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Revision of article[edit]

Hi all, I will be doing quite a bit of work on this article in the next few days/weeks. It is going to be my first substantial contribution to wikipedia, so please do correct me if I'm wrong or help with styling and such. I thought I'd do the changes bit by bit as I go along for better tracking but that means that at times the article might look a bit unfinished, so forgive me for that. -- FaniaRa (talk) 10:43, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

I have done quite a bit of work on this article but I don't think I can say that I'm finished even though my changes and additions will be more infrequent now. I would like to add a section on pataphysical humour in the future and expand on the concepts section and there are always references to be added and further reading to be suggested etc. I still want to move the pataphor section into its own article again (it seems to have enough following and activity to be classed as notable enough I would say) and such a detailed desciption (with its own subsections on influences and such) does not belong into the pataphysics article I believe. -- FaniaRa (talk) 19:41, 26 November 2012 (UTC)


first time i heard the term "'Pataphysics", and i couldn't understand the actual way of thinking related to it. could an example of a 'Pataphysic solution, idea, joke, or anything, be added to the article? right now it is very unclear to newcomers what 'Pataphysics is really about. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:55, 22 September 2007 (UTC)


Do we get an explanation of the apostrophe?

It was Jarry who declared that: "Pataphysics, whose etymological spelling should be 'EPI' and actual orthography 'pataphysics, preceded by an apostrophe so as to avoid a simple pun ... " --jenlight 20:31, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

Personally I miss the pataphysical nature of earlier versions of this article. Contributors would do well to remember that pataphysics is the science of imaginary solutions, not an imaginary science; this article should not be treated as a Nihilartikel, though it probably ought to resemble one.

Tolken 18:49, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)

(cur) (last) . . 10:30 2 Jun 2003 . . Pcb21 (rm Heath Robinson see also, not strictly correct analogy)

user pcb21 has removed the following useful links:

The root prefix element "Pata-" is still not explained. Is it from Greek like "Meta-" is? I know Greek transliterated spellings can be of separate rooted words 'pedo' meaning either "youth" or "foot" & 'homo' meaning either human or same, so I am not entirely sure if I am to believe what I find when looking online that "pata" is Greek for "to step on". Nagelfar 13:08, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

Those ambiguities come from mixing Greek and Latin roots. "Paedo" or "pedo" (paedophile, pediatrician) means "boy" or "youth" in Greek; (bicycle) "pedal" comes from Latin for foot. (The Greek root for foot shows up in English as "pus" (octopus) or "pod".) "Homo" from Greek means "same" (homogenized milk); "homo" from Latin means "man", "person" (Homo sapiens). AdamFunk (talk) 09:37, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

Page move[edit]

A user recently moved this page from 'Pataphysics to ’Pataphysics; I see no explanation in the text for the distinction being important enough for a page move, so if there's no objections I'll move it back in ~24 hours. Not everyone has curly quotes in their browser font. -- nae'blis (talk) 14:51, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

I object.  As time marches forward, computers lacking the capacity to display curly quotes will be slaughtered, and their villages ransacked.  Wikipedia does not wish to be on the wrong side of history.  allixpeeke (talk) 04:02, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

See Also[edit]

The Rube Goldberg and Heath Robinson links were listed in the example of the writings of a pataphysician. Since (and you can confirm this if you check the history) those links were NOT written by a pataphysican, then they should not be in the example. The pataphysical situation link.. oops sorry about that. Thanks for putting it back. By the way please sign your comments. It makes for a more constructive dialogue if people know who they are talking to. You can do this by typing ~~~~ at the end of your comment. Pcb21 13:35 2 Jun 2003 (UTC)

What found where?[edit]

Moved the italicized section here. When making historical claims, especially ones that may be contentious, the claim must be spelled out exactly (in this case, it needs to be made clear what was found in the ancient writings) and backed up with references, and with explicit reference to what was found in what passages of each work, preferrably with quotes. In this case, the removed section seems to be making the claim that Faustroll was found in the ancient writings...

Pataphysics is sometimes defined as "the science of imaginary solutions, which symbolically attributes the properties of objects, described by their virtuality, to their lineaments" (from Alfred Jarry's Book Faustroll). It is found in the ancient writings of Chinese philosopher Dzu-tse (Jootsius), Ibicrate the Geometer and Sophrotatos the Armenian.

