241 Things

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Studium Generale 1000things lectures, The Hague

241 Things

The Japanese shoe umbrella

The Japanese shoe umbrella

Driven by the pleasure derived from useless erudition, I’ve been collecting research studies that, due to their complete and utter idiosyncratic nature, have never been linked to any tradition whatsoever. Grouped together, these unsung theories comprise a new field of epistemology: morosophy. Morosophy literally means foolish wisdom or wise foolishness. The morosopher’s wisdom is delusional, creating obviously absurd theories on existence. Unlike mediocre theories constructed by New Age gurus, ufologists, creationists, etcetera; morophist studies are so unusual that they’re ricocheted into the realm of the literary, granting them the title Fous Littéraires in France.

Morosophists deliver outrageous answers to burning questions. Is the earth flat? Was Dutch spoken in paradise? Are atoms spaceships? Is the world entering the Lilac phase?

The Morosophist is always someone whose world has fallen to pieces by a shocking event. With his theory, he manages to rebuild a new universe out of the ruins through which he can, once again, find control over his surroundings. His theories are not fuelled by a search for a higher truth, but by the desire to cope with existence. They are not patients, but are instead held sane by the belief in their delusion. Nor do they live in a world of dreams, but lead a normal life thanks to their fantastical belief in the idiotic.

At this point do we arrive at the most important characteristic of the morosophist: his ability to lead a normal life while being absolutely committed to an absurd theory. The originality of the morosopher stems from a life lived in two worlds, each with its own system of thought. With surprising ease, they alternate between the world of magic and the world of the every day.

A.E. Ing. Panamerenko

AE. Ing. Panamarenko

The Belgian theoriest and artist Panamarenko designs enormous flying machines with magical names such as General Spinaxis, U-Kontrol III, and Meganeudon.

General Spinaxis

Steel, 1978

Like Leonardo da Vinci, he can be categorized in the tradition of those who unsuccessfully attempt flying. Da Vinci’s projects retain their poetic value up until today, despite their total lack of scientific value.

Sketches of Da Vincis helicopter
While Leonardo was searching for something that did not yet exist, namely, the technique of flying, Panamarenko desperately attempts to lift off the ground in the age of space travel. He disregards history and sides with Leonardo as if time has stood still.

The catalogues paint Panamarenko’s primitivism as a poetic protest against the “coldness” of modern technology and the inability for the everyman to grasp it. Or that he’s motivated by the nostalgia for a mythical era in which science was still a personal adventure.

But all this is nonsense, as is evidenced by the thousands of pages scrawled full of Panamerenko’s quasi-scientific calculations.

The morosophist explores areas that are uncharted by the delineations of science. Their work grants us a glimpse of a universe that runs parallel to the official, recognised truths. Morosophy releases us from the acceptance of a world vision that we often see as the only correct and possible one.

Matthijs van Boxsel, in his lecture for Studium Generale, speaks of stupidity, morosophy and pataphysics: all of which are terms that are burrowed most interestingly in the spectrum between the imbecilic and the brilliant. One passage is on morosophy, the wisdom of foolishness.
The archetype of the morosopher is Jean-Pierre Brisset.
Jean-Pierre Brisset

On Sunday, April 13 1913 Brisset arrives in Paris, shortly after his coronation as the Prince of Thinkers for his discovery on linguistic grounds that man descends from the frog. In Hôtel des Sociétés Savants, Bisset delivers a public lecture named The True Doctrine. In the small hall, more than eight hundred spectators struggle to fit in as the Prince of Thinkers unfolds his great metaphysical theory on the ‘batraccic’ descent of man.

Brisset relates how he spent evening after evening sitting by the swamps of Saint-Serge to learn the language of the frogs:

'One day, whilst we were studying these nice small animals, we repeated the cry: croak, until a frog, with eyes both inquisitive and clear, repeated twice or thrice: croak. It was clear to us that she said: Quoi que tu dis?/ What are you saying?’
Brisset at his lecture in Paris

Gradually, Bisset understood that man came to being when the frog started to develop visible sexual characteristics. This was coupled with the development of language.

‘The emergence of gender in this ancestor was the new development which changed the sound of the frog, and gave it its already perfect accuracy. In that moment the current words arose, and have not changed ever since.’

Brisset proves his theorem with a series of deductions:

'Quel sexe est que j’ai?/What sex do I have? Que excès que ça!/What excess! Qu’est-ce?/What is it? que sexe a? Qu’ai? que sexe a? Kékséksa? […] Qu’est-ce que c’est que ça? These analyses by themselves suffice to show, with the infallible Law that leads us in our efforts, that our most impertinent question was born in creatures who developed sex organs and knew nothing of this exe-crescence, of this exe-tension.’

The Great Law of Brisset states: ‘All terms that are represented in analogous sounds possess a common origin and all refer, in principle, to the same object.’ From the analysis of the word one can derive its relation to the phenomena. For example, the word ‘Israélite’ derives, according to Brisset, from ‘Il sera élite’/he shall be the chosen one. Every sentence, in short, is a holophrase, a condensed sentence that contains a wealth of information about the origin and the development of man.

