Translated by Drew Burk Ubu, the caricatural and gaseous state, the lower intestine and the splendor of the void. Because, here everything is stucco and fake Pataphysics is the highest temptation of the spirit. The horror of ridicule and necessity lead to an enormous infatuation, the enormous flatulence of Ubu. La gidouille is also a hot-air balloon, a nebulous or even a perfect sphere of knowledge -- the intestinal sphere of the sun. There is nothing to take away from death.

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Volume 3, Number 1 January Author: Dr. David Teh I. Introduction: Mythology and Social Science The study of myths raises a methodological problem, in that it cannot be carried out according to the Cartesian principle of breaking down the difficulty into as many parts as may be necessary for finding the solution.

There is no real end to mythological analysis, no hidden unity to be grasped… The unity of the myth is never more than tendential and projective… It is a phenomenon of the imagination, resulting from the attempt at interpretation… Unlike philosophical reflection, which claims to go back to its own source, the reflections we are dealing with here concern rays whose only source is hypothetical… Mythological thought… manifests itself as an irradiation; by measuring the directions and angles of the rays, we are led to postulate their common origin… It coincides with its object by forming a homologous image of it but never succeeds in blending with it… In seeking to imitate the spontaneous movement of mythological thought, this essay… has had to conform to the requirements of that thought and to respect its rhythm.

It follows that this book on myths is itself a kind of myth. If it has any unity, that unity will appear only behind or beyond the text and, in the best hypothesis, will become a reality in the mind of the reader.

In the mirror of myth, social science confronts itself and the limits of its scientificity. Structuralism did much to anchor in the human sciences a certain relativity, which would subsequently become a norm for what is called less than lovingly, more often than not post-structuralist or postmodern discourse.

Suspended between the radical faith engendered by techno scientific progress and by popular fetishizations of technology in mass media and spectacles like the Great Expositions , and the cataclysm of the Great War which would put this faith on trial, Jarry was obsessed with the sciences. But he found himself before that is, both prior to and facing the general demise of progress as a universal goal of humanity, as an organizing principle of society, and as a moral project to which art might be shackled.

He thus wrote a sort of ironic sunset clause in the heroic social contract of western modernity, at once aping modern science and paying it homage, in an ecstatic but parodic appropriation.

Baudrillard exchanges disciplinary propriety for catachresis and illegitimacy. With his figures of cancerous and viral replication, for example, or his invocations of the uncertainty principle or fractal mathematics, he seeks no validity beyond the aptitude of metaphor.

But all the same, he bolsters their currency as emblems of the society that generated them. At any rate, one suspects that Baudrillard would be satisfied with this taxonomic uncertainty. For his challenge is not simply epistemic. It is reflexive: he attacks the boundaries not just between one disciplinary knowledge and another, but also between theory and its object. Thought is both practice and product. Indeed, how are we to reconcile his interest in projects of high-modern knowledge Marxist and radical sociology, anthropology, etc.

Here we encounter two schisms: that between Baudrillard and the intellectual left which generated a good number of misreadings ; and also that between Baudrillard and himself — the so-called turn — variously characterized as a parting of ways with Marxism or radical politics 13 , a plunge into postmodernism or an involution into egoistic self-referentiality.

Most interpreters have not. While I cannot provide here a detailed summary of the scholarship on Baudrillard, it will suffice to note that some leading interpreters have not read him in his own terms. Siding with the object is neither ethical, nor metaphysical. It is pataphysical. It is when the subject is the only thing accorded any respect that things get the better of us, proliferate and overwhelm us, alienate us. It is a poetic device, referencing a whole anthropology of the challenge, a timeless theme of agonistic exchange of which capitalism is merely the latest mutation.

After that, his theory becomes less systematic, articulating not so much the logic, but a poetics of these categories, addressing them less as dispositifs, and more as metaphors. The concept of production in fact proliferates, as Baudrillard maps its extension across other spheres of social life sex, aesthetics, identity, etc. Hence, simulation, a poetic account of late-capitalist production, stressing its distinctive motifs simulacra, repetition, the model. We are attempting to rescue it from the limited dimensions of a Euclidean geometry of history in order to test its possibility of becoming what it perhaps is, a truly general theory.

It no longer carries a meaning but a call, a violence, a decision of rupture. In the same spirit, Baudrillard drives his theory of the object beyond the restricted language of the commodity.

