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What is a Pataphor?
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 2007 - Multiple authors

The pataphor is an unusually extended metaphor invented by writer Pablo Lopez, based on Alfred Jarry's "science" of 'pataphysics.

1 Example 1
2 Example 2
3 Definitions
4 History
5 Recognition by the College of 'Pataphysics
6 In the Press
7 In Books

As Jarry claimed that 'pataphysics existed "as far from metaphysics as metaphysics extends from regular reality," a pataphor attempts to create a figure of speech that exists as far from metaphor as metaphor exists from non-figurative language.

Whereas a metaphor is the comparison of a real object or event with a seemingly unrelated subject in order to emphasize the similarities between the two, the pataphor uses the newly created metaphorical similarity as a reality with which to base itself. In going beyond mere ornamentation of the original idea, the pataphor seeks to describe a new and separate world, in which an idea or aspect of a concept has taken on a life of its own.

Like ‘pataphysics itself, pataphors essentially describe two degrees of separation from reality (rather than merely one degree of separation, which is the world of metaphors and metaphysics). The pataphor may also be said to function as a critical tool, describing the world of "assumptions based on assumptions," such as belief systems or rhetoric run amok.

Example 1
-Tom and Alice stood side by side in the lunch line.
-Tom and Alice stood side by side in the lunch line, two pieces on a chessboard.
-Tom took a step closer to Alice and made a date for Friday night, checkmating. Rudy was furious at losing to Margaret so easily and dumped the board on the rose-colored quilt, stomping downstairs.

(The pataphor has created a world where the chessboard exists, including the characters who live in that world, entirely abandoning the original context.)

Example 2
"Jenny is eleven years old. She lives on a farm in Luxembourg, West Virginia. Today Jenny is collecting eggs from the hen house. 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." - (from "Pataphor Test," by Pablo Lopez)
From the above passage, we can see that:
- Jenny exists in reality
- The boot exists in metaphor
- Cowboy (and the hotel, Victor, etc.) exist in pataphor


Pataphor (noun):

- An extended metaphor that creates its own context.
- That which occurs when a lizard's tail has grown so long it breaks off and grows a new lizard.

Although the word 'pataphor' has likely been used by others to mean different things in a 'pataphysical context, Lopez is the first known writer to have attached a specific meaning to the word, created its relationship to metaphor, and devoted an entire body of work to its explication and exploration, first in "Closet 'Pataphysics," appearing in New Orleans' Ellipsis, and then in Pataphors, housed in the archives of Hollins University.

Lopez has also suggested that far-reaching concepts such as string theory constitute a kind of mathematical pataphor, insofar as these concepts correspond to the 'pataphysical notion of "supposition built on supposition." In other words, as string theory is speculation based on ideas that are ''themselves speculative'' (in this instance, the theories of general relativity and quantum mechanics), string theory is not in fact physics, but 'pataphysics.

Recognition by the College of 'Pataphysics
The Carnets du Collège de Pataphysique n°22 (December 2005), published by the Collège de 'Pataphysique, featured a series of literary pataphors illustrated photographically.

In the Press
In March of 2007, an article published in the Chilean newspaper El Clarin ("Chile Under the Influence of 'Pataphysics and Pataphors") likened the nonsensical, inventive language of the government to pataphors.

In Books
In February of 2008, Dutch artist Hidde Van Schie published a book in the Netherlands called PATAPHOR, inspired by pataphors (ISBN 978-90-8690-165-4).