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Early Discordian Authors In Print As Of 1977

Letter from Camden Benares to Louise Lacey, September 8, 1976. Courtesy of Louise Lacey.
In this 1976 letter to Louise Lacey, Camden Benares reflects on his life as a writer—of both Zen and porn—noting that Zen Without Zen Masters was scheduled for release in the spring of 1977. In addition, Camden mentions a science fiction collaboration in the works between he and his Discordian pal John F. Carr, a book that was finally published in the futuristic faraway year of 2013 and chronicled in my previous post “The Discordian Sci-Fi Series That Almost Never Was.

Camden congratulates Louise on the recent publication of Lunaception, her landmark work on a natural method to conception, using the phases of the moon as a guide, a concept later explored by Tom Robbins in Still Life With Woodpecker.

Camden also floats the idea of putting together a list of Discordian books then in publication. With that theme in mind, here is just such a list, a snap shot in time of books in print by Discordian authors as of 1977.

Early Discordian Authors In Print As Of 1977

Kerry Thornley
New Classics Library, 1965

Principia Discordia
Malaclypse the Younger
Rip Off Press, March 1970
Amazon | Wikipedia

The Sex Magicians
Robert Anton Wilson,
Sheffield House Books, 1973
Wikipedia | PDF

The Complete Motorcycle
Nomad: A Guide To
Machines, Equipment,
People, And Places

Roger Lovin
Little, Brown, 1974
Amazon | 1973 Kirkus Review

The Book of the Breast
Robert Anton Wilson
Playboy Press, 1974
Amazon | Wikipedia

Back In The Sack
Judith Abrahms
Moonrise Press, 1975

Lunaception: A Feminine
Odyssey into Fertility
and Contraception

Louise Lacey
Coward, McCann &
Geoghegan, 1975
Amazon |

Robert Shea and
Robert Anton Wilson
Dell, 1975
Amazon | Wikipedia
Online Reading Group

The Ophidian Conspiracy
John F. Carr
Major Books, 1976

Zen Without Zen Masters
Camden Benares
And/Or Press, 1977




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Week 6 of the Illuminatus! Group Reading

The Illuminatus! Trilogy, 'candy apple red' edition from Dell Trade Paperback, January 1984. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
And now yet more revelations of certain Erisian Mysteries in Week 6 of the Illuminatus! group reading…

On page 54, 00005 (Of Her Majesty’s Secret Service) is introduced, otherwise known elsewhere in Illuminatus! as the character Fission Chips.

00005 is the first reference in Illuminatus! to the Discordian Law of Fives, which states that all things happen in fives, or are divisible by or are multiples of five, or are somehow directly or indirectly related to five.

Page 00005 of the Sacred PUD (the original Paste-Up Discordia): A Zen Story by Camden Benares from the Principia Discordia. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
00005 is also an example of the same five digit numbering system Greg Hill devised for the Principia Discordia. Illuminatus! is permeated with such Discordian allusions, which very few people at the time of its publication in 1975 would have been able to pick up on—or had even heard of Discordianism, for that matter. During this period there were only a few hundred copies of Principia Discordia in circulation, and so these Illuminatus!-Discordian allusions (such as this obscure reference to The Law of Fives) were initially inserted into the narrative as nothing more, it would seem, than inside jokes to the few who would understand them: a small cabal of Early Discordians numbering no fewer than five and probably not more than 23. The ultimate design of including all these Discordian winks and nods in Illuminatus! was part of a well thought out (albeit semi-covert) Discordian campaign to bring the Principia Discordia and Discordianism to a larger audience. The subsequent success of Illuminatus!, as a result, led many in turn to seek out the Principia Discordia, which was no easy task to track down at the time given its limited availability.

This limited availability of the Principia Discordia—coupled with its repeated referencing in Illuminatus!—no doubt intrigued and motivated the likes of Michael Hoy at Loompanics, and later Steven Jackson Games, to come out with new editions in the years to follow, thus unleashing an insidious plague that would soon envelop the planet, and usher in modern day Discordianism as we now know it.

On page 58 is a direct quote from Malaclypse the Younger, aka Greg Hill:

Hang on for some metaphysics. The Aneristic Principle is that of ORDER, the Eristic Principle is that of DISORDER. On the surface, the Universe seems (to the ignorant) to be ordered; this is the ANERISTIC ILLUSION. Actually, what order is “there” is imposed on primal chaos in the same sense that a person’s name is draped over his actual self. It is the job of the scientist, for example, to implement this principle in a practical manner and some are quite brilliant at it. But on closer examination, order dissolves into disorder, which is the ERISTIC ILLUSION.
—Malaclypse the Younger, K.S.C., Principia Discordia

From this passage one can see the philosophical inspiration Greg Hill provided to RAW and Bob Shea, which once again attests to the overarching role that Hill, Kerry Thornley and Discordianism played in the creation The Illuminatus! Trilogy.

