In this vein, I thought I’d share further examples of Discordian parties starting with a shindig thrown by Tim Wheeler (aka Harold Lord Randomfactor) at his farm in Shelbyville, Indiana, billed as the “Grand National Founding Convention of Young Americans For Real Freedom.” The intent of this gathering was to draft “The Shelbyville Statement,” which would be the guiding document of the Young Americans for Real Freedom (YARF). Of course, all of this was merely an elaborate joke-parody riffing on a real organization called the Young Americans for Freedom that was prominent in conservative political circles during this period.
Moving on to other Discordian parties, here’s a note from Greg Hill (aka Mal 2) to Louise Lacey (aka Lady L., F.A.B. – Fucking Anarchist Bitch) composed on genuine Illuminati stationary created by the aforementioned Harold Randomfactor.
“…celebrated at our apartment house with weird and eldritch festivities. Arlen and I, representing the Discordian Society, together with Stephen upstairs (Reformed Druids of North America), Claire and Carol in another apartment (witches, connected with the New Reformed Order of the Golden Dawn), and the Great Wild Beast Furtherment Society (which is really Stephen and me and another neighbor named Charles), opened all our rooms to a Crowleymas Party and invited nearly 100 local wizards and mystics…”
In attendance were such illuminaries as ufological visionary Jacques Vallee, along with a flock of other furry freaks from a hodge-podge of mystical and religious (dis)orders, including Grady McMurtry, then head of the Ordo Templi Orientis in the USA.
Apparently, such Discordian frivolities carried on well into the early 1980s as demonstrated in a letter below to Greg Hill from Camden Benares (aka The Count of Fives aka Felix Pendragon) announcing a duel sponsored event orchestrated in cahoots with renowned pornographer, and sometime Discordian, Ron Matthies under the banner of “Fort Chaotic.” In said letter, Camden mentions a Discordian novel he was working on at the time called Another Howling Eighties Conspiracy that unfortunately never saw the light of day, although we know he finished at least five chapters, Hail Eris.
As revealed in my Thornley bio The Prankster and the Conspiracy, Camden and his wife June often attended parties dressed as a priest and nun. After one such party, Camden and June—still bedecked in their holy garbed—visited a Denny’s in West Los Angeles where they spent considerable time making out in their booth. As would be expected, people began freaking out upon witnessing this ungodly spectacle, as in between sacrilegious smooches Camden gave blessings and benedictions to the stunned Denny’s patrons.
The handful of veiled (or perhaps not-so-veiled) drug references in the Principia Discordia include the ritual of Blessed St. Gulik the Stoned (pages 00027 and 00040), an allusion to a Discordian pot smoking ritual. (St. Gulik is a cockroach.)
Page 00068 of Principia Discordia featured “Plant Your Seeds,” a covert campaign to plant marijuana seeds throughout the cities of America to turn on the squares. “Lick Here” on page 00023 encourages the reader to stick their tongue on the dot for a special dose of you know what!
Principia Discordia (4th edition) evolved out of what were known as Groovy Kits, manila envelopes packed full of groovy goodies that were circulated by Greg Hill to a snail mail network of popes and momes during the Discordian Society’s halcyon days. Although Discordians have never been big on rules, it was encouraged that—upon receipt of said Groovy Kit—the recipient partook in the Ritual of St. Gulik to suitably prepare their heads before diving into the Groovy Kit goods and creating something likewise groovy to add to the package and then pass it along to the next Discordian on the list. (Rules is rules.) And so, in time, these Groovy Kits grew like some weird fungi, spreading their spores via the U.S. Postal System through the collective brains of those who elected to play the game; an art project made up of a communal Discordian stew of collages, counterculture memes, conspiracy theories, word games, irreverent humor, all of which contributed to the evolution of Principia Discordia which, in turn, provided inspiration for Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea’s Illuminatus!
Robert Anton Wilson (RAW) provided some of the earliest reports of Discordian psychedelic experimentation in Cosmic Trigger I: Final Secret of the Illuminati. In 1963, RAW lived in “an old slave-cabin in the woods outside Yellow Springs, Ohio. With my wife, Arlen, and our four small children, I had rented the cabin from Antioch College for $30 per month and had an acre of cleared land to grow food on, 30 acres of woods to seek Mystery in…” It was there, with the aid of peyote, that RAW was able to tap into those ancient nature spirits, this at a time when you could still legally purchase peyote buttons via mail order.
