Slim showed up a short while after I went to work for the Foster Awning Co. He occupied the same desk I did on the shift before mine, and about the second day he was there, Slim left some notes with Japanese writing on the desk so that I would be sure and notice them. I turned to him and said: “Hey – were you ever in Japan.” That is how Slim and I met. He didn’t act at all surprised. 1
Thornley received his Marine Corps discharge in October of 1961, his last assignment at the U.S. air base in Atsugi, Japan. Kerry later suspected that Slim’s notes referencing Japan were more than mere coincidence, and that Slim had been working covertly as his handler. Elsewhere in Thornley/Oswald, Kerry writes:
Slim was a down and out lumpen prole, a seaman who was in drydock with a case of TB. Greg [Hill] says he was also a cat burglar who could climb up walls like a human fly. Basically, I think he functioned as an errand boy for Gary.
I believe that Gary K*rst*n (or whatever his real name was) probably served in Naval Intelligence during WWII and continued to perform free-lance “dirty work” and small-time “surveillance” assignments for them after he got out. People ask me why Naval Intelligence would have a Nazi working for them—for the same reason the CIA has Nazis working for them in the Third World.2
The “Gary K*rst*n” that Thornley referenced was Gary Kirstein, aka Brother-in-Law, a neo Nazi type character who claimed intelligence community and underworld connections. Kerry, over time, grew to believe that Kirstein was, in reality, notorious Watergate burglar and CIA spy-master, E. Howard Hunt. Hunt was later rumored—by the likes of A.J. Weberman—to be one of the three mystery tramps picked up by Dallas Police in Dealey Plaza following the assassination. In fact, it was an article by Weberman in The Yipster Times that first clued in Thornley to the possibility that Kirstein was E. Howard Hunt in disguise.
Thornley was hanging out with Brooks and Kirstein one evening in the fall of 1962 and at that time engaged in what Kerry considered to be a theoretical discussion about how to kill a President, and in specific, JFK. Kerry’s contributions to the conversation included the use of a poison dart that would “blow his stomach apart,” as well as another scenario involving a remote control plane carrying a bomb.
After Thornley finished with his mock assassination plots, Kirstein added, “And next we’ll get Martin Luther King.” Of course, this was all big fun to Kerry, planning a murder that he never seriously intended going through with. At the time, Thornley considered these conversations nothing more than a morbid intellectual exercise; later they would come back to haunt him.
Thornley speculated that this conversation with Slim and Kirstein might have been surreptitiously recorded, a tape that could later be used to set him up as a fall guy. Kerry later grew to suspect that the true identity of Slim was that of Jerry Milton Brooks, who Journalist J. Harry Jones, Jr. described as “a thirty-eight-year-old enigma who emerged from the fringe of the East St. Louis underworld to spy on Communists for the Minutemen, then spy on Minutemen for the FBI and the U.S. Treasury Department.”3
According to an FBI memo dated Oct 30, 1973, Jerry Brooks:
…had been found guilty in an extortion case in November, 1957, in the Eastern District of Illinois, and had been placed on probation.
Springfield Division [of the FBI] advised that BROOKS was considered a “nut” who related fantastic stories which led people in the USA’s office to consider him mentally unbalanced…on 4/1/66 and 4/4/66 BROOKS contacted SA [Special Agent] George A. Arnett of the Kansas City Division and made outlandish claims, such as, Earl Warren and Vice President Humphrey were both Communists, and also that Bobby Kennedy killed Marilyn Monroe.
SA Arnett stated that BROOKS, whom he had known for several years, appeared extremely nervous and emotionally upset, and even described himself as a “nut” and a “kook”…
I met Slim several times, didn’t really feel I knew him. All the things Kerry writes about Slim don’t tally with anything I was privy to in him. All I ever saw was the laconic, sort of “country” affect he cultivated. . . I THINK I may have heard about Brother-in-Law back then, but it’s possible I only heard about him later, in letters from Kerry. You know, though, it’s also a fact that the mention of Brother-in-Law gives me a dark feeling, the kind it’s hard to imagine I got by without ever setting eyes on him.4
But not only was Slim a man of intrigue and seemingly shady talents, he was also one of the original members of the New Orleans branch of the Discordian Society, known by his pope name of “The Keeper of the Submarine Keys.”
Slim’s singular contribution to Discordian lore (or at least his only contribution that I’m aware of) is exhibited in the form of the “Facetious Harbor” map below.
1 Thornley/Oswald manuscript, Page 10.
2 Thornley/Oswald manuscript, Page 11.
3 Jones, J. Harry, Jr., The Minutemen, Doubleday 1968, New York. (p. 10)
This is Part Two of The Illuminati Files by Brenton Clutterbuck. If you missed Part One, here you will find A Conspiracy is Born.
Suddenly, nothing happened!