As for the “K.S.C.” tagged on to the end of Malaclypse the Younger, this appellation is an acronym for Keeper of the Sacred Chao, which we will of course learn more about as we progress further down the Illuminatus! rabbit hole.

A John Dillinger Died For You Society Membership Card, Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
On page 59, the legend of John Dillinger is first introduced, a mythology that’d been evolving in certain Discordian circles since at least 1970 in the form of the John Dillinger Died For You Society (JDDFYS), a legend largely inserted into the Discordian mythos by RAW.

Camden Benares sent Greg Hill this article on Mad Dog, Texas from the November 1970 Playboy, Page 00001. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
An early mention of JDDFYS appeared in one of the more obscure articles found in Playboy magazine, no doubt penned by RAW and/or Shea or both when they were editors there. As I’ve mentioned in previous reading group posts, many of the conspiracy theories in Illuminatus! contain equal amounts of fact mixed with fiction, although it’s hard sometimes to figure out where one ends and the other begins. Included in this Playboy “After Hours” article from November 1970 is an early reference to the JDDFYS, which was a real society created in a large part by RAW and based on fanciful legends mixed with an equal measure of historical fact. So once again we have a real article in a real magazine, about a group of writers, artists and radicals launching their own “independent republic” in Mad Dog, Texas—that was probably totally made-up although the article included some elements of truth mixed with fiction, as well as real people (such as Warren Hinckle and George Plimpton) co-existing with some imaginary people mentioned in the article. Reality tunnels within reality tunnels…

Camden Benares sent Greg Hill this article on Mad Dog, Texas from the November 1970 Playboy, Page 00002. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Mad Dog, Texas—as the reader shall soon discover—later plays a key role in the Illuminatus! narrative, although it really seems to have next to nothing to do with the Mad Dog, Texas group discussed in the Playboy “After Hours” article.

All Hail the Goddess of Confusion!

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A Sampling of Discordian Society Phenomena and Cabalablia

Here’s a one-page double-sided flyer Greg Hill put out in June 1970 listing all the different Erisian cabals that had emerged during this juncture in Discordian history, which included RAW’s Adam Weishaupt chapter, Camden Benares’ St. Gulik Iconistary among other such wonders.

Sampling of Discordian Society Phenomena and Cabalablia, Page 00001, June 1970. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Sampling of Discordian Society Phenomena and Cabalablia, Page 00002, June 1970. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

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Kerry’s Bicycle Rider

Our previous post about Camden BenaresRiding Buddha’s Bicycle reminded me of this short piece by Kerry Thornley regarding a bicycle rider from his youth.

For some reason, this story has always resonated with me and, in many ways, I find it one of the more memorable things that Kerry wrote. While it has no date on it, my guess is that Kerry composed it in the early to mid-70s.

Enjoy this bike ride down memory lane.



Kerry Thornley - 1970s(?) - The Kerry Dance: A Bicycle Rider - Pg 00001. Courtesy the Discordian Archives.
To begin my story with anything but The Man on the Bicycle is by now nearly unthinkable to me.

The Man on the Bicycle probably had what by 1942 standards was long hair. He was certainly bearded fully—I remember that much clearly.

My mother says he always wore swimming trunks and carried somehow along with him a butterfly net.

Every morning and every evening of the Los Angeles summer. Up one way and down the other along the boulevard (Hoover Street).

The Man on the Bicycle had a deep sun tan and his hair was like burnished gold. Undoubtedly. Or maybe not. But he certainly seemed a superbly impressive phenomena to my four-year-old mind.

Even passing on a daily basis he managed to surpass in my eyes the occasional canvas-covered trucks of soldiers. And they waved. The Man on the Bicycle probably never gave us more than a passing, casual glance. But there were many soldiers in those days.

That Man on the Bicycle—he was one of a kind.

“If you depend on radios and record players for your music, you owe your soul to the power company.”
—The Secret Teachings of Paul Beihl


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Camden Benares: Riding Buddha’s Bicycle

Camden playing the role of 'Trinidad John' sometime in the 1950s in Los Angeles.
Photo courtesy of John F. Carr.
In the 1950s, John Albert Overton attended Georgia State University, where he earned an engineering degree, and—according to one source—“chased more black tail than anybody I ever heard of.” (This in a state where at the time black/white sexual relations were punishable by imprisonment.)

