---- by Gary Genosko
  Baudrillard discovered pataphysics through the influence of his schoolteacher. The 'neo-science of imaginary solutions' was created by French playwright Alfred Jarry (1873-1907) and expounded by his characters Père Ubu and Doctor Faustroll. Attracted by the intellectual game playing, the mockery of the Collège de Pataphysique's organigram of power and the acid wit, monstrous proportions and excess of Ubu, Baudrillard first distinguished his position from that of Antonin Artaud's Theatre of Cruelty. At around twenty years of age Baudrillard rejected the 'raw cruelty' of Artaud for the more terrible self-defeating rules of pataphysics and the gaseousness of its predicament: 'The humour of this story is crueler than Artaud's cruelty, since Artaud was only an idealist' (CA, 215). Baudrillard rejects the revalorisation of creation for bloodless parody and the pursuit of the void. From pataphysics Baudrillard learned to mock science, write cryptically and allusively and seek politically inutility. Baudrillard did not attempt to preserve pataphysics through his writing; his referencing was not a mission to prove its value for critique.
  Yet pataphysics appears throughout Baudrillard's writings. La gidouille d'Ubu has served him well as a symbol of hopeless self-cancelling circularity and pseudocyesis. Ubu is the central character in the 'Ubu cycle' of three plays. Baudrillard rhetorically employed rhetorical ploys developed by Jarry. Ubu's great gut is marked by a spiral; his excremental humour is legendary; his stupidity and obesity make him an ideal transmodern figure of ecstasy and obscenity. Ubu is an ecstatic form who potentialised himself by producing more and more of himself. Transmodernity thought Baudrillard is Ubuesque due to its hyperplastic spiral into what is realer than real. Obese systems are rhetorically and pathologically metastatic in pursuing their own delirious ends in a culture turned viral. Ubu is the symbol of transmodernity's destiny: hypertelic growth towards uselessness. Ubu is misshapen like the social, for which Baudrillard teaches his readers to experience horror and disgust. For Ubu absorbs everything, swelling, farting, belching and shining in the void of his own making. In both America (1988b [1986]) and The Transparency of Evil (1993b [1990a]) Baudrillard uses Jarry's image of a Perpetual-Motion-FoodBicycle Race across Siberia between a team of cyclists (the best performer is dead) and a train to express how extreme phenomena possess a cadaverlike mobility and a chaotic declination of energy that feeds on itself. This is Baudrillard's vision of New York.
  Baudrillard's attitude to science is also contained in his use of pataphysics. Ubu and Faustroll's imaginary science possesses the features it describes: hyperplastic exaggeration of physics by metaphysics, and beyond. Just as Jarry sourced many figures from the work of CharlesVernon Boys, William Crookes and Sir William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), Baudrillard dabbles in the writings of Benoit Mandelbrot and Jacques Monod. From Boys' work on soap bubbles Jarry derived the musical jet of urine sounding in a porcelain bowl. Baudrillard extracted his crystal of revenge from Jarry's pilfering of the crystal from Lord Kelvin. The idea of the wily and active object that takes revenge on the subject is a pure and enigmatic crystal that functions in Baudrillard's thought as a Jarryesque principle: the magical 'physics-stick' explicated by Faustroll and whose spinning flips back and forth from plus to minus, revealing the equality of opposites, infecting all registers with undecidability and randomness.
  Ubu's great gut bears a symbol of implosion. Implosion is the figure Baudrillard attributes to the masses engaged in the process of hyperconformity: paradoxical participation that does not justify but destroys. Ubu and the masses are the end waste products of the social whose destiny is to serve as avatars of a new kind of violence. Baudrillard's essay 'The Beaubourg-Effect' explains the implosive force of amassing people in the building itself: 'Make Beaubourg bend!' (SS, 69) by going there en masse in order to realise power's saturation point in an expansive violence running in reverse.
  Referring to the masses as an 'imaginary referent' (SSM, 48) beyond representation, Baudrillard develops this strategy further in In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities (2007b [1978]). The mass is waiting to seek its revenge on the social and it is figured in an Ubuesque glory of absorption and distortion: 'The masses and their involuntary humour would introduce us to a pataphysics of the social which ultimately would relieve us of all that cumbersome metaphysics of the social' (SSM, 57). Excess, brutality, rejection of objective inducements to meaning, politics, health and welfare, the Baudrillardian masses operate in pataphysical mode by pursuing a hyper-logic of reversion without exception. This is neither sociology nor philosophy; instead, it is an imaginary textual strategy of 'ubesity' (Merrin, 2009: 64), a theory that proffers virulent imaginary solutions: an imaginary pata-science of simulation.
  Stylistically, pataphysics helped underwrite Baudrillard's penchant for caustic wit and acidic self-annulling paradoxes. The association of Ubu with a resplendid void is a tendency that Baudrillard works out in his conception of radical thought that tends eccentrically towards the empty periphery and deploys tools of unintelligibility against positivity, proof and philosophical reason - whose promoters wait in line before Ubu's de-braining machine.
   § Beaubourg
   § city
   § excess
   § masses
   § metaphysics
   § obscene
   § reversibility

The Baudrillard dictionary. . 2015.

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