The pataphysique collection, compiled
by Juan Esteban Fassio (1924-1980), offers a rich resource for the understanding of this
movement and its ramifications outside of France. It features a wealth of correspondence
with the most active members of the Collège de Pataphysique, research files, as well as a
collection of rare ephemera and publications.
"Pataphysique" (or, in English, "pataphysics") is a term coined around 1889 by a group of
high school students in Rennes, and later appropriated by one of them, writer Alfred Jarry
(1873-1907). Although deliberately obscure and absurd, the term was supposed to designate a
science beyond, and on top of, metaphysics. Pataphysics has been variously described as the
science of the detail and of the individual, as well as of imaginary solutions. It is
devoted to the total acceptance and celebration of paradoxes and nonsense in every aspect of
human life, and is based on the principles of universal equivalence (according to which,
everything is the same) and of inversion of the contraries. Ultimately, pataphysique is not
describable, as it constitutes a strenuous form of resistance towards any kind of
systematization, and any attempt to make sense of the universe.