As long as it was anchored in the sphere of human needs, the commodity had some claim to natural worth. But modern gadgetry, with its pure aestheticization of function, its non- and dys-functional objects, upsets this naturalism. The point is not to abandon the real in favour of farce, but rather to show that the techno-scientific real is itself farcical, and respond in kind. This is precisely what Baudrillard does, and it is where his Marxist interpreters have baulked.

But cultural theory is as susceptible to commodification as any other literature. Nothing, perhaps. But the impotence of theory in praxis carries with it a valency or potency in representation. It is a statement that is at once a pure description of the system, speaking of it in terms of the real, and a pure prescription of the system, demonstrating that it excludes the real.

It is a statement that is at once totally specific to each system examined… and absolutely universal, testifying to the fundamental reversibility at the origin of the world. Jarry extends the same courtesy to the sciences — he takes them as true, at face value.

Not the destructive void, in which all light, matter and meaning fail. If theory is to seduce, it must — like religion and art — maintain something inexplicable at its centre, a sort of black box. For some writers Blanchot again springs to mind this nothing at the centre of thought is precisely what guarantees its movement. It is a condition of possibility — that is, neither positive nor negative, but the very guarantee of ambivalence.

At once poetic and logical, aesthetic and structural, ambivalence is a critical strategy, a critique of equivalence in an economic theatre and of identity in representation and communication. Observing it is not a whimsical gesture. It is a philosophical position in favour of what is unknowable and reversible at the heart of the world, and is therefore opposed in every sense to the order of equivalence imposed by capitalism, with its imperative of predictability, its irreversible, linear accumulations of value and history.

But it inflects his entire oeuvre, even in his more bombastic, provocative and unequivocal moments. Metaphysically, ambivalence can be associated with certain temporalities cyclical and reversible that Baudrillard defends against those of a rationalist modernity linear and irreversible.

And at a rhetorical level, his text can change directions, double back on itself, at any moment; metaphors of reflection and mirroring abound. The duel designates fundamentally agonistic social relations, a sociology of challenge, beginning with the kula and the potlatch.

The dual, on the other hand, is a logical trope, standing for the logic of the double. This gives rise to a whole sociology of the double, a discourse riddled with the anxieties of identity in representation — the theory of simulation.

If representation relies on a principle of identity, this does not automatically imply any agreement or equivalence , but on the contrary, its doublings give rise to challenge and ambivalence. This cosmic ambivalence cannot but have epistemological ramifications. Let us admit it. But let us remember that if there are sciences, there is not yet science, because the scientificity of science still remains dependent on ideology, an ideology that is today irreducible by any particular science.

Jarry posed it in the 19th Century in terms of books, but the fewest he could narrow it down to was twenty-seven, cited not in order of merit but alphabetically, a heavy, arbitrary assemblage, like the volumes of some encyclopaedia. There is thus a doubling at work, for this commensurability is precisely what capital does to both art and science as it invests and commodifies them. A central tenet of a pataphysical reading is therefore the imposition of a certain leveling, of an epistemic equivalence across a range of more and less official knowledges.

Listed on a page, they appear trivial; but like trivia, they are resolute in their particularity, their singularity. It implies that thought is inherently interdisciplinary, that all discourse is heterogeneous, leaving knowledge there for the taking, or perhaps the making, by mere histories or archaeologies, or geologies of ideas.

Pataphysics assimilates discourses that are heterogeneous in their foundations, methods and purposes, arts and sciences alike. If his work is pataphysical, then whatever the difficulties, we should read it in pataphysical terms. But does pataphysics lend itself to such an approach? What would these terms be?

It suggests an epistemological diversion: that of science perverted by imagination fantasy. But we must equally consider here a perversion all the more common and more readily accepted: imagination as perverted by science. For has not an entire modern imaginary — in work, culture, education and so on — nearly succumbed to an artless rationality?

Does pataphysics not designate a poetics central to his oeuvre — his indiscriminate borrowing from various knowledges, for instance, as well as his later fixation upon ecstatic and hypertrophic systems? Our aim here must be to demonstrate that Baudrillard is a pataphysical thinker and writer. If it is a peculiar gambit to take pataphysics seriously as a philosophy, it is not unprecedented.

While it flouts their boundaries, pataphysics also extends their concepts into new contexts; it would expand scientificity to encompass all knowledges, local or cosmic, official or illegal, quotidian or mystical. Pataphysics wills a return to the heterodoxy of a pre-modern episteme. Deleuze offers a few cues when he does the same to Heidegger. He notes three resemblances between Heidegger and Jarry. The counter-assertion, that objects have a life of their own, extends the franchise of Being to the inanimate.

