Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More 'pataphysics online

I stumbled upon several blogs of 'pataphysical interest.

Zombie 'Pataphysics
The first and best is Zombie 'Pataphysics, and it is no surprise it is hosted by a prominent (les membres du Collège de 'Pataphysique sont des hélianthes) member of the collège, namely the Régent of the chair of Catachemistry and Computational Metallurgy , Brian Reffin Smith.

clipped from www.drunkenboat.com

Zombie Art: As movements such as OuLiPo in literature and OuPeinPo and Systems Art in the visual arts have demonstrated, it can be immensely liberating to have to follow rules or be bound by constraints. But these processes have not been taken far enough. The ultimate constraint is that one manifests no qualities at all, one accepts that one is, or tries to become at least has a sort of Taoist faith in the possibility of imagining being a Zombie. At a stroke, problems of content are swept aside or put on hold, as pure form and beyond that, the intention to have no intention, are made manifest. And how does one manifest pure form and an absence of content ? It's simple Zombies do it all the time.

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I liked the description of zombie 'pataphysics on the excellent Migrating Reality blog.

Whilst not wishing to reduce the importance and stresses of geographical migration, there is another, internal migration which consists in the human consciousness - until this latter is (let us say theoretically, potentially a thought experiment destroyed by accident or design, and one becomes one of the living dead, simultaneously alive and dead, not in-between: both 1 AND 0, true AND false. Jacques Derrida argued that in-between life and death, true and false, were the living dead. It is perhaps preferable to imagine something more like a cat-like state not only BOTH asleep and awake, but also in a box with a weapon of cat destruction a la Schrödinger. Quantum physics rears its head, ugly AND beautiful.

It is argued that the Zombie state is potentially rich and creative, and is indeed the undeclared basis of creative activity in groups such as OuLiPo and OuPeinPo, sheltering under the umbrella of the College de 'Pataphysique, Paris.

The p-Zombie is a philosophical construct mainly attributed to David Chalmers, and used by times in debates about consciousness studies, to which your blogger has occasionally contributed. Briefly, the argument I think goes like this:
Imagine an entity indistinguishably different from a human being. It looks like one, walks and talks like one, reacts like one - there is no way of telling it's not a human. But it's not, it's a Zombie, without "qualia" or real human consciousness. The argument, to simplify, says that if you can imagine such a being, then you accept that the essence of human consciousness, perhaps the mind or "soul", is NOT a product of the biological machine, but something else.
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OuPeinPo, of which I am a member, exists to offer ways of using constraints in art to other artists and the general public. We don't, as a group, make art per se, but rather illustrate the methods, constraints and systems we discover, invent or celebrate.
The question then arises, where can you find or how can you make neutral, value-free images etc., to be the raw material for these processes? The answer is to assert, as we do, that all the images we use were originally the result of Zombie endeavour, and hence have no real qualities inherent in them. You can read into them what you yourself like, but that's just your choice - the actual work had none.
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Apart from a strange obsession with the works of Kim Jong-Il as the apotheosis of Zombie art, this blog also features lots of Fortean imagery in the form of simulacra (from Shakespeare's face revealed in badly stained knife to Pope's face in a used condom) and very Maybe Logician ouvertures into the field of combined quantum 'pataphysics.

Expecting the Unexpected, and Occam's Razor

The brain habituates itself to the expected, it is the dangerous unexpected towards which much of its cognitive apparatus is geared.

One hears the clock stop ticking.

Did Joan expect Maxwell's silver hammer? Well, we know that she was quizzical/studied pataphysical science in the home" so it is extremely probable.

Let us simply assert, with Derrida, that it is possible for an object (or, more generally, an event) to be both expected and unexpected; the waveform collapses down to - incredibly! - a paradox when examined.

The problem here is of course encapsulated by Goedel's theorem, which (vulgarly) states that there will always be a surprise.
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Either following Urbain Le Hennuyeux as Regent of this particuliar field of study or acting as the zombie counterpart of the same after his apparent (hence, only physical) demise. You can read more on the past regents of the Collège on Fatrazie, and more on the structure of the Collège at its own website (yours truly being catalogued into the Sous-Commission des Onomonymes).

