I’m happy, and also somewhat saddened, to announce the release of 3 new books for which I played a role, either large or small, in the same manner that the authors of these three titles—Kerry Thornley, James Shelby Downard and Antero Alli—themselves had their own roles, both large or small, in the annals of Discordia.
Of course, you all should know well the name Kerry Thornley, without whom this site would have never been imagined. Thornley, as well, was an influence, either large or small—depending on who you talk to—on another religion (or irreligion or spoof religion, as the case may), that being the Church of SubGenius, and it’s the church’s publishing arm—namely The SubGenius Foundation—which brings us the latest installment in the Thornley literary canon in a book called Jailbird: The Dreadlock Recollections that has been compiled by Trevor Blake aka Rev. Onan Canobite and contains what Trevor/Onan describes as “the first publication of the complete text, under the author’s preferred title, with related unpublished essays, annotations and index…” The book also includes an intro by Rev. Ivan Stang, who recounts—among other things—how Kerry photographed himself fucking a chair. 5 (Discordian) stars.
Sad, yes, and at the same time this book is an inspiring, no-nonsense look at how we can make magic in our own individual lives, with the realization that we are all finite beings in an infinite universe of possibilities.
Here is the back cover blurb I provided for Last Words:
“There’s no escaping it; each of us in our time will confront loss in its many forms: loss of love, health, innocence, loss of life; such losses form a tapestry, each thread woven from the next ‘high’ or ‘low’ or ‘in between,’ all part of this mystery we’re passing through. And among the many losses we suffer, life can also be a joyous dance, a game we play, a palette from which to paint—if we choose to frame it that way. Antero Alli’s Last Words represent another loss, one where wisdom can be gained: that by acknowledging our losses head on, in some way we can become larger, deeper, fuller; there’s a silent grace that comes with such knowledge. And as we walk through the next door to whatever may await, with it comes the understanding that there’s little time left to look back at what is or was or what might have been It was all part of the journey that got us here, and what’s immediately in front of us is where we should be right now.” – Adam Gorightly
I owe a lot to Robert Anton Wilson and specifically the influence Cosmic Trigger Volume 1: Final Secret of the Illuminati (1978) had in piquing my interest in subjects like ufology, magick, Forteana, Discordianism, and the dreaded Bavarian Illuminati. I’m not sure which of these interests (or sometime obsessions) came to me solely through Cosmic Trigger, but after discovering the book it certainly dovetailed with a lot of high weirdness I was into—or things I would soon be into—and made me more aware, for instance, how synchronicity plays such an integral role in our lives—or more precisely in the lives of those who tune into it. (Whatever it is.)
Of course, it’s not like I wasn’t into a lot of this stuff before discovering Cosmic Trigger, but it did make me feel I wasn’t alone in Crossing the Abyss, which many of us experience in our lives at one point or another. And so RAW ala Cosmic Trigger put a lot of things in perspective for me, or turned up my focus to arrive at a broader understanding about my own experiences, psychedelic and UFO-wise.
I believe it was through Cosmic Trigger that I became aware of James Shelby Downard (maybe), although Downard might have first popped up on my radar via Adam Parfrey’s seminal anthology Apocalypse Culture (1987), which I probably read around the same time I first sunk my teeth into Cosmic Trigger in the late 1980s, and which did a similar number to my head.
During the period RAW was experiencing all of his Sirius synchronicities, a Fortean researcher named William Grimstad sent him an audio cassette series entitled Sirius Rising, a recording with James Shelby Downing that “…set forth the most absurd, the most incredible, the most ridiculous Illuminati theory of them all…[that] the Illuminati were preparing Earth, in an occult manner, for extraterrestrial contact…. The only trouble is that, after the weird data we have already surveyed [in Cosmic Trigger], the Grimstad-Downard theory may not sound totally unbelievable to us….”
At the time, Downard was an obscure and little known figure outside the small circle of Fortean/Conspiracy researchers who gravitated around him that included Bill Grimstad, Michael Anthony Hoffman II and Charles Saunders.
