- 1994 HOAX! Magazine interview with Ken Campbell
- Adam Gorightly Interviewed by Jim Harold — Discordianism, Kerry Thornley, 23
- September 2015 Eris of the Month: An Apple A Day by Pope Dan Ammon (the Twenty-) III
- Mellow Yellow and the Summer of Love
- Re-Release of the Illuminatus! Comic
- August 2015 Eris of the Month: My Goddess, It’s Full of Stars by Rev. Creepy the Inexcusable (Video)
- The State of the Art of Research on Discordianism by Christian Greer
- Was Kerry Thornley CIA?
- July 2015 Eris of the Month: Deep Fried ‘Adoration of Eris’ by Gg
- The Last Days of Malaclypse the Younger: This Day In Discordian History: July 20th, 2000
- June 2015 Eris of the Month: Eris Apple with Rainbow Eye by Palimpsest the Pointillist
- The Brunswick Shrine Has Gone Dark!
- Greg Hill Gets Letters (Part 00007) #orgybutter
- VIDEO: Discordianism — The Chaos Religion of Kerry Thornley
- The Cosmic Trigger Experience — Two Days That Shook The Wirrall
- May 2015 Eris of the Month: Eris on a Hot Rod by ManicTheDoodler
- New Discordian Zine: Discordia Britannica
- AUDIO: 1992 Interview of Kerry Thornley by Kenn Thomas: THE IDLE WARRIORS
- The Blind JFK Researcher Meets Adam Gorightly
- VIDEO: Cosmic Trigger Theatrical Promo
- Illuminatus! Group Reading Week 62: The Epistle to the Paranoids
- April 2015 Eris of the Month: Fnord different by Mister Hikki
- Week 59 of Illuminatus! Group Reading: Semaj the Elder (Part 00002)
- Barbara Reid: Voodoo Practitioner, Discordian Society Member, and Dealey Plaza Irregular (Part 00001)
- Week 59 of Illuminatus! Group Reading: The Pentagon (Part 00001)
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Gorightly interviewed by Jim Harold on Discordianism, Kerry Thornley, 23, The Church of the SubGenius, Robert Anton Wilson, and more!
The fall (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonner-
nuk!) of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later
on life down through all christian minstrelsy.
Happy Fall, All!
Hail Eris! All Hail Discordia!
Kerry Thornley and his wife Cara lived for a period of time in the former home of his grandparents in the Watts section of Los Angeles.During the psychedelic 60s,
Stamp out quicksand.
The Watts house became a blend of memorabilia and psychedelia. Antique window glass was decorated with pieces of translucent contact paper, to give it the effect of stained glass, as multicolored sunlight streamed through the strips of dangling paper. An ornately carved wooden mantle clock had the word “NOW” written on a round placard which covered its face. An old-time radio stood in the corner of the dining room, but now instead of playing Amos ‘n Andy and Fibber McGee and Molly, the big old box was tuned into Peter Bergman’s Radio Free Oz, booming music by Ravi Shanker, Simon and Garfunkel, and The Beatles.
With plenty of room for guests to roam around, the Watts house became a psychedelic social club. One frequent visitor was Bud Simco who recalled:
“Kerry was charismatic and had the ability to attract diverse personalities, people who would normally not be associated with each other, except by the force of Kerry’s personality. For example, there were so-called hippie types tripping under the dining room table, holding burning candles in their hands, while right-wing types were holding forth in the kitchen. One such character I recall had never been to Watts before, and showed up wearing a bullet proof vest and armed with a .45. He seemed reasonable enough, in conversation, but he was taking no chances (having never been around hippies before). There were people from all walks of life… including a pilot for the Flying Tiger Airlines, a student from MIT, some swingers, a fashion model, some writers, some SDS student types, and various and sundry others whom I did not know. One of my guests at one particular gathering was a former motorcycle gang member who lost his foot in a motorcycle accident, and his beautiful American Indian wife, who was at the time a co-worker of mine. He had never seen such an assorted group of people in his life, for example, but with his tambourine, magic mushrooms and a Donovan LP loudly playing, asserted his presence along with all the diverse others in one righteous happening. The thing is, everyone was tolerant of the other, regardless of individual inclinations and/or politics. At such an event, many people would never even interact with other groups, in other rooms, although many did. That was the one universal factor re: being present at one of Kerry’s gatherings, either at his home in Watts, or perhaps at one of the original ‘Be-Ins’ at Griffith Park.”
