A pataphor is an absurd version of a metaphor. To create a pataphor, take a metaphor and treat it as a literal reality. Then elaborate.

Here is an example:

Metaphor: Whenever Professor McDonald had to lecture at 8:00 in the morning, he was a bear.

Pataphor: Whenever Professor McDonald had to lecture at 8:00 in the morning, he was a bear. Coming out of hibernation, he would stretch and yawn, and roll around in a playful way. Then, noticing the rumbling in his stomach, he inevitably turned to look at his pupils, frightened in their desks, and devour one or two of the slower ones for breakfast.

In other words, a pataphor functions at two removes from the real world. Just as pataphysics (or ’pataphysics if one insists on the apostrophe) is the surrealist version of metaphysics, so the pataphor allows one to explore alternate universes, do thought experiments, and simply be creative.


For this writing exercise, challenge yourself by writing short snippets based on an interesting pataphor. Here are a couple more examples to get you started:

“You are the apple of my eye,” whispered Jordan.
“I wish you hadn’t said that,” said Lucy, peering out through Jordan’s eyelashes. “My new living quarters are somewhat spartan.”
“Don’t worry,” said Jordan. “The harvest is not far away. You look delicious, my dear.”
Lucy blushed. “You’re making me all mushy inside.”
“Please don’t. I wouldn’t want to toss you straight into the compost bin.”

Our news coverage begins with the election, and it is increasingly apparent that the Liberal Party has no grassroots movement. They’ve tried stronger doses of fertilizer, but that has only left some of their supporters in the hospital with first-degree burns. By contrast, so many farmers support the Conservatives that journalists have complained about the smell of manure at their town halls.

And that’s how you write a pataphor. Have fun!