-Seth Mahoney 18:52, Sep 11, 2004 (UTC)

Those are fictional people and their works are referred to 'pataphysically. I think that sentence is rather important to the article. I will refrain from replacing it because I have the impression that that would not be seen as constructive but I hope a consensus would see its value. SpacemanSpork 23:49, 2005 Feb 28 (UTC)
In the first paragraph of this section, Seth Mahoney has clearly just confessed to patablasphemy, and must forthwith be pelted with cream tarts until he dies of obesity. Tlhslobus (talk) 01:56, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
In the spirit of pataphysics I have invited Seth to say something suitably ridiculous in his defence, but sadly he seems to have temporarily gone into occultation. Tlhslobus (talk) 02:17, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

Correct spelling?[edit]

Isn't the correct spelling " 'pataphysics " (beginning with an apostrophe)?

Yes. Merely follow the external link to the LIP and see for yourself.

Eadem mutata resurgo[edit]

Eadem mutata resurgo translates into English as what? --sparkit (talk) 15:08, July 11, 2005 (UTC)

I too would like to know the significance of the apostrophe :) porges 05:18, July 31, 2005 (UTC)


The article claims 'pataphysics is mentioned in the lyrics to "Maxwell's Silver Hammer," but I've just found a copy of the lyrics online and there's no mention of 'pataphysics anywhere. Can someone verify? --Jay (Histrion) (talkcontribs) 21:20, 28 November 2005 (UTC)

Re: Beatles song[edit]

It appears in the first two lines of the "Maxwell's Silver Hammer":

'Joan was quizzical; studied pataphysical Science in the home.'

The official Abbey Road lyrics verify this.

With all due respect to the people who drop by from time to time to argue about this, please consult the album, not lyrics online, which are basically best guesses by random people.


You have no way of knowing if they are random people just making guesses or sites dedicated to finding the correct lyrics (through whatever means, most of the time the album). Please find a way to back up your claims.

With all due respect, sign your posts! :P LacsiraxAriscal (talk) 22:18, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

Punning nature of "'pataphysics"[edit]

With respect to Mr. Bill Thayer's interpetation of the "pun" behind "'pataphysics", I would like to make the following observations:

- "Patte a physique" or "leg of physics" is the pun as interpreted in citable sources, namely the works of Keith Beaumont (Alfred Jarry: A Critical and Biographical Study. U.S.: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-3120-1712-X) and Roger Shattuck's Selected Works of Alfred Jarry: Ubu Cuckolded, Exploits and Opinions of Doctor Faustroll, US: Grove Press. ISBN 0802151671)

- Having said that, the pun as cited in the aforementioned sources has never made much sense to me. (Is "leg of physics" really a very cutting insult?)

- My choice was to put the citable interpretation to the pun back in, and leave a little of Mr. Thayer's interpretation

- However, the pun could not possibly be "pas ton physique", as that would no longer be a pun with "pataphysique", but "patonphysique", a word which does not (yet!) exist

When speaking, french people would pronounce "not your physics" as "pas t'a physique" which sounds exactly like pataphysique. Also, "Patte" means leg but "pate" means paste (the noun not the verb). Could it be a physic's paste? Dawnfrenzy 06:37, 1 January 2007 (UTC)
Physique is feminine, so "not your physics" is pas ta physique (not pas ton physique). AdamFunk (talk) 11:51, 6 January 2009 (UTC)

Addition to Music section[edit]

I believe the music section should include Pataphysical Introduction (parts 1 & 2) on Soft Machine's album Volume Two, 1969, but I'm new around here and don't want to do it myself at this time. Here's an informative but not authoritative link: I'm Robin Faichney,

This section must surely include something on the US band Pere Ubu who have a huge reputation. They have just this year made a realisation of Ubu Roi as a rock /theatrical presentation.

Szczels (talk) 19:44, 17 September 2010 (UTC)

Beatles song does indeed mention "'pataphysics", NOT "metaphysics"[edit]

As has been previously said, the Beatles song DOES mention "'pataphysics", as anyone can see who has a copy of Abbey Road.

