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Before Moving On To Week 4… A Little More On the Week 2 Illuminatus! Reading

As RAW mentioned on numerous occasions, Illuminatus! was an exercise of mixing fact with fiction, and in particular the many conspiracy theories presented willy-nilly in the book. Years after its publication, RAW admitted that even he was unclear as to which of these theories—in the final analysis—were ultimately true or false, and that some might have been both true AND false at the same time. In this regard, the book is a mental exercise of sorts in unraveling the many mythologies swirling around the kooky conspiratorial landscape of the late-60s and 70s.

During the Week 2 group reading, I neglected to mention a reference to the Berkeley Illuminati, which was indeed a real group based out of the U.C. Berkeley campus in the mid to late-60s that ran concurrent to the Discordian Society’s Bavarian Illuminati activities. Like RAW and Kerry Thornley, the Berkeley group sent out spurious announcements about far flung conspiracies just to see how people would react and possibly even piss themselves in the process. I’ve never actually seen any of the Berkeley Illuminati materials, but Jesse Walker in The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory interviewed one of the members of the group, Sharon Presley, who stated that: “We actually had a recognized student group at Cal called the Bavarian Illuminati. The by-laws were a hoot; obviously no bureaucrat actually read them.”

So, in essence, they were a real group that put out false announcements, so they were both true and false at the same time, a prime example of Operation Mindfuck run amok.

As for the Week 4 reading, I don’t have a lot to comment on, other than to note that the Teenset article mentioned on Page 40 (“The Most Sinister, Evil, Subversive Conspiracy In The World”) was indeed a real article in a real magazine, written by someone named Sandra Glass (who was, most likely, Robert Shea), which documented an investigation into the mysterious Ancient Illuminated Seers of Bavaria (A.I.S.B.). This article was ominously prefaced with an editor’s note: “Before her recent death, Miss Glass was an expert on subversive affairs.” The source— for many of the revelations in the article—came allegedly from an anarchist named Simon Moon, who would later turn up as a character in Illuminatus!.

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Letter: Robert Shea shares the Illuminatus! Cover Artwork Proofs with Greg Hill

Robert Shea letter to Greg Hill, discussing Illuminatus! book cover proofs, Page 00001,
dated June 25, 1975.
Courtesy of from the Discordian Archives.

One of my favorite finds in the Discordian Archives is this letter from Robert Shea to Greg Hill sent the summer before the release of Illuminatus!.

The letter includes some great Erisian Mysteries insights. Such as Shea’s back-story on how cover artist Carlos Victor (Carlos Ochagavia) learned about Illuminatus! to create the individual book covers. I find this amusing as it must have been quite an endeavor by editor Fred Feldman and the interpreter to communicate to Victor such a strange and bizarre concept, which Victor nails solidly.

Another great nugget is Shea’s admiration for the latest in 1975 photocopier tech, provided by his employer, Playboy magazine, used to photocopy the Illuminatus! book cover proofs attached to the letter.

Photocopiers as hip-tech were something Shea and the Early Discordians used-well in the production of personal zines, like Shea’s No Governor mentioned in the letter, and various Erisian tracts, including the Principia Discordia.

Robert Shea letter to Greg Hill,
The Eye in the Pyramid book cover
proof attachment, June 25, 1975.
Courtesy of
from the Discordian Archives.
Robert Shea letter to Greg Hill,
The Golden Apple book cover
proof attachment, June 25, 1975.
Courtesy of
from the Discordian Archives.

Greg Hill had, by the time of this letter, long-ago hacked how photocopiers could be used with paste-ups to produce artwork that left no cut-marks or seams when reproduced and liberally employed this production technique for Third and Fourth Editions of the Principia Discordia. Eventually this approach was ubiquitous in the mid-to-late-80s zine scene explosion, no doubt also helped along by Kinkos’ great photocopier equipment and liberal policies of photocopy production (while looking the other way on copyright infringement).

One can imagine “Faster/Clearer/More Gradients!” as a mantra that Shea and Hill would have embraced in their pursuit of top-notch photocopier tech of the time.

More to come of such correspondences betwixt these Erisian Masters. Stay fnord!

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Discordian Works [Citation Needed].

The Discordian bathroom library
of Professor Cramulus.

I’m going to get up on my soapbox to try and address one of the most serious and pressing issues of our modern age.