At the Griffith Park Be-In, Kerry Thornley cut a singular swath, equipped with a sign bearing a perfectly surreal statement that seemed to say one thing while also saying something else entirely, just the sort of irreverent psychedelic koan that Kerry became famous for throughout his life. His sign read:
Fellow Discordian Louise Lacey also attended the Griffith Park Be-In. She recalled:
“The weather was perfect. We were all stoned. A single engine plane came and circled, and I thought it was the media, keeping track of us, but then a man all in white dropped down with a parachute and the crowd roared with approval. Later I learned that an old friend of mine from Marin County was the pilot. He got that plane out fast, because it was illegal to parachute within the city limits.
“The Be-In was fascinating because I had never seen such a large collection of freaks. I couldn’t keep from grinning. I was particularly interested because some hard-assed sociologist had said that when you were on LSD you were extremely susceptible to being led. I was watching for people being led.
“I saw a group of people organized into a crack-the-whip game. Twenty or twenty-five people formed and a man with a megaphone was giving them instructions. (Definitely planned.) ‘Move up the hill, move down. Hang on tight. Join with more people.’ I couldn’t tell if anyone was listening or just all having fun. The people at the end of the line were moving so fast they kept being thrown off, tumbling down the hill in the grass, laughing hysterically. Then some of the crack-the-whip people let go of the hands of the people around them and drifted off. The megaphone man yelled more loudly. ‘Hang on, don’t let go.’ More people drifted away. He was screaming now. The group all dropped hands and disappeared in the crowds and the megaphone man was screaming at the top of his amplified voice, ‘Come back! We are playing a game here!’ But the people were gone. I didn’t worry any more about what that sociologist had said.
“Many groups of people were gathered as families of friends. It was the first time I had seen this form of organization. So there were tents, and lean to’s and lots of signs pounded into the dirt, describing one thing or another to identify who the friends were. (This is where Kerry’s sign fit in.) As I didn’t live in LA, I didn’t recognize anyone other than Kerry’s friends, who didn’t stay around his sign, but it didn’t matter. I ‘knew’ the strangers as friends, and we laughed and hugged and shared doobies, and listened to music and I moved on. Nobody got hurt, everyone had a good time (except, I imagine, the man with the megaphone). As the day progressed, I gravitated back to Kerry’s sign and others did, too, and we shared what we have experienced, eventually gathered our stuff and drove home to Kerry’s. A most successful day.”
In March 1967, the Los Angeles Free Press ran an article about how you could get high from smoking banana skins, including instructions on how to prepare the stuff. Kerry decided to give this new craze a go, and in the company of co-conspirator Louise Lacey visited the local Safeway supermarket, as the two of them cleaned out the produce section of their banana supply, then brought home the banana bounty, removed the fruit and baked the inner portions of the skins on cookie sheets just as the Los Angeles Free Press article had instructed.
While this cosmic concoction was cooking, Kerry and Louise went around the Watts neighborhood, ringing door bells and offering skinned bananas to any interested parties. As Louise recalled: “This was a mostly black neighborhood, who knew Kerry, at least by sight, but still they weren’t interested. He explained that it was an experiment, and that no one had messed with the bananas (which were getting brown), but they thanked him and shut the door, again and again, so we gave up.”
Kerry’s friend Becky Glaser remembered walking into Kerry’s house and discovering that every container conceivable was filled with peeled bananas. Becky said she will always remember the wild look in Kerry’s eyes, when she walked in and asked him:
“And what the hell are we gonna do with all these fucking bananas?!”
“Well, I’m urging you all to eat them.”
“And what’s gonna happen if we eat them?”
“I’ll get rid of them!”
“Yeah, but what are you going do with the peels?”
“Aha! That’s the important part!”
As Kerry’s brother, Dick Thornley, remembered: “Kerry enthusiastically invited me over for some Mellow Yellow that night. The invitation came after they had baked it. I recall the stuff was essentially powdered charcoal by the time it came out of the oven. It was nearly impossible to light, let alone smoke.”