It also appears in various authorized, published versions of "Maxwell's Silver Hammer", including the following book, which has been added to the bibliography:

  • Schonberg, Bo (1986). Beatles Complete Guitar. U.S.: Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 0-88188-605-X. 
    • Whatever a printed version of the lyrics might claim, the song as sung on the recorded version does not include the word "'pataphysics", but "pataphysical". This is exactly as noted in the section "Re: Beatles song" which appears above.
Although I feel that the lyrics don't have much to do with the subject of this article beyond the mere mention of the word, this is an important distinction to make because the final three syllables of the word must agree with the end of the previous line, which is "quizzical". And that - rather than any deliberate intent to highlight the science of 'pataphysics - is most likely the reason why the word was included in the song in the first place. Contrast that use of the word with its use in the Soft Machine song mentioned elsewhere.2602:306:2422:2379:6831:CBDB:B873:B1BF (talk) 01:18, 13 June 2014 (UTC)


Why was this moved here? I would prefer it to have its own page to be honest. Can we move it back? I'm in the process of adding more content to the pataphysics article, which will include a section on pataphysical concepts such as the pataphor. But I do not want too much focus on that alone, hence the wish to move it away again. If noone objects, I'll probably move it at some point in the near future. Fania FaniaRa (talk) 13:49, 8 November 2012 (UTC)

i have just pulled pataphore from its deleted article and put it into this pataphysics article. i dont know if there are objections to this kind of activity so i wanted to initiate a discussion.

the following is info i did not include from the other article.

Example 2[edit]

"Jenny is eleven years old. She lives on a farm in Luxembourg, West Virginia. Today Jenny is collecting eggs from the hen house. It is 10 a.m. She walks slowly down the rows of cages, feeling around carefully for eggs tucked beneath clucking hens. She finds the first egg in number 6. When she holds it to the light she sees it is the deep tan of boot leather, an old oil-rubbed cowboy boot, creased with microscopic branching lines, catching the light at the swelling above the scarred dusty heel, curled at the cuff, bending and creaking as the foot of the cowboy squirms to rediscover its fit, a leathery thumb and index prying at the scruff, the heel stomping the floor. Victor the hotel manager swings open the door and gives Cowboy a faint smile." - (from "Pataphor Test," by Pablo Lopez)

From the above passage, we can see that:

  • Jenny exists in reality
  • The boot exists in metaphor
  • Cowboy (and the hotel, Victor, etc.) exists in pataphor


Pataphor (noun):

1. An extended metaphor that creates its own context.
2. That which occurs when a lizard's tail has grown so long it breaks off and grows a new lizard.


Although the word 'pataphor' has likely been used by others to mean different things in a 'pataphysical context, Lopez is the first known writer to have attached a specific meaning to the word, created its relationship to metaphor, and devoted an entire body of work to its explication and exploration, first in "Closet 'Pataphysics", appearing in New Orleans' Ellipsis, and then in Pataphors, housed in the archives of Hollins University.


i realized that all the commotion on the deletion review might be negotiated with this action, so heres a try. its up to the pataphysicists now.Some thing 17:53, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

London Institute of 'Pataphysics[edit]

I cut the following unreferenced and dubious section from the article and bring it here for discussion:

The London Institute of 'Pataphysics was established in September 2000 to promote 'pataphysics. It organised the Anthony Hancock Paintings and Sculptures: A Retrospective Exhibition.
It has six departments:

As I already stated, this is unreferenced, and looks downright silly. It may very well be a hoax, or one of Stewart Home's projects---which amounts to the same thing. Anyone have any ideas about this? ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 00:53, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

This info is actually correct, so I've added it back to the article and included the appropriate references. -- FaniaRa (talk) 23:14, 20 November 2012 (UTC)

Example of a 'pataphor[edit]

Here is the original example that was up, going from non-figurative to metaphor to pataphor:

  • Tom and Alice stood side by side in the lunch line.
  • Tom and Alice stood side by side in the lunch line, two pieces 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.

The problem with this is that we have two different scenarios. The first two are one scenario, the third is another. We can't directly compare them to see what it is about the third example that makes it a pataphor.

I replaced this with

  • Tom made a date with Alice for Friday night, angering Rudy
  • Tom took a step closer to Alice and made a date for Friday night, checkmating.
  • 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.

These three examples are all the same scenario, and therefore it is easier to compare to see what it is about the second that makes it a metaphor and what it is about the third that makes it a pataphor.

