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September 16: Today In Discordian History

On September 16, 2006, famed Discordian Louise Lacey, aka Lady L., F.A.B., sent the following letter to Michael E. Brown, the Caltech astronomer who named the dwarf planet “Eris,” thus ushering in the Aeon of Discord.

This was today in Discordian History. And don’t you forget it.

September 16, 2006 letter from Louise Lacey to
Michael E. Brown regarding the naming of dwarf planet Eris.
September 15, 2006 San Francisco Chronicle article on
Michael E. Brown and the naming of dwarf planet Eris.
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The Bizarre Origins But Otherwise True History of The John Dillinger Died For You Society

William 'Bill' Helmer
I recently contacted William “Bill” Helmer about his days at Playboy and friendship with RAW & Bob Shea. To this end, I’ll be conducting an interview with him in the near future.

In the meantime, Bill shared this essay with us on the origins of the John Dillinger Died For You Society.
Adam Gorightly




The bizarre origins but otherwise True History of

THE
JOHN DILLINGER DIED FOR YOU
SOCIETY


There I was, at The University of Texas, one evening in the summer of 1966, delivering a brilliantly-researched paper to a small but select American Studies class. They were spellbound by my argument that John Dillinger made a few unorthodox withdrawals from banks and therefore deserved much of the credit for improving their security at a time when Americans desperately needed a “People’s Bandit” to distract them from their Depression worries. (The fact that I also brought to class a modified tenor sax case containing a slightly-illegal Thompson submachine gun, for “show and tell,” fascinated everybody.) (You could get away with such things back then.)

As I pointed out, Dillinger had just the right style–a sense of humor, occasional pranks, treated his hostages like guests (he tied the Racine bank’s Mrs. Patzke to a tree with a shoe string), eluded every police and FBI trap, and when he broke out of the Crown Point, Indiana jail with a wooden pistol, he took a couple of happy hostages and motored out of town singing “Git along, li’l doggie, git along.”

He also was a ladies’ man—playful and romantic—until that terrible night on July 22, 1934, after he, his new girlfriend, and the duplicitous “Woman Red,” had enjoyed “Manhattan Melodrama” at Chicago’s Biograph Theatre. As they were leaving, a bunch of trigger-happy Feds set his spirit free.

(The fact that they also winged two bystanders is rarely mentioned.)

John died with his boots on, so to speak. He previously had stayed up nights nursing his girlfriend (who was ignorant of the plot) after she was banged up in a car wreck. My very own Aunt Meta was a student nurse at Cook County Hospital at the time, and she wrangled her way into the basement Cool Room to see his remains. The next day, despite the city’s hundred-plus heat wave, nearly a thousand Chicagoans patiently waited in line outside the morgue, where they were allowed to file past John’s bullet-ravaged body. Some no doubt wept. And what with the usual odors, the stench of formaldehyde, and the flies attracted to his terrible wounds, this may well have been the inspiration for what now is called “A Taste of Chicago.”

Back in 1966, however, when that particular college class had adjourned to the back-yard area of Austin’s historic Scholz Garten, our Pulitzer Prize-winning professor, Dr. William Goetzmann, after quite a few beers, proposed that we establish The John Dillinger Died For You Society. It was intended to be no more than a spoof of the Elvis Presley fan clubs that were springing up everywhere (and of the “Jesus Died For You” signs that were coming into flower), so you can imagine the enthusiasm that my Dillinger paper inspired among the other students, who also were chuckling over the Presley fan clubs and weary of hearing how anybody “died for you.”

By then Dr. Goetzmann was tipsy enough to further declare that the Society’s founder should be Horace Naismith, a mythical figure who would delegate his authority to me. That name, Horace Naismith, came out of nowhere, but it could easily be mistaken for the fellow who invented basketball. (I don’t believe anybody thought of that at the time, but it later would come in handy: “Naismith? Wasn’t he the guy who…”)

We soon had a few dozen more-or-less official members of the Society and had membership and credit cards printed, but it was not what you’d call a formal organization, like the American Legion or Rotary Club. Everyone in the Society was automatically an Assistant Treasurer authorized to sell memberships to anyone at any time for any amount and then keep it, Because John would have wanted it that way.

The “credit card” had a hole at the top and read simply, “Present this card on the end of a pistol and ask that your purchase be charged. In most states the charge will be armed robbery.”

Dillinger credit card. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives

Also, anyone in the Society could convene a meeting at any time, so long as they left one chair empty for the “Dear Departed Member.” (This would be Mr. Dillinger, of course, although some believed that it referred to his supposedly impressive Private Member, which the Smithsonian still insists it doesn’t have and refuses to display.)

In any case, we had our first official meeting at my residence (a one-time Elks Lodge) on East 12th Street in Austin, diagonally across from the state capitol, after which we amused ourselves with a little target shooting in the basement. Soon after that we instituted what we called The John Dillinger Died For You Society Picnic & Punitive Expedition which included a Thompson submachine gun, a case of ammunition, a case of beer, and a case of dynamite, because our host (who had a ranch west of Austin) was big into blowing things up.

As word got around, the Society grew until it could boast some forty or fifty members, and it had become international (I think we had one member in Canada) by the time I moved to Chicago in 1969, where John had fallen. There I encountered other Dillinger buffs (they just didn’t have a society), including two fellow Playboy employees—Bob Shea and Bob Wilson, who just happened to have offices on either side of mine—and were hard at work on Illuminatus!, which ultimately became a cult classic. (Shea would write a chapter that involved conspiracies within conspiracies and then turn it over to Wilson, sight unseen, who would take up the story and elaborate with even more conspiracies. Oddly enough, it held together and actually made sense!)

Needless to say, Shea and Wilson were both Dillinger enthusiasts because of their frequent patronage of the Biograph, and of course I helped them work Dillinger into their story. (Shea and Wilson even mentioned Dr. Naismith as something or other, and me, as the Reverend Mr. Helmer, although the rascals gave me a social disease.)

At the time I was endeavoring to give the magazine its “redeeming social value” by way of the Playboy Forum, which published letters and editorials, and the Playboy Defense Team, with offices in the Playboy Building at 919 North Michigan Avenue (formerly the Palmolive Building); and I fed Shea and Wilson enough Dillinger lore that we soon had not just one but seven Dillingers, thanks largely to a couple of goofy crime-writers who had just co-authored Dillinger: Dead or Alive? (It was our belief that since Mr. Dillinger had been accused of robbing banks all over the country, sometimes simultaneously, he therefore had to employ doppelgängers.)

Meanwhile, I kept encountering more Dillinger buffs, and after a while we began commemorating the passing of John every July 22 at the Biograph Theatre. The management even (grudgingly) cooperated, and that was how I met Richard Crowe, fabled Ghostbuster (I call him), whose several-times-a-week bus tours include Resurrection Mary, Al Capone’s old Lexington Hotel, and, of course, the alley down which the spirit of John Dillinger still walks.

Horace Naismith remained the mysterious master of ceremonies, usually masquerading as an equally mysterious Bill Helmer who maintained an eerie silence, wore a vintage straw boater, steel rim glasses, a pin-striped jacket, and an outrageous 1930s necktie. Mr. Crowe took over the Society, arranging for members (and anybody else) to meet at a nearby tavern and drink themselves into what we’ll call a wake. About 10 PM he would lead his congregation across Lincoln Avenue to the Biograph Theatre (that’s how they spell it) to hear an inspirational speech, after which Mr. Crowe would again lead the way to the nearby alley, accompanied by an honest-to-God, properly-kilted, bagpiper skirling the mournful strains of “Amazing Grace.”

