataphysics through the influence of his schoolteacher. The neo science of imaginary solutions was created by French playwright Alfred Jarry (1873 1907) and expounded by his characters Père Ubu and… …   The Baudrillard dictionary

  • pataphysics — noun An absurdist philosophy or pseudoscience studying things beyond metaphysics …   Wiktionary

  • pataphysics — the science of imaginary solutions Sciences and Studies …   Phrontistery dictionary

  • pataphysics — [ˌpatə fɪzɪks] plural noun [usu. treated as sing.] a supposed branch of philosophy concerned with an imaginary realm additional to metaphysics. Derivatives pataphysical adjective Origin 1940s: from Gk ta epi ta metaphusika, lit. the (works)… …   English new terms dictionary

  • pataphysics — pata·physics …   English syllables

  • pataphysics — The science of imaginary solutions or of nonsensical philos75 ophy …   Grandiloquent dictionary

  • pataphysics — /pætəˈfɪzɪks/ (say patuh fiziks) noun a parody of scientific theory which proposes going beyond metaphysics, usually expressed in absurdist texts and relying on twisted or nonsensical versions of scientific method. {coined by Alfred Jarry,… …   Australian English dictionary

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