Or at least not much. While the Illuminati had copped the blame for trying to challenge the power of church and state in Germany (a fair cop), instigating the French Revolution, and interfering with the founding years of the United States (both substantially less likely), for most of the late 1800s, concern about the Illuminati died down, only to return mutated and with a vengeance in the 1900s. Conspiracy author Nesta Webster brings them back in 1919, characterising them as a Jewish conspiracy dating back to the days of Jesus. She produced several works across her lifetime about the Illuminati. In 1965, the rightwing monthly The Cross and the Flag published by Gerald L. K. Smith featured an article that named the Illuminati as the second most important enemy in the world (pipped to the post by those dastardly world bankers!) Around the same time, a man named Robert Welch was beginning his own crusade against the Illuminati, via the organisation he founded — the highly influential rightwing organisation, the John Birch Society, which characterised the Illuminati as the precursor to Communism.
We find ourselves in the United States of the 1950s and 1960s, in a society being rocked by social change and in an environment where conspiracy theory (some of which would ultimately be proved correct!) was running wild. Campaigns of propaganda helped to overload the bullshit detectors of many, and very quickly, large numbers of people developed the firm suspicion that somewhere, someone was doing something, and whatever it was, it wasn’t good.
Into this paranoid stew of confusion and confoundment, came a new religious movement. It was called ‘Discordianism’, and perhaps unsurprisingly it was obsessed with chaos, disorder, and the impossibility of reaching out to grasp objective truth. Truly, this was a movement of its time.
With such fixations of the nature of truth, confusion, and the great unknown, it is no wonder that many Discordians were themselves entranced by ideas of conspiracy. The Principia Discordia, among other Discordian materials, satirised this re-emergence of Illuminati fever. Riffing on the Illuminati led to the ‘Illuminati letter’ appearing in the Principia Discordia. As with much of the PD, it is influenced by a mixture of sources.
Episkopos Mordecai, Keeper of the Notary Sojac, informs me that you are welcome to reveal that our oldest extant records show us to have been fully established in Atlantis, circa 18,000 B.C., under Kull, the galley slave who ascended to the Throne of Valusia. Revived by Pelias of Koth, circa 10,000 B.C. Possibly it was he who taught the inner-teachings to Conan of Cimmeria after Conan became King of Aquilonia. First brought to the western hemisphere by Conan and taught to Mayan priesthood (Conan is Quetzlcoatl). That was 4 Ahua, 8 Cumhu, Mayan date. Revived by Abdul Alhazred in his infamous Al Azif, circa 800 A.D. (Al Azif translated into Latin by Olaus Wormius, 1132 A.D., as The Necronomicon.) In 1090 A.D. was the founding of The Ismaelian Sect Hashishim) by Hassan i Sabbah, with secret teachings based on Alhazred, Pelias and Kull. Founding of the Illuminated Ones of Bavaria, by Adam Weishaupt, on May 1, 1776. He based it on the others. Weishaupt brought it to the United States during the period that he was impersonating George Washington; and it was he who was the Man in Black who gave the design for The Great Seal to Jefferson in the garden that night. The Illuminated tradition is now, of course, in the hands of The Ancient Illuminated Seers of Bavaria (A.I.S.B.), headquartered here in the United States.
Our teachings are not, need I remind you, available for publication. No harm, though, in admitting that some of them can be found disguised in Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, Burroughs Nova Express, the King James translation of the Holy Bible (though not the Latin or Hebrew), and The Blue Book. Not to speak of Ben Franklin’s private papers (!), but we are still suppressing those.
The letter goes on for quite some time, but luckily for the human race, the Discordian articulation of the Illuminati quest turned out to be actually, pretty wholesome!
Look, if you people out there can keep from blowing yourselves up for only two more generations, then we will finally have it. After 20,000 years, Kull’s dream will be realized! We can hardly believe it. But the outcome is certain, given the time. Our grandchildren, Mal! If civilization makes it through this crises, our grandchildren will live in a world of authentic freedom and authentic harmony and authentic satisfaction. I hope I’m alive to see it, Mal, success is in our grasp. Twenty thousand years….!
Ah, I get spaced just thinking about it. Good luck on the Principia.
Also included in the preceding pages are an advertisement for the Bavarian Illuminati, and a telegraph, apparently from the illuminati to the Discordians, with a comically unbreakable cypher that could be used to permanently render incoherence to any sensitive messages (let’s just hope nobody —ever— needs to decode them!).
