'Pataphysics or pataphysics (French: pataphysique) is a difficult to define literary trope invented by French writer Alfred Jarry (1873–1907).[1] One attempt at a definition might be to say that 'pataphysics is a branch of philosophy or science that examines imaginary phenomena that exist in a world beyond metaphysics; it is the science of imaginary solutions.[2]

'Pataphysics is a concept expressed by Jarry in a mock-scientific manner with undertones of spoofing and quackery, in his book of fiction titled Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, Pataphysician, in which Jarry riddles and toys with conventional concepts and interpretations of reality.[3] Another attempt at a definition interprets 'pataphysics as an idea that "the virtual or imaginary nature of things as glimpsed by the heightened vision of poetry or science or love can be seized and lived as real".[1] Jarry defines 'pataphysics in a number of statements and examples, including that it is "the science of imaginary solutions, which symbolically attributes the properties of objects, described by their virtuality, to their lineaments".[4] A practitioner of 'pataphysics is a pataphysician or a pataphysicist.

Jarry velo
Jarry in Alfortville


There are over one hundred differing definitions of 'pataphysics.[5] Some examples are shown below.

Pataphysics is the science of that which is superinduced upon metaphysics, whether within or beyond the latter's limitations, extending as far beyond metaphysics as the latter extends beyond physics. ... 'Pataphysics will be, above all, the science of the particular, despite the common opinion that the only science is that of the general. 'Pataphysics will examine the laws governing exceptions, and will explain the universe supplementary to this one.[4]

'Pataphysics is patient; 'Pataphysics is benign; 'Pataphysics envies nothing, is never distracted, never puffed up, it has neither aspirations nor seeks not its own, it is even-tempered, and thinks not evil; it mocks not iniquity: it is enraptured with scientific truth; it supports everything, believes everything, has faith in everything and upholds everything that is.[6] as cited in[5] (A humorous allusion to First Corinthians 13 about the virtues of love.)

Pataphysics passes easily from one state of apparent definition to another. Thus it can present itself under the aspect of a gas, a liquid or a solid.[7] as cited in[5]

'Pataphysica, and subsequently Patacommunications, was first coined in 2018 by D Kleiser in the alley behind the Orange Crush Bottling Co. building in Montreal, QC.

Pataphysics "the science of the particular" does not, therefore, study the rules governing the general recurrence of a periodic incident (the expected case) so much as study the games governing the special occurrence of a sporadic accident (the excepted case). [...] Jarry performs humorously on behalf of literature what Nietzsche performs seriously on behalf of philosophy. Both thinkers in effect attempt to dream up a "gay science" whose joie de vivre thrives wherever the tyranny of truth has increased our esteem for the lie and wherever the tyranny of reason has increased our esteem for the mad.[8]


The word 'pataphysics is a contracted formation, derived from the Greek τὰ ἐπὶ τὰ μεταφυσικά (tà epì tà metàphusiká),[4] a phrase or expression meaning "that which is above metaphysics", and is itself a sly variation on the title of Aristotle's Metaphysics, which in Greek is "τὰ μετὰ τὰ φυσικά" (ta meta ta physika).

Jarry mandated the inclusion of the apostrophe in the orthography, 'pataphysique and 'pataphysics, "...to avoid a simple pun".[4] The words pataphysician or pataphysicist and the adjective pataphysical should not include the apostrophe. Only when consciously referring to Jarry's science itself should the word 'pataphysics carry the apostrophe.[9] The term pataphysics is a paronym (considered a kind of pun in French) of metaphysics. Since the apostrophe in no way affects the meaning or pronunciation of pataphysics, this spelling of the term is a sly notation, to the reader, suggesting a variety of puns that listeners may hear, or be aware of. These puns include patte à physique ("physics paw"), as interpreted by Jarry scholars Keith Beaumont and Roger Shattuck, pas ta physique ("not your physics"), and pâte à physique ("physics paste").


The term first appeared in print in the text of Alfred Jarry's play Guignol in the 28 April 1893 issue of L'Écho de Paris littéraire illustré, but it has been suggested that the word has its origins in the same school pranks at the lycée in Rennes that led Jarry to write Ubu Roi.[10] Jarry considered Ibicrates and Sophrotatos the Armenian as the fathers of this "science".[11]

The Collège de 'Pataphysique

The Collège de 'Pataphysique, founded in 1948 in Paris, France,[12] is "a society committed to learned and inutilious research".[13] (The word 'inutilious' is synonymous with 'useless'.) The motto of the college is Latin: Eadem mutata resurgo ("I arise again the same though changed").

