The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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Entries Tagged as '‘pataphysics'

Captain Cap: The Trade Edition

October 11th, 2013 · 2 Comments

  The trade edition of Captain Cap is now available!  Alphonse Allais’s hard-drinking, proto-pataphysical antihero, based on his friend Albert Caperon, bullies bartenders, swindles prostitutes, travels the world, and offers such useful inventions as the smell-buoy, the kangacycle, volatile ink, the bacteria motor, and much more.  This edition collects the four installments previously published by […]

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Tags: 'pataphysics · Literature

Captain Cap, Volume 3

August 5th, 2013 · No Comments

The third volume of the adventures of Captain Cap (there will be four) is now available from Black Scat Books, in a limited edition of 125.  The adventures of the prototypical ‘pataphysical antihero, first published by Alphonse Allais in 1902, have been scrupulously translated, illustrated, and annotated by Doug Skinner; they appear in English for […]

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Tags: 'pataphysics · Books

Alphonse Allais: Les Combles

June 27th, 2013 · 3 Comments

At the beginning of his literary career, Alphonse Allais contributed squibs, jokes, and one-liners to various small Parisian papers.  He followed already established formulas: the fable-express (a brief fable with a punning moral), the autograph (a line ending with a pun on someone’s name).  He became particularly identified with the comble, the “acme.”  He didn’t […]

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Tags: 'pataphysics · Literature

Captain Cap, Volume One

February 5th, 2013 · 5 Comments

Alphonse Allais was a peerless French humorist, celebrated posthumously by the Surrealists for his elegant style and disturbing imagination.  Among other things, he wrote a series of wonderful stories about his friend Albert Caperon.  In Allais’s hands, “Captain Cap” became an adventurer and inventor, with a disdain for bureaucracy and a heroic thirst for cocktails.  […]

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Tags: 'pataphysics · Cartoons · Literature · Politics

Eleven Jarry Quotations

June 17th, 2012 · 2 Comments

If the melon insists on having slices, it will end up eaten by families. Boredom and idleness are, I think, the principal motives for devotion.  We only lift our eyes to the heavens when we have nothing to do or hope for on earth, and we only kiss holy images when we have nothing else […]

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Tags: 'pataphysics · Literature

The Pianocktail

January 26th, 2010 · 2 Comments

[As a postscript to "Pandora's Music Box," let me add this lovely imaginary instrument from Boris Vian.  It appears in his novel L'écume des jours (The Scum of the Days).  A number of artists have built plausible models of the Pianocktail; documentation can be found, here and there, on YouTube.  But let me translate the […]

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Tags: 'pataphysics · Literature · Music · Technology

Vernon Sullivan

October 23rd, 2009 · 5 Comments

[As a postscript to our event about hoaxes, I'll post this account of a memorable literary hoax that may be unfamiliar to American readers.  It's taken from my article "Boris Vian for Anglophones," on the life and work of that French writer/musician, in Strange Attractor Journal Two.]  The war had ended, Paris was free, and nightlife […]

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Tags: 'pataphysics · Hoaxes · Literature

Teenage mumbo-jumbo?

August 19th, 2009 · 1 Comment

I think my high school offered one basic course in psychology, which I did not take. Surely it dealt in stripped-down basics – the classification of emotions, some de-sexualized Freudian theory, and maybe a little Jung thrown in for the artsy kids. I’d like to think, if I’d had the opportunity to take a class […]

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Tags: 'pataphysics · Belief Systems · Education · Forteana · Hoaxes · Mad Science · Mysteries · The Ineffable

Alfred Jarry in the Medical Museum

April 1st, 2009 · No Comments

Jarry?  In the medical museum?  It’s a funny place to find him, but there he is: the following prose poem, “Les Cinq Sens” (“The Five Senses”), is taken from his first book, Les Minutes de sable mémorial (Minutes of memorial sand, 1894).  In it, the narrator makes his way through a natural history museum into a […]

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Tags: 'pataphysics · Literature · Places · The Ineffable

Henri Salvador

December 27th, 2008 · 1 Comment

Henri Salvador, the great Guyanese singer/songwriter, died this year (back in February), and we never marked his passing here.  I wanted to salute him, briefly, before this dismal year evaporated for good. He had a long and active career in Europe and South America, but never crossed that baffling cultural divide to win much of an […]

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Tags: 'pataphysics · Literature · Music