'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
'Pataphysics is also defined by Jarry as the "science of imaginary solutions."
According to Jarry, the apostrophe (') is always added before the word to avoid a pun in French.
(The exact pun to be avoided is the subject of some debate. The debate itself -- being, in essense, a debate about a subject which may not truly exist, but exist as another joke by Jarry -- might itself be considered a 'pataphysical search, for an "imaginary solution" to an imaginary problem!)
Because string theory
is speculation based on ideas that are themselves speculative (i.e., theories of general relativity
and quantum mechanics
), string theory is not in fact physics
, but 'pataphysics.
Likewise, string theory and quantum calculations are, increasingly, not descriptive of an actual reality, but are simply mathematical pataphors
. (P. Lopez) See also pataphor