The permanent head of the college is the Inamovable Curator, Dr. Faustroll, assisted by Bosse-de-Nage (Starosta): both are fictional.[14]

The Vice-Curator is the "first and most senior living entity" in the college's hierarchy.[15] The current Vice-Curatrice is Tanya Peixoto of the London Institute of 'Pataphysics and Bookartbookshop.[16] She was elected in 2014 to succeed Her Magnificence Lutembi – a crocodile.[17]

Jean-Christophe Averty was appointed Satrap in 1990.

Publications of the college, generally called Latin: Viridis Candela ("green candle"),[18] include the Cahiers, Dossiers and the Subsidia Pataphysica.[19][20]

Notable members have included Noël Arnaud, Jean-Christophe Averty, Luc Étienne, Latis, François Le Lionnais, Jean Lescure, Raymond Queneau, Boris Vian, Eugène Ionesco, Jacques Carelman, Joan Miró, Man Ray, Max Ernst, Julien Torma, Roger Shattuck, Groucho, Chico and Harpo Marx, Baron Jean Mollet, Philippe de Chérisey, Irénée Louis Sandomir, Opach, Marcel Duchamp, Fernando Arrabal and Gavin Bryars.[21] The Oulipo began as a subcommittee of the college.[22][23]

Offshoots of the Collège de 'Pataphysique

Although France had been always the centre of the pataphysical globe, there are followers 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.

The college stopped its public activities between 1975 and 2000, referred to as its occultation.[24][25] However through that time, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, The Netherlands, and many other countries showed that the internationalization of 'pataphysics was irreversible.

In the 1950s, Buenos Aires in the Western Hemisphere and Milan in Europe were the first cities to have pataphysical institutes. London, Edinburgh, Budapest, and Liège, as well as many other European cities, caught up in the sixties.


During the communist era, a small group of 'pataphysicists in Czechoslovakia started a journal called PAKO, or Pataphysical Collegium.[26] Jarry's plays had a lasting impression on the country's underground philosophical scene.

London Institute of 'Pataphysics

The London Institute of 'Pataphysics was established in September 2000 to promote 'pataphysics in the English-speaking world. The institute has various publications, including a journal, and has six departments:[27] Bureau for the Investigation of Subliminal Images, Committee for Hirsutism and Pogonotrophy, Department of Dogma and Theory, Department of Potassons, Department of Reconstructive Archaeology, and The Office of Patentry.

The Institute also contains a pataphysical museum and archive and organised the Anthony Hancock Paintings and Sculptures exhibition in 2002.[28]

The official orchestra of the London Institute of 'Pataphysics is the London Snorkelling Team.

Musée Patamécanique

Musée Patamécanique is a private museum located in Bristol, Rhode Island.[29] Founded in 2006, it is open by appointment only to friends, colleagues, and occasionally to outside observers. The museum is presented as a hybrid between an automaton theater and a cabinet of curiosities and contains works representing the field of Patamechanics, an artistic practice and area of study chiefly inspired by 'Pataphysics.

Examples of exhibits include a troupe of singing animatronic Chipmunks, a time machine the museum claims is the world's largest automated phenakistoscope, an olfactory clock, a chandelier of singing animatronic nightingales, an Undigestulator (a device that purportedly reconstitutes digested foods), a peanuts enlarger, a syzygistic oracle, the earolin (a 24 inch tall holographic ear that plays the violin), and a machine for capturing the dreams of bumble bees.[30]

'Pataphysics Institute in Vilnius

A 'Pataphysics Institute opened in Vilnius, Lithuania in May 2013.[31]


A clinamen is the unpredictable swerve of atoms that Bök calls "...the smallest possible aberration that can make the greatest possible difference".[32] An example is Jarry's merdre, a swerve of French: merde ("shit").[33]
Véritable portrait de Monsieur Ubu
The Grand Gidouille on Ubu's belly is a symbol of 'pataphysics.
An antinomy is the mutually incompatible. It represents the duality of things, the echo or symmetry, the good and the evil at the same time. Hugill mentions various examples including the plus minus, the faust-troll, the haldern-ablou, the yes-but, the ha-ha and the paradox.[34]
The syzygy originally comes from astronomy and denotes the alignment of three celestial bodies in a straight line. In a pataphysical context it is the pun. It usually describes a conjunction of things, something unexpected and surprising. Serendipity is a simple chance encounter but the syzygy has a more scientific purpose. Bök mentions Jarry suggesting that the fall of a body towards a centre might not be preferable to the ascension of a vacuum towards a periphery.[35][36]
The absolute is the idea of a transcended reality.[37]
An anomaly represents the exception. Jarry said that, "Pataphysics will examine the laws governing exceptions, and will explain the universe supplementary to this one."[4] Bök calls it "...the repressed part of a rule which ensures that the rule does not work".[38][39]
A pataphor is an unusually extended metaphor based on 'pataphysics. As Jarry claimed that 'pataphysics exists "...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.[40]
Véritable portrait de Monsieur Ubu
The Grand Gidouille on Ubu's belly is a symbol of 'pataphysics.