“By mid-1963 [RAW] had logged 40 trips to inner space” and “frequently had the hallucination of telepathic communication with plants, both when flying on the wings of peyote and when [I] was straight… The strangest entity I contacted in those twenty-odd months of psychedelic explorations appeared one day after the end of a peyote trip, when I was weeding in the garden and a movement in the adjoining cornfield caught my eye. I looked over that way and saw a man with warty green skin and pointy ears, dancing.” RAW “watched for nearly a minute, entranced, and then Greenskin faded away ‘just a hallucination…’ But I could not forget him. Unlike the rapid metaprogramming during a peyote trip, in which you are never sure what is real and what is just the metaprogrammer playing games, this experience had all the qualities of waking reality, and differed only in intensity. The entity in the cornfield had been more beautiful, more charismatic, more divine than anything I could consciously imagine when using my literary talents to try to portray a deity. As the mystics of all traditions say so aggravatingly, ‘Those who have seen, know.’ Well, I had seen, but I didn’t know. I was more annoyed than enlightened. But that was not to be my last encounter with that particular critter. Five years later, in 1968, [RAW] read Carlos Castaneda’s The Teachings of Don Juan, dealing with traditional Mexican shamanism and its use of the sacred cactus. Castaneda, an anthropologist, saw the same green man several times, and Don Juan Matus, the shaman, said his name was Mescalito. He was the spirit of the peyote plant…”00001
RAW’s enthusiasm for psychedelics led to his 1964 article for Paul Krassner’s The Realist, “Timothy Leary and his Psychological H-Bomb” the result of an interview he conducted with Timothy Leary in 1964 at the Millbrook Ashram. As RAW noted:
“Later [Leary] asked me if I had majored in psychology, and was surprised to find most of my college years had been in the physical sciences. My knowledge of psychology comes entirely from omnivorous reading and several friendships with people in the field, but it may partially explain why Timothy Leary and I had a different sort of relationship than Tim usually has with writers and journalists.”00002
RAW became an ardent Leary advocate, and in the years to follow the two would forge a close personal and professional bond, co-authoring a number of articles together, as well as developing “The Eight Circuit Model of Consciousness” concept.
RAW continued his psychedelic explorations into the 1970s, incorporating consciousness expansion techniques, wicca, magick, tantra, yoga and in particular a Crowleyean ritual known as the “Conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel.” On July 23rd, 1973—coming down off an acaid trip—RAW was performing this Crowleyean ritual when he came into contact with what he perceived to be entities from the Sirius star system. RAW later discovered that July 23 is the very day when Sirius rises behind the sun, the fabled “Dog Days” as they are called. During this same period, RAW was in correspondence with Leary. As RAW recalled:
“In January 1974, Dr. Leary published Terra II, in which he reported his experiments during July-August 1973, attempting to achieve telepathic communication with higher Intelligences elsewhere in the galaxy. Dr. Leary “received” 19 transmissions—the so-called Starseed Transmissions—which he cheerfully admits may be hallucinations. He presents evidence and arguments that they may also be not-hallucinations.
“As soon as I read Terra II, it was obvious to me that I had somehow, during my yoga [magick] sessions, tuned in on Dr. Leary’s brain-waves. My July 23 communication from Sirius was either part of the Transmissions from the higher minds of the galaxy or was part of Dr. Leary’s hallucination, telepathically shared with me. Dr. Leary, however, did not mention Sirius…”00003
Greg Hill chronicled his psychedelic experiments in a number of journal entries, including a three page account from April 1965 entitled “An Experience with Mescaline.” (Download here.)
Body becomes helpless with laughter
As whirly-gig bugs return,
Chills are back too
And the room is
Save one single point
Of life and warmth:
Far below on the floor.