The Wikipedia page on Discordian Works is a joke.

I don’t have the time and inclination right at this second to edit what has time and time again been a bloodbath of edit wars, but I do want to start a discussion on what knowledge of Discordian works represents an essential overview. I’ve tried to build a list based on what A) connects directly to the original Discordians, and B) has had an immediate, measurable impact on the Discordian community, or C) contributes to an enhanced academic understanding of Discordianism.

The page references a number of works. It adds information that has no place in the article, it mentions works (Liber Malorum? Infinite Conception?) that I have literally never heard any of the Discordians I’ve met—and I’ve traveled all over the world meeting Discordians—mention even once. Then there are names that never appear; Adam Go-Where-Now?

My suggestion is thus:

First Principia Discordia. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. This section should be expanded to outline the development of the work from First Edition, to what we see now; cover the Loompanics, IllumiNet, Steve Jackson Games, Synapticlipse and other such editions.

Then we should progress immediately to The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson in considerably more detail than is offered. is posting a shit-tonne of info on this book as it goes thorough the reading club. It should go in. Other works of RAW that deal with Discordianism such as Cosmic Trigger which have contributed significantly to many aspects of modern Discordia (relationship to Aleister Crowley, etc) should be mentioned too.

Zen Without Zen Masters by Camden Benares. Also The Crying Clown Saga by Benares and John F Carr. Benares was a contributor to the Principia Discordia.

Kerry Thornley’s work Zenarchy needs to be in and discussed as well.

Then, we should have the Apocrypha Discordia. This is notable for being really the first new non-zine Discordian work since the original bunch came around (afaik), and I suspect is a good chronological marking point for “New Discordian Works.”

Then we need to see Adam Gorightly’s The Prankster and the Conspiracy, the best existing guide to the early days of Discordia. (His other projects maybe could be listed as coming soon, but each of the four promises to offer a lot to the academic understanding of Discordianism and should be included when released.)

Principia Entropius is a terrible mess that makes one’s head hurt, but as it’s a rare and valuable (historically if not creatively) snapshot of Discordianism in the 90s, it deserves mention.

The Wholly First Edition isn’t really the first edition at all, but it was the first snapshot that many new gen Discordians had of the contents of what was in the Kennedy Archives. The history of that is in the book, though it’s not always easy to find. It’s notable enough to be mentioned.

Condensed Chaos by Phil Hine makes explicit references to Discordia, and may well be part of the cause of the crossover of Chaos Magic and Discordia.

Black Iron Prison was a work that has been highly influential (to the point where it’s influenced Discordian communities as far as Brazil) and thus deserves mention.

We should have a section at the bottom with academic works that explore Discordianism. Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler and Authentic Fakes by David Chidester come to mind. Also Carol Cussak’s Invented Religions: Imagination Fiction and Faith.

Additionally KLF: Music, Magic and the Band That Burned a Million Pounds is a valuable examination of the KLF and their Discordian links and lives in this section most comfortably.

Other works, while often good, while sometimes notable, don’t need full articles but do deserve mention and context as notable and important—mostly my measure for this has been either “I’ve seen a lot of Discordians own them,” or “I’ve heard a lot of Discordians discuss them,” or often both. Hardly an academic test, but there you go. I tried to do a scratch list and gave up on it as I was bound to snub someone (and we all know how that turns out!)

Does anyone else have some thoughts on the matter?

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The Blivet and The Hodge/Podge Transformer

Greg Hill drawings of blivets, 1965, Page 00001. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Greg Hill drawings of blivets, 1965, Page 00002. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
The two pages of images presented here called “The Blivit” [sic] were drawn by Greg Hill in 1965 and I would suspect were inspired by issue #93 of Mad magazine from March of that year which has a blivet on the cover.

Mad Magazine #93 with a blivet on the cover. More info on this issue at Doug Gilford's Mad Cover Site.
I make this assumption because Hill and Kerry Thornley were big fans of Mad, and in fact credited it as the inspiration for their own one-shot mag Apocalypse: A Trade Journal for Doom Prophets.

And, if you’re wondering what the hell a blivet is, we refer you now to the ever-handy and never-wrong Wikipedia for its entry on blivets.