The Mellow Yellow craze is now considered an urban legend that was promoted by the Los Angeles Free Press article and Donovan’s groovy tune of the same name. According to the liner notes of Donovan’s Greatest Hits, the rumor you could get high from banana peels was started by Country Joe McDonald of Country Joe and the Fish.
Whatever the origin of the Mellow Yellow mythos, Louise Lacey remembers that inhaling the banana skins was anything but mellow. As for copping a buzz, the only one who got off on the stuff was Kerry, who after toking down on a Mellow Yellow reefer, proclaimed, “I’m high!” Leave it to Kerry to be the only person in the history of the Mellow Yellow craze to actually get off on the stuff. Of course, this wasn’t out of the ordinary, because—as Becky Glaser recalled—“Kerry got high off of everything.”
Hear the Mellow Yellow story from an interview I conducted with Louise Lacey in 2007. Play below or download the MP3 here.
I recently received this announcement from Mark Philip Steele:
“Good news, folks, the ILLUMINATUS! comic I published back in 1987 is now in e-comic format, including text commentary. It’s a zip file available for download, and may end up at other sites in other formats. If you’re interested, download the comic and contact me about it. Some of the comments MAY be posted in further editions. There was one self-published issue, then 3 with Rip Off Press, and an unpublished 4th issue. Plans are for us to release one a month from now till we’re done.”
Mark was gracious enough to let us post the first installment (PDF) of the series here at Historia Discordia. —Adam Gorightly
August 2015 Eris of the Month: My Goddess, It’s Full of Stars by Rev. Creepy the Inexcusable (Video)
Hail Eris! All Hail Discordia!
1Despite numerous attempts to analyze its history, symbols, practices, and beliefs, scholarship on Discordianism has been largely deficient. The most pressing problem is that scholars have neglected the majority of Discordianism’s primary source materials, and are thus unable to provide the necessary contextual understanding for the readily available texts (and web-resources) they do study. The effect is that academic treatments of Discordianism have essentialized the religion according to a small, self-selected number of commercial publications entirely removed from their historical context.
One of Discordianism’s two founders, Kerry Thornley, famously declared that if ‘religion is the opium of the masses, [then] Discordianism is the marijuana of the lunatic fringe,’ and this is made nowhere more clear than in its material culture over the last fifty-six years.2 The majority of Discordianism’s material culture has been comprised of self-published work in the form of religious certificates, ‘zines’, APAs (amateur press associations), live audio recordings of Robert Anton Wilson lectures, and, with the advent of the internet, BBSes (Bulletin Board System), PFDs, and blogs.3 The paper ephemera of Discordianism’s material history has not been catalogued by libraries, nor preserved by universities, but commonly remains in the possession of its initial recipients, or forgotten in the boxes that compose private zine archives. Lacking any familiarity with this ‘underground’ material, scholarly analysis of the mass-marketed Discordian texts, and Discordianism in toto, has been altogether superficial.There are three major issues that have so far marred the study of Discordianism. The first concerns what has emerged as the locus classicus of Discordianism, the Princpia Discordia. As the first major Discordian text, the Principia Discordia went through four different versions before the publication of the Loompanics 4th/5th edition in 1979/1980, which most Discordians and scholars consider definitive.4 Deriving an interpretation of Discordianism from the Loompanics version of the 4th/5th edition, or any other edition of the Principia, effectively ignores the decades of doctrinal development that took place from its founding to the first printing of the 4th edition in 1970 by Rip Off Press. In neglecting the historical developments that led to the mass-marketed 4th/5th editions of the Principia, as well as the enormous amount of other self-produced Discordian materials dating from the late 1950s onwards, scholars have anachronistically defined Discordianism according to aspects of its present existence.5
The second issue concerns the lack of scholarly convention concerning which version of the Principia is regarded as authoritative. As a result of the 4th edition Principia’s ‘copyleft,’ or anti-copyright status, there are no less than five different published versions of the 4th/5th edition, in addition to innumerable online versions. While there is not a great deal of difference between versions, scholarly neglect of this point, as well as the lack of convention concerning which version of the 4th/5th edition of the Principia should be treated as authoritative, has instilled an unnecessary amount of irregularity into the study of Discordianism.6
The third issue is partly based on the first, but regards a more general misinterpretation of the meaning of the Principia within the Discordian milieu. Scholars regard the 4th/5th edition of the text as the central Discordian holy work, and it is not hard to understand why; it seems to offer all of the requisite data for a normative appraisal of a religious movement. It contains an origin story for the religion, a list of commandments, a liturgical calendar, a list of saints, and an account of Discordianism’s principle deity, Eris. In sum, the 4th/5th edition of the Principia seems to be a perfect index of everything a ‘real’ religion needs. This, of course, is precisely the problem. Leaving aside the fact that many of the aforementioned ‘religious’ aspects of Discordianism were added in successive editions of the Principia, the primary issue here is that Discordianism is explicitly not based on liturgical observance or orthopraxis, but rather on the utilization of beliefs as heuristic tools. Scholarly preoccupation with the religious minutia contained in the Principia evidences that scholars have missed an essential aspect of the Discordian ludibrium.
