Along the way I’ve tried my best to introduce him to a number of fellow Discordians, among them Rosemary Tantra Bensko, who in the following video describes her introduction to Kerry Thornley and the subsequent ritual the two engaged in concerning butter and cats licking thereof.
Later, while combing through correspondence between Robert Anton Wilson and Greg Hill from the period, I soon discovered that they actually collaborated on the piece. This would explain the Mordecai moniker in the byline, as Mordecai — it just so happens — was the first name of RAW’s Discordian persona, Mordecai Malignatus aka Mordecai the Foul.
In retrospect, “Anarcho-Surrealism” seems a prime example of Discordian Culture Jamming, in the sense that RAW was writing his own clandestine review of Illuminatus! with the covert aid of Discordian Society co-founder Greg Hill, aka Malaclypse the Younger, Omnibenevolent Polyfather of Virginity in Gold (K.S.C.).
Get yourself Discordian Culture Jammed:
Reprinted with permission, here’s Brian’s article from Reason Magazine:
In 1960 — following Thornley’s Marine Corps discharge — he returned to Whittier, California and reunited with Hill at that time and the two produced a humor zine called Apocalypse: A Trade Journal For Doom Prophets.
Hill and Thornley published only one issue of Apocalypse, mainly because no one else, besides them, found it the least bit humorous. As Thornley later noted: “Things we thought were funny, nobody else did.”
Apocalypse: A Trade Journal For Doom Prophets will appear in its entirety in the forthcoming Historia Discordia: The Origins of the Discordian Society available soon from RVP Publishers.
Ken Campbell’s adaptation was totally faithful to this nihilistic spirit and contained long unexpurgated speeches from the novel explaining at sometimes tedious length just why everything the government does is always done wrong. The audiences didn’t mind this pedantic lecturing because it was well integrated into a kaleidoscope of humor, suspense, and plenty of sex (more simulated blow jobs than any drama in history, I believe.)
Working with the National Theatre (under the Patronage of Queen Elizabeth, no less!), Campbell arranged for the two Bobs, Wilson and Shea, to be flown across the pond for the London production premiere. In appreciation of Her Majesty’s largesse, Wilson made a cameo appearance: “The cast dared me to do a walk-on role during the National Theatre run. I agreed and became an extra in the Black Mass, where I was upstaged by the goat, who kept sneezing. Nonetheless, there I was, bare-ass naked, chanting ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law’ under the patronage of Elizabeth II, Queen of England, and I will never stop wondering how much of that was programmed by Crowley before I was even born.” According to Michael Coveney’s Ken Campbell bio, RAW was so nervous about his nude cameo that he dropped some acid before going on stage, as well as doling out hits to other actors in the play.
At some point, during the course of the production (if I got the story straight), Kenneth Campbell’s daughter, Daisy Eris Campbell, was conceived backstage. More on the adventures of Daisy Campbell in a bit….
A year after of the Illuminatus! stage production, a Discordian reunion of sorts took place that included Bob and Arlen Wilson, Louise Lacey, Greg Hill, Bob and Rita Newport, as well as several other friends of the Wilson’s who traveled to Seattle to take in the Illuminatus! stage production during its stateside run.
‘Twas a chilly Seattle night (as the story goes), so someone (who shall remain nameless) produced enough MDMA for Wilson and all his colleagues (ingested between the second and third acts) which in due time took the chill from the bones of the assembled Discordians—and cranked up the glow surrounding their collected auras—as they sat entranced by the spectacle which unfolded.
The MDMA notwithstanding, Louise Lacey recalls the Illuminatus! stage production as a “sublime experience” which had one and all rolling in the aisles.
In the spirit of the Illuminatus! stage play—and filled with the same sort of Erisian inspiration as her dearly departed father—Daisy Eris Campbell has taken on the task of creating a stage adaption of Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger, which you can find out more about in the YouTube video to follow.
Here’s a great article on Ken Campbell, Illuminatus! and other Liverpool romps.
And this just in! An update from Daisy Eris!
UPDATE: January 8, 2014: More on the 1978 Seattle Stage Production of Illuminatus!.
Robert Anton Wilson once described A Certain Flair For Death as “The best psychological science-fiction novel since The Demolished Man… the tension mounts and mounts… I couldn’t put it down… it might do your head as much good as an Encounter Group with the Marx Brothers!”
I recently contacted John to get some background about how and when the Crying Clown series were written, and he was kind of enough to share the following response.
The old Kris Kristofferson song sums up Kerry quite succinctly:
“He’s a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction, taking every wrong direction on his lonely way back home.”
Or to quote Walt Whitman:
“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.”
In the following passage, Barbara recalls how she first met Kerry:
“My friend was taking her children for the prerequisite visit to their father during summer vacation. He had kindly arranged for us to stay at Stone House, a Quaker Commune. I was trying to find my spiritual self I suppose & connected with Kerry on a very high level. I had never sat with someone & meditated in the purpose of the two beings focused together in meditation. For me he was very much the Indian Yogi walking a path of spiritual awareness. Sometimes he was a whirling dervish, others a Shakespearean bard, then Krishna with his lovers. He was asexual in that he made love with the world.”
Below: Letter from Kerry to Barbara Blackman dated January 1, 1971. Courtesy of Barbara Blackman.
I recently happened upon an interview I did with Louise Lacey back in 2007 and thought it’d make a good addition to Historia Discordia, including — as it does — Louise’s recounting of the halcyon days of Discordianism along with some fond remembrances of Robert Anton Wilson, Greg Hill and Kerry Thornley.
At one point in the interview, Louise corrected (as she is wont to do!) my apparent butchering of the pronunciation of Eris — “Ear-reese” — which is how Robert Anton Wilson invoked the Goddess, and so often times I’ll use that pronunciation. Wilson was also the first person I heard pronounce “Principia” with a hard “c,” which is the correct way of saying it in Latin. (Just so ya know I’m not a total dodo!)