Then everybody (everybody who could remember the words) joined the piper in that sad song because—we again have to presume—John would have wanted it that way.

A John Dillinger Died For You Society Membership Card, click for 300dpi printable JPG (1.4MB). Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

I, under the nom de guerre Horace Naismith, have since “passed the torch” of The John Dillinger Died For You Society to Mr. Crowe, commonly known as Col. Richard Crowe. I am confident that the faithful will continue to pay their respects every July 22, commemorating the most colorful outlaw of the 1930s who never personally killed anyone.

Well, maybe one, but the cop had refused Dillinger’s admonition to stop bouncing slugs off his bulletproof vest–if it was in fact John, for he only was accused, but never had time to stand trial. In any case, he shot low, they say, and as the officer fell, one slug stuck him in the chest. When John himself later was killed, shot in the back, his pockets yielded a mere $7.71, no doubt because some $20,000 in “git” money had been stolen from his pocket by a rogue cop from East Chicago who had set up the shooting because he had been getting it on with Ana Sage, our “Woman in Red.” (Ana later confirmed that she had seen John count out the money at her place before they went to the movie).

Let’s all remember that Mr. Dillinger was crooked but not twisted, and that he disapproved of unnecessary violence. Unfortunately, he had some colleagues who did not share his otherwise conventional (if somewhat flexible) Family Values.

Remember:

CRIME MAY NOT PAY
BUT IT CAN BE A SHORTCUT TO IMMORTALITY
—Horace Naismith



William J. Helmer, 1992

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Eris of the Month vs. Pepe the Frog

May Eris of the Month 2017, Eris Pepe.
Eris/Pepe mash-up ripped from the pages of The Pepe Report.

One of the crazier rabbit holes to emerge from the 2016 Presidential campaign was the viral meme of a frowning frog named Pepe, who in the election’s aftermath all of the sudden got this shit eating grin on his face (his frown turned upside down) and MAGA cap planted on his head.

For those unfamiliar with Pepe the Frog (aka Kek), there’s a whole mythology around this meme that’s indeed quite mind warping. Long story short, Pepe became a sigil for 4chan trolls to focus on; a sort of mental image for a magickal working. It’s a story filled with more sordid synchronicities than you can shake a magick stick at, all of which ostensibly got Trump elected.

A good overview of the Pepe mythos can be found here.

Pepe also had a hand (“some people are saying”) in creating—or giving some oomph to—the movement now identified as the Alt-right, which pretty much appeared out of nowhere not so long ago. And a faction of the Alt-right are those who frequent Reddit, 4chan and the deeper regions of the dark web doing whatever it is they do in dim-lit basements, their 400 pound fat guy faces illuminated by the eerie glow of computer screens. This, theoretically, included birthing Pepe into pop culture like some kind of right wing Rosemary’s Baby.

Some of the first articles on Pepe and the Cult of Kek linked the meme to Discordianism.

Many Cult of Kek enthusiasts were quick to make this Pepe/Discordian association, which is way off base IMHO, at least in terms of how I view the Early Discordian practice of Operation Mindfuck (OM).

Just the same, these Pepe/Discordian comparisons could be considered valid in a limited sense, or as its writ in Principia Discordia:

“All statements are true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense, and true and false and meaningless in some sense.”

Discordianism (such as it is) has greatly morphed over the years. Some who nowadays identify themselves as Discordians bring all sorts of divergent political baggage to the party—left, right, or off the map—hence the old adage: “We Discordians must stick apart!” In other words, there’s no formal agreement as to what a Discordian is—let alone what the meaning of “is” is— other than Discordians often agree to disagree—or agree on some things, but not so much on others. Hence what might be true for one is false for another. Much of what presents itself these days as Discordianism (ala social media) comes in the form of the sort of shitposting that Discordian founder Greg Hill would have no doubt recoiled from in horror.

Some have also compared Pepe-ism to Chaos Magick, which itself is tangentially linked to Discordianism. The Early Discordians, for the most part, were never all that much involved in ritual magick—chaotic or otherwise—except of course for Robert Anton Wilson (RAW), easily the most famous Discordian of all who dabbled in various forms of ritual magick.

There was a network of chaos magicians that emerged in the 1970s (many of them influenced in part by RAW) who were likewise into Quantum Physics theories in terms of influencing physical reality and consciousness using memes akin to sigils; for instance, the Discordian practice of focusing on the number 23, and the more you concentrated on it, the more it would manifest, the same sort of mindfuck more recently observed with the whole 11:11 phenomenon. Seek and ye shall find…

These earlier Discordian practices

Send us your Eris of the Month Club submissions (more info here) by using the form at the bottom of The MGT. page. (ala the 23 Enigma) were conducted on an informal and often individual basis or through small group experiments—or simply by those who stumbled upon RAW’s Cosmic Trigger Vol. 1—all of this occurring long before the Internet was but a glint in Al Gore’s eye.

Back in the day, it was word-of-mouth-high-weirdness; the memes spread gradually over time in contrast to the Internet age information overload where a simple meme (posted to social media) can spread like wildfire over the course of a few hours.

To this end, the Cult of Pepe is, in essence, a sort of chaos magick working that took some elements from all of the above and projected them across a cyber landscape gone wild, making The Illuminatus! Trilogy look comparatively like a Sunday stroll through the park.

Another Pepe/Discordian connecting point concerns elements of the hacker community (aligned with Pepe) pushing Operation Mindfuck “fake news” memes as a magickal working ostensibly designed to alter physical reality or create a new paradigm; in essence planting a weird seed to see how it will sprout throughout culture and grow tentacles.

With the early Discordians such OM endeavors took the form of injecting into pop culture a fake or alternative Illuminati mythos that was partly true and partly false, fact mixed with fiction which—in turn—created a viral mutation of how we now, as a culture, collectively view the Illuminati.

When Hill, Kerry Thornley, Wilson et al. first launched their OM Illuminati conspiracy, it was uncertain (at least to those of us now on the outside looking back) whether they had any sort of end game in mind—or if OM was all just good fun.

Conversely, the Cult of Kek’s modern and—some might say—twisted form of OM took stories that were partly true—like John Podesta’s real emails—and OM’d them into such beasties as Pizzagate, which is—in essence—a mash up of several pre-Internet conspiratorial yarns, including the Hillary-satanic-lesbian story that was first rolled out in one of the weirder mind control/conspiracy books of the early 1990’s, Cathy O’ Brian’s Trance: Formation of America (archive.org TXT file / Amazon).

Add to that secret tunnels below Comet Pizza—a throwback to the alleged McMartin Pre-School tunnels where children were purportedly transported and used as sex slaves during the height of the Satanic Panic craze—all of which has been recycled into this lurid story of a modern day pizza parlor gone bad!

So the modus operandi was similar (re: Cult of Kek vs. the Discordian Society’s OM) where you take factual elements and conflate them with misinformation/disinformation thus turning these stories into viral Molotov cocktail’s launched into the body politic, the end design to burn it all to the ground—or at least deliver a fully loaded monkey wrench into the works and gum the fuck out of The System.