The Pataphysics of shit
A deep study into the brownian morpho-scatological fields of the cloaca maxima. Excellent text by Kane X. Faucher on the rhizomic Azimuté blog.

I hope to illustrate how certain robust theoretical considerations have allowed artists such as Manzoni to address the relationship between excreta, class, utility, value, and production. Following this, I hope to ground a prolegomena to a more comprehensive and global view of a theory of abjection in both art and contemporary theory.

Our first consideration ought to be this: How does 'fecal art' and shit in general relate to pataphysics? How can one construct a pataphysics of shit? In the 'scategories' of metaphysics, wherein the specie appear as anomalous excesses deposited there by the exceptionality of emergences, and the forma is merely an intestinal tube pushing forth what is sought to be shaped, pataphysics shares a borderline with 'scat art'.

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This text appears to me as one of the more elaborate theoretical studies I've read on the meeting point between 'Pataphysics and Situationism, especially in connection with the works of George Bataille and Gilles Deleuze. Really, clipping it digests the body of text, one should smell the real deal.

Paul Avion's site features his invention, the pataphor (see my previous post as well).

clipped from www.paulavion.com
Jenny is eleven years old. She lives on a farm in Luxembourg, West Virginia. Today Jenny is collecting eggs from the henhouse. It is 10 a.m. She walks slowly down the rows of cages, feeling around carefully for eggs tucked beneath clucking hens. She finds the first egg in number 6. When she holds it to the light she sees it is the deep tan of boot leather, an old oil-rubbed cowboy boot, creased with microscopic branching lines, catching the light at the swelling above the scarred dusty heel, curled at the cuff, bending and creaking as the foot of the cowboy squirms to rediscover its fit, a leathery thumb and index prying at the scruff, the heel stomping the floor. Victor the hotel manager swings open the door and gives Cowboy a faint smile.
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Academie Philostatique
This wonderful site in French features a kind of meta-collège, collecting different imaginary colleges like the

Navigation Lyricopathologie Astropétique, (Chef de Travaux Pratiques), Pompagogie, Pomponiérisme et Zozologie Philostatique des Sciences Inexactes, Sidérodromanie, Catachimie Infra-nucléaire Photosophistique, Hémérographie & Hémérodromie, Philostatique Générale & Clinique de Rhétoriconose, Sciences Sociales & Culinaires, Anodin & Cathodique Tropes & Figures (Travaux pratiques de décervelage), Histoire, Historiographie, Historiophotographie Jarryques, Psyllagorologie, Éristique Militaire & Stratégique Littéraire & Figurée (Travaux pratiques de Belge à Brazzaville), Plasmactopratie Objective & Comparée, Pornosophie Médiate & Immédiate de Zozologie Shakespearienne
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and hundreds more. It appears like a paralel universe Collège de 'Pataphysique which makes it even more appealing to me. Reminds me a bit of the Discordian effect of becoming a Pope and the thrill of starting ones own cabal. I won't quote more of it - if you digg French this site will entice you into starting your own college.
Features a study in images on the healthyness of alcohol.


BRSmith said...

Hello, I'm very flattered you gave such kind attention to my blog "zombiepataphysics" on your own most estimable blog. Just one tiny thing: in the quote about p-zombies, where I briefly present the Chalmers argument, it should be noted that I am with Dennet, who said "This argument is so bad, it's not even wrong"!
PS - I think I have arrived at a definition of 'Pataphysics! - see
Yours 'Pataphysically...

borsky said...

Thank you master.
Dear readers be sure to check his blog, especially a quite new definition of 'pataphysics which appeals a lot to me. I have no idea if you mean Daniel Dennett but thanks anyway to uncover him - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heterophenomenology

BRSmith said...

Yes of course, sorry: Dennett. See also
with Dennett's idea of the Zimboe…

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