Elsewhere in the interview I state erroneously that Kerry Thornley did NOT appear before the Orleans Parish Grand Jury (during the Jim Garrison Investigation madness) which at the time of our interview was my understanding. However, I was wrong, which seldom happens to your humble Discordian reporter, but when it does I’m the first to admit it!
Hail Eris! All Hail Imperfection!
On to the Untamed Dimension’s Louise Lacey fnord Interview…
Links for Louise Lacey:
Gregory H. Hill
Many people collect stamps. Some people collect coins, a few collect antique bottles, others shoe laces, bottle caps, yellow pencils, and endless array of miscellaneous items worth absolutely nothing (except, of course, to those who ardently collect them).
I collect belly-button lint.
Before you put this down and go back to your television, read on. It really is quite a fascinating hobby–if you like that sort of thing. Honest!–it is! Well… maybe, but it’s still fascinating. Why, believe it or not, I’ve belly-button lints from all over the world: Spain, France, China, Canada, even USSR. Indeed, I even have lints from some very famous people, too. One of my most valuable is a small wad of plaid lint from an eccentric Scotch clan-leader over 300 years old (the lint, not the man). My favorite is a piece of red lint from Khrushchev’s great gram-pa. I received that one just before I was lucky enough to possess a hunk of green lint from an old Irishman (drunken) I met one night in the gutter facing Barney’s Bar and Grill. Another priceless possession of mine is a pillow stuffed with lint of all shapes, sizes and colors from just plain people.
A novice just can’t realize the thrill and joy obtained from the experience of discovering a piece of belly-button lint once proudly worn by General George Washington just before he met Martha.
All in all, I have about 23,000 different specimens, ranging from one st up to and including a ball almost one and one half inches across, fished from King Farouk’s bath tub. These, I keep mounted in glass covered wall plaques starting in the entrance hall of my home, going through the living room, dining room, through my den and ending in my bedroom. The less interesting ones I keep in my wife’s bedroom (she’s a very understanding woman) and the poor ones I keep in a box in the garage. As soon as it gets about another 7 pounds in it, I think I’ll stuff a mattress.
As far as practical uses, I have already mentioned pillows and mattresses. Well, there is an infinite source of objects that lints can be substituted for if you have a practical mind. Some of my friends are soaking them in formaldehyde and using them as moth balls. Do you have noisy neighbors? Why, just stuff some in your ears and eliminate the noise (or better yet, send a box them next door and eliminate the neighbors). Actually, you can do almost anything with this wondrous material if you have the imagination &/or the nerve.
However, I think I should warn you about using lints for practical purposes instead of keeping them. Nothing, I repeat, nothing beats the grandeur of collecting–especially collecting such an important item as belly-button lint. What could be more satisfying than surprising your house guests by showing them a mounted board or row of glass cases containing hundreds of lints! Doesn’t it sound wonderful!!! It is almost a sure bet that they will never bother you again.
Now that I have undoubtedly sold you completely on the art of collecting belly-button lints, your first reaction is probably: where would an ordinary person like yourself obtain old and rare lints?
Damn good question.
1957: Kerry Graduates from CalHi.
1958: Kerry attends the University of Southern California as a journalism student. That same year, Kerry and Greg Hill form the Discordian Society.
1959: Kerry enlists in the Marine Corps and meets Lee Harvey Oswald and Bud Simco. Begins work on The Idle Warriors (Paperback). Oswald is dishonorably discharged from the Marines and defects to Russia.
1960: Kerry is discharged from the Marines and returns to Los Angeles.
1961: Kerry and Greg Hill move to New Orleans, where they meet Slim Brooks and Gary Kirstein, aka “Brother-in-law.”
June 1962: Oswald returns to the U.S. from Russia.
November 1963: President John F. Kennedy is assassinated.
December 1963: Kerry moves to Alexandria, Virginia, and works as a doorman at the Shirlington House.
Spring 1964: Kerry testifies before the Warren Commission.
April 1965: Kerry’s book, Oswald (Paperback), is published by New Classics House.
December 1965: Kerry marries Cara Leach at Wayfarer’s Chapel near Palos Verdes, California.
Late 1965 through early 1966: Kerry begins experimenting with psychedelics. Meets Camden Benares.
1967: Kerry helps organize and participates in the first Griffith Park Human Be-In. Begins correspondence with Robert Anton Wilson.
Late 1967: Kerry and Cara move to Tampa, Florida. Jim Garrison launches his Kennedy assassination probe.
January 1968: Kerry is served with a subpoena to testify before the New Orleans grand jury in Jim Garrison’s investigation.
Later in 1968: Operation Mindfuck begins.
1969: Greg Hill creates the Joshua Norton Cabal. Kerry’s son Kreg Thornley is born.
1970: Perjury charges against Kerry in the Garrison investigation are dropped.
Late 1971: Cara and Kerry separate.
1973: Kerry’s memories of “Brother-in-law” come flooding back, and he suspects he was part of a Kennedy assassination conspiracy.
1975-1977: Kerry’s paranoia intensifies. He now suspects that Robert Anton Wilson is his CIA controller and part of a clandestine assassination bureau.
1980s: Kerry lives the life of a vagabond, hitchhiking from coast-to-coast. Most of his time is spent in Florida or Atlanta, with occasional trips to the West Coast.
1986-1987: Kerry begins circulating The Dreadlock Recollections (recounting his unwitting participation in a JFK assassination conspiracy) via samizdat format.
1991: Kerry starts experiencing kidney problems.
November 28, 1998: Kerry dies from complications related to Wegner’s granulomatosis disease.