The Hodge/Podge Transformer from the Principia Discordia. Shown here is Page 00052 of the Sacred PUD (the original Paste-Up Discordia) where Greg Hill's drawing (we assume) has been pasted on with other elements including a quotation from The Honest Book of Truth's 'The Book of Gooks.' Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Significantly to Discordianism, a blivet appears in the Fourth Edition of the Principia Discordia on Page 00052 as part of “The Hodge/Podge Transformer,” and I think it’s safe to assume that “The Hodge/Podge Transformer” was drawn by Greg Hill when compared to his other hand-drawn blivets shown above.

As a side note, there’s a weird online Flash game based on “The Hodge/Podge Transformer,” a demo associated with another game called Ossuary, which itself is based on Discordianism, though the game’s creator doesn’t necessarily want it to be known as “that Discordian game.” Here’s a puzzled review of The Hodge/Podge Transformer game demo which can be played online here.

Hail Eris!

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Chasing Eris: The Krewe of Eris

The following is another draft excerpt from my forthcoming book Chasing Eris. The book documents my worldwide adventure to experience modern Discordian culture, meet its personalities, and discover elusive Erisian mysteries.
Brenton Clutterbuck

Every year in February or March, New Orleans holds its Mardi Gras, an affair of floats and alcohol, where flashing your breasts earns a handful of shiny beads.

Each parade group is called a Krewe, many of which are named after the Greek Gods. Naturally it was the Krewe of Eris that got my attention.

New Orleans was a dead loss for me in trying to find interview subjects. I couldn’t secure any interviews with members of the Krewe. The person listed as the “media spokesperson” of the Eris Solidarity Crew never responded to my requests for interviews or questions other than a four word reply of “not sure if possible.” He did add me to Facebook however, without explaining who he was, then failed to reply to any of my Facebook messages other than to volunteer at one point that he was too busy dealing with an oncoming hurricane to reply to me. It had been now several months since then so I can only assume that he’s preparing very thoroughly.

What Google and email did not provide me with though, the Goddess did. Josh, who I met in San Francisco, was involved with the parade. As he began to tell me about the event I mentioned that I had been trying to get onto someone about it.

“Good luck,” he said, with a tone that implied I’d need it.

“They’re banned now, can’t even do anything,” he told me, “after what happened two years ago.” He’s been coming to Eris marches for seven years, and every year they get shut down, which he describes as tragically awesome.

The parade came to life in 2005 when it was founded by Ms. Lateacha and Lord Willin; previously members of the Krewe du Poux, who felt they had outgrown their previous group. The Krewe is as much about ideology as aesthetic. While other Krewes are prohibitively expensive to join in, or simply closed to new members, Eris is free, open, and the costumes and floats are all made by the participants. The “Eris Song” was written by a musician called JR who also taught would-be band members to play in the weeks leading to the parade.

While all Krewes are required by law to obtain a permit in order to march, the Krewe of Eris have consistently refused to make requests for permits, preferring instead to express their freedom by marching without permission. The parade is seen by many as an actively anti-authoritarian reclamation of space.

This anti-authoritarianism plays in significantly to the reasons I am unable to get an interview with anyone in New Orleans, Josh explains.

“The anarchist movement is closely aligned with—you might as well call it the Anarchist parade. That’s really what it is,” he tells me.

2006 the theme was Noveaux Limbeaux (welcome to Limbo), capturing the uncertainty that pervaded the city in the wake of the floods.

In 2007 the theme was Planet Eris.

In 2008 the theme was “The swarm,” which included many insect costumes and a 15 foot paper mache decomposing dog carcass that emitted smoke.

In 2009 the theme was The Feast of the Appetites.

In 2010 the theme was Desire and Light.

In 2011 the theme was Mutagenesis, a criticism of the recent BP oil spill environmental disaster, and featured a 60 person marching band. Erisians dressed as water creatures whose environment had been disturbed by the incident. It was here that things got loose. Reports go from pure, unprovoked police brutality, to reckless vandalism and disruption from Krewe members. By some accounts, participants were jumping on cars, throwing rubbish bins and painting cocks on things. Users commenting on websites often jumped to the defense of one party or the other. One one page, user Triangletess claims that they have photos of ten cars graffitied, keyed, or that have hoods damaged by stomping. Another, Leeandra saw a group ahead of the parade smashing bottles, setting off car alarms, and smashing bottles in the street.

