EXPERIMENTAL WRITINGS AND PROJECTS

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Wakefield Press

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Paperback, 4.5 x 7 in. / 116 pgs / 1 bw.

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Catalog: SPRING 2012 p. 48   

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ISBN 9780984115563 TRADE
List Price: $13.95 CDN $19.95 GBP £12.50

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WAKEFIELD PRESS

Pataphysical Essays

By René Daumal. Translated by Thomas Vosteen.

Essays reflecting on the science of imaginary solutions, from an influential figure in pataphysical thought

Pataphysics: the science of imaginary solutions, of laws governing exceptions and of the laws describing the universe supplementary to this one. Alfred Jarry’s posthumous novel, Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, Pataphysician, first appeared in 1911, and over the next 100 years, his pataphysical supersession of metaphysics would influence everyone from Marcel Duchamp and Boris Vian to Umberto Eco and Jean Baudrillard. In 1948 in Paris, a group of writers and thinkers would found the College of ’Pataphysics, still going strong today. The iconoclastic René Daumal was the first to elaborate upon Jarry’s unique and humorous philosophy. Though Daumal is better known for his unfinished novel Mount Analogue and his refusal to be adopted by the Surrealist movement, this newly translated volume of writings offers a glimpse of often overlooked Daumal: Daumal the pataphysician. Pataphysical Essays collects Daumal’s overtly pataphysical writings from 1929 to 1941, from his landmark exposition on pataphysics and laughter to his late essay, “The Pataphysics of Ghosts.” Daumal’s “Treatise on Patagrams” offers the reader everything from a recipe for the disintegration of a photographer to instructions on how to drill a fount of knowledge in a public urinal. This volume also includes Daumal’s column for the Nouvelle Revue Française, “Pataphysics This Month.” Reading like a deranged encyclopedia, “Pataphysics This Month” describes a new mythology for the field of science, and amply demonstrates that the twentieth century had been a distinctly pataphysical era.
PRAISE AND REVIEWS

Art Review

Sally O'Reilly

It may be tempting to cast Daumal as a romantic outsider, since he rejected Surrealism - now an orthodoxy of cod-transcendence - instead embracing what would have seemed at the time the conservative spiritualism of Sanskrit scholarship, and which, paradoxically, now seems rather progressive. But in spurning the surrealists' psychoanalytical preoccupations, to tackle head on the hegemony of empiricism, Daumal might also be considered as presaging contemporary comedy, which today is the vehicle of cultural and political critique for the bold.

Pataphysical Essays

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Temporarily out of stock pending additional inventory.

FROM THE BOOK
"'What is a hole?' a clown asked his partner in a ring at the Circus Medrano. Having thus quite confused the fellow, he wasted no time in lording it over him: 'a hole,' he said, 'is an absence surrounded by presence.' For me, this is an example of a perfect definition, and I will use it to define the object of my interest. A ghost is indeed a hole; but a hole to which are attributed intentions, a sensibility, morals; a hole, that is, an absence—but the absence of someone and not of something—surrounded by presence—by the presence of one or several. A ghost is an absent being amidst present beings. And as it is the pierced substance that determines the shape of the hole and not the absence which that presence surrounds—for it is only in jest that some tell of cannons of bygone days that foundry workers made by taking holes and pouring bronze around them—when we endow ghosts with intentions, a sensibility, and morals, these attributes reside not in the absent beings, but in the present ones that surround the ghost."
This observation will allow us by the same token to establish the only reasonable approach to phantasmology.
—Excerpted from "The Pataphysics of Ghosts" in Pataphysical Essays.
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