Perhaps the foremost Pepe chronicler these days is a fellow named A.T.L. Carter who maintains a twitter page called—appropriately enough—“The Pepe Report” where I recently posited that perhaps this whole Pepe craze was on its last (frog) legs. In response, one agitated pro-Pepe commenter suggested I was nothing more than a worthless sack of you know what (ouch, that hurt!) and that if we sorry lot of Discordian losers were as adept as the Cult of Kek in the art of doxing, trolling, and shit posting, we would have elected our very own Discordian President by now instead of talking smack about poor little Pepe.

The agitated tweeter in question also posted a mash-up of Eris meets Pepe—green skin and all—which I must admit is pretty cool and sort of reminded me of an Orion slave girl, and for these reasons we have selected her our Eris of the Month!

In any case, I immediately screen-capped this Eris/Pepe mash-up because you know how these things have a tendency to disappear. This turned out to be a wise move because shortly afterwards our Green Skinned Lady of the Golden Apple was deleted for some reason—by the agitated tweeter in question, I presume—or maybe A.T.L. 86’d it because he didn’t want his Pepe Report devolving into a flame war about who is the superior agent of chaos: Pepe or Eris?

Just the same, A.T.L. referred to me as a “cuck” for my crack about Pepe’s possible demise, which I guess suggests that being called a cuck isn’t quite as bad as being called a worthless sack of stuff.

Twitter exchange, Pepe Report vs. cuck Adam Gorightly.

Whatever the case, A.T.L. seems like an alright (A.L.T. right?) guy, the cuck comment notwithstanding. Of course, I wasn’t entirely clear what “cuck” meant at the time, aside from being a popular Pepe enthusiast putdown.

‘Cuck’, it turns out—after some master class googling—has multiple meanings related to ‘cuckold.’ However, the more recent Breitbartian application (often employed by that creepy Milo guy) seems to describe your average limp-wristed liberal types who get their jollies letting black men do it to their wives while voyeuristically watching from the sidelines. (For further information on the meaning of “cuck” consult your pineal gland and/or Roger Stone.)

Discordian social media forums have been infiltrated—to a certain extent—by this Cult of Pepe crew with the sort of shitposting that some consider hip cutting edge political incorrectness. This type of political incorrectness—it could be argued—eventually led to Milo’s (whatever his last name is) fall from grace due to remarks made on the Joe Rogan Show implying he was cool with underage gay sex—comments that turned out to be a bit much for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) organizers who had scheduled our favorite Alt-right rock star for a speaking gig at their shindig, but thought better of it once his creepy comments made the rounds of social media. Soon after, CPAC withdrew their invite to Milo, who in short order got the boot from Breitbart, as well, probably because it’s kind of hard to promote cheesy Pizzagate stories when your fair-haired Aryan boy is endorsing the very same illicit activities that John Podesta was supposedly party to at Comet Pizza!

Speaking of CPAC, one of the more Discordian acts I’ve seen of late was perpetrated by a couple young pranksters who had a bunch of Russian flags made up with “Trump” printed on them, and then passed them out to clueless CPAC participants entering the event who either weren’t smart enough to know better—or just plain didn’t care that they were waving around Trump/Russia flags. When CPAC organizers caught wind of this gag, they sent their goons into the crowd to retrieve them, but even then some of the recipients refused to hand-over their prized blue, white, and (commie) red banners, the treasonous bastards.

Afterwards, the two pranksters who pulled off this jake were interviewed outside the event, employing mock Russian accents.

Приветствие Эрис!



Send us your Eris of the Month Club submissions (more info here) by using the form at the bottom of The MGT. page.

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December 2016 Eris of the Month: Prunella Gee As Eris

December 2016 Eris of the Month: Prunella Gee as Eris.

Prunella Gee in the 1977 stage adaption of Illuminatus!


Send us your Eris of the Month Club submissions (more info here) by using the form at the bottom of The MGT. page.

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The Roger Spark and TeenSet Conspiracy

The Illuminatus! Trilogy, 'candy apple red' edition from Dell Trade Paperback, January 1984. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
In The Illuminatus! Trilogy the concept of Operation Mindfuck (OM) was introduced and in many ways Illuminatus! itself was an act of OM, which included the Discordians high-jacking the Bavarian Illuminati mythos and making it their own.

The method to this madness included mixing fact with fiction so that you were never quite sure how many of the Illuminati references in Illuminatus! were based on “real” sources, such as a quote from a radical Chicago newspaper, The Roger Spark (July 1969), which stated that Adam Weishaupt had murdered George Washington and served in his place for his two terms as President. This article also promoted the theory that Mayor Richard Daley was “…one of the top agents of the infamous and long legendary Bavarian Illuminati.”

Front page of the infamous issue of The Roger Spark (July 1969).
Also includes Kerry Thornley's poem 'Of He I Sing.'
Here’s a link to the PDF.

Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea , it so happens, helped publish The Roger Spark during the period the two worked at Playboy in the late 1960s. The article in question, “DALEY LINKED WITH ILLUMINATI,” contains a mix of fact vs. fiction (do we sense a theme here?) with no actual byline; it’s simply credited to The Spark, but in reality it was RAW/Shea who were responsible for the piece, so in essence they were quoting themselves in Illuminatus! (ala The Spark), another example of OM-styled Guerrilla Ontology. Grab the full issue in PDF here.

Elsewhere in Illuminatus! an article titled “THE MOST SINISTER, EVIL, SUBVERSIVE CONSPIRACY IN THE WORLD” by Sandra Glass (TeenSet Magazine, March 1969) is referenced concerning 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! This article, like the one from The Roger Spark, was surreptitiously written by RAW and Shea, and much of its content would later appear in Illuminatus!

March 1969 TeenSet Magazine's
'The Most Sinister, Evil, Subversive Conspiracy in the World' article.

According to the TeenSet article, Adam Weishaupt founded the A.I.S.B. in Ingolstadt on May 1st, 1776, and their slogan—or secret password—was “Ewige Blumenkraft” which translated to “Flower Power Forever.” At first glance, this motto seemingly refers to May Day, the date the A.I.S.B. officially came into existence. However—as revealed in Illuminatus!—the complete version of the motto was “Ewige Blumenkraft und ewige Schlangenkraft,” which translates to “eternal flower power and eternal serpent power” and apparently suggests that the fertility rites of spring are connected to the kundalini force—or serpent power—which itself relates to the practice of Tantrism, or sex magic. And that, in essence, is the True Secret of the Illuminati: Sex Magic.

The TeenSet article intimated that during the 1968 Democratic Convention, when Senator Abraham Ribicoff criticized police violence against anti-war demonstrators, Mayor Daley responded with an animated retort, and “…his lips were forming the words that by this time have become frighteningly familiar: ‘Ewige Blumenkraft!’”

The article further asserted that, “…the Ancient Illuminated Seers of Bavaria has infiltrated, allied itself with or taken over all TV networks and wire services, the Federal Reserve System, the John Dillinger Died For You Society, the Chicago Tribune, the Discordian Society, the Communist Party (USA), the Paratheo-Anametamystikhood of Eris Esoteric (P.O.E.E.), Hell’s Angels, the Sophisticated Sisters of Blessed Saints Claustrophilia and Theophobia, the Mafia, the Black Lotus Society, the Lawrence Talbot Memorial Society and enough additional organizations to fill a book the size of the Manhattan telephone directory (yellow pages).”

Here’s a copy of the TeenSet article included in
Greg Hill’s POEE Illuminati Recruitment Package as a PDF.

