What is pataphysics?



“Pataphysics is the science of imaginary solutions.” Alfred Jarry (1873 – 1907).1,2,3


Science: The intellectual and practical4 activity encompassing the systematic study of the origin, structure and behaviour (and purpose)5 of an object through observation, experiment and real-time application.


Image: The private representation of a form.6


Solution: An output.7


Therefore: Pataphysics is the intellectual (i.e., imaginative) and practical (i.e., bodily) activity encompassing the systematic study of the origin, structure and behaviour (and purpose) of imagination (i.e., as private fantasy) through observation, experiment and real-time application.




The experience of Physics (meaning nature) presents as private analogue8 response to contact by (a stream of quantised) random events.9



Metaphysics10 is an observer’s fantasies about of physics/nature.



Pataphysics11 is an observer’s fantasies about metaphysics,

hence about the meaning and function of fantasies (i.e.  imagination).12




Therefore, pataphysics is the science of private consciousness.13























1.    The word pataphysics was invented by the obstreperous schoolboy Jarry and some classmates as prank.

2.    Jarry later, i.e., after he had transformed himself into an grotesque drama queen of the absurd, developed the initial parameters (or imaginative assumptions) of pataphysics, such as the notion that pataphysics is a science; that it is the science of imaginary solutions (i.e. fantasies), that it only concerns the individual (or particular, hence a monad); that all individuals (i.e. quanta) are equivalent, that the individual is idiosyncratic, hence unique and is therefore the rule rather than the exception, and so on.

3.    Unfortunately, Jarry (who had a soft spot for maths), distracted by his obsession to act out his compensatory role of mater of the absurd, failed to develop his initial understandings further; nor did any of his dim-witted also ran (German: Mitläufer) supporters even to this day. To survive he became a writer and applied his notion of pataphysics to the genre of fantasy or nonsense literature, as Lewis Carroll (who also had a soft spot for maths) had done in 1865 with his masterpiece of nonsense literature, namely ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ That was long before Jarry was born. ‘Alice in Wonderland’ was published in French in 1869 and would have been available to Jarry. Nor is it clear to what extent Jarry was familiar with the idealists/fantasists Berkeley, Kant, Nietzsche and in particular Schopenhauer and who had proposed ‘The World as Will and Imagination’ (read: imaginary solution).

4.    For ‘intellectual and practical’ read: mental and bodily. The locus of mental activity is primarily within the human’s navigation system, i.e., his/her Bio-Nav and which serves blind and automatic Data processing and Guide & Control System.

5.    All objects/emergents that make up the cosmos (of any individual) are dynamic, hence driven to survive against the odds of continuous decay/death. Survival (per se) is the ultimate (or virtual) purpose of an object/emergent but requiring a specific (or actual, to wit. a local eco-system relevant) purpose on which to piggyback. Obviously, the ultimate goal of a life is to return to earth, i.e., death (and oblivion).

6.    The private representation is in analogue, hence as user-friendly response to a user-unfriendly (big data) digital stream of random events.

7.    A quantised (i.e., closed, thus certain), thus meaningful private fantasy (or fiction) that serves as survival enhancing plan (tactic or strategy). An output remains a plan until reality tested.

8.    For ‘in analogue’ read: via a user-friendly fantasy-cum-analogy. Digital (or quantised) transmission is user-unfriendly.

9.    Each contact (as momentary random event) producing the momentary experience response (as private experience, thus fantasy) of realness. In other words, when a random event strikes (or instructs), it generates a realness response moment-as-quantum.

10.     Metaphysics is a fantasy bootstrapping operation. The Greek word ‘metaphysics’, meaning ‘after nature’, is meaningless until meaning is superimposed on it.

11.     Pataphysics is also a bootstrapping operation. All emergents happen as outputs (i.e., data transmissions) from an (universal, hence blind and automatic) emergents generating procedure. Their transformation into user-friendly fantasies is also a bootstrapping operation.

12.     i.e., of private response in analogue, hence as fantasy.

13.     Consciousness, always private because happening as contact simulations inside the (blind and automatic) navigation system of a monad/human, emerges as flow (or screening procedure) of individual analogue responses to a stream of digital contacts, external or internal. Consciousness is a solipsistic navigation event. Idem all other responses.