The police intervened with the traditional NOPD restraint and sensitivity. By the end of the parade many marchers had been arrested, sprayed with pepper spray, hit with batons or tasered. Brass instruments were damaged, by some accounts, on purpose. Twelve people were arrested. One person filming the events had their phone flung from their hand by members of the police. Another blog claimed to witness police trying to bait a young man into attacking them, and when he wouldn’t, hit him with batons anyway. Another source claims that members of the police force were equally appalled with police behavior, including a failure to see to the injuries of an arrested man. The claims on the blogspot page for the legal defense of the twelve individuals arrested add to this that some of their number were beaten so badly they were hospitalized. The police in turn had tires slashed on their cruisers, and one allegedly was hit in the forehead by a brick. Six officers required medical attention.

Josh talked me through the events.

“It almost looked like a protest, everyone started getting up on the cars. I remember we were outside The Marigny, just outside the French Quarter, we we jumping, we were destroying, because we were outside this restaurant, peoples faces were just like (shows expression). There were 300 of us, maybe not 300 maybe like 250 that year, and they’re just destroying the fucking cars, oh my God! Then once we got to the quarter which was about 7 blocks later—I think we had three marching bands that year, but as soon as we got there, like 100 cop cars just like ‘you need to disperse,’ and so they kept kicking them back to the Marigny, and that’s when things escalated. Started setting fires and throwing—lighting garbage cans on fire, and trying to block the streets, and cops have guns and tasers—”

“Push then back to the Marigny?” I asked.

“Yeah, push them back, the parade always starts right on the Marigny, right on the cusp of the train tracks, and they’re trying to push them back—out of the French Quarter, trying to keep the French Quarter—you know, it’s Marti Gras. But things went horribly that year. I had one friend, she got batoned in the head a couple of times, and she was just watching. But every year it got chaotic. It was two years ago. It was rough.”

In 2012, the theme was “The Trickster’s Ball.” In place of a marching band, was recorded music. The band themselves played at a nearby ball instead. Founders Ms. Lateacha and Lord Willin were not involved. The stated aspiration was to be non-violent and non-destructive.

“Last year they went from Marigny but they marched like two blocks and then they went to a safe house real quick,” Josh told me.

The theme of 2013 was Eris Dawns.

Krewe Member Victor Pizzaro, has publicly indicated that the parade may look at applying for a permit in the future.

Four of the twelve individuals arrested faced municipal court. They were supported by the law offices of law offices of Miles W. Swanson. Four of the revelers were given fines and suspended sentences. One, William Watkins III, was given a jail term of 45 days. Two failed to appear at court.

Member Damien Weaver was awaiting an October 20 ruling on if police violated his right to due process by preventing or destroying video evidence. I’ve been unable to find the result of that ruling.

A 2011 Justice Department review of the NOPD following the Krewe of Eris incident found that the NOPD habitually used excessive force.

Article Edited: 28/01/2017.

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Week 2 Illuminatus! Group Reading: Joseph Malik

Greg Hill’s 'Bavarian Illuminati' business card, front. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Greg Hill’s 'Bavarian Illuminati' business card, back. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
As we embark upon Week 2 of the Illuminatus! reading, I will continue my obsessive quest to note any Discordian references I encounter along the way. So away we go…

What immediately jumps out is the character of Joseph Malik, who is at least a hat tip to Discordian Society founder, Greg Hill, as among Hill’s various Discordian personas was Mad Malik, an apparent member of the Bavarian Illuminati, as depicted in this Illuminati business card from the late-60s/early-70s.

In Illuminatus!, Joseph Malik is an underground magazine editor who has uncovered an apparent Illuminati plot, as documented in a number of written exchanges between Malik and someone named Pat.

The evolution of much of the Illuminati mythos depicted in Illuminatus! was initially inspired by Jim Garrison’s JFK assassination investigation of all things, which makes all of this even more convoluted, so bear with me. For those unfamiliar with Big Jim, he was the New Orleans District Attorney during the 1960s and the lead character played by Kevin Costner in Oliver Stone’s JFK. As fickle fate would have it, Discordian co-founder Kerry Thornley was identified by Garrison as being involved in the JFK assassination plot, which of course led to a lot of chaos in Thornley’s life (Hail Eris!) in the years to come, a topic I first broached in The Prankster and the Conspiracy and which will be the main theme in my forthcoming book Caught In The Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Oswald and Garrison’s JFK Investigation coming soon from Feral House.