Front page of Illuminati Recruitment Package courtesy of Greg Hill and the Discordian Archives.
This diabolical 12 page document includes the entire TeenSet article on pages 3–9, in addition to other A.I.S.B. propaganda.
Download the PDF here.
Illuminati Recruitment Package: The Ceremonial Turning of the Card.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
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RAW vs. Mae Brussell!

The spring 1977 issue of Conspiracy Digest featured an interview with Robert Anton Wilson (RAW) in which he discussed the full spectrum of where his head was at during the period.

Fresh off the publication of Illuminatus!, the interview included RAW’s musings on conspiracy theories, space migration, life extension, the Eight Circuit Model and Aleister Crowley.

In response, Mae Brussell—the Matron Saint of Conspiracy Theorists—fired off the following letter challenging RAW’s contention that Tim Leary’s stint in prison was anything but difficult, and in actuality (or at least in Mae’s reality tunnel) Leary had been coddled by the Feds (and fed steak!) and that his time in lock-up was actually a cake-walk.

Mae further employed the cake metaphor to explain how the likes of Leary, RAW and John Lilly were in cahoots with the CIA to corrupt the youth of America!

White sugar is a drug in cake icing used to induce us to consume white flour. Sugar is, literally, a reward for eating the cake. Lilly, [Bucky] Fuller, Wilson, and Leary are the white sugar frosting that sweeps people into happy time, scooping them up into a dream world so they will avoid the reality of a good diet of sound action. Leary, Wilson and their likes are used by the CIA Intelligence Community to sugar sweet the yellow brick road to Oz, while the means to enslave mankind are being manufactured under our noses…

Mae's Summer 1977 letter to Conspiracy Digest
busting RAW's chops.

In response to Mae’s missive, RAW came clean about his role in this diabolical brainwashing plot, confessing that he’d been a “high Official of the Central Intelligence Agency since July 23, 1973” and, further agreeing with Mae’s theory on the “white sugar” allegations, agreed that:

Dr. Leary didn’t merely have a high time at that great pleasure resort, Folsom Prison, as Mae has discovered; he had a great time in all the 29 prisons he visited during the last six years, although actually most of the time he was living (with a private harem) in the Taj Mahal, only appearing at the prisons often enough to keep alive the myth that he was a political prisoner…

RAW's reply to Mae Brussell's
Summer 1977 rant.

One might conclude that Mae’s theory re: RAW and Leary as dastardly members of this “white sugar mafia” was, in essence, a metaphor to suggest that they’d been used by intelligence agency handlers to soft peddle psychedelics and space migration and all the other heady stuff they were entertaining at the time.

In this vein, I remember hearing one of Mae’s tape recorded radio shows (from the early 1980s) where she claimed that Leary, RAW and other unnamed “spychiatrists” were part of a mind control squadron that went around brainwashing important people. For instance, Mae claimed that this Leary-RAW MK-ULTRA tag team showed up at Larry Flynt’s mansion (during the period that Flynt was attempting to expose the Kennedy assassination) and effectively messed with Flynt’s mind and influenced him to drop his one million dollar reward to expose the assassination. Afterwards, Flynt became increasingly erratic, like showing up for his trial dressed only in a diaper made out of an American flag, and a number of other publicity stunts that gave the impression he’d gone off his nut.

(If anyone has a copy or knows which episode from the Worldwatchers Archive of this specific Mae Brussell tape please contact your humble chronicler here at HD hindquarters so I know I just didn’t imagine hearing it.)

Given these peculiar insights, one wonders if Mae, at some point, hadn’t been exposed to the rantings of Kerry Thornley, as it was during this period (late-70s/early-80s) that Kerry’s schizophrenia kicked into high gear and he was making similar claims that both RAW and Leary were working as his handlers, covertly visiting him in Atlanta to do whatever it is that diabolical mind control handlers do. It makes perfect sense that Thornley may have contacted Mae in this regard, as during this period he was firing off letters left and right to whoever would listen to his JFK Assassination revelations, and his suspicions that he’d been MK-ULRTA’ed.

Case in point: A 1975 “affidavit” in which Kerry talked about a “team” of handlers he met in Atlanta, one of whom “bore an uncanny intellectual and psychological resemblance to an anarchist writer friend of mine [RAW] who lives in California…”

Kerry's affidavit claiming that RAW and some other intelligence agency handlers visited him in Atlanta in 1975. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

In RAW’s intro to The Prankster and the Conspiracy, he wrote:

I remember my last phone conversation with Kerry, during which he announced that just a week earlier I had come to Atlanta, argued with him about my alleged CIA connections, spiked his drink with LSD, and brainwashed him again. I told him that I had not left San Francisco in months, and that if he had a bad acid trip the previous week then somebody else gave him the acid, not me. I insisted on this as persuasively as I could.

Finally, Kerry relented—a bit. “Well, maybe you believe that”, he said. “But that means your bosses have been fucking with your head and implanting false memories in you too!”

“How do you argue that you haven’t had your head altered? “Look,” I said, I’ll put my wife Arlen on. She’ll tell you I haven’t left here in months.”

“That won’t prove anything,” he said with the calm certitude of a Gran Master announcing checkmate. “They probably fixed her head too.”

I don’t remember the rest of the conversation. I felt lost in an Escher painting…

A 1976 letter from Kerry (to Greg Hill) claimed that both Leary and RAW visited him that year, and he went on to write that, “I am literally surrounded by the intelligence community, but after the first three attempts to murder me things seem to have cooled down and most of the spies now appear to be on my side…”

1976 letter from Kerry to Greg Hill outlining the vast conspiracy
that was consuming his mind. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

During this period, RAW and Leary wrote on article (June 1976 issue of Oui) entitled “Brainwashing: How To Fold, Spindle and Mutilate the Human Mind in Five Easy Steps” which may have further fueled the fire in the minds of some that RAW and Leary were taking names and washing brains!

1976 Oui Magazine article by Robert Anton Wilson and Timothy Leary:
'Brainwashing: How To Fold, Spindle and Mutilate the Human Mind in Five Easy Steps'

Download “Brainwashing: How To Fold, Spindle and Mutilate the Human Mind in Five Easy Steps” here.

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Giger Meets Illuminatus!

Over at our Early Discordians facebook group, Sirius Mazzu posted a rather illuminating link that seemed to be news to everyone in the group concerning a 1978 H. R. Giger Illuminatus! illustration, which incorporated Tim Leary, H.P. Lovecraft, and possibly Aleister Crowley as characters in addition to little alien dudes on stilts numbered 5, 17, and 23!

For more on this fascinating story, navigate here.

Illuminatus 1 by H. R. Giger.
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CHASING ERIS: On The Trail of Kerry Thornley (and his kitties)

Brenton Clutterbuck poses with the original Paste-Up Discordia (PUD) cover page. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

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

 


Kerry Thornley in Little Five Points, Atlanta.
Photo courtesy of Tim Cridland.

Adam Gorightly gives me details for Tantra Bensko in the early part of my trip; a woman who had lived for a time with Kerry Thornley. I make contact, and we agree to meet at her house in California.

In our meeting we talk about what it was like to live with Kerry in Little Five Points, Atlanta. It seems important to mention that at the time they met, Kerry was, according to some, veering off into paranoia. I myself remain agnostic on some of his claims and skeptical of some others, especially his theory that his “real father” was a Nazi Admiral.

Tantra greets me at the entrance of her house, near a garden filled with gigantic cacti. She is smiley and excitable, and her passion for life is contagious.