My version was reverted by Martijn. Maybe he can explain why it doesn't work for him? Otherwise, I think the second version should stand.

Sam —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:34, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

Hi Sam. I reverted the edit, because I didn't understand how "Tom took a step closer to Alice and made a date for Friday night, checkmating." is a metaphor for "Tom made a date with Alice for Friday night, angering Rudy". There are a few more things I prefer about the first example, but a clarification here would be nice already. Martijn Hoekstra (talk) 18:11, 13 February 2008 (UTC)
Hi Martijn, I should hav removed the "Tom took a step closer to Alice..." part, so that the beginning of each sentence remains the same. Either way, I still think it's more analogous. I can now reads the original story and see that it was supposed to be a sequential series of events, but since the first two overlap, it doesn't read that way. I think it's better if they all describe the same event in the three different ways, so that the parts that remain the same are easily left out of the equation, so to speak:
  • Tom made a date with Alice for Friday night, angering Rudy
  • Tom made a date with Alice for Friday night, checkmating.
  • Tom made a date with Alice for Friday night, checkmating. Rudy was furious at losing to Margaret so easily and dumped the board on the rose-colored quilt, stomping downstairs.
--Sam 16:17, 15 February 2008 (UTC)
I question the notability and verifiability of this term. My concern is that the same arguments were more than likely the basis for the deletion of the separate article on this topic, which means including the information here was inappropriate. This term has only a very loose connectin with 'Pataphysics, in that none of the "classical" exponents of the philosophy coined or used the term. It is, properly speaking, a neologism. I suggest the entire section be removed. ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 16:54, 15 February 2008 (UTC)
I still don't get how "Tom made a date with Alice for Friday night, checkmating" is a metaphor for "Tom made a date with Alice for Friday night, angering Rudy". Martijn Hoekstra (talk) 18:30, 15 February 2008 (UTC)
The Tom & Alice example currently includes a citation that, in turn, cites Wikipedia as the source of that example. Shouldn't this be examined? Bassedancer (talk) 16:41, 17 March 2010 (UTC)

What's particularly in this example exactly different than Extended Metaphor and Metaphysical conceit? Neurosys (talk) 02:53, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

The difference is that in the example, it's supposed to be that a whole world is created around the metaphor separate from its metaphorical meaning. Someone asking someone else out is a culmination of courtship, just like checkmate is the culmination of a game of chess. In the 'pataphor, the culmination of the game of chess is continued in an entirely unrelated narrative thread. In these examples, Rudy and Margaret exist completely separate from Tom and Alice. (talk) 04:25, 31 October 2011 (UTC)

Pataphysics Games[edit]

I have add a last 'pataphysic game. -- (talk) 11:24, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

Music section[edit]

Does anyone think the song 'Silver Machine' by Hawkwind would be worth adding to the 'in music' section, as it was 'inspired by Alfred Jarry', notably one of his essay's How to Construct a Time Machine, which was an example of pataphysics. GrimPeeper (talk) 02:28, 19 June 2008 (UTC)


I thought a simile uses like or as, a metaphor doesn't. This is directed at the "Like two pieces on a chess board" metaphor.Jamarac (talk) 02:36, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

Original Research[edit]

The examples are original research, right? Us441(talk)(contribs) 21:46, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

continuous use of the apostrophe[edit]

Since apparently the original sources don’t use the apostrophe throughout, but only for the original definition of the term, why should Wikipedia? Also, words like pataphysicien don’t include the apostrophe in any original sources I see. Wikipedia should probably just write pataphysician, pataphysical, &c. –jacobolus (t) 12:15, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

Also, the given source of the word pataphor doesn’t include an apostrophe at the front of that word. Wikipedia probably shouldn’t either (leaving aside the question of the notability of “pataphors”). –jacobolus (t) 12:18, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

Agreed, &apospataphysics' not a "simple pun" in English and it doesn't do anything clever so much as give the impression there's been some kind of munge. The chess ;pataphor needs to fail more dismally or maybe quote a more robust specimen in its native habitat.—Machine Elf 1735 (talk) 17:54, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

Dead link[edit]

During several automated bot runs the following external link was found to be unavailable. Please check if the link is in fact down and fix or remove it in that case!

