Collège de ’Pataphysique

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What is the College of ’Pataphysics?

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This vastest and most profound of Sciences indeed contains within itself all others, whether they wish it or not. ’Pataphysics, or the science of imaginary solutions, was illustrated by Alfred Jarry in the admirable person of Doctor Faustroll. The Exploits and Opinions of Doctor Faustroll, Pataphysician, written in 1897-1898 and first published in 1911 (after Jarry’s death), contains both the Principles and the Virtualities of ’Pataphysics, science of the particular, science of exceptions (it being clearly understood of course, that the world contains nothing except exceptions, and that a “rule” is precisely an exception to the exception; and as for the world, Faustroll defined the universe as “that which is the exception to oneself”).
This Science, to which Jarry dedicated his life, is practised unwittingly by all of humanity. Human beings could more easily dispense with breathing than with Pataphysics. We find ’Pataphysics in the Exact and Inexact Sciences (though nobody admits it), in the Fine Arts and the Foul, and in every kind of Literary Activity or Inactivity. Open the newspaper, turn on the radio or television, explore the Internet, speak: Pataphysics!
’Pataphysics is the very substance of this world.

The Collège de ’Pataphysique was founded in 1948 (vulg.) to study these most important and serious of all problems: the only ones that are important and serious. Let there be no mistake: it is not a question, as some simple minds who take Jarry for a satirist seem to think, of denouncing human activities and cosmic reality; nor is it a question of promoting a mocking pessimism or a corrosive nihilism. On the contrary, it is a question of discovering the perfect harmony in all things, and through this harmony the profound concordance between people’s minds (or, equally, the ersatz which takes the place of mind). It is a question of a few people doing consciously what all others do unconsciously.
The College of ’Pataphysics addresses itself and can only address itself to a minority.
Its activities have an ambiguous character. The superficial observer is amused, even delighted. He imagines he has come across a group of cruel practical jokers, cynical or subtle ironists, collections of pungent curiosities, merciless exposures of pretence. Is he perhaps mistaken?
A closer look and a more prolonged acquaintance with these activities will enable the observer to perceive that they correspond to a general viewpoint and an entirely new psychology, beyond laughter and even, perhaps, beyond smiling. Jarry was imperturbable.

The publications of the College of ’Pataphysics include a journal, with the general title of Viridis Candela and the series’ titles of Cahiers, Dossiers, Subsidia Pataphysica, then, during the Occultation (1975-2000), Organographes, Monitoires and L’Expectateur published by the Cymbalum Pataphysicum, followed in 2000 by the Carnets trimestriels, the Correspondancier, the Publicateur, and currently, Spéculations. Previously unpublished texts, learned studies, pataphysical speculations, epiphanies (in the Joycean sense) of involuntary pataphysics, serials, research in progress, constitute their essential content. With the passing of time, one notices that these works have established today’s understanding of Alfred Jarry, Raymond Roussel and Julien Torma; that the College was the first to publish a play by Ionesco (The Bald Soprano) or by Boris Vian (The Empire Builders), or the exercises of the Oulipo and the other Ou-x-pos, and that, with the consideration of ever new subject matter — from the art of the insult to the lives of the saints of the Pataphysical Calendar, from spoonerisms to merdicine, from detective stories to Potential Politics, from the depth of the draught of Noah’s ark to a celebration of Hair, from Homer’s irony to that of Gödel’s theorem, a veiled treatise of Pataphysics begins to appear. Aberrance is universal and the Science of it likewise.
That is why the College has expanded itself into numerous Institutes beyond France (Argentina, Milan, Limbourg, Antwerp, Germany, Sweden, London, Spain, Naples, the Low Countries, China…). Translations and anthologies in Czech, Slovak, Swedish, English, Italian, German, Nanterrish, Polish, Spanish, Dutch, Arabic, Chinese or Kosovar verify what, His Magnificence the Vice-Curator Founder first proposed: that the world, in its entirety, is the true College of ’Pataphysics.

Properly enrolled Members of the College are entitled each year to receive four issues of the Viridis Candela and, also two Internal Publications that are not available for sale to the public. These publications are not limited to texts. Stamps, postcards, posters, cassettes, CDs, articles of clothing, varied artefacts, or portfolios of original and computer graphics have been offered to members.
In addition, the said Members have the right to wear the Insignia of the College by day as well as by night, to participate in its Assizes and Private Manifestations, to make use of the Pataphysical Calendar, etc. They have the opportunity, depending on their merits (pataphysically speaking) or their state of seniority, to be received into the Hierarchy, to become members of the Ordre de la Grande Gidouille and to be honoured by the College at their respective obsequies. Finally, they have the Privilege of paying phynancial fees to the College.