She grew up in Indiana, in an area where very few people were around, few enough that one didn’t need to put clothes on to collect the mail on a hot day. She would go to Alabama, now and then, to see relatives. It was the kind of town where you couldn’t really admit to not being religious. She would attend Straight Creek Holiness Church, where people would yell and run around the congregation when the spirit seized them. When the spirit seized preachers, they would handle the snakes; a sign on the church quoted Mark 16:18, They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them. The spirit never seemed to seize them in her presence. When she was in Alabama, she missed the people she could engage with in California, and when she was away she missed the nature.

Tantra has a special relationship with nature. She spent years traveling the country in her van, sometimes driving out to a natural place, and finding a spot to sleep out in the open. It was during this period of travel that she began to develop her skills in Tantric yoga, healing, and her own construction of a form of effortless movement, called ‘Lucid Play.’

Tantra was in Little Five Points when she met someone who connected her with Kerry Thornley, who was to take a significant place in her life.

“I had been in Atlanta in Little Five Points and I met this guy who was the figurehead of Little Five Points. He would stand there and he would ring his bell and he would burn his sage and he would figure out who should meet whom. So he was telling me about Kerry Thornley and showing these broadsheets that he had put up and they were great political activism mixed with absurd, wild craziness. And so I wanted to meet him, and I thought, I want to come back to Atlanta to spend time with Kerry Thornley. And he was, I guess, 60 or something like that.

“And so then later I was going to Atlanta. I thought it was going to be just for a weekend but then my van broke down so I had to find a place to live. I was reading The Illuminatus! Trilogy. It was dedicated to Kerry. I stayed with that guy that I mentioned. His friend Wilson Leary, Timothy Leary’s cousin, came by, he and I started dating. So I’ve got all these things in the world of Kerry Thornley like…” she waves her arms and makes sounds to imitate the ineffable presence of Thornleyness that was entering her sphere.

“So I was trying to figure out where I was going to live and this guy just came up to me in Little Five Points and said, ‘If you’re looking for a place to live, you can live with me, I’ve got a porch.’ I checked out this house and they’ve got a big porch and so I moved in. It was a really wild artistic kind of place. I found out that Kerry Thornley lived there in this little mother-in-law right out the back. So I went there looking for Kerry Thornley, and moved in next to him without even knowing it.”

“Do you remember the first time you actually met him?” I ask.

“Uh-huh. Coming out of my room it was like, ‘There’s Kerry Thornley!’ Or, Omar Khyaam Ravenhurst.”

“What did you two talk about the first time you met?”

A Kerry Kitty.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

“Oh, I probably was just kind of squealing and telling him how glad I was, and him just doing this great laugh. I love his laugh. It was unlike anyone else’s. I wouldn’t even try to imitate it. He had thirteen cats or something like that, some huge number of cats so you’d always hear him calling them. He was just this really sweet little cat man, and son of a Nazi, such an odd combination, he claimed. In my life I always run into these MK-ULTRA kind of people, which was a little scary sometimes, that that happens, and that’s what he was, he said.

The Dark Kerry Kitty.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

“I was also was a little bit uneasy about how much, living with him, was that going to involve me? How much was I being watched because of it? So it became like The Illuminatus! Trilogy. Black helicopters were going over all the time, and just becoming more and more like those books.”

Kerry said there were flying helicopters over his house,” I say. I was thinking of what a friend of Kerry, Louise Lacey, had told me of Kerry’s time in Florida when I said this, though I’d forgotten the details of what I’d heard. She had told me that Jim Garrison had sent helicopters over his house.

“They were, they were,” Bensko says. “They were doing it a lot. They would even follow me around. He seemed to know what he’s talking about. People always think that he was making up these stories in his head about the mind controllers and stuff, but I don’t know. He might have been.”

It was once while they lived in this close proximity that Tantra decided to perform a Discordian ritual, after a comment Kerry made.

“He said that the beauty of Discordianism was that he didn’t have to see any other Discordian-ists. And so there were no rituals. So to fly in the face of that then and give it a little chaotic shuffle, I told him, ‘we’ve got to do a ritual then.’ He thought that was a great idea.

Another Kerry Kitty.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

“So I got a stick of butter and I molded it into the shape of Eris the Goddess and I put it on the floor. We said something over it you know, and his thirteen cats came and positioned themselves around the butter so there was no space in between them. They were all just jammed into where their tongues were right in there in the butter and they all started spinning around in a circle all at the same time, so you had this circling cat-thing around Eris, licking it until it was gone while Kerry and I were just laughing.”

Window Kerry Kitty.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

“So that was the core moment that I remember about that ritual. His cats after that walked off but kind of continuing to circle and just ‘woah hey’ and wobble off to the edges.”

“Did you spend much time with Kerry after that?” I ask.

“Oh yeah, I spent a lot of time with him when I lived in Atlanta because I was there a couple of years, and so we were really good friends. I think I spent as much time with him over those years as everyone else did altogether. He didn’t really have a lot of people come by. And the other people in the house didn’t go to see him that much. But we were buddies. We hung out. I just deeply love Kerry.

“I don’t agree with some of his politics like, ‘Kill Kennedy.’ But yeah, I really liked Kerry a lot. I felt like his writing with Eris might have had something to do with his feeling like he did inadvertently kill Kennedy by suggesting someone like Oswald could be a patsy. But who knows; it’s one layer after another it’s so complex at the time.”

When I first talked to Bensko over the Internet she pointed out that she wasn’t a Discordian and wasn’t any kind of expert, but when I spoke to her in person, she said she was identifying sometimes with the title. I asked her to tell me what about the ideology meant to her.

“It’s postmodernist,” she says. “There’s many angles, and none of them are true.” She likes that Discordia is essentially difficult to take too seriously, and finds the attitude of believing without believing useful to her work. “There’s lots of Gods in Tantra Yoga too, and I see them as physics principles,” she tells me.

Collapsible Horizon
by Tantra Bensko.

We chat for a long time; Tantra is someone who it is immensely easy to be around. She carries an effortless friendliness that invites you in and asks you to engage, without needing to say the words. She talks about many things, including her time in Little Five Points, her Yoga experience and her book, Collapsible Horizon.

I walk home. The air is warm and still. I arrive back to the marijuana-scented hostel doors, and make my way up the winding stairs to my room.

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Cosmic Trigger Online Reading Group, Week 19

Cosmic Trigger: Final Secret of the Illuminati, Hilaritas Press edition.
Thanks to Charles Faris for inviting me take the helm for this week’s Cosmic Trigger reading. I ended up writing a lot more than I’d initially intended… but sometimes that happens! (I blame it on the Dog Days.)

We pick up with The horrors begin (page 150 of the Hilaritas edition) through to Ishtar’s Walk: a guided tour of Hell, a section that covers RAW’s lean years after he quit his cushy Playboy job and tossed caution in the wind to devote himself to full time freelancing. This was a difficult period when he went on public assistance (the dreaded “W” word: “Welfare”) to keep his family fed and a roof over their heads in a rundown Berkeley apartment complex with neighbors on either side who appeared to be going off their heads—like so many others who emerged from the madness that’d gripped the country at the end of the 60s—from the highs of the Woodstock Nation to the lows of Altamont, Kent State and the riots of Chicago, which RAW witnessed first-hand. RAW was smack dab in the middle of the cultural sea change taking place—that all of the sudden seemed to have lost traction, like Hunter Thompson’s wave that “finally broke and rolled back.”