Pataphysical calendar

The pataphysical calendar[41] is a variation of the Gregorian calendar. The Collège de 'Pataphysique created the calendar[42] in 1949.[43] The pataphysical era (E.P.) started on Jarry's birthday, 8 September 1873 vulg. When converting pataphysical dates to Gregorian dates, the appendage (vulg.) for vulgate ("common") is added.[43]

The week starts on a Sunday. Every 1st, 8th, 15th and 22nd is a Sunday and every 13th day of a month falls on a Friday (see Friday the 13th). Each day is assigned a specific name or saint. For example, the 27 Haha (1 November vulg.) is called French: Occultation d'Alfred Jarry or the 14 Sable (14 December vulg.) is the day of French: Don Quichote, champion du monde.[44]

The year has a total of 13 months each with 29 days. The 29th day of each month is imaginary with two exceptions:[44]

  • the 29 Gidouille (13 July vulg.) is always non-imaginary
  • the 29 Gueules (23 February vulg.) is non-imaginary during leap years

The table below shows the names and order of months in a pataphysical year with their corresponding Gregorian dates and approximate translations or meanings by Hugill.[43]

Pataphysical year
Month Starts Ends Translation
Absolu 8 September 5 October Absolute
Haha 6 October 2 November Ha Ha
As 3 November 30 November Skiff
Sable 1 December 28 December Sand or heraldic black
Décervelage 29 December 25 January Debraining
Gueules 26 January 22/23 February Heraldic red or gob
Pédale 23/24 February 22 March Bicycle pedal
Clinamen 23 March 19 April Swerve
Palotin 20 April 17 May Ubu's henchmen
Merdre 18 May 14 June Pshit
Gidouille 15 June 13 July Spiral
Tatane 14 July 10 August Shoe or being worn out
Phalle 11 August 7 September Phallus

For example:

  • 8 September 1873 (vulg.) = 1 Absolu 1
  • 1 January 2000 (vulg.) = 4 Décervelage 127
  • 10 November 2012 (vulg.)(Saturday) = 8 As 140 (Sunday)


In the 1960s 'pataphysics was used as a conceptual principle within various fine art forms, especially pop art and popular culture. 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 the artist Marcel Duchamp[45] and the composer John Cage[46] characterize this. At around this time, Asger Jorn, a pataphysician and member of the Situationist International, referred to 'pataphysics as a new religion.[47]

In literature

In music

  • In the song "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" on the Beatles album Abbey Road, "'Pataphysical science" is mentioned as a course of study for Maxwell Edison's first victim, Joan.
  • The debut album by Ron 'Pate's Debonairs, featuring Reverend Fred Lane (his first appearance on vinyl), is titled Raudelunas 'Pataphysical Revue (1977), a live theatrical performance. A review in The Wire magazine said, "No other record has ever come as close to realising Alfred Jarry's desire 'to make the soul monstrous'—or even had the vision or invention to try."[49] 'Pate (note the pataphysical apostrophe) and Lane were central members in the Raudelunas art collective in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
  • Professor Andrew Hugill, of De Montfort University, is a practitioner of pataphysical music. He curated Pataphysics, for the Sonic Arts Network's CD series,[50] and in 2007 some of his own music was issued by UHRecordings under the title Pataphysical Piano; the sounds and silences of Andrew Hugill.[51]
  • British progressive rock band Soft Machine were self-described as "the Official Orchestra of the College of Pataphysics" and featured the two songs "Pataphysical Introduction" parts I and II on their 1969 album Volume Two.
  • Japanese psychedelic rock band Acid Mothers Temple refer to the topic on their 1999 release Pataphisical Freak Out MU!!.
  • Autolux, a Los Angeles–based noise pop band, have a song "Science Of Imaginary Solutions" on their second album Transit Transit.
  • The composer Gavin Bryars has been a member of the Collège de 'Pataphysique since 1974; he was appointed Regent in 2001 and a Transcendent Satrap in 2015 at the pataphysical New Year's Eve Vigil E.P. 143 (September 7, 2015 vulg.)