Due in some measure to Downard’s influence, Grimstad (under the non-de-plume of Jim Brandon) authored the Fortean classics Weird America (1978) and The Rebirth of Pan (1983). In the “Dallas, Texas” section of Weird America, Brandon presented the theory that JFK was a “ceremonial king-who-must-die” killed by modern age alchemists following an ancient druidic tradition, a hypothesis arrived at by a “certain body of opinion, undoubtedly the farthest out brain wave of assassinology yet.” No direct mention was made, at this time, as to the theory’s originator: James Shelby Downard.
It was through “King Kill 33°: Masonic Symbolism in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy” (featured in Apocalypse Culture) that Downard first came to the attention of conspiratologists and over time rose to the status of a mythic figure who traveled across the country in his famous airstream trailer investigating Fortean mysteries and battling Freemasonic adversaries at every turn, his trusty Colt 45 always at his side.
As for unpublished works, Michael Hoffman informed me several years ago that Downard’s “…niece, Robbie Smith, had in her possession at his death, Mr. Downard’s locked suitcase files which neither Mr. Grimstad, this writer or Charles Saunders had ever seen. She told me about some of the contents. I was desperate to buy them but could not meet her price. She admitted to destroying some of his materials after his death! I found her difficult. God willing, she has preserved something and someone will be able to purchase these from her one day. If it’s all lost, it’s a tragedy.”
This news that the last remnants of Downard’s literary legacy might have knowingly or unknowingly been tossed into a dumpster was certainly a disappointing prospect, which is what would have happened to the Discordian Archives had not Dr. Bob Newport intervened and rescued them from Greyfaced oblivion.
In the intro to The Carnivals of Life and Death, Adam Parfrey noted that Downard died before he could write the second part of his biography and so the general consensus seemed to be that we’d probably never see any further Downardian writings—that is, until NOW…
During the course of writing James Shelby Downard’s Mystical War, I corresponded not only with Michael Hoffman, but also Bill Grimstad, and stayed in touch with Bill over the last decade. At the end of 2015, Grimstad informed me that he’d come into possession of what appeared to be Part 2 of Downard’s biography(!) and inquired if I was interested in publishing the material. Hell, yes, I responded.
The caveat, though, was that the manuscript was in microfiche format (circa 1980s) and would need to be converted into tiffs. I agreed to split the costs for this process, and then afterwards began sorting through the material, which in itself proved a somewhat daunting task due to the fact that it consisted of a staggering 799 pages, a combination of biographical material as well as Downard hashing out his central themes and theories in a manner that only he could do.
Phase two of the project entailed converting the manuscript to PDF and getting it into proper chronological order, but this as well was somewhat challenging and was making my head hurt a bit; it seemed the only way to review it and make sure I had all the pages in correct order was to print out the beast, maybe a few pages at a time. After printing out a dozen or so pages, I realized that about 2/3rds of my black ink cartridge had been sucked dry due to the black margins on the pages that were a by-product of the microfiche conversion. A visit to FedEx-Kinko’s and $150 later, I had a printed version in my hot little hands, which was a lot less expensive than sinking several hundred dollars into black ink cartridges. (Yes, I realize this is a first world problem!)
The plan from there was to OCR the beast and just edit as I go. Unfortunately, the first test OCR revealed that each page would take more time correcting the OCR errors than it would take to just retype the whole enchilada fresh—which is exactly what I’m doing now, a few pages here and a few pages there—in between other projects I’m currently working on.
If there are any volunteers out there who would like to assist me in the typing drudgery, say 50 pages at a pop, drop me a line and this will allow you a sneak peak at a portion of Downard’s missing magnum opus—not to mention a gratis copy after it’s published!