Before we knew it, the 70s were upon us and something had changed. So many of the heroes of the movement had either burned out or sold out or spun out. By 1973, the sixties looked a thousand light years away in the rear view mirror as the lost idealism of that decade bled over into the early seventies. A hung-over generation awoke one morning to discover President Nixon’s “War on Drugs” in full swing, its crosshairs trained on the country’s youth, poor and minorities; draconian drug laws designed, it seemed, to create a prison state of mind, with RAW’s good friend Tim Leary—who Nixon proclaimed “the most dangerous man in America”—serving as the poster boy for all things immoral and indecent.

Kerry Thornley during his Sacred Mind Ashram period in Atlanta. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Amid Watergate revelations of government snooping gone wild, paranoia ran high in a fragmented counterculture, as out of this era emerged a generation of damaged goods—like some of RAW’s loony Berzerkeley neighbors—or his friend Kerry Thornley, who had a job done on his head not only by the “brown acid,” but due to the trials and tribulations of the Garrison Inquisition. Operation Mindfuck had come full circle, it appeared, biting its creator, Kerry Thornley, square on the ass.

Against this backdrop, occasional self doubt crept into RAW’s reality tunnel. Since the whole world seemed to be going mad, maybe he was, as well… filled with doubts that he’d made the worst decision of his life quitting Playboy all the while the prospect hanging over his head that he’d never become a successful writer, let alone afford to pay his bills. Also the uncertainty of Illuminatus! was still dangling in the wind, yet unpublished.

In the midst of unsure times, RAW continued his path of self discovery, practicing Sufi heart-chakra exercises to free his mind of troubles and open himself up to the wonders of the universe—which all sounds pretty new agey in retrospect, but it was a sign of the times. It was the Aquarian New Age and RAW was at the forefront, not only diving headfirst into those trendy currents, but also examining them with a critical eye. Much the same way Aleister Crowley had done decades before, by examining consciousness (magick) using the scientific method, and at the same time approaching these practices in an unbiased/unconditioned manner, the ultimate goal to metaprogram one’s self and open higher circuits.

“We place no reliance on virgin or pidgeon.
Our method is science, our aim is religion.”

It was a transition period when the counterculture crossed its own abyss—from the social activism, sexual liberation and drug induced revelations of the 60s—into a state of creeping dread brought on by Watergate, Cointelpro and the War on Drugs. Out of this madness emerged the New Age Movement, which many of the old guard radical left considered a cop out, people staring at their navels when they should be overthrowing The Man.

This period witnessed a renewed interest in the JFK assassination, as well as the other political assassinations of the late 60s, as conspiracy buffs began noticing a pattern from one assassination to another, this coupled with a deepening mistrust of government, and a growing Police State, all contributed to The Paranoid Period.

Then Kerry Thornley, high priest of Eris, re-entered my life, dragging the Kennedy Assassination horrors with him. (p.151)

At this point in the narrative, RAW brings up Thornley’s feud with Jim Garrison, which I’d be remiss if I didn’t attempt to explain. But don’t tell me I didn’t tell you it gets way convoluted.

Thornley—as weird history instructs—served with Oswald in the Marines for a short period and due to this association went on to author a couple books about his Marine Corps chum titled Oswald and Idle Warriors. Garrison conjectured that these books were written as a means to portray Oswald as a commie influenced lone nutter with an itchy trigger finger in order to set him up as a patsy in the assassination… all part of a convoluted conspiracy caper that Thornley (maybe) was party to. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

As to the nature of Garrison and Thornley’s beef, this date backs to Kerry’s association with JFK researcher David Lifton, author of the classic Kennedy assassination tome, Best Evidence.

In his initial discussions with Lifton in 1965, Thornley mentioned how Oswald spoke Russian in the ranks at El Toro with a Marine whose name he thought might have been John Renee Heindel. This revelation (that Oswald conversed in the Russian tongue with Heindel) came as a surprise to Lifton, because he was quite familiar with Thornley’s Warren Commission testimony and the fact that Kerry hadn’t actually identified Heindel as the Russian speaking Marine in question. In fact, Thornley’s only mention in the Warren Report concerning this topic is a passage where he’s trying to recollect the name of the Russian speaking Marine, and he can’t. In later conversations, Kerry admitted that he’d only recalled Heindel’s name (after delivering his testimony) when he and Warren Commission attorney, Albert Jenner, were having lunch together and Jenner provided Thornley with the name “Heindel.” How Jenner came to this conclusion (that Heindel was the guy who spoke Russian) is unclear, but it stuck in Thornley’s mind only later to be repeated to Lifton. And I haven’t even started getting convoluted yet! Hang on…

John Renee Heindel. Photo Credit: House Select Committee on Assassinations files.
Another curiosity concerning Heindel (according to a Warren Commission affidavit) is that his nickname in the Marines was “Hidell,” which was certainly a head scratcher, given that fact that Oswald used the “Alec Hidell” alias when he ordered the Manlicher-Carcano rifle allegedly used to kill Kennedy.

In mid 1967, Lifton discovered that our man Heindel was then living in New Orleans, which just happened to be the base of operations for Jim Garrison’s investigation and, in mid September, Lifton contacted Garrison to pass along this info about Heindel.

Not long after, Garrison called Heindel in for questioning, who denied the whole bit about speaking to Oswald in Russian. This led Garrison to somehow arrive at the conclusion that Heindel was lying. In addition, Garrison and his crew uncovered “evidence” that Heindel was seen with Oswald at several New Orleans bars during the summer of 1963. (Whether this “evidence” against Heindel was of any substance is another matter entirely.)

Long story short, Garrison wanted Thornley to travel to New Orleans to “confront” and “identify” Heindel as, you guessed it, the guy who spoke to Oswald in Russian. In the interim, Garrison requested (through Lifton) that Thornley write up a statement summarizing his memories of Oswald and Heindel. To this end, Lifton got together with Thornley (they were both living in Los Angeles at the time) and Lifton prepared an affidavit that Thornley signed and then Lifton afterwards mailed to Garrison in September 1967. Mainly, it was Lifton who behind all of this, and it’s doubtful that Thornley would have pursued the matter had not Lifton insisted.

Garrison’s ultimate plan was to call Heindel before a grand jury, and ask him if he’d ever heard Oswald speak Russian. Previously, Heindel had gone on record stating that he had not, thus it was Garrison’s assumption that Heindel would once again testify to the same tune. Then—following Heindel’s testimony—Thornley would be called into testify that he, in fact, had heard Oswald and Heindel speaking Russian—or at least that’s the convoluted scenario Garrison envisioned. As a result—according to Garrison’s madcap plan—Heindel would then be indicted for perjury. Ultimately, Garrison envisioned a far grander scenario than simply implicating Heindel as a low level player in JFK’s assassination: his eventual goal was to persuade Heindel to provide detrimental testimony against some of the other suspects in the case, like Clay Shaw.

Lifton’s willingness to cooperate with Garrison on the matter soon soured after he examined the charges against Heindel and came to the conclusion that it was a whole bunch of nothing. When Lifton informed Thornley of these developments, Kerry attempted to distance himself from Garrison’s investigation by sending this letter to the New Orleans District Attorney’s office dated October 24, 1967:

Dear Mr. Garrison,

As a personal favor to Mr. Lifton I spent a whole day with him preparing that damned affidavit. It says everything I know about the subject. I regret that I bothered.