Unfortunately, this wealth is only accessible to French speakers. Brisset says in this respect that his work is untranslatable, which is peculiar for somebody who searches for the common primordial language of man. However, every language can be dissected according to the Law, and so different aspects of our past will continue to surface.

‘The one who said for the first time: Je m’examinai/ I examine myself, in fact said: J’ai mon sexe à la main/ I have my sex in my hand’. Study of the sexual organ (examen du sexe) is also the first thing that occurs as one is born into the world naked.

And the hall responds to Brisset’s elucidations with spontaneous croaking.

I owe my first encounters with the frog theory of Brisset (a man who was declared Prince of Thinkers for having proved on linguistic grounds that man descends from the frog) to ’Pataphysics, the science of imaginary solutions that has been developed by the French writer Alfred Jarry (1873-1907). ’Pataphysics plays with philosophical notions, scientific discoveries and technical attainments. In this way Jarry invented a de-braining machine, developed Perpetual-Motion-Food, and calculated the surface of God.

Jarry was not only influenced by the sciences, but also by morosophers like Brisset. And Victor Fournié who claimed that the same sound has the same meaning in all languages, brought Jarry to the fundamental insight that IN-DUS-TRY means one-two-three, in all languages.

’Pataphysics is, in the first place, a science; according to Jarry it is science par excellence.

Several institutes for ’Pataphysics have been founded: Collège de ’Pataphysique in Paris, and in the Netherlands, in utmost secrecy, De Nederlandse Academie voor ’Patafysica, the NAP, also called Bâtaphysics. Unlike the Dadaists, the bâtaphysicians did not feel the need to rebel or revolt, as Bâtaphysics celebrates the equal value of all situations. Other than the surrealists, the bâtaphysicians do not seek refuge in the subconscious, although they appreciate it as an imaginary solution; not only do they view daily life as a hallucinatory adventure, they also regard logos and rhetoric as the quintessential psychedelics. Furthermore, the NAP embraces Dadaism and surrealism as pataphysical phenomena.
Pataphysicians travel across the planet with a keen interest in everything they find in their way. They assemble the wildest collections, impose order without ever attaining any, and leave behind a trace of imaginary constructions. Pataphysicians, just like morosophers, explore realms that elude the maps of regular science. The researchers measure the immeasurable, put the unheard-of into words and instrumentalise the incorporeal. And, vice versa, they manage to expose in the most banal object an unexpectedly pataphysical dimension. They disclose the area of possibilities where every occurrence is ruled by its own laws. The pataphysicians are collectively astonished about the consensus omnium and defend one man-science. Anyone can become a member without tricolon, circumcision or piercing. The only effort one must make is to donate generously.
Is Bâtaphysics the missing link between art and science? Bâtaphysics is not art; all art is – consciously or not – pataphysical. All the more so when she exposes new regularities or laws. With the Expertologists of the Insect Sect we can say: Bâtaphysics is not art, but real.

The NAP approaches all phenomena with the same curiosity. Everything is investigated for its unique natural laws, for what makes it something exceptional and monstrous. Every ordering produces its exemplary demons, but even order itself is monstrous. According to Jarry, monstrosity defines beauty. Every aesthetic theory is a teratology. Bâtaphysics holds that nothing normal or abnormal exists, every event is equally monstrous ergo beautiful.

‘A camel is a horse designed by a committee.’ If necessary, the NAP single-handedly creates the deserts in which the camel appears to be the ideal animal.

Bâtaphysicians appreciate time, space, identity, profession, nationality and other beacons that man steers by in daily life as imaginary solutions. If bâtaphysicians use a pseudonym, a mask or a disguise, if they pass beyond trodden pathways, or if they use a different calendar, it is therefore no protest against the status quo, but an attempt to taste and challenge the bâtaphysical character of existence.

Bâtaphysics solves problems that are experienced as problematic by nobody. Moreover, Bâtaphysics is like Expertology in that it frees us from problems by turning them into emblems, into polyhedrons of ideas.

’Pataphysics was born out of a fertile mixture of science, faith, art and morosophy; in other words, these signs of human inventiveness are pataphysical attempts to get to grips with the idiocy of existence.

On the one hand, ’Pataphysics can lead to remarkable creations. On the other hand, ’Pataphysics stands for an ethos. ’Pataphysics is no philosophy or literary view, but a perspective. Put more strongly: ’Pataphysics has to be lived by first and foremost. This does not mean that you display eccentric behaviour, but that you are aware in your every act, no matter how banal, of the pataphysical character of what you do and think.

You can thus write most ordinary books, go to church, have intercourse, be married, read the papers and still be a pataphysician. It is not about a resigned detachment, nor is it about an ‘innere Emigration’ or postmodern irony, but about an awareness of the fantastic nature of your behaviour and a keen eye for the exceptionality (idiocy) of even the most common routine. In other words: the world is really the true Academy for ’Pataphysics. Everyone and everything is pataphysical, the only difference is between those who are aware and those who are not. A difference of almost nothing makes a whole world of difference: routine that is approached ignorantly and passively numbs the mind, but the same routine experienced with an awareness of the inherently pataphysical character of it can lead to enthusiasm, even ecstasy.