During the course of Garrison’s investigation, one of his unofficial investigators (otherwise known as the “Irregulars”) was a fellow named Allan Chapman who subscribed to the theory that JFK’s assassination had been orchestrated by (you guessed it!) the Bavarian Illuminati. After catching wind of Chapman’s Illuminati-JFK assassination theory, Thornley initiated—along with the support of some of his fellow Discordian Society pranksters—what became known as Operation Mindfuck (OM), a campaign designed to screw with Garrison’s head by sending out spurious announcements suggesting that he (Kerry) was an agent of the Illuminati. Among the culprits who helped perpetrate Operation Mindfuck was none other than RAW. As Kerry later noted:

Wilson and I founded the Anarchist Bavarian Illuminati to give Jim Garrison a hard time, one of whose supporters believed that the Illuminati owned all the major TV networks, the Conspiring Bavarian Seers (CBS), the Ancient Bavarian Conspiracy (ABC) and the Nefarious Bavarian Conspirators (NBC).
—Kerry Thornley, Dreadlock Recollections

I suspect that the “Illuminati Project Memos” on pages 14, 15, 16 and 20 were actually exchanges between Wilson and Thornley during the period the two were conducting Illuminati research, and that Wilson inserted these exchanges into the Illuminatus! narrative. This research led both Thornley and Wilson to compose the infamous letter and answer that appeared in the April ’69 issue of Playboy.

On page 21, Peter Jackson tells Saul Goodman that the missing Malik—through his magazine, Confrontation—was attempting to re-open an investigation into the MLK and Kennedy brother assassinations, which is exactly what Kerry Thornley was attempting to do around the time of the publication of Illuminatus!

Thornley, as well, had been an underground magazine editor during the 1960s, so it can be further conjectured that Malik was a composite character based on Thornley and Greg Hill.

NOTE: After taking another gander at Illuminatus!, I noticed that the first “Project Illuminati Memo” was dated 7/23, the date of RAW’s otherworldly experience with certain denizens from Sirius as well as being the beginning of the Dog Days of Sirius.

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Another ‘The Honest Book of Truth’ Teaser

Here’s another The Honest Book of Truth teaser—direct from the Discordian Archives—an excerpt that Lord Omar (Kerry Thornley) jotted down on notepad paper as a means to illuminate and/or totally confound the masses.

Kerry Thornley note, The Honest Book of Truth. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Kerry Thornley note: The Honest Book of Truth. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
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More On The Illuminatus! Trilogy Group Reading and ‘The Honest Book of Truth’

Gorightly's copies of the 1975 edition of
The Illuminatus! Trilogy.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
In advance of the Illuminatus! reading that kicked off on Feb 24th over at (why it wasn’t launched on Feb 23rd is beyond me!), I had to do a little rummaging around to track down my Illuminatus! copies, which I’m glad to say I was able to locate amidst all the other quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore lining my shelves.

Although yellowing and frayed, this almost now forty year old classic—published in the Year of Our Goddess 1975—continues to evoke a sense of wonderment ever since that immortal day back in the summer of ‘84 when I happened upon this “fairy tale for paranoids” during the wee, weird hours while passing by Bart’s Books in Ojai, California—as the spirit of Krishnamurti hovered nearby. (As a sidebar, an early and part-time Discordian named Alan Kishbaugh is now a high ranking muckety-muck with the Krishnamurti Foundation in Ojai. Kishbaugh’s Discordian handle back in the day was “The Earl of Nines,” a title concocted as an effort to combat the chaos unleashed by The Law of Fives.)

Bart's Books, Ojai, California.
As has been the honor system policy at Bart’s all these years, when the store is closed you can still buy books lining the outside shelves and toss money for them through a slot in the door, which explains my reference to “wee, weird hours.” Envision me then, a long haired reprobate, toking on the herb superb as I stumbled upon—in my intoxicated haze—this weirdo cover of the One-Eyed Pyramid with a dolphin swimming over it and such. Which takes us to the present…

So—as I reintroduce myself to Illuminatus! by way of the group reading—I plan to point out the many Discordian references I’ll encounter along the way, the first of which happens immediately in the dedication page to none other than Greg Hill and Kerry Thornley. (And if you don’t know who these dudes are by now, just start poking around here at Historia Discordia and all will be revealed!)