In visual art

  • In 1962 American artist James E. Brewton developed a style of abstract expressionism he called Graffiti Pataphysic. A survey of Brewton's 'pataphysics-related work was shown in 2014 in Philadelphia.[52]
  • American artist Thomas Chimes developed an interest in Jarry's 'pataphysics, which became a lifelong passion, inspiring much of the painter's creative work.
  • In 2000,The Laboratory of Feminist Pataphysics was founded by Canadian visual artist, writer and scholar, Mireille Perron. The Laboratory of Feminist Pataphysics has been shown at the Nickle Arts Museum,[53] The New Gallery and Stride Gallery[54] in Calgary, Alberta.[55]
  • In 2010 American artist Kevin Ferreira began a visual exploration into the imaginary solutions for the constructs of reality (pataphysics=pata art). The exhibit SpektrumMEK that resulted from this endeavor has been put into his book "SpektrumMEK: a pataphysical gestation to the birth of Lil' t"
  • The League of Imaginary Scientists, a Los Angeles-based art collective specializing in 'pataphysics-based interactive experiments. In 2011 they exhibited a series of projects at Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
  • Brian Reffin Smith, a Berlin-based British artist and Regent of Catachemistry and Speculative Metallurgy in the Collège de 'Pataphysique, Paris, often shows art based upon or influenced by 'Pataphysics and conducts performances at Pataphysical events. He was part of a group of German and Czech artists who exhibited at Patadata, in Zlín, Czech Republic, 2017.

In online fiction

  • The SCP Foundation has multiple articles referencing pataphysical concepts, such as SCP-2747 "As below, so above".

In architecture

  • Le Corbusier developed an interest in Jarry's work
  • Neil Spiller has pursued the pataphysical aspects of architecture
  • Luke Lupton researches and writes about the 'particular architecture of 'pataphysics
  • Peter Olshavsky researches and writes about 'pataphysics in architecture


The pataphor (Spanish: patáfora, French: pataphore), is a term coined by writer and musician Pablo Lopez, for an unusually extended metaphor based on Alfred Jarry's "science" of 'pataphysics'.[56][57]

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 compares a real object or event to a seemingly unrelated subject to emphasize their similarities, the pataphor uses the newly-created metaphorical similarity as a reality on 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.[58][59]

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.


Tom and Alice stood side by side in the lunch line.


Tom and Alice stood side by side in the lunch line, two pieces positioned on a chessboard.


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.[60]

Thus, the pataphor has created a world where the chessboard exists, including the characters who live in that world, entirely abandoning the original context.[60]

The pataphor has been subject to commercial interpretations,[61] usage in speculative computer applications,[62] applied to highly imaginative problem solving methods[63] and even politics on the international level[64] or theatre The Firesign Theatre (a comedy troupe whose jokes often rely on pataphors). There is a band called Pataphor[65] and an interactive fiction in the Interactive Fiction Database called "PataNoir", based on pataphors.[66][67] Pataphor is used by the Writer's Program at the University of North Florida.[57] and has appeared in works affiliated with the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University.[68]

Pataphors have been the subject of art exhibits, as in Tara Strickstein's 2010 "Pataphor" exhibit at Next Art Fair/Art Chicago,[69] other artworks,[70] and architectural works.[71] Pataphors have also been used in literary criticism,[72] and mentioned in Art in America.[73]

There is also a book of pataphorical art called Pataphor by Dutch artist Hidde van Schie.[74]

It is worth noting that a pataphor is not the traditional metaphorical conceit but rather a set of metaphors built upon an initial metaphor, obscuring its own origin rather than reiterating the same analogy in myriad ways.

In The Disappearance of Literature: Blanchot, Agamben, and the Writers of the No[75], Aaron Hillyer writes: "While metaphysics and metaphors attain one degree of separation from reality, pataphors and pataphysics move beyond by two degrees. This allows an idea to assume its own life, a sort of plasticity freed from the harness of rigid representation. In other words, metaphors operate on the level of the same. They juxtapose apparently unrelated material in order to draw out subtle identities. Pataphors unsettle this mechanism; they use the facade of metaphorical similarity as a basis for establishing an entirely new range of references and outlandish articulations: a new world in the midst of the old, the novel taking to the streets. Just as Kafka sought to forge a new form of life on the basis of absolute separation from historical progress, on cultural 'intransmissibility', and just as Blanchot pursued the 'pure novel' that exists in a relationship of absolute refusal of the established world, so the pataphysician seeks to initiate a new world on the grounds of a tenuous unreality."