Since the various publications of the 4th and 4th/5th editions of the Principia read like conventional holy texts, or at least as a parody of one, scholars have mistakenly taken it as the text that has governed Discordianism since its inception. While some contemporary Discordians may revere it as such, familiarity with previous editions of the text, let alone the history of Discordianism, make it clear that this was not always the case. Discordianism did not reach underground audiences until nearly two decades after it was founded, and even then it was not an edition of the Principia that publicized the religion, but a trilogy of novels. Despite having numerous quotes from the Principia, the fictitious nature of Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea’s Illuminatus! trilogy (1975) of novels led many to believe that the Principia did not actually exist á la Lovecraft’s Necronomicon. Needless to say, Discordianism’s underground popularization was not based on teachings outlined in the first, second, third, or fourth editions of the Principia, but Wilson and Shea’s interpretation of them in Illuminatus! The first widely popular edition of the Principia was published nearly five years after Illuminatus! as a result of Loompanics publisher Mike Hoy reading the trilogy, and querying Hill himself as to the existence of such a text.7 The shift to institutionalization in contemporary Discordianism has led to the formalization of Discordian beliefs, and, central to this has been the reframing of the Principia as foundational to the religion. The scholarly preoccupation with the contents of the Principia illustrates the way in which scholars’ research agendas owe more to the contemporary trend towards institutionalization within the religion than rigorous historical research on it.
Read in terms of its evolution and alongside other Discordian material, it is evident that the various editions of the Principia were never merely parodies of sacred texts, nor were they strictly genuine attempts to fashion one. Instead, they were iterations of an idiosyncratic form of genre appropriation based on the conviction that all beliefs are heuristic tools for creating models of reality. Said more precisely, the various editions of the Principia were not just satire, but prime examples of the assiduous playing with religious forms that epitomizes Discordian belief. Essentially, this type of humorous play functions as the liturgical language of Discordianism. Reflecting William Burroughs’s famous adage, ‘nothing is true and everything is permitted,’ Discordianism is a meta-belief system in which abstract concepts like ‘holy scripture’ are utilized as expedient means to destabilize fixed assumptions about reality. Though more salient in later editions, the Principia appropriated the genre of sacred scripture in the same way that Camden Benares’ Discordian treatise, Zen Without Zen Masters (1977), utilizes tropes associated with Zen koan books, and the same is true for the appropriation of conspiracy theory in Wilson and Shea’s Illuminatus! trilogy. Discordian texts have taken the form of science fiction epics, historical dramas, anarchist philosophy, psychologized-occult manuals, and Zen teachings, and regardless of their form, the dynamics of these genre appropriations are the same. Discordian authors appropriate genre conventions only to exploit their ability to communicate the central metaphysical truth of their religion, namely, that the experience of reality entirely depends on the belief system, or model through which it is comprehended.8
Christian Greer is a PhD researcher in the field of Western esotericism at the University of Amsterdam. His primary focus is the history and material culture of Discordianism, the Church of the SubGenius and the Moorish Orthodox Church, particularly in the 1980-1990s. His dissertation, Angelheaded Hipsters: From Beatnik Antinomianism to Psychedelic Millenarianism is an intellectual history of the “counterculture” beginning with the revolutionary movements of the 1960s and ending in the 1990s with cyberpunk and fin de siècle cyberculture.
1 For a more detailed analysis of this problem in the work of one scholar, see Greer, Christian. ‘Review of Carole M. Cusack’s Invented Religions: Imagination, Fiction and Faith,’ Correspondences 2.1 (2014), pp. 109–114.
