Patanoir, Simon Christiansen’s brilliantly clever IF piece, introduced me to the concept of pataphor—and by extension pataphysics, a concept of “physics beyond metaphysics” or “the science of imaginary solutions.” Patanoir opens with the definition of a pataphor:
1. An extended metaphor that creates its own context.
2. That which occurs when a lizard's tail has grown so long it breaks off and grows a new lizard.
- Pablo Lopez
This definition, and understanding of the concepts behind it, allow for interesting play between language, concepts, and the imaginary. If John controls a chain of events, feeling constricted and even suffocated by it, Mary might stumble in upon John’s actual dead body, tragically choked to death by the chain.
Patanoir explores this idea through the lens of the protagonist, you, a private detective who has come off your medication against your doctor’s advice. Anytime the text uses a simile and something is like something else, you can interact with the metaphorical object because, well, you’re crazy.
Thin, as though his skin had been draped over his skeleton with nothing in between. Dark blue eyes, like deep lakes carved into his face. His hair is grey.
> dive into lake
You dive. The surface of the lake approaches quickly, until it fills your entire field of vision. Then the cool water surrounds you.
This structure leads to interesting puzzles and creative solutions. While at first it seemed to make the puzzles too easy—most can be solved by examining everything in a room, with similes being huge flailing pointers toward clues—the character implication for these strategies became more interesting than the puzzles themselves. Sure, you can enter the room, skim the text and scan for the keyword “like,” but such a reading suggests that you’re more a part of the protagonists delusions than the reader’s detached and objective reality, interesting implications for reader-protagonist identification.