Discordian elder Robert Anton Wilson got on board the Illuminati train in a major way. He had been drafted into the Discordians in ’67, but they wouldn’t provide his first exposure to the Illuminati conspiracy. By the time the Discordians drafted him into their weirdness, he’d already been working at PLAYBOY‘s letters section for two years, alongside co-conspirator Robert Shea. PLAYBOY — being a magazine dedicated to all kinds of sexual and moral freedoms — attracted the attention of those who felt their freedoms were being infringed on in the most bizarre and unbelievable ways. This ‘nut mail’ from some of the more paranoid PLAYBOY patrons inspired Wilson and Shea to write a series in which all of the conspiratorial fantasies of their readers were 100% true. The resulting novel The Illuminatus! Trilogy returned to the more sinister power-hungry characterisation of the Illuminati.
The work was already invested in exploring the most deranged and bizarre (though not, of course, impossible) theories about who controlled the world. Wilson and Shea further muddied these illuminated waters of truth by sneaking articles into publications under assumed identities years before, then quoting those sources in their fictional trilogy to develop a strange and unreliable synthesis of truth and fiction. The book was about conspiracy, was produced as the result of conspiracy, and was a satirical exploration of a phenomenon that was far from just a light-hearted joke.
Illuminatus! of course then became another significant popularizer of the modern Illuminati mythos into popular culture. It also popularised the new foundation myth alluded to in the Illuminati letter from the Principia — that the Illuminati originated from the Islamic Assassin cult led by Hassan-I-Sabbah — though they attributed this idea to the John Birch Society.
Illuminatus! as a work, seems to have had a wide influence, although its authors would surely have liked to see more of that influence translate into royalties! It’s been speculated that the work influenced Umberto Eco, whose work Foucault’s Pendulum shares a number of similarities with the Illuminatus! Trilogy. More recently Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons also portrayed the Illuminati within the substance of its plot.
Steve Jackson Games, whose forays into the fringe frequently step into Discordian territory, loosely adapted the Trilogy into a board game (if it had been a ‘tighter’ adaptation they would have had to pay!).
The KLF, music weirdos who burned a million pounds, were also influenced by Illuminatus! Both members were exposed to the Trilogy through Ken Campbell’s epic 10 hour theatre adaptation of Illuminatus!, and this influence can be seen explicitly through the first name they took; The JAMS, a reference to the Illuminatus! Trilogy.
From here, the flow of influence for both the Illuminatus! Trilogy and the Illuminati mythology get pretty hard to track. You can see the source of a trickle, but how do you point to the home of a wave? With the hippie movement as a powerful vector, the Illuminati entered the public consciousness, permeating vast swathes of public life and awareness.
When I was doing my interviews for Chasing Eris, I spoke with Ben Graham who gave one example of how awareness of the Illuminatus! Trilogy, and the associated conspiracy consciousness passed from hippies to members of the electronic scene.
Because of the ravers that had been having free festivals out in fields, [members of the electronic scene] ended up teaming up with guys who’d been having hippy rock festivals in fields forever. Those guys ended up getting into a lot of techno music, but they would have been guys who were reading the Illuminatus! books in the early 70s. It had the whole kind of esoteric hippy knowledge and stuff behind it… You had the club rave kids meeting the hippy travelers, one side being electronic techno music and ecstasy, and the other bringing this kind of like hippy philosophy and ethos and knowledge and it all kind of crossing over. And certainly I think a lot of the kind of Illuminati ideas. Suddenly it became cliché to be referencing the number 23 for one thing.
As for the Illuminati itself, well, today it is Well Known enough that the very term has become a euphemism for any vaguely shadowy institution. When some say ‘the Illuminati’ control the world, they perhaps don’t mean Weishaupt’s group, but instead ‘the Deep State’ ‘the Ruling Class’, ‘the Bourgeoisie’, or maybe ‘the Shadow Government.’ Maybe, in some sense, they are all absolutely right.
The Illuminati perhaps remains so powerful in the public consciousness today because it speaks to the need to fill in the gaps — the dark shadowy gaps — in our knowledge of the world. Every trove of top secret documents that spills out from a Wikileaks page or a pastebin, every release of unclassified documents, every whistle-blower and truth-teller betrays the existence of a murky world of conspiracy that lives beneath the surface of our otherwise normal and logically consistent existence. Voltaire once said that if God didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent him. Perhaps the same is true of a Godlike conspiracy. Fortunately, Adam Weishaupt did us that favor many years ago, and things have only been getting stranger ever since.
Among the most colorful of Discordian characters we’ve covered on this website is Barbara Glancey Reid, the subject of our previous 2 part series, the main focus of which was Reid’s role in the Jim Garrison investigation boondoggle, not to mention her noteworthy involvement as one of the very first members of New Orleans branch of the Discordian Society.
Suffice it to say, we merely scratched the surface of this remarkable lady’s life, whose greatest claim to fame was her role in shaping the New Orleans music scene of the late 1950s and 1960s.
For those of you wishing to learn more about Barbara Reid, let me direct your attention to Richard Ekins’ exhaustive multi-part series on Barbara Reid, which can be found here on the La Croix Records website.