2 Thornley, Kerry. ‘Introduction’ in Principia Discordia 4th/5th edition, Lilburn, GA; Illuminet Press, 1991, p.i.
3 See Greer, ‘Occult Origins’, pp. 166-187.
4 The Loompanics edition (1979) is known as the ‘4th/5th edition’ because it reprinted the original 4th edition published by Rip Off Press in 1970, as well as the 5th edition, which was nothing more than a Western Union telegram filled with the letter ‘M’. The Loompanics version is most likely considered authoritative on account of it being the first to include the 5th edition telegram, as well as material that was not included in previous editions, e.g. ‘the Gypsie Skrypto interview,’ and an introduction by Robert Anton Wilson. For a more comprehensive overview of the publishing history of the Principia Discordia see Gorightly, Adam. ‘Adam Gorightly on the Publishing History of the Principia Discordia’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUqVrH4luXc accessed 04/05/13; see also f.8.
5 Cusack’s Invented Religion (2010) exemplifies this error insofar as her familiarity with the Principia Discordia is limited to two mass marketed 4th/5th editions of the text, which bear little resemblance to the first edition produced decades earlier. This is made obvious by the fact that she seems unaware that the first edition had a different title as well as entirely different contents. See Cusack, Carole. Invented Religions: Imagination, Fiction and Faith, Farnham: Ashgate, 2010, p.28-29 as compared to the first edition reproduced in Gorightly, Adam. Historia Discordia: The Origins of the Discordian Society. New York: RVP Press, 2014, pp.25-80. Cusack is by no means the only scholar to make this mistake, indeed, the difference between editions of the Principia has not been noticed within any notable study of Discordianism; see also Urban, Hugh. Magia Sexualis: Sex, Magic, Liberation in Modern Western Esotericism. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006, p. 233-235; Versluis, Arthur. American Gurus: From Transcendentalism to New Age Religion. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014, p.123-138.
6 The three most important academic texts on Discordianism have all used different versions of the 4th/5th edition of the Principia: Cusack cites the Steve Jackson Games version in Invented Religion (2010), Urban references the Loompanics version in Magia Sexualis (2006), and Versluis based his work in American Gurus (2014) on the Illuminet edition.
7 The earliest version of the popular Loompanics edition of the Principia was published in 1979, and it featured an introduction by Hoy. This version was superseded by the popular 1980 edition, which contained Wilson’s introduction. See Gorightly, ‘Adam Gorightly on the Publishing History of the Principia Discordia’.
8 Wilson refers to the means by which an individual can ‘meta-program’ their own reality as the ‘final secret of the Illuminati’. See Wilson, Robert A. Cosmic Trigger: Final Secret of the Illuminati Vol.1, Tempe, AZ.: New Falcon Publications, 1997, pp.29, 68-71.
“If they prove
that you are CIA,
demand back pay.”
—Letter from Discordian Society
co-founder Greg Hill to Kerry Thornley
dated February 19th, 1968
It’s long been rumored that Kerry Thornley was a CIA agent, a salvo first fired by Jim Garrison in his February 21st, 1968 press release which stated that Thornley was among a “…number of young men who have been identified as CIA employees, Thornley had a post office box in the federal building across from Banister’s office. Such post office boxes are customarily used by federal employees with clandestine assignments as ‘message drops’ as well as an acceptable excuse for regular visits into a federal building. Another of the young men having such a post office box was Lee Harvey Oswald. What this means is simply that Kerry Thornley and Lee Oswald were both part of the covert federal operation operating in New Orleans….”
“Dear, if Kerry was CIA,
DOD FILE REVIEW
During the course of research for The Prankster and the Conspiracy: The Story of Kerry Thornley and How He Met Oswald and Inspired the Counterculture (Amazon), I was unable to pin down any tangible evidence supporting these Thornley-CIA allegations and eventually just wrote them off as more of Garrison’s unsupported theories. Thus it came as a bit of a surprise to me when—in 2006—I happened upon Joan Mellen’s Farewell To Justice (Amazon) which stated in its preface:
“Kerry Thornley, the Marine Corps buddy of Lee Harvey Oswald, who told the Warren Commission that Oswald was a Marxist, turned out himself to have been a CIA employee trained, according to a CIA document, in Washington D.C., in chemical and biological warfare…”
At the time, this claim that Thornley was a documented CIA spook came as quite the stunner, and shortly afterwards I shared Mellen’s provocative pronouncement with Thornley’s long time friend, Louise Lacey, whose initial response was a sudden burst of laughter, followed by: “Dear, if Kerry was CIA, I think I would have known.”