As a Holy Guru
The Omniscient flame
Radiates its serenity
To all who
And body is once again granted
In the mid 1960s, Kerry Thornley joined Kerista, “a sexually swinging psychedelic tribe” into mate swapping, dope smoking and acid tripping. Renowned for their “beautiful weekend orgies,” Kerista was established in New York the late 1950s by John Presmont (aka Brother Jud). After running afoul of the law in NYC, Brother Jud and his crew moved to Southern California, where they joined forces with Kerry. During this period, Kerry’s income was a total of $50 a week, which he earned from writing “case histories,” most of them factual, for Monogram Publications—a southern California erotica publisher—based on his experiences with the Keristas.00004
In 1966, the group’s newspaper changed its name from Kerista to Kerista Swinger, presumably to generate greater appeal with a new generation of hip sexual experimenters. Kerry—calling himself “Young Omar”—wrote several articles for Kerista Swinger, including the group’s mission statement:
Kerista is a religion and the mood of Kerista is one of holiness. Do not, however, look for a profusion of rituals, dogmas, doctrines, and scriptures. Kerista is too sacred for that. It is more akin to the religions of the East and, also, the so-called pagan religions of the pre-Christian West. Its fount of being is the religious experience and that action or word or thought which is not infused with ecstasy is not Kerista. And Kerista, like those religions of olden times, is life-affirming.
By 1967—the so-called “Summer of Love”—Kerry’s politics had gone through a radical shift. His rallying cry was now “sex, drugs, and treason”—everything that flew in the face of a conservative agenda he’d previously embraced with his enthusiasm for Ayn Rand styled Libertarianism. As Kerry later wrote:
When the conservatives began complaining that radical students were interested in nothing but “sex, drugs, and treason” I realized that, instinctually, they had hit the nail on the head. Sex, drugs, and treason were the three things I stood for…. Regarding sex, I became firmly convinced that unless there were trends established in our culture in the direction of uncompromising sexual honesty, tolerance for minority sexual preferences, equal treatment of the sexes, rational openness concerning VD and birth control, and saner attitudes regarding sex and child-rearing, particularly with reference to masturbation—further meaningful social change would not be possible…
Regarding drugs, I gained a great deal of respect for psychedelic substances as powerful tools for restructuring portions of one’s personality which could not be reached by intellectual effort alone, for expanding one’s sense of identification and compassion, and for opening the narrow and dry Western ego to mystical possibilities. Zen and similar styles of meditation, along with the yoga disciplines, I came to see as methods for maintaining psychedelic levels of awareness, once the chemicals had demonstrated the nature of such modes of consciousness…
Regarding treason, I came gradually to a position of supporting nearly all factions on the radical left, except in their quarreling with each other and the dogmatic insistence of some of these groups on the insistence of political violence (or, in other cases, the immorality of violence under all circumstances). I came to this position without ever abandoning some of the more libertarian elements on the extreme right. Meanwhile, I continued to refine my own political philosophy of anarchism—not because I favored “violence and chaos” with which anarchism is nearly always falsely equated, but because of my opposition to violence and chaos, for which government military machines and bureaucratic structures are largely responsible in today’s world…00005
Kerry Thornley helped organize the Griffith Park Human Be-Ins, which were the perfect set and setting to display his irreverent brand of humor. At the first Be-In, Kerry cut a singular swath, equipped with a sign that read: “Stamp out quicksand. Ban LSD.” Fellow Discordian Louise Lacey (Lady L., F.A.B.) recalled the first Griffith Park Be-In thusly:
The weather was perfect. We were all stoned. A single engine plane came and circled, and I thought it was the media, keeping track of us, but then a man all in white dropped down with a parachute and the crowd roared with approval. Later I learned that an old friend of mine from Marin County was the pilot. He got that plane out fast, because it was illegal to parachute within the city limits.
The Be-In was fascinating because I had never seen such a large collection of freaks. I couldn’t keep from grinning. I was particularly interested because some hard assed sociologist had said that when you were on LSD you were extremely susceptible to being led. I was watching for people being led.
I saw a group of people organized into a crack-the-whip game. Twenty or twenty-five people formed and a man with a megaphone was giving them instructions. (Definitely planned.)
“Move up the hill, move down. Hang on tight. Join with more people.” I couldn’t tell if anyone was listening or just all having fun. The people at the end of the line were moving so fast they kept being thrown off, tumbling down the hill in the grass, laughing hysterically. Then some of the crack-the-whip people let go of the hands of the people around them and drifted off. The megaphone man yelled more loudly. “Hang on, don’t let go.” More people drifted away. He was screaming now. The group all dropped hands and disappeared in the crowds and the megaphone man was screaming at the top of his amplified voice, “Come back! We are playing a game here!” But the people were gone.