See also


  1. ^ a b "Exploits & O[inions of Doctor Faustroll, Pataphysician" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 27 September 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2015. Shattuck, Roger. "Introduction". Jarry, Alfred. Exploits & Opinions of Doctor Faustroll, Pataphysician. A Neo-Scientific Novel. Exact Change Boston (1996) page ix
  2. ^ American Heritage Dictionary entry at Dictionary.com Archived 27 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Exploits & Opinions of Doctor Faustroll, Pataphysician" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 27 September 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2015. Shattuck, Roger. "Introduction". Jarry, Alfred. A Neo-Scientific Novel. Exact Change Boston (1996) page ix and page 21
  4. ^ a b c d e Jarry 1996, p.21.
  5. ^ a b c Brotchie et al. 2003
  6. ^ "Épanorthose sur le Clinamen moral", Cahiers du Collège de 'Pataphysique, 21, 22 Sable 83 (29 December 1955 vulg.)
  7. ^ Patafluens 2001, Istituto Patafisico Vitellianese, Viadana, 2002
  8. ^ Bök 2002, p.9.
  9. ^ Hugill 2012, p.8.
  10. ^ Hugill 2012, p.207.
  11. ^ Hugill 2012, p.20.
  12. ^ Brotchie 1995, p.11.
  13. ^ Brotchie 1995, p.77.
  14. ^ Brotchie 1995, p.39.
  15. ^ Hugill 2012, p.113.
  16. ^ "Fifth Magisterium of Her Magnificence Tanya Peixoto - Patakosmos.com". www.patakosmos.com. Archived from the original on 12 July 2017. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  17. ^ Hugill 2012, p.38.
  18. ^ Hugill 2012, p.123.
  19. ^ List of publications Archived 26 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine by the Collège de 'Pataphysique
  20. ^ Brotchie 1995, p.102-104.
  21. ^ Brotchie 1995, p.10-31.
  22. ^ Motte, Warren (2007). Oulipo: a primer of potential literature. Dalkey Archive Press. p. 1. ISBN 1-56478-187-9.
  23. ^ Brotchie 1995, p.22.
  24. ^ Hugill 2012, p.39.
  25. ^ Brotchie 1995, p.31.
  26. ^ Hugill 2012, p. 48.
  27. ^ Webpage Archived 24 December 2017 at the Wayback Machine of the London Institute of 'Pataphysics
  28. ^ Anthony Hancock Paintings and Sculptures exhibition Archived 24 December 2017 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ Webpage Archived 5 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine of Musée Patamécanique
  30. ^ Musée Patamécanique exhibition Archived 5 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine
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  33. ^ Hugill 2012, p.15-16.
  34. ^ Hugill 2012, p.9-12.
  35. ^ Bök 2002, p.40-43.
  36. ^ Hugill 2012, p.13-15.
  37. ^ Hugill 2012, p.16-19.
  38. ^ Bök 2002, p.38-40.
  39. ^ Hugill 2012, p.12-13.
  40. ^ "Paul Avion's Pataphor" Archived 21 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  41. ^ (in French) Electronic version of the pataphysical calendar Archived 1 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  42. ^ (in French) Reference number 1230, published 1954, as listed in the college's catalogue Archived 26 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  43. ^ a b c Hugill 2012, p.21-22.
  44. ^ a b Brotchie 1995, p.45-54.
  45. ^ Hugill 2012, p.55.
  46. ^ Hugill 2012, p.51-52.
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  48. ^ The Jean Baudrillard Reader. Redhead, Steve, Columbia University Press, 2008, pp. 6–7. 1 March 2008. ISBN 978-0-231-14613-5. Retrieved 6 June 2009.
  49. ^ Baxter, Ed (September 1998). "100 Records That Set The World On Fire ... While No One Was Listening". The Wire. pp. 35–36.
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  55. ^ "LABORATORY OF FEMINIST PATAPHYSICS PRESENTS: ATELIERS OF THE NEAR FUTURE – MIREILLE PERRON | STRIDE GALLERY". www.stride.ab.ca. Archived from the original on 11 March 2018. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
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  57. ^ a b "Pataphor". www.unf.edu. Archived from the original on 17 October 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  58. ^ (Spanish) Luis Casado, Pataphors And Political Language Archived 26 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine, El Clarin: Chilean Press, 2007
  59. ^ The Cahiers du Collège de 'Pataphysique, n°22 (December 2005), Collège de 'Pataphysique
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  • Jarry, Alfred (1996). Exploits and opinions of Dr. Faustroll, pataphysician. Exact Change. ISBN 1-878972-07-3.
  • Jarry, Alfred (2006). Collected works II - Three early novels. London: Atlas Press. ISBN 1-900565-36-6.
  • Shattuck, Roger (1980). Roger Shattuck's Selected Works of Alfred Jarry. Grove Press. ISBN 0-8021-5167-1.
  • Taylor, Michael R. (2007). Thomas Chimes Adventures in 'Pataphysics. Philadelphia Museum of Art. ISBN 978-0-87633-253-5.
  • Vian, Boris (2006). Stanley Chapman, ed. 'Pataphysics? What's That?. London: Atlas Press. ISBN 1-900565-32-3.
  • Morton, Donald. "Pataphysics of the Closet." Transformation: Marxist Boundary Work in Theory, Economics, *Politics and Culture (2001): 1-69.
  • Powrie, Phil. "René Daumal and the 'pataphysics of liberation." Neophilologus 73.4 (1989): 532-540.
  • H. Bouché, François LachenalWas ist 'Pataphysik? Elementare Prolegomena zu einer Einführung in die 'Pataphysik. Offenbach 1959.
  • Cal Clements: Pataphysica. iUniverse 2002 ISBN 0-595-23604-9
  • Lennon, Nigey. "Alfred Jarry: The Man with the Axe." (1984) Airstreambooks.net ISBN 0-86719-382-4