“Dear, if Kerry was CIA,
I think I would have known.”
Louise, it should be noted, edited Thornley’s book Oswald for New Classics House back in 1965 and then later worked for Ramparts magazine as research director during Ramparts in-depth investigation of the JFK assassination, the first national magazine that was openly critical of the Warren Report. To this end, Louise worked alongside such notables as David Welsh, Mae Brussell, David Lifton and William Turner, and so when speaking of Thornley and/or the JFK assassination, Louise not only comes to the subject as someone who was a close friend of Thornley’s, but also someone involved very early on in JFK assassination research.
In Spring 2011, while conducting research for Caught in the Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Lee Oswald and the Garrison Investigation (Amazon), I contacted Joan Mellen on how to go about obtaining a copy of this “CIA document” related to Kerry Thornley. Mellen replied that she’d send me a copy after she had time to recover from a recent medical ailment. Afterwards, I contacted Mellen periodically—on probably a half dozen occasions—but never heard back from her. Mellen, it should be noted, is still standing by her claim that Thornley was a CIA agent as evidenced in this recent interview.
More recently—on the advice of researcher Stu Wexler—I conducted a search of John Armstrong’s JFK assassination files at Baylor University online, where, lo and behold, I came across a copy of the document in question, which I post here for review.
In Farewell to Justice, Mellen identified the above as a CIA document and, alternately, as a DOD document. Page one clearly identifies it as a DOD document “translation” which was created as a request to the DOD from the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in 1978. The upper right hand corner of the document is stamped:
Patricia Orr was a researcher for the HSCA and it appears that the document is her translation of Thornley’s service record. The document confirms that Thornley received training in biological and chemical warfare, but how Mellen arrived at the conclusion that this training was conducted by the CIA is unclear. In fact, there’s no mention of the CIA anywhere in the document—unless one is reading deeply between the lines. Well, there are the three last letters of Orr’s first name to consider perhaps.
It should be noted that Thornley received this biological and chemical warfare training at Atsugi Base in Japan which served as a CIA outpost during this period. In this regard, it’s conceivable that Thornley—and other Marines stationed at Atsugi—could have received training from CIA personnel also stationed at the base, but Mellen’s assertion that Thornley was a CIA employee is unsupported by the DOD document. What the thinker thinks, the prover proves…
On page 276 of Farewell To Justice, Mellen writes:
“From the Department of Defense files comes a document placing Thornley as a CIA employee who attended Chemical and Biological Warfare School. Receiving ‘technical instruction’ in Washington, D.C., Thornley moved from ‘confidential’ to ‘secret’ clearance. His course in ‘Atomic, Biological and Chemical Warfare’ ran from June to August 1960, and had begun at Atsugi…”
The term Mellen uses—“technical instruction”—actually appears in Thornley’s service records as “Tech instruct” which was an abbreviation for “Technique of Instruction,” a Marine Corps competition Thornley entered during this period.
According to the author’s page of Oswald, Thornley “…served in the Far East, in the First Marine Aircraft Wing, and distinguished himself again as a public speaker on political/philosophical issues by winning first place in the Wing Technique of Instruction Competition. He was therefore sent to Washington to appear in the finals…”
The August 1959 edition of Leatherneck magazine also mentions that the Technique of Instruction competition was scheduled to be held in September 1959 in Washington, DC., which is listed in an entry from page 3 of Thornley’s DOD file:
|14 Sep 59
|to TAD||Wash, DC|
While Joan Mellen found Thornley’s visit to Washington, D.C. somehow suspect, his service record—and other supporting documents which I post here—suggest that he was simply attending a Marine Corps public speaking competition, which was certainly nothing unusual for Thornley. According to the author’s bio page in Oswald: “While attending high school in Whittier, California, [Thornley] had won a number of public speaking competitions, including the Voice of Democracy Contest.”