--JeffGBot (talk) 04:07, 31 May 2011 (UTC)


Is Sophrotatos a real or is he a fictitious person, imagined by Jarry? Since i have not found anything on him out of Jarry's Faustroll. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:21, 3 June 2011 (UTC)

Reference to "Latis"[edit]

I am not sure that the internal link to the word "Latis" is appropriate (See section History). The name "Latis" was chosen as one of the numerous pseudonymes of Emmanuel Peillet. His complete pseudo was "Anne Latis"; instead of "Anne Latis" Boris Vian used "Latis Anne" which makes a (pataphysical) joke in french since it sounds like "La tisane", i.e., "infusion". Emmanuel Peillet thus stopped using this pseudo…

A link to Oulipo like the following would probably be better: Anne Latis

--Dsw2 (talk) 22:07, 14 December 2011 (UTC)

Mistranslations ?[edit]

At least in my admittedly limited understanding, 'patte' translates as 'paw', not 'leg', though I hesitate to amend the article for fear of ignorantly and unwittingly blaspheming against some pathodeity. For the same reason I don't dare correct or miscorrect 'inutilious', which I assume comes from the French 'inutile', and which would normally translate as 'useless' in vulgar pre-pataphysical English, though I do feel it's a bit tragic that my disgraceful cowardliness will cause many vulgar English speakers to inutiliously fail to understand that the purpose of the College de 'Pataphysique is to engage in 'learned and useless research'. Tlhslobus (talk) 01:47, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

This made me smile :) It think that, since both cases refer to quotes, we shouldn't really change them (even if they include liberal translations or invented words). Maybe we could add another sentence somewhere making it clear that 'inutilious' really means 'useless'? I'll add it in brackets. To be perfectly honest, I didn't even realise 'inutilious' was not a real word until now. Wow. (I'm not a native English speaker) -- FaniaRa (talk) 17:44, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

McCartney, Burroughs, Thom, Jarry[edit]

Joan was indeed pataphysical; sadly, Gilbert's Boys' Pataphysics Sets can no longer be had at the local Science Shoppe. McCartney became familiar with Soft Machine in '67 or '68 when they frequently played the UFO club in Tottenham Court Road. McCartney had also spent time with Ian Sommerville and Sommerville's companion, William Burroughs. The three shared an interest in tape recording technology - Burroughs introduced McCartney to Brion Gysin's cut-up techniques and the possibilities of extending them to recordings with manipulated tape loops. Burroughs and Sommerville (the two had until recently been living in Paris) were, like McCartney, also Jarry admirers (natch).

I need to turn-to and find some learned, useless secondary source material for some of this.

Those who became Jarry enthusiasts among my cohort in 1972 were certainly aware of the mention in Maxwell's Silver Hammer - at the time, it was old news (by the way, it was commonly conceded that snuck-up-upon "Joan" could be none other than Joan Vollmer Burroughs). I met my friend Bruce during an animated discussion of Ubu Roi after school one day. He had been introduced to Jarry monde by his father's friend, mathematician René Thom (Structural Integrity and Morphogenesis; "Catastrophe Theory" - and a life-long Jarry-iste) during Bruce's junior high school years in Paris while Bruce's dad lectured in American literature at the Sorbonne. Thom had taken Bruce to see Jarry's digs near the Val de Grâce hospital and had given him a (probably fake) human skull and a collector's volume of Jarry (lust, envy!). Bruce also told me of Thom's clandestine work on - what else? - pataphysical differential topology.

A few years later, I thought that no one would ever take pataphysics as seriously as had we, ever again. Now I find this article and it turns out that Jarry always has a Golden Age - even if it's perpetually sweet fifteen. Rt3368 (talk) 13:14, 4 October 2013 (UTC)

That's an interesting anecdote about Joan and the gang. However, it seems to me more poignantly relevant to mention the origin and raison d'être of Maxwell and his Silver Hammer. Any ideas on them? Or is Maxwell's Silver Hammer a shrouded reference to the phenomenon of the McCartney Crotchet, which may share usage and tendencies?2602:306:2422:2379:6831:CBDB:B873:B1BF (talk) 01:28, 13 June 2014 (UTC)


Just learning about this subject and scanning the article for some background,then some of the talk, I wondered if there would be an ignobel, or patanobel prize, but not sure if it should be in a pataphoric form itself. -- Steve -- (talk) 13:46, 27 July 2014 (UTC)