I didn’t worry any more about what that sociologist had said.
Many groups of people were gathered as “families of friends.” It was the first time I had seen this form of organization. So there were tents, and lean-to’s and lots of signs pounded into the dirt, describing one thing or another to identify who the friends were. (This is where Kerry’s sign fit in.) As I didn’t live in L.A., I didn’t recognize anyone other than Kerry’s friends, who didn’t stay around his sign, but it didn’t matter. I “knew” the strangers as friends, and we laughed and hugged and shared doobies, and listened to music and I moved on. Nobody got hurt, everyone had a good time (except, I imagine, the man with the megaphone). As the day progressed, I gravitated back to Kerry’s sign and others did, too, and we shared what we had experienced, eventually gathered our stuff and drove home to Kerry’s. A most successful day.00006
At the time, Kerry had moved into a house in the Watts section of Los Angeles that became a sort of psychedelic social center. One frequent visitor to this scene was Kerry’s friend, Bud Simco, who recalled:
“Kerry was charismatic and had the ability to attract diverse personalities, people who would normally not be associated with each other, except by the force of Kerry’s personality. For example, there were so-called hippie types tripping under the dining room table, holding burning candles in their hands, while right-wing types were holding forth in the kitchen. One such character I recall had never been to Watts before, and showed up wearing a bullet-proof vest and armed with a .45. He seemed reasonable enough, in conversation, but he was taking no chances [having never been around hippies before]. There were people from all walks of life… including a pilot for the Flying Tiger Airlines, a student from MIT, some swingers, a fashion model, some writers, some SDS student types, and various and sundry others whom I did not know. One of my guests at one particular gathering was a former motorcycle gang member who lost his foot in a motorcycle accident, and his beautiful American Indian wife, who was at the time a co-worker of mine. He had never seen such an assorted group of people in his life, for example, but with his tambourine, magic mushrooms and a Donovan LP loudly playing, asserted his presence along with all the diverse others in one righteous happening. The thing is, everyone was tolerant of the other, regardless of individual inclinations and/or politics. At such an event, many people would never even interact with other groups, in other rooms, although many did. That was the one universal factor re: being present at one of Kerry’s gatherings, either at his home in Watts, or perhaps at one of the original “Be-Ins” at Griffith Park…”00007
A frequent visitor to Kerry’s house in Watts was John Overton who after his first acid trip changed his name to Camden Benares, the idea of which was to bring the teachings of the East into the West: “Camden” for Camden, New Jersey, and “Benares” after Benares, India, the city where the Buddha delivered his first sermon. Benares went on to write the classic Zen Without Zen Masters and was a contributor to the Principia Discordia with “A Zen Story” on page 00005. Camden’s Discordian name was Felix Pendragon. Felix—according to Discordian legend—always carried a pen, and in said pen was a joint. So, when somebody asked Camden who Felix Pendragon was, he’d take out the pen, remove the joint, and “drag on” it.
While this scene was happening at Kerry’s Watts house, Greg Hill was finishing up his military service. After his discharge in early ‘68, he relocated to San Francisco, and ramped up his Discordian activities while immersing himself in the burgeoning counterculture. Among these endeavors included the “Plant Seeds” chain letter he anonymously forwarded to underground papers and news outlets courtesy of “The Discordian Society.”