The next Discordian reference occurs on the first page of the opening chapter, an introductory quotation that is lifted directly from some obscure religious (or irreligious) tract called The Honest Book of Truth by an equally obscure character named “Lord Omar Khayaam Ravenhurst, K.S.C.”:

The Purple Sage opened his mouth and moved his tongue and so spake to them and he said:

The Earth quakes and the Heavens rattle; the beasts of nature flock together and the nations of men flock apart; volcanoes usher up heat while elsewhere water becomes ice and melts; and then on other days it just rains.

Indeed do many things come to pass.
—Lord Omar Khayaam Ravenhurst, K.S.C.,
“The Book of Predictions.” The Honest Book of Truth

First page of The Honest Book of Truth, March 1969. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst, despite the misspelling in Illuminatus! of Khayyam as “Khayaam,” and more commonly seen as just “Lord Omar,” was, of course, Kerry Thornley’s Discordian name—or at least one of them, with the K.S.C. standing for Keeper of the Sacred Chao. As for The Honest Book of Truth, it has been commonly held over the years that no such book actually existed, because all that anyone had ever seen of it were short quotations from either Illuminatus! or the Principia Discordia.

During a conversation with RAW once, I asked him what he thought of Thornley’s writings, and he stated unequivocally that the best thing Kerry had written was The Honest Book of Truth. Of course, sometimes I’d wonder if RAW was pulling my leg about certain things, so I filed this anecdote away in my memory banks for future pondering. Later, after having acquired the Discordian Archives, I one day happened upon a most amazing discovery: none other than The Honest Book of Truth, which is 15 pages in length and includes “The Book of Uterus,” “The Book of Explanations,” “The Book of Predictions,” “The Book of Advice,” “The Book of Gooks,” and “The Gospel According to Fred.”

The Honest Book of Truth will appear in its entirety in the forthcoming book compilation, Historia Discordia: The Origins of the Discordian Society.

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Fnord: The Illuminatus! Trilogy group read starts Monday, February 24

Discordian Guerrilla Ontology advert for the release of the Illuminatus! Trilogy.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Tom Jackson, who runs the right-fine site, has organized a group reading of The Illuminatus! Trilogy set to begin this coming Monday, February 24, 2014.

Here’s more info from the press release for the group reading:

The ostensible subject of the book is the Illuminati, an alleged secret society that seeks to control the world and is still the subject of many conspiracy theories. Many of the book’s protagonists are either battling the Illuminati or struggling to figure out what is really going on.

The Illuminatus! Trilogy, 'candy apple red' edition from Dell Trade Paperback, January 1984. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
The work makes liberal use of Discordianism, a tongue-in-cheek religion devoted to worship of the Greek goddess Eris, who was blamed for starting the Trojan War, and of the Kabbalah, an esoteric mystical system that began as part of Judaism. The text also reflects the authors’ strong interesting anarchism and libertarianism.

Readers of the website will participate in an online discussion of the book beginning on Feb. 24. The discussion will proceed at a pace of 10 pages a week, to give readers time to untangle many of the esoteric references and meanings in the text. The slow pace also will allow time for readers who missed the initial announcement to get caught up and participate. The standard paperback edition has 805 pages, so the discussion is expected to take well over a year.

Each week, an entry on a 10-page section of the book will be posted on the website’s blog, and readers will be invited to weigh in using the comments.

If you’ve never read The Illuminatus! Trilogy, this is a fine opportunity to get in on this underground classic of subversion.

As one character in the book, Epicene Wildblood, puts it while reviewing Illuminatus! in Illuminatus!, it’s “a fairy tale for paranoids.”

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February 18: This Day In Discordian History

Marquee for the RAW Meme-Orial, February 18, 2007. Courtesy of Tim Cridland.
On February 18, 2007, I had the privilege of attending what was dubbed The Robert Anton Wilson Cosmic Meme-Orial held at the Coconut Grove Ballroom in Santa Cruz, CA, the town where RAW lived the last couple decades of his life.