When I said I would speak to you ON MY TERMS, as you had apparently offered to do through Mr. Lifton, I meant it. And since you chose, when I called you the first time, not to deal on those terms, to hell with it.

I have no interest to speak of in this matter and from now on intend to keep out of it, as actions on my part can only in my view stimulate the state to violate the rights of others who for all I know may be innocent. “It is far better to reward the guilty than to punish the innocent,” said Robert Ingersoll, and every time you subpoena an innocent individual you punish him to the extent that you have violated his precious and unalienable right to liberty.

But what you do is your business, sir, and you are welcome to it.

Sincerely,
Kerry Thornley

Thornley's October 24, 1967 letter to Jim Garrison. Courtesy of The Discordian Archives.

In late November 1967, Lifton met Garrison in Los Angeles, and at this time, “[Garrison] now had a brand new hypothesis. Kerry had been rapidly shifted from star-witness-to-be-list, to that of CIA agent/bad guy, who had met with and presumably conspired with Lee Oswald in the fall of 1963. The ostensive vehicle for this shift of position from star witness to culpable defendant was nothing more than a theory of the assassination postulating Kerry’s involvement invented and promulgated by Warren Report critic Harold Weisberg, and some testimony from a local New Orleans character named Barbara Reid…” —Excerpt from May 1968 letter from David Lifton to Mark Lane chronicling the Thornley/Heindel/Garrison matter. Courtesy the Discordian Archives. Read the PDF here.

Over the next three years, Thornley was repeatedly hassled by Garrison and drug through the mud. Due to all this, “[He] had begun to enter a different belief-system. He was puzzled over many aspects of the case Garrison had tried to manufacture against him, and kept brooding over the details. Basically, the case rested upon what ordinary people call coincidences. Jungians and parapsychologists call them synchronicities. Garrison called them ‘propinquities’ and said they proved the existence of “a conspiracy so vast as to stagger the imagination!” (p.151)

Garrison believed (or theorized or concocted) that Kerry Thornley was part of a JFK assassination cabal based out New Orleans, a notion that Thornley initially dismissed, but later—starting around 1973 or so—he began to suspect that Garrison might have been on the right track, at least in terms of an assassination cabal that both Oswald and Thornley were somehow associated with, or more correctly, manipulated by, and used as unwitting dupes—all of these machinations dating back to their time together in the Marines.

Thornley—as RAW notes—became obsessed with this whole notion that he’d been manipulated and perhaps even mind controlled and his paranoia grew to the extent where he began suspect that even his friends may have been in on the conspiracy, including those involved in the Discordian Society, like RAW and Bob Shea.

This scenario, among many other crazy things, are discussed in greater depth in my books The Prankster and the Conspiracy and Caught in the Crossfire, so check those out if you want to get increasingly convoluted.

Then, early in 1975, Thornley remembered an odd conversation in 1963 with a New Orleans man whom we will call Mr. M. The subject was — are you ready? — how to assassinate a President and get away with it. (p. 152).

RAW’s reference to a “Mr. M” is somewhat puzzling, as in most of Thornley’s writings he refers to the mystery man in question (who conversed with him about assassinating a President) as a pro-Nazi spook named Gary Kirstein (aka Brother-in-Law) who Kerry—at one time or another—suspected was actually Watergate burglar and CIA big-shot E. Howard Hunt (in disguise.) However—for a short period of time—Kerry suspected that Kirstein/Hunt may have actually been someone named Tom Miethe, another supposed neo-Nazi intelligence community type, so maybe that’s how RAW latched on to “Mr. M.” Or perhaps RAW wanted to avoid libel charges, so just used “Mr. M” instead of Kirstein to play it safe.

Then Thornley read about the case of Robert Byron Watson. (p. 153)

In mid 1975, Thornley came across a series of articles in Atlanta newspapers concerning the case of Robert Byron Watson, a young man who claimed he’d been framed on drug charges due to information he had regarding the MLK assassination—details of which sounded strikingly similar to Kerry’s own experience with certain shadowy characters (Gary Kirstein and Slim Brooks) in New Orleans in the early-60s. Kerry contacted Watson’s lawyers and sent them this memo outlining his knowledge of The Conspiracy:

Thornley's memo to Robert Byron Watson's attorneys. Courtesy of The Discordian Archives.

 

I must point out that two weeks after Thornley first made his charges against Mr. M. (to the Atlanta police) he was robbed, pistol-whipped and had his I.D. taken. (p. 154).

As a sidebar, I recently discovered that The Discordian Archives (which were passed on to yours truly in 2009) were in RAW’s safekeeping during the period Greg Hill moved to New York City in 1974. Evidently Hill couldn’t afford or didn’t want the hassle of transporting them to New York and decided to leave them with RAW (then living in Berkeley) who became the Discordian Archives curator, so to speak. So the chain of chaotic custody over the years has been this: Greg Hill > RAW > Greg Hill > Bob Newport > Me.

RAW evidently made good use of the archives, utilizing it as source material (it would appear) for portions of Cosmic Trigger. For instance, the inclusion of the thumbprint letter.

Original Thumbprint Letter reproduced in Cosmic Trigger. Courtesy of The Discordian Archives.

RAW attempted to bring some attention to Thornley’s plight by authoring an article called “Assassination Scene Heats Up,” which he sent to Kerry for comment. Download PDF here. Courtesy of The Discordian Archives.

As you can see, Thornley scrawled comments on each page, which became increasingly hostile as the pages turned, because he felt RAW was misinterpreting or not understanding him. However, the main reason RAW penned the piece in the first place was to help Kerry bring some attention to his claims. As far as I know, the article was never published.

Thornley began writing to me regularly about his solution to the assassinations, and insisted more and more often that his life was in danger. I tried to calm him down a bit by reminding him of the difference between theory and proof. It soon became evident, from his subsequent letters, that he was now half-convinced that I was part of the assassination conspiracy team. (p.156)

After sending out his JFK assassination related memos to Watson’s attorneys and other law enforcement officials, Kerry attended an Atlanta house party where he was given some “funny-tasting” marijuana. At this party he talked to a group of individuals about the JFK assassination, one of whom he suspected was RAW.

A few days later, Kerry met again with one of the party goers, who passed him a pipeload of weed that—after puffed upon—blistered the inside of his mouth, making him suspect someone was attempting to poison him. Kerry delivered an affidavit to the Atlanta police describing this incident, dated July 25th, 1975, along with the pot pipe and its contents:

“I have spoken to several people about the group of very nice people I met at a party at the Celestial Mansion on Flat Shoals Road last Saturday night.
“One person I met there who may or may not have been part of this group (which knew more about the JFK assassination re Gary Kirstein, it seemed, by what they said and the questions they asked me, than I do) was a guy who said his name was Jack Wolverton…

“While we sat in the kitchen rapping, I filled up the enclosed pipe with a few leftover roaches and passed it to Jack. There was a long interval when my attention was directed elsewhere and Jack had the pipe.

“When he passed it back to me, I took a drag and IMMEDIATELY felt a large blister form inside my right check. Puzzled, I passed the pipe back to Jack, running my tongue over the blister. I did not observe carefully whether Jack actually smoked the pipe or merely made a pretense of doing so. When the pipe was returned to me, Eve, who had been out, came in the door. I took another puff only to have yet another blister, pop up right next to the other one at the exact time the smoke made contact with the membrane inside my cheek.

“Thinking it might be some sort of allergic reaction, I commented on it, and passed the pipe to Eve. She took a drag and experienced no unusual reactions.