In addition to disseminating Groovy Kits to his circle of Discordian co-conspirators, Hill interacted with many of the psychedelic luminaries (and trouble makers) of the era, including Tim Leary, Art Kleps of the Neo American Church (author of the Boo Hoo Bible) and Jefferson Poland (aka ‘Jefferson Fuck Poland’) of the Psychedelic Venus Church, among others, often joining their respective psychedelic churches and receiving certain sacraments through the mail. One batch of illuminating correspondence that Hill received from Kleps included a curious index card:
Dr. Robert Newport was another long time friend of both Hill and Thornley as well as contributor to the Principia Discordia with “The Parable of the Bitter Tea” (page 00037) In Brenton Clutterbuck’s book Chasing Eris, Newport recalled his introduction to LSD:
“I was in this psychiatric residency in California in the late 1960s, and the world was in turmoil…. I had been struggling to keep up with all of it, then Greg [Hill] showed up with LSD, and that was goodnight… I had taken LSD months before I left for Okinawa [drafted into the military]… my head was just completely blown apart. And the hostility and violence of the military—I was not obeying too much. I became a revolutionary; I was doing all kinds of things that could have gotten me court-martialed. I didn’t because I tended to be smart enough to stay ahead of whomever… But eventually I was totally stupid and got myself kicked out, which was OK. I didn’t belong there anyway.” 00008
Greg Hill addressed Newport’s troubled military service in his Discordian newsletter The Greater Poop:
The Rev. Dr. Hypocrates, [Newport], has returned from his Okinawa Mission and is presently at Norton Cabal awaiting developments. Brother Hypoc, as you may or may not know, is a POEE psychiatrist who completed his residency in Berkeley a year ago and then promptly got his ass drafted into the United States Air Farce. Poop readers may recall a Xerox of Hypoc’s dog tag which started “Erisian” for religion (issue #6)…
Brother Hypoc [Newport], narrowly escaping legal prosecution, for some LSD antics, because of his professional status as an MD and his privileged status as an Officer, is presently trying to discharge the Pentagon from his life. Human beings in comparable situations but without Privilege Status, of course, are routinely crucified, caged, or psychosmashed by the pig machine, but they couldn’t send Hypoc to the Base Psychiatrist because Hypoc was the Base Psychiatrist, and he advocates that military psychology be in the service of mental health. Due to the awkwardness of the Military’s position, a discharge seems realistic—as soon as Big Uncle finally understands that Rev. Dr. Magoun has sworn the Hippocratic oath as a healer and finds it his moral obligation to RELEASE every person he can from the destructive and corruptive state of being in which the government confines US Citizens for the purpose of turning human beings into soldiers…
This loose-knit Discordian network in which Greg Hill found himself front-and-center was similar to the scene that revolved around Kerry Thornley’s pad in Watts; a colorful coterie of personalities moving from one end of the political spectrum to the other; a melting pot of freaks interested in alternative religions, sexual experimentation, psychedelics, political activism, the civil rights and the back-to-nature movements—with a dash of whimsy and irreverence added in—all of these cultural currents were part of this Discordian letter writing circle that Hill orchestrated.
While some of the Early Discordians have been associated with Libertarianism, it should be noted that their brand of Libertarianism had more to do with hippies and Yippies and freaks of all stripes than it did with current Libertarian strains. The Discordian Society’s involvement in these earlier Libertarian strains concerned their opposition to government overreach into our bedrooms and brains; whereas, nowadays, those who identify themselves as Libertarianism are, in many instances, focused on gutting environmental regulations, which runs counter to where many of the Early Discordians heads were at, such as Louise Lacey, who was more of the Anarcho-Libertarian persuasion: pro-environment and at the same time anti-privatization of land. Louise was one of the founders of the Earth People’s Park.
How can one man own another man?
How can one man own another’s time?
How can he own another’s energy?
How can he OWN a piece of the sky, or the sea, or the earth?
“And who shall command the skylark not to sing?”
—Earth People’s Park brochure (2/70)
A couple other Early Discordians, Tim Wheeler (Harold Randomfactor) and his wife Mary Wheeler (Hope Springs) were about as conservative (politically) as you could get, although with an abiding enthusiasm for the Ritual of St. Gulik. To this end, Wheeler cultivated a marijuana crop on his farm in Indiana to help supplement his income as a humor writer for the National Review. As Mary Wheeler reminisced:
“When we moved to Indiana, we had 25 acres of land, and three acres surrounding the house; that is, not under cultivation. Yes, we grew a lot of pot—it kept us afloat through those years. It was an income for us, though it simply horrifies me now to think how reckless we were. I don’t know about the others [Discordians], but we smoked just for the feel good. No thoughtful insights, no magical apparitions. We smoked with a couple of our conservative friends, but I don’t know about the others. My guess is that everybody smoked, but most people didn’t gab about it…”00009
In the early-70s, Bob Newport relocated to the Russian River area, north of San Francisco. At the time, land was dirt cheap there and he was able to acquire a couple of properties, one of which was a five-hundred seat movie theatre—located in a converted military Quonset hut—named The Rio Theatre.
