Antinomial Syzygy

At the turn of the 20th century, Alfred Jarry produced the most compelling plan for a time machine yet published. This, and Jarry’s habit of speaking in a clipped, mechanized voice fashioned after his own character in Ubu Roi, probably led his contemporaries to believe he had come from the future to save them from dull realistic certainty. Certainly, Jarry’s influence was profound — Apollinaire, among many, followed him like a puppy; Picasso collected and carried artifacts; dada and surrealism emerged from his disproportionate shadow (Jarry barely reached 5 feet); and, 41 years after his death, Jarry’s “science of imaginary solutions” inspired the Collège de ’Pataphysique. Situationists likened ’pataphysics to a new religion, and artists including Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, Charlie Kaufman, and Rube Goldberg must admit their faith. Andrew Hugill’s newly published ’Pataphysics: A Useless Guide gleefully lays out the tenets and sway of Jarry’s antiphilosophy, and the four-day Carnivale ’Pataphysique celebrates it with round-table symposia by leading ’pataphysicians, demonstrations of a miniature time machine from the Musée Patamécanique, a concert of ’pataphysical songs, a late-night séance, absinthe-soaked shadow puppetry, and the unveiling of the ’Pataphysical Slot Machine. For those wishing to be led, an elaborate walking tour has been based on Jarry’s Dr. Faustroll, a ’pataphysician who took a journey “from Paris to Paris by sea in a sieve.”
Nov. 1-4, 2012

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