External links

Alfred Jarry

Alfred Jarry (French: [al.fʁɛd ʒa.ʁi]; 8 September 1873 – 1 November 1907) was a French symbolist writer who is best known for his play Ubu Roi (1896), a pataphysical work which depicts the bourgeoisie as the super-mediocre. He coined the term and philosophical concept of pataphysics, which uses absurd irony to portray symbolic truths (and playfully vice versa).Jarry was born in Laval, Mayenne, France, and his mother was from Brittany. He was associated with the Symbolist movement. His play Ubu Roi is often cited as a forerunner of Dada and the Surrealist and Futurist movements of the 1920s and 1930s. He wrote in a variety of hybrid genres and styles, prefiguring the postmodern, including novels, poems, short plays and opera bouffes, absurdist essays and speculative journalism. His texts are considered examples of absurdist literature and postmodern philosophy.

Andrew Hugill

Andrew Hugill (born 1957) is a British composer, writer and academic. He is both a Professor of Music and a Professor of Creative Computing. He directs the Creative Computing programme at University of Leicester.

Atlas Press

Atlas Press began publishing in 1983, and specialises in extremist and avant-garde prose writing from the 1890s to the present day. It is the largest publisher in English of books on Surrealism and has an extensive list relating to Dada, Surrealism, Expressionism, the Oulipo, the Collège de ‘Pataphysique, Vienna Actionists among others.

Chief editor is Alastair Brotchie, German-language and series editor is Malcolm Green, French-language and series editor is Antony Melville, and copy editor and annotator is Chris Allen.

Atlas Press is also linked to the Secretariat of and is the publishing body of The London Institute of 'Pataphysics, whose President is Peter Blegvad.

Enrico Baj

Enrico Baj (October 31, 1924 – June 15, 2003) was an Italian artist and writer on art. Many of his works show an obsession with nuclear war. He created prints, sculptures but especially collage. He was close to the surrealist and dada movements, and was later associated with CoBrA. As an author he has been described as a leading promoter of the avant-garde. He worked with Umberto Eco among other collaborators. He had a long interest in the pseudo-philosophy 'pataphysics.

Extended metaphor

An extended metaphor, also known as a conceit or sustained metaphor, is an author’s exploitation of a single metaphor or analogy at length through multiple linked tenors, vehicles, and grounds throughout a poem or story. Tenor is the subject of the metaphor, vehicle is the image or subject that carries the weight of the comparison, and ground is the shared proprieties of the two compared subjects. Another way to think of extended metaphors is in terms of implications of a base metaphor. These implications are repeatedly emphasized, discovered, rediscovered, and progressed in new ways.

Julien Torma

Julien Torma (6 April 1902 – ?) was credited as a French writer, playwright and poet who was part of the Dadaist movement.

Torma disappeared in the mountains of the Tyrol at the age of 30. Due to his secretive behaviour and the impossibility of verifying the supposed details of his life (i.e. no living or known family members and every writer he supposedly knew having died long before the publication of his books, no professional career, no fixed address, his body having never been recovered, etc.), it has been suggested by some, including Jean-François Jeandillou, that Torma's existence may be fictitious. His purported birthday, 6 April, is marked as "the birthday of pataphysics" in the "pataphysics calendar". The real writer who authored the first four publications and Porte battantes would have had to be using a pen name, as, according to the French institute for statistics INSEE, only three Torma births have been recorded in France since 1891, all between 1941 and 1965.

Luc Étienne

Luc Étienne Périn, also known as Luc Étienne, (8 September 1908 – 27 November 1984) was a French writer and a proponent of 'pataphysics. He was born on 8 September 1908, in the small town of Neuflize, in the Ardennes, and died on 27 November 1984, in Reims.