Both dwell on ironic con fusions, in death, of man with machine. Baudrillard is of course less sanguine about technology — and not at all messianic — but his interest in cybernetics and the future it imagines is one of few themes to endure his entire career. Futurity and invention are integral to his theory, not just as thematics, but in his method.

If Baudrillard writes pataphysics, then it is not so much philosophy which, as Derrida is given to remind us, is always also a history of philosophy, predicated on old philosophic concepts , as it is theory, which is prescriptive and concerns itself with invention. Even the history of philosophy is completely without interest if it does not undertake to awaken a dormant concept and to play it again on a new stage, even if this comes at the price of turning it against itself.

In an inverse movement, pataphysical literature would arrogate the status of a science. Foucault said the same thing about classical philosophy. Its coherence may be questionable; but coherence for Foucault is neither necessary nor sufficient, and what Jarry lacks in coherence he easily makes up for in demonstrativity. Scientific language is geared towards precision identity and taxonomy order.

The first injects, the second stammers, the third suddenly starts with a fit. The pataphysical scene, then, anticipates this sea of floating signifiers, a theatrical laboratory where a kind of verbal alchemy takes place. But we could extend it to include characterization itself as a literary device. For pataphysics is without doubt a character-driven program.

Pataphysics takes its cues — and its liberties — not primarily from literature, but from the representational schema of the theatre. Jarry does not use science, nor does he examine it — he performs it. They describe types or tendencies, not laws; there is no condensed or summarized exposition; one gets to know them gradually.

The old idiot wanted, by himself, to account for what was or was not comprehensible, what was or was not rational, what was lost or saved; but the new idiot wants the lost, the incomprehensible and the absurd to be restored to him. This is most certainly not the same persona; a mutation has taken place.

And yet a slender thread links the two idiots, as if the first had to lose reason so that the second rediscovers what the other, in winning it, had lost in advance. Or of Baudrillard, but in his own terms?



There is for me an evidence in the realm of flesh which has nothing to do with the evidence of reason. I say remarkable in that I still tend to identify Baudrillard with the small, slick black covers in which Semiotext e introduced him to America; covers which implied more of a techno aesthetic than this solemn neo-gothic one. The second remarkable thing about this book is its slim size: it is only 14 pages long. But lacking the kind of provocative packaging Atlas in association with The London Institute of Pataphysics has given this version, it made a rather minor impact on me at the time. But this new stucco-coated version, with the what one might be tempted to say is rather pretentious outside packaging, has focused my mind sympatheticly by actualizing some of the significant pataphysical concepts raised within the text itself. And for that its idiosyncratic design intelligence must be appreciated. How better to reinforce his iconic concepts of viral seduction, simulation, and hyperreality than this paradoxical presentation of the blatantly conservative with the imaginative far-out?


Baudrillard Pataphysician

Related Entries 1. He told interviewers that his grandparents were peasants and his parents became civil servants Gane Baudrillard also claims that he was the first member of his family to pursue an advanced education and that this led to a rupture with his parents and cultural milieu. During this period, he met and studied the works of Henri Lefebvre, whose critiques of everyday life impressed him, and Roland Barthes, whose semiological analyses of contemporary society had lasting influence on his work. Opposing French and U. Baudrillard said later that he participated in the events of May that resulted in massive student uprisings and a general strike that almost drove de Gaulle from power. During the late s, Baudrillard published a series of books that would eventually make him world famous.


Grokus Pataphysics It is not ridicule. Faustroll, assisted by Bosse-de-Nage Starosta: Thus, the pataphor has created a world where the chessboard exists, including the characters who live in that world, entirely abandoning the original context. That is another thing. As you indicate, it is exactly this aspect of his oeuvre that is so attractive to his readers, the literary style without having to revert to literature, which some academics envy. But it is exactly this which is its seriousness.


Baudrillard Scrapbook

He respected the technology too much, there was a sense of wonderment about it. The year has a total of 13 months each with 29 days. An intellectual friend, a pathway, a theorist who made of thought itself a faithful illusion of the sorcery of hyperreality, I mourn his death on this sad day by honoring the spirit of Jean Baudrillard. The idea is to turn it back on itself, it is in this fashion that reality is demolished. A practitioner of Pataphysics is a pata;hysics or a pataphysicist. The rules of the pataphysical game are far more dastardly than any other. Archived from the original on 21 February Retrieved 12 June They were not theories so baudrillardd as descriptions.

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