By a series of interesting coincidences in life, I have recently found myself in contact with Andrew Hugill, who is, among many other things, the Director of the Institute of Creative Technologies at DeMontfort University in Leicester, UK. Andrew sent me a copy of a CD of his music called “Pataphysical Piano” which I have truly enjoyed, and recommend to those interested in new directions in music. That, however, is not the intent of this blog (although I’m sure he won’t mind a few extra sales).
Rather, I was curious about the term “pataphysics” and was pleased to see a Wikipedia entry on the subject show up in the first page of the 45,000 or so Google finds. The original definition was “”the science of imaginary solutions, which symbolically attributes the properties of objects, described by their virtuality, to their lineaments” which didn’t shed much light. However, it was later stated to be the principles that rest on “the truth of contradictions and exceptions.” This latter, for those of you who know me, is way too good to believe — as I believe a crucial aspect of the Semantic Web is that we will have to learn to live with the truth of contradictions and exceptions, and that that is the main argument I’ve been having with the forces of neatness, many of whom have clustered in the OWL 2 WG.
The philosopher, playwright and general polymath Alfred Jarry, who coined the term pataphysics, stated that it was “as far from metaphysics as metaphysics extends from regular reality.” I am happy to report that Googling for the term “patadata” I only find 10 hits, none of which uses it to mean “data interpreted through the truth of contradictions and exceptions” which is “as far from metadata as metadata extends from a databased representation of reality.” So consider this term now to be coined with exactly that meaning, and I happily join the ranks of previous petaphysicists as I continue my study of the functions and properties of “patadata markup” — a long paper on which I will publish as soon as I work out a few more details.
p.s. Interestingly, one of the interesting aspect of pataphysics throughout the past century has been a mix of seriousness and parody, often non-distinguishably entwined. I hope to continue that tradition with this blog post and my future writings on the subject.