During the Korean War, Overton served in the Navy and somehow finagled a tour of duty in Jamaica, spending most of his time, during the conflict, romancing beautiful black women. Due to these pursuits, Overton developed such an excellent Jamaican accent that when he returned to the states he hosted a local African-American sponsored radio show in Los Angeles, appearing as “Trinidad John.”

According to Discordian mythology—or at least Kerry Thornley’s version—it was following Overton’s first acid trip in the mid-60s that he decided to change his name to Camden Benares, the idea of which was to bring the teachings of the East into the West: “Camden” for Camden, New Jersey, and Benares after Benares, India, paying allegorical homage to the city where the Buddha delivered his first sermon.

In Europe, Camden is still considered a leading authority on Zen, and his books have been published in German, Dutch, and several other languages. He wrote a total of three books in his Zen series which included Zen Without Zen Masters, A Handful of Zen and his final—and as yet unpublished memoir—Riding Buddha’s Bicycle, finished shortly before his death in 1999.

Camden in the role of his Discordian persona, The Count of Fives.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
As Camden explains in Riding Buddha’s Bicycle, his name change was prompted not so much to escape his past, but to re-invent himself into the type of person he envisioned becoming, and which to some extent he ultimately became; an enlightened being tuned to the emotions of others; a teacher without a strict formula to follow on a path of Zen Without Zen Masters. As Discordianism was a disorganized religious practice where each Discordian became pope and overseer of their own self-styled church, likewise was Camden’s Zen Buddhist approach.

Throughout Riding Buddha’s Bicycle, Benares stressed that his method of peddling might work for some in some instances, but most likely not for everyone in all instances and that it’s incumbent upon each and every prospective Zen peddler—who mounts Buddha’s bicycle—to chart their own course of discovery as they move along at different speeds and vectors. Camden simply encouraged his readers to consider his methods and to either use them or discard them, as they saw fit. There are many paths up the mountain…

At the outset of his studies, Camden deeply contemplated the two schools of Zen thought, and which would be the most appropriate for him to pursue: 1) The School of Gradual Enlightenment, as opposed to: 2) The School of Sudden Enlightenment, accompanied by that blinding flash of satori that leads to illumination.

Camden decided the former—Gradual School of Enlightenment—was a more practical and attainable approach for him personally, and “would consist of gaining knowledge by seeing into one’s own nature and having a series of insights that would produce an enlightened state equivalent to the experience of sudden enlightenment…”

While Benares’ aforementioned LSD trip may have certainly been a catalyst to his mounting of Buddha’s bike, other episodes in his life were of equal or greater importance, such as a pivotal life-after-death experience, followed not long after by an ill-fated love affair. Each of these episodes set Camden forth on a quest of self-examination and personal exploration, to ultimately cultivate his own self-styled Samadhi, and to make himself a more tuned-in soul.

For Camden, it was more about the journey than arriving at any ultimate destination, for who really knows, among us, if there truly comes an end to consciousness, human or otherwise? It was what he discovered along the way, and living life to its fullest, that was forefront in Camden’s consciousness, as such seemingly trite maxims as “being in the now” and “living for the moment” truly came into focus for him—due to a health crisis he experienced in his early 20s—when given just mere months to live. My guess is that, at least in the back of his mind, Camden must have felt he was living on borrowed time, and that it was critical he make the most of each precious moment at his disposal, however fleeting they may have been, while riding Buddha’s bicycle.

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The Discordian Sci-Fi Series That Almost Never Was

Left to right: Camden Benares and John F. Carr at Camden's cabin in Tujunga, California circa late-70s. Photo courtesy of John F. Carr.
John F. Carr has just recently published the long ago written and much anticipated (at least by me!) first book in the Crying Clown series, A Certain Flair For Death (Amazon Kindle, Hardcover), a collaboration with his good friend and fellow Discordian, the late, great Camden Benares, a result of their many “pot and plot” sessions of the mid-70s through late-90s.

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.
Adam Gorightly

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The Discordian Timeline of Chaos – Kerry Wendell Thornley

April 17, 1938: Kerry Thornley is born in Los Angeles to Kenneth and Helen Thornley.

1956: Kerry Thornley meets Greg Hill and Bob Newport while attending California High School (CalHi) in East Whittier, California.

Kerry Thornley: An award winning high school student who had no idea of the conspiratorial madness that would await him in 1976!

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.

Not only the definitive, but only, biography of Kerry Wendell Thornley by Adam Gorightly, The Prankster and the Conspiracy: The Story of Kerry Thornley and How He Met Oswald and Inspired the Counterculture
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.

1992: Kerry is interviewed by Oliver Stone, who is researching his forthcoming movie, JFK. Kerry appears on A Current Affair (YouTube: Part 1, Part 2).

November 28, 1998: Kerry dies from complications related to Wegner’s granulomatosis disease.