At the time, Louise Lacey was visiting Santa Cruz, so on the way I picked her up and gave her a lift to the event, which was located right off the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk where I’d spent so many days of my youth and teenage years. So it was nostalgic in that sense, conjuring up memories of days gone by, and also a sense of fond nostalgia about RAW’s influence on all of us Discordians attending the event. In many ways this day signaled the end of an era, although those in the crowd did not dwell on the maudlin, but to the contrary came and celebrated and laughed and lifted a glass (or two) to RAW’s passing into the land of We Know Not What.

RAW’s box of ashes, topped by the Golden Apple, February 18, 2007.
Courtesy of Tim Cridland.
As we entered the ballroom, RAW’s ashes were on display in a wooden box that was appropriately topped off with a Golden Apple. Louise stopped in her tracks and did a double take, recognizing it as the very same Golden Apple she’d given RAW a few years earlier at the premiere of the Maybe Logic documentary at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz back on July 23 of 2003. (July 23rd being a holy Discordian date that celebrates the rising of the star Sirius and RAW’s encounter with otherworldly entities. Maybe.) Outside during intermission, RAW had stepped out to have a cig when Louise presented him with said Golden Apple and recalled that he was completely enchanted with the gift, and couldn’t take his eyes off it as he cradled it in his hands. This was the last time that Louise saw him.

During the Meme-Orial, many took to the stage with their RAW remembrances, including his daughter, Christina, who shared his last message:

“I no longer claim to know anything, but I still have some persistent suspicions. My greatest suspicion holds that all my suspicions may prove wrong. Intelligence recognizes that nothing now seems impossible. Have a good, hearty laugh and do not dare to mourn me.”

The zine movement, in all its nostalgic glory. Left to right: Adam Gorightly, Tim Cridland, Kenn Thomas and Greg Bishop at the RAW Meme-Orial, February 18, 2007.
Courtesy of Tim Cridland.
The event was attended by my good friends Kenn Thomas of Steamshovel Press fame, The Excluded Middle’s Greg Bishop and Tim Cridland (aka Zamora The Torture King), who all, in one way or another, were touched by RAW’s work. Coming of age during the late-80s zine movement, it seemed RAW was a unifying force binding us all together, not only because he had penned such mind bending classics as Illuminatus! and Cosmic Trigger, but due as well to his optimistic and open minded outlook which seemed an inspiring path to follow.

To this end, Greg recalled how his life was literally saved when—during a period of deep depression—he fortunately discovered RAW’s writings about the loser and winner scripts, and immediately took them to head and heart, turning his world around.

Synchronicities were often abundant during personal interactions with RAW, as Kenn Thomas recalled:

“The twenty-three coincidences came up twice when RAW visited me in St. Louis way back in 1978. We were talking about it at lunch one day when the number we were given at the pizza place to wait for our order was 2323. Later, I took him to a radio interview in the nearby burb of Clayton, MO—near where George Noory does his show these days—and I pointed out that the name of the building where the radio station was located must have some mystical significance. It was called the Sevens Building. “Maybe,” he said, “and maybe so does that” and he pointed the top of the tall building across the street which had a large “23” marking its street address. RAW tells some version of this story on one of his videos, saying that the incident reflected a koan ‘Who is the Master who makes the grass green?’”

Poster for the RAW Meme-Orial.
Any decent memorial—as all good Irishmen and Discordians know—has a well stocked bar to which I soon made passage. After securing an ice cold Anchor Steam—and taking a long cool drawl thereof—I worked my way back through the crowd, in the process bumping into R.U. Sirius of Mondo 2000 fame. Though no meaningful words were exchanged between us during the course of our passage, we shared that knowing nod that only RAW initiates know, clinking our bottle necks together, a toast in cosmic unison, as each of us then continued moving through the crowd.

The next RAW initiate I encountered was his long time friend, Scott Apel, who spent a lot of time with Bob during his final days. Scott mentioned that, at one point, RAW had handed him a copy of The Prankster and The Conspiracy and said, “If you want to know what really happened with the early Discordian scene, read this book!”—which was a wonderful anecdote to hear.

There are some very cool clips from the RAW Meme-Orial at this YouTube playlist:

RAW’s ashes being tossed to the sea, and to Eris, February 18, 2007.
Courtesy of Tim Cridland.
Included is a stirring rendition of Auld Lasagna, as well as the procession where we were all given kazoos and such to blow upon and make mad music as we marched out to the beach to watch RAW’s ashes scattered to the sea, and to Eris.