After having studied in Charleville, he went on, in 1945, to teach mathematics and physics in a secondary school in Reims. In 1952, his first 'pataphysical works were published in the books of the College of 'Pataphysics, whose Regent and Chief of Practical Work he later became. He published 'The Art of the Spoonerism' in 1957, and maintained until his death a weekly section of linguistic gaffes in the French satirical newspaper, Le Canard enchaîné. In 1970, he became a member of the equally experimental Oulipo, a loose group of Francophone writers and mathematicians.

Périn is most famed for his avant garde humour, and his interest in many literary facets, such as slang, palindromes, spoonerisms, Bouts-Rimés, and charades.

Naming law in Sweden

The naming law in Sweden (Swedish: lag om personnamn)

is a Swedish law which requires approval of the government agency for names to be given to Swedish children. The parents must submit the proposed name of a child within three months of birth. The current law was enacted in 2017, replacing a 1982 law. The Swedish Tax Agency administers the registration of names in Sweden. The law has been revised since originally enacted; in 1983, it was made possible for men to adopt their wife's or partner's name, as well as for women to adopt their husband's name.

The 1982 law states, in part: "First names shall not be approved if they can cause offense or can be supposed to cause discomfort for the one using it, or names which for some obvious reason are not suitable as a first name" (§ 34). This text applies both when parents name their children and when an adult wants to change their own name. When changing a name, the first change is free of charge as long as at least one of the names given at birth is kept, and such a change is only allowed once per person. Further name changes require fee payment. The law states nothing about registering which name is used on a daily basis, but the tax authority can register that if requested.


Oubapo (French pronunciation: ​[ubapo], short for French: Ouvroir de bande dessinée potentielle; roughly translated: "workshop of potential comic book art") is a comics movement which believes in the use of formal constraints to push the boundaries of the medium. OuBaPo is styled after the French literary movement Oulipo (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle), founded by Raymond Queneau and Georges Perec. Oubapo was founded in November 1992 in the Ou-X-Po and announced in L'Association's French comics edition.


Oucipo is part of the Ouxpo cultural movement that was in turn derived from the Oulipo literary movement, but with a specific focus on cinema.Literally, the Workshop of Possible (or Potential) Cinema (Ouvroir de Cinématographie Potentielle), Oucipo was founded on October 7, 1974 by François Le Lionnais as Oucinépo, but later become more commonly known as Oucipo.Oucipo in itself was never very active. However, it gave birth to numerous film production groups working along similar thematic lines.


Ougrapo stands for "Ouvroir du design graphique potentiel", which translates roughly as "workshop of potential graphic design", it was founded in Frankfurt (Main), in 2000. Ougrapo is an archive and a workshop for "graphic design under constraints", researching, collecting and applying methods and processes to design.


Oulipo (French pronunciation: ​[ulipo], short for French: Ouvroir de littérature potentielle; roughly translated: "workshop of potential literature") is a loose gathering of (mainly) French-speaking writers and mathematicians who seek to create works using constrained writing techniques. It was founded in 1960 by Raymond Queneau and François Le Lionnais. Other notable members have included novelists Georges Perec and Italo Calvino, poets Oskar Pastior, Jean Lescure and poet/mathematician Jacques Roubaud.

The group defines the term littérature potentielle as (rough translation): "the seeking of new structures and patterns which may be used by writers in any way they enjoy".

Constraints are used as a means of triggering ideas and inspiration, most notably Perec's "story-making machine", which he used in the construction of Life A User's Manual. As well as established techniques, such as lipograms (Perec's novel A Void) and palindromes, the group devises new methods, often based on mathematical problems, such as the knight's tour of the chess-board and permutations.


Outrapo stands for "Ouvroir de tragicomédie potentielle", which translates roughly as "workshop of potential tragicomedy". It was founded in London, in 1991, and it seeks to mine the potentialities of stage performance, using new or preexistent constraints.The members, by order of entry in scene are:

Stanley Chapman

Milie von Bariter

Cosima Schmetterling

Jean-Pierre Poisson

Anne Feillet

Felix Pruvost

Tom Stoppard


Ouxpo is an acronym for "Ouvroir d'X Potentielle". It is an umbrella group for Oulipo, Oubapo, Outrapo, etc. The term 'ouvroir', originally used in conjunction with works of charity, was reused by Raymond Queneau for a blend of 'ouvroir' and 'œuvre' ("work") and roughly corresponds to the English 'workshop'. The term 'potentiel' is used in the sense of that "which is possible, or realisable if one follows certain rules".

