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The Grand Gidouille on Ubu's belly is a symbol of ‘pataphysics.
"If physics proposes: 'You have a brother and he likes cheese,' then metaphysics replies, 'If you have a brother, he likes cheese.' But 'Pataphysics says: 'You don’t have a brother and he likes cheese.' "
Georges Perec, novelist and pataphysician
"Pataphysics, the science of imaginary solutions, was initially developed by the drinker, piscator, cyclist, and pistolero Alfred Jarry, who on the side was a puppeteer and man of letters whose work paved the way for Dada. In this context, the concept of pataphysics has been lifted from its absurdist roots and brought into the larger world of fantastic literature, where it may prove of practical use."
Dr. Herpetophilious, pataphysicist and pataphysician [1]
"If you understand something in only one way, then you don’t really understand it at all. The secret of what anything means to us depends on how we’ve connected it to all other things we know."
Marvin Minsky, American cognitive scientist in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), co-founder of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AI laboratory
"It's an imaginary problem that this wiki does not have a page on 'pataphysics or that it needs to be improved. As a wiki pataphysician of tropes and things related to tropes, I propose an imaginary solution."
Refridgerator.pngUladox(talk) 03:28, 13 January 2016 (UTC)

So what is 'pataphysics? You glance at someone, they glance back at you, and you decide they either love you or despise you. You then think that maybe they do both these things and thus they are a stalker. You imagine yourself running away from them like a scene from a bad horror movie. Suddenly it is also an action flick and things are exploding everywhere because in this world, the rule is that all chases must create explosions. Maybe it is not a rule, but an unexceptional exception. In this world the rule of explosions is quite dangerous, so, as a solution, people wear large fire-resistant capes to soak up the explosions to be utilized later. Welcome to 'pataphysics!

′Pataphysics resists definition[2], giving it hundreds of them. Here are some more.

'Pataphysics (French: 'pataphysique) is an absurdist, pseudo-scientific literary trope. ′Pataphysics is to metaphysics as metaphysics is to physics. ′Pataphysics is the science of imaginary solutions. ′Pataphysics describes the hypothetical that comes from the imaginary. ′Pataphysics sometimes finds useful from the useless. ′Pataphysics is tongue-in-cheek rules taken seriously, but not too much. ′Pataphysics has become a joke of applied pseudoscience in that it has been seriously done[3]. ′Pataphysics on rare occasions is how the world ought to be and points out Reality Is Unrealistic.

You wonder what it would be like if you turn on your headlights moving at the speed of light. You wonder if character A's Applied Phlebotinum existed in character B's world. You wonder what would happen if national personifications [4] existed and interacted to represent the actions of their countries. You wonder what rules might be in place for a world on the back of a giant turtle. If you have ever wondered how things might be if something that is not is, you have delved into the pataphysical!

It is important to avoid misunderstanding to understand that ’pataphysics is not postmodernism! The two philosophies are fundamentally incompatable, in fact[5]. Postmodernism proposes that reality is a fiction or that there is no difference between literal and metaphorial truth. ′Pataphysics proposes that there is a reality and that it is not the same as metaphorical realities, which themselves are distinct constructs. Indeed, the construction of metaphorical realities is taken from metaphysics and their study and in depth exploration is a core part of ′pataphysics. ′Pataphysics recognizes these metaphorical realities as just that, imaginary. ′Pataphysics is the science of imaginary solutions after all. It might even be argued that ’pataphysics is the exact opposite of postmodernism for all this.

In terms of tropes, ′pataphysics might be the greatest one of all, with all tropes being examples of it as the rules of narrative causalities called stories. The troper is the pataphysician of these pataphorical worlds. Our metaphors run amok become pataphors, and our pataphors subject to our tropes. In these worlds the Genre Savvy are the physicists, and everything around them is the result of some person asking "what would it be like if All Theories Are True?" Or maybe it's just Artistic License Physics for worlds based on Rule of Cool, Just for Fun.


Because 'pataphysics deals with the science of the particular instead of the general, it has some unique concepts.

  • Clinamen, “the smallest possible aberration that can make the greatest possible difference.”[6]
  • Antinomy, 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.[7]
  • Syzygy, 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.[8]
  • Absolute, the absolute is the idea of a transcended reality.[9]
  • Anomaly, an anomaly represents the exception. Jarry said that "pataphysics will examine the laws governing exceptions, and will explain the universe supplementary to this one".[10] Bök calls it “the repressed part of a rule which ensures that the rule does not work”.[11][12]
  • Pataphor, 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.[13]
Examples of 'Pataphysics include:


  • Neil Spiller has pursued the pataphysical aspects of architecture
  • Peter Olshavsky researches and writes about ‘pataphysics in architecture


  • The authors Giannina Braschi, Raymond Queneau, Jean Genet, Eugène Ionesco, Boris Vian, Rene Daumal 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 identified as such for some part of his life.
  • American writer Pablo Lopez has developed an extension of 'pataphysics called the pataphor.


  • 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". '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, and in 2007 some of his own music was issued by UHRecordings under the title Pataphysical Piano; the sounds and silences of Andrew Hugill.
  • 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" in their second album Transit Transit.

Real Life

  • The Collège de 'Pataphysique, founded in 1948 in Paris, France, is a "society committed to learned and inutilious research". (The word 'inutilious' is synonymous with 'useless'.) A quote from the Zombie 'Pataphysics blog [14] explains more:
"The Paris-based College de 'Pataphysique, in which I have the honour to hold the Chair of Catachemistry and Computational Metallurgy, is more or less like Freemasons on LSD, though with far, far more bureaucracy, consisting in an all-embracing, devious network of sub-committees, and quite a lot of wining and dining. It is, however, a deeply serious institution, and numbers or has numbered many illustrious avantgardists, scientists, philosophers and writers amongst its members, from Marcel Duchamp, Raymond Queneau, Boris Vian, Max Ernst, Eugene Ionesco and Georges Perec to the Marx Brothers, Dario Fo, Fernando Arrabal, Umberto Eco and Jean Baudrillard. It is also the umbrella organisation not only of OuLiPo, the Potential Literature Workshop, but also of OuPeinPo for art, and various other "OuXPo" in the realms of comic strips, music, cuisine, crime fiction and so on."
BRSmith, hold the Chair of Catachemistry and Computational Metallurgy, and is apparently a zombie or something.
  • The London Institute of 'Pataphysics was established in September 2000 to promote ‘pataphysics in the English-speaking world. The institute also contains a pataphysical museum and archive and organised the Anthony Hancock Paintings and Sculptures exhibition in 2002. The institute has various publications, including a journal and has six departments:
    • Bureau for the Investigation of Subliminal Images
    • Committee for Hirsutism and Pogonotrophy
    • Department of Dogma and Theory
    • Department of Potassons
    • Department of Reconstructive Archaeology
    • The Office of Patentry
  • Musée Patamécanique is a private museum located in Bristol, Rhode Island. 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, which the museum claims to be 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


  • Spacetwo : Patalab describes itself as "The fine art of 'pataphysics in daily life. Condensed poetic voodles. A video blog by Sam Renseiw."[15]
  • Lionel Suggs's Blog has an article on it.[16]
  • Cabinet of Wonders has an article called "Pataphysics and Fictive Art."[17]
  • Frieze has a blog entry that contains an interview with Alastair Brotchie, the author of Alfred Jarry: A Pataphysical Life.[18]