According to Joan Mellen, after Thornley received his “technical instruction” in Washington, D.C., in September of ‘59, he was “…moved from ‘confidential’ to ‘secret’ clearance….” This suggested (to Mellen, at least) that Thornley had graduated from Marines Corps Corporal to Secret Agent with the CIA.
It should be noted that “secret” clearance in and of itself is not special or unique and just because Thornley received “secret” clearance doesn’t mean he was a “CIA employee.” As my friend and former Air Force Office of Special Investigation (AFOSI) Special Agent, Walter Bosley, recently informed me:
“SECRET is the first level of anything close to serious, but it’s not the big prize level. It’s the first level of stuff that can get someone in big serious trouble if they mishandle it or, God forbid, sell it. There are a lot more personnel with SECRET than with TOP SECRET and beyond, of course, but it’s not insignificant.”
According to Thornley’s DOD file, he was assigned as “Avn Elec oper”, shorthand for Aviation Electronics Operator.
These duties were performed at Atsugi Base from which the U2 flights originated during this period, at the height of the Cold War. I would venture to guess that other enlisted men in Thornley’s unit who performed similar duties also held “secret” clearance.
On page 67 of Farewell to Justice, Mellen endorses Garrison’s theory that the Old Post Office Building in New Orleans (also known as The Customs House) —located “across from Banister’s office”—was some sort of CIA spook central gathering place for, as Garrison described them, a “…number of young men who have been identified as CIA employees….” Garrison erroneously identified these CIA employees as Kerry Thornley, Lee Oswald, Thomas Beckham and Jack Martin, among others.
As it turns out, the Old Post Office Building was not exactly “across from Banister’s office” as Garrison described, but in reality a half mile away—or as Mellen more accurately notes in Farewell to Justice—in “close proximity.”
While Oswald was most likely involved in intelligence work during his Marine Corps service and afterwards, the claim that he was a CIA employee has never been conclusively demonstrated. To further suggest that Jack Martin or Thomas Beckham were CIA employees seems based primarily on the many sensational claims made by Beckham and Martin themselves in which I place little, if any, stock. This is not to say that I completely rule out any or all of these theories suggesting that Beckham or Martin might have been CIA agents or connected in some way to the Agency. However, these allegations are just that: theories to which Garrison never produced any substantial supporting evidence.
Lastly—to toss more water on this smoldering fire—I recently stumbled upon the following declassified CIA document (at the National Archives online database) dated January 1968.
Given the 1968 date, one can assume that this document was prepared in response to Garrison’s allegation that Kerry Thornley was a CIA agent. In this regard, the document lists Thornley’s CIA connections as “None.”
But, of course, THEY would deny it!
Hail Eris! All Hail Discordia!
Greg Hill—otherwise known to the world as Malaclypse the Younger—died on July 20th, 2000, spending his final days in Pleasant Hill, California at or near the pin you see on this google map.
“And so it is that we, as men, do not exist until we do; and then it is that we play with our world of existent things, and order and disorder them, and so it shall be that non-existence shall take us back from existence and that nameless spirituality shall return to Void, like a tired child home from a very wild circus.” —Principia Discordia, pg 00058
The address I used for the web search (of the last known whereabouts of Greg Hill) was actually the residence of a fellow named Allen “Bud” Simco, who was a long time friend of both Greg Hill and Kerry Thornley. In fact, Simco served in the same outfit as Lee Harvey Oswald and Thornley at El Toro Marine Base and actually wrote a chapter for Thornley’s book Oswald titled, aptly enough, “Oswald and Thornley.”
Simco lived right across the street from Greg Hill at the time of Hill’s passing, and during those final days—Simco told me—he was able to look directly across the street and see Greg through his home office window working at his computer on his final project, A History of Everything (Download PDF).
I was first informed of Greg Hills’s passing in an email from Bob Newport, which included a photo of Greg taken just a few days before he died with text below the photo announcing Newport’s successorship of the Norton Cabal Archives. In this regard, Newport was referring to the Discordian Archives later passed on to me, your humble Discordian chronicler, in 2009.
Below is an excerpted email from Allen Simco regarding Greg Hill’s passing, which gives a good snapshot of Greg in his final days.
Greg Hill’s dear friends and fellow Discordians—Bob Newport and Louise Lacey—each wrote obits for Greg, shared with you here.