“I then went into the bathroom and examined the blisters in the mirror. They were dark red blood blisters and each was about the size of a deformed collar button.

“I have had only one other experience with blisters forming instantly from any cause other than direct burns by fire, and that was in Atomic, Biological, and Chemical Warfare School (‘Defense’ I think they call it, not ‘Warfare’) in the Marines. That time our instructor demonstrated the effects of mustard gas to us by placing an infinitesimal amount on each of our fingertips—the result: instant blistering.

“I returned to the kitchen and commented that the blisters had formed when I had taken a drag on the pipe. Jack said: ‘Oh, I don’t think there is any relation.’ Something about the certainty of his unsolicited opinion, something about the tone of voice and timing—too hasty an interjection—has caused me to become very suspicious.

“Earlier I had asked Jack if he knew who those other people were at the Celestial Mansion or understood what we had been discussing. He said ‘no,’ that he had been playing music at the time on his guitar, which was true. He had been playing John Prine songs, which occupy a special place in my heart in relation to the Celestial Mansion because of a very high experience I had there in 1972 upon first discovering John Prine’s music. The whole incident at the Celestial Mansion had been carefully orchestrated by people who knew a great deal about me, people I correspond with, and the JFK assassination, particularly my involvement. I was made to feel as comfortable as possible, and then I was pumped just enough to see if it was Gary Kirstein that I was naming. (Does Kenner, Louisiana, mean anything to you was one of the questions I got asked.)

“On the way from The Plaza to the apartment was when I asked Jack if he knew those other people. He said he did not. I then explained to him what had happened and my suspicions concerning Gary Kirstein.

“Enclosed is the pipe and its contents, along with the plastic bottle the roaches were in before Jack got there, and to which he had no access. It seems to me this material should be analyzed. It was fished out of the trash by me a few days after the incident. Several important witnesses, including Ruby and Shaw died of cancer, for one thing, and some chemicals (nicotine for example) can stimulate cancer…”

In a follow-up memo dated July 27th, 1975, Kerry further addressed the pipe smoking incident:

“Occasionally in the past people have misinterpreted comments I have made which were only suggestive or indicative, taking them for firm opinions. I’m not at all sure whatever gave me those blisters was something intended to give me cancer, specifically. It could have been that stuff (Philip) Agee mentions in a recent PLAYBOY interview which causes a ‘nasty respiratory ailment.’ Since the smoke caused blisters in my mouth—which must have been sore in that spot—I didn’t inhale much of it. I do seem to have minor throat and lung irritation at this time. Just don’t want to seem like more of a crackpot paranoid than I really am after nearly twelve years of bizarre experience relating to JFK’s death.

“Also the ‘Celestial Mansion’ is the old name for a commune which was in the house I still call by that name. It is not the formal name of a business establishment.

“Upon checking, I have discovered that I have a sample of Jack Wolverton’s handwriting, for he wrote out his address for me in my notebook last week.

“Finally, concerning Wolverton, please give him the benefit of every doubt. I would hate to dump on him if his only mistake was that of befriending a person who happened to be feeling somewhat paranoid last week.

“I’m still very puzzled about the Celestial Mansion incident of last Saturday night. I continue to feel on a subjective level that the people who talked to me had my best interests at heart. It was as if they were checking me out to make sure I was not involved in the assassination. It was really stupid of me not to ask them how they came to know so much. One person who spoke to me, briefly, during the half-hour or so before the ‘team’ moved in, identified himself as Lew Deadmore. I find an architect by that name listed in the phone book. One of the members of the ‘team’—the one who spoke to me most—bore an uncanny intellectual and psychological resemblance to an anarchist writer friend of mine who lives-in California whom I have only met face-to-face once (in 1968), but with whom I’ve corresponded extensively. I have written him a letter about the incident, wondering if that was him. If it wasn’t he’ll probably think I’ve lost my mind.

“I doubt if I have been any too coherent about the Celestial Mansion incident. It requires more detail than I am inclined to deal with, considering the other writing I should be doing about Gary Kirstein. I’ll be glad to answer any questions about it, however. Meanwhile, let me summarize it by saying that I was questioned very informally but extremely skillfully by what seem to be a ‘team’ of five or six people who faded in and out of the crowd at a party. I’m quite sure this really happened and can give hard, objective reasons for so believing it was not just my imagination.”

Some Further Comments On The Pipe Smoking Incident memo.
Courtesy of The Discordian Archives.

In the above memo, SOME FURTHER COMMENTS ON THE PIPE SMOKING INCIDENT, Kerry notes that one member of the “team” at the Celestial Mansion, “…bore an uncanny intellectual and psychological resemblance to an anarchist writer friend of mine who lives in California whom I have only met face-to-face once (in 1968), but with whom I’ve corresponded excessively.” This “anarchist writer friend” was supposedly RAW.

In RAW’s intro to The Prankster and the Conspiracy, he wrote:

I remember my last phone conversation with Kerry, during which he announced that just a week earlier I had come to Atlanta, argued with him about my alleged CIA connections, spiked his drink with LSD, and brainwashed him again. I told him that I had not left San Francisco in months, and that if he had a bad acid trip the previous week then somebody else gave him the acid, not me. I insisted on this as persuasively as I could.

Finally, Kerry relented—a bit. “Well, maybe you believe that”, he said. “But that means your bosses have been fucking with your head and implanting false memories in you too!”

How do you argue that you haven’t had your head altered? “Look,” I said, I’ll put my wife Arlen on. She’ll tell you I haven’t left here in months.”

“That won’t prove anything,” he said with the calm certitude of a Grand Master announcing checkmate. “They probably fixed her head too.”

I don’t remember the rest of the conversation. I felt lost in an Escher painting…

Categories
art book illuminati illuminatus! robert anton wilson

Information Awareness Office (IAO) Revisited

Established in January 2002 in the aftermath of 9/11, the Information Awareness Office (IAO) was a short-lived agency that oversaw the U.S. domestic surveillance program.

In 2003, IAO was axed by Congress following public criticism that the agency was overstepping its Constitutional authority. What with the in-your-face all-seeing eye in the triangle seemingly torn straight from the pages of Illuminatus!, the IAO seal possessed imagery suggesting an Orwellian nightmare come true, replete with an ominous death ray shooting a malevolent beam over the planet.

Cover of Dell's
The Illuminatus! Trilogy.
During the period when IAO was going hot and heavy, Robert Anton Wilson made a habit of cc’ing his outgoing email to then IAO grand poobah, John Poindexter. To this end, Bob figured that by sending his email directly to Poindexter it would eliminate the need for anyone to maintain surveillance on him, thus eliminating a paid position and cutting down on government waste. “Besides,” Bob told me, “It amuses me to think of Poindexter reading my emails.”

In a May 2002 phone conversation, I asked Bob if “They” had intentionally lifted the IAO seal from the cover of The Illuminatus! Trilogy (Amazon). “I don’t know what the Hell’s going on,” Bob replied. “I think we’re being taken over by a bunch of surrealists.”

Nazi Eye illustration.
The acronym, IAO—it should be noted—was a mystical formula used by Uncle Aleister Crowley in his Freemasonic based magick rituals, the same kind of hocus pocus that certain sinister factions of Nazi Germany dipped their spooky toes into. For example, here is a Nazi era illustration (provided courtesy of my good friend Vyzygoth) that once again summons up the surreal spectre of IAO.

The more things change…