Newport enlisted Greg Hill and his wife Jeanetta to co-manage the theatre, and over time Cinema Rio became a community effort, a theatre by and for the local freaks, who had fled city life to live among the redwoods along the river in a back-to-nature setting. Cinema Rio was unique in the sense that it was a community effort, a theater by and for the local freaks. In this spirit, artists helped decorate the building, which included a marquee with a free-flowing Mayan theme painted by Wilfred dePaola. Once a month, all the locals who worked at the theatre would gather for a party/meeting and select the films for the following month, usually titles that reflected the counterculture, like Easy Rider or Woodstock.
During this period, Newport operated a psychiatry practice at a property he acquired in nearby Guerneville with a sign at the entrance that read: “Trespassers Welcome.” The property consisted of an acre and a half, with several cabins scattered throughout the redwoods. Newport was also heavily involved with the psych department at nearby Sonoma State; his “office” was located in a tree house on the property, in the center of a circle of redwoods, in addition to a fifteen-foot hot tub where Newport conducted group therapy sessions.
Newport became dissatisfied with the local public school system and decided to home school his children:
“I put together a small school on my property,” Newport recalled, “because I didn’t want to send my kids to the public school, which was horrendous; it was a redneck school and the teachers hated hippies and tortured kids—I mean they were just terrible to the kids who were going there—so I started a school for my kids and hired a governess out of San Francisco… a licensed, credentialed teacher who was also dropping out, and she came up, and that lasted about three days before word got out, and suddenly I had 20 kids in school, and that then started a home schooling movement and we had eight different schools. In all the satellite communities we had close to 300 kids from K to 12, all with teachers who were dropping out, but credentialed… we started a school board and my wife and I administered all of the schools on a budget of 50,000 bucks, which was like charging parents who could afford it 20 bucks a month to put their kids in school, and parents who couldn’t afford it put their kids in school for nothing because we were not in anything to make money…”00010
RAW—who had relocated just north of Guerneville, in Rio Nido—was a frequent visitor to the Russian River scene, and his son, Graham received psychological counseling from Newport, which in turn led to interactions with Tim Leary. As Newport recalled:
“[Leary] and I had an interchange one day. He wanted to talk to me about Bob [Wilson’s] son, shortly when he was breaking and coming apart. So I talked to him about it, and [Leary] had, as far as I could see as a psychologist, as little empathy, real empathy, and as little understanding of schizophrenia as anybody I’d ever met. And it just pissed me off. I was really hoping I was going to get something… So he and I never interfaced really well after that. And Bob sort of rescued Leary, over the objections of a lot of the hip community who felt that Leary had really sold out a lot of people to enumerate his own problems with the law. And there were a lot of people who were pissed off at Bob, too, for doing that. I would do anything to get anybody out of prison, but I don’t think I’d sell out my friends to get myself out of prison and he basically did that. So I basically didn’t have much regard for him after that. I like the stuff he wrote but I didn’t think much of him as a human being.”00011
Not long after opening The Rio Theatre, an old redwood dance hall across the street from the theatre came up for sale, which Newport and Hill purchased and started a community center there that included a restaurant called Stone Soup, in addition to a food co-op, a health clinic (ran by a doctor who had dropped out), as well as an office for the community newspaper.
“A few rock musicians would come through… and all summer long we had these concerts which we organized, and as part of the concert we fed people. A lot of kids would drop through with nothing and were on the road and hungry and on weekends they could sleep on the beach and count on getting fed…”00012
Meanwhile, Camden Benares had his own scene going on a few miles south of Monte Rio at Camp Meeker, which consisted of a cluster of summer cabins that had been overrun by hippies. Kerry Thornley joined Camden there in a lifestyle dedicated to hedonism and assorted forms of Discordian debauchery. At the time, Camden was married to his second wife, Melissa, and mate swapping was a common theme at Camp Meeker, as both Camden and Kerry had been into swinging going back to his days with Kerista in the mid-60s. Kerry and Melissa were an item for awhile; Kerry referred to her as “his ambassador to the world.” Another member of the party was a six-foot-two tall lady named Jerry