René Daumal

René Daumal (French: [domal]; 16 March 1908 – 21 May 1944) was a French spiritual para-surrealist writer and poet, best known for his posthumously published novel Mount Analogue (1952) as well as for being an early, outspoken practitioner of pataphysics.

Simon Watson Taylor (surrealist)

Simon Watson Taylor (15 May 1923 – 4 November 2005) was an English actor and translator, often associated with the Surrealist movement. He was born in Wallingford, Oxfordshire and died in London.

He was secretary for the British Surrealist Group and edited the English language surrealist review Free Union but later became a key player in the "science" of Pataphysics. He was educated in England, France, Switzerland, Germany and Austria. Taylor lived in Paris in 1946-7, working for the English section of Radiodiffusion Française.

Taylor's extensive work as a translator of modern and avant-garde French literature and books about art included Surrealism and Painting by André Breton and plays by Boris Vian including The Empire Builders, The Generals' Tea Party and The Knackers' ABC. Others were The Cenci by Antonin Artaud, Paris Peasant by Louis Aragon and numerous works by Alfred Jarry. His collection of Jarry's The Ubu Plays (Methuen, London, 1968) included translations by himself and Cyril Connolly and remains in print.

In 1968 Taylor edited French Writing Today, published in the United Kingdom by Penguin and in 1969 by Grove Press in the United States.

Taylor was an editorial advisor and frequent contributor to the London-based magazine Art and Artists and was the guest co-editor (with Roger Shattuck) of a special issue (May–June 1960) of the American literary magazine Evergreen Review; titled What is Pataphysics?

With Shattuck he also edited The Selected Works of Alfred Jarry (Methuen & Co, London, 1965).

Taylor's papers are in a collection at The University of Tulsa.

Stanley Chapman

Stanley Chapman (15 September 1925 – 26 May 2009) was a British architect, designer, translator and writer. His interests included theatre and 'pataphysics. He was involved with founding the National Theatre of London, was a member of Oulipo of the year 1961, founder of the Outrapo and a member also of the French Collège de 'Pataphysique, the London Institute of 'Pataphysics and the Lewis Carroll Society. In the early 1950s he contributed poems and designed covers for the literary magazines Listen and Stand and contributed translations to Chanticleer, a magazine edited by the poet Ewart Milne. His English translation of A Hundred Thousand Billion Poems was received with "admiring stupefaction" by Raymond Queneau.

Thomas Chimes

Thomas Chimes (1921–2009) was an influential painter and artist from Philadelphia. His work is in important public collections, including those of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, FL, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, and the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut, among others.

Ubu Roi

Ubu Roi (Ubu the King or King Ubu) is a play by Alfred Jarry. It was first performed in Paris at the Théâtre de l'Œuvre, causing a riotous response in the audience as it opened and closed on December 10, 1896. It is considered a wild, bizarre and comic play, significant for the way it overturns cultural rules, norms, and conventions. To some of those who were in the audience on opening night, including W. B. Yeats and the poet and essayist Catulle Mendès, it seemed an event of revolutionary importance, but many were mystified and outraged by the seeming childishness, obscenity, and disrespect of the piece. It is now seen by some to have opened the door for what became known as modernism in the twentieth century. It is a precursor to Dada, Surrealism and the Theatre of the Absurd. It is the first of three stylised burlesques in which Jarry satirises power, greed, and their evil practices—in particular the propensity of the complacent bourgeoisie to abuse the authority engendered by success.

The title is sometimes translated as King Turd; however, the word "Ubu" is actually merely a nonsense word that evolved from the French pronunciation of the name "Herbert", which was the name of one of Jarry's teachers who was the satirical target and inspirer of the first versions of the play.Jarry made some suggestions regarding how his play should be performed. He wanted King Ubu to wear a cardboard horse's head in certain scenes, "as in the old English theatre", for he intended to "write a guignol". He thought a "suitably costumed person would enter, as in puppet shows, to put up signs indicating the locations of the various scenes". He also wanted costumes with as little specific local colour reference or historical accuracy as possible.Ubu Roi was followed by Ubu Cocu (Ubu Cuckolded) and Ubu Enchaîné (Ubu in Chains), neither of which was performed during Jarry's 34-year life. One of his later works, a novel/essay on "pataphysics", is offered as an explanation behind the ideas that underpin Ubu Roi. Pataphysics is, as Jarry explains, "the science of the realm beyond metaphysics". Pataphysics is a pseudo-science Jarry created to critique members of the academy. It studies the laws that "govern exceptions and will explain the universe supplementary to this one". It is the "science of imaginary solutions".

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