'Pataphysics, the science of imaginary solutions

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Filed under: The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:


‘Pataphysics, a term coined by the French writer Alfred Jarry, 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’à‰cho 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).

Read more about ‘Pataphysics at Wikipedia…