November 22nd commemorates a lot of things here at Historia Discordia, including the date we first launched this site—on JFK Assassination Day, no less!—an event forever after ingrained in Discordian mythology. And although we would never be so bold as to suggest that Eris had a five fingered hand in orchestrating the Killing of the King, it nonetheless appears that in some way or another our Goddess of Perpetual Chaos was responsible for the torrent of high weirdness that engulfed Kerry Thornley’s life after meeting Lee Harvey Oswald in the Marines, then afterwards encountering a couple of shadowy JFK assassination conspirators in New Orleans. If that wasn’t enough, Jim Garrison claimed that Thornley was a CIA agent who masqueraded as Lee Oswald and also pronged Oswald’s wife, Marina. For more on this mind-blowing caper check out Caught in the Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Oswald and the Garrison Investigation.
Discordianism—for good or ill—will be forever linked to this dark day in American history. Like a chaos magician reaching down into his top hat-rabbit hole, the Discordian-JFK Assassination landscape is inhabited by Playboy magazine bunny ears, Ozzie Rabbit (Oswald’s nickname), Echo and the Bunnymen (see JMR Higgs’ KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money), a certain pooka named Harvey (“How are you, Mr. Wilson?”) as well as Bugs Bunny’s role as a Discordian Society patron saint. I could explain all of these Discordian-Bunny-JFK assassination associations, but that would be like trying to explain a complicated joke disguised as a religion.
11/22 is one of those magic, yet chaotic dates on the Discordian Calendar when the Eristic (as well as Aneristic forces!) come together to perform a triple whammy of sorts, and this year is no exception as Daisy Eris Campbell premieres her much anticipated Cosmic Trigger Play on this very day (11/22) in Liverpool, England at the Camp and Furnace, which looks like a very cool venue where I plan to hoist a pint or two and then slip into a Liverpudian accent.
To complete this Erisian Triple Whammy (the first anniversary of the Historia Discordia website coinciding with the premiere of the Cosmic Trigger Play), I’ll be a guest on Coast To Coast AM with weekend host Richard Syrett to discuss Caught in the Crossfire. And to confuse matters even more (Hail Eris!), my C2C interview—although slated for November 22rd—won’t actually air until the 3rd hour of the program, the witching hour, midnight 11/23. Appearing in the 3rd hour of C2C seems apropos in that it relates to the theories of that late great conspiracy sleuth James Shelby Downard who proposed that JFK’s assassination was orchestrated by high level Freemasons to occur along the 33rd degree latitude as a part of a death ritual ceremony known as The Killing of the King with the numbers 3 and 33 repeated throughout.
In Masonry there are the three mystical steps or degrees: The Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason. The third degree of Master Mason pertains to symbolic Death and Resurrection and the ceremonial Killing of the King. To this end, 11/22 (11 + 22=33) signifies (maybe) a Masonic triple whammy, as 33 is the highest degree in Freemasonry. Dealey Plaza—situated near the Trinity River—was the site for the first Masonic temple in Dallas. Kennedy’s ill-fated motorcade was just about to pass through the Triple Underpass when three shots rang out, wounding Kennedy twice and Texas Governor John Connally once.
The 3rd Degree of Freemasonry tells the legend of three “unworthy craftsman”—Jubela, Jubelo and Jubelum—who murdered Hiram Abiff, the architect of Solomon’s Temple. Similarly, three tramps were arrested in Dealey Plaza, then afterwards released. One of the tramps was later identified as E. Howard Hunt, who Kerry Thornley later came to suspect as being one of his MK-ULTRA handlers.
The number 23—as sumbutnotall of you may be aware—is yet another holy Discordian number (2+3=5) which in turns relates to the Discordian Law of Fives, so I think we should have all our bases covered. And although I might have taken the steam out of my so-called Discordian Triple Whammy by not actually appearing on C2C on 11/22, I will be on Clyde Lewis’ Ground Zero Radio on 11/21, although for me it will actually be 11/22 (at the illustrious hour of 4am!) calling in from my hotel room in Liverpool, which further illustrates the quantum mechanical nature of the universe where I can travel back in time from the future to appear on a radio show in the past!
And, of course, 11/21 also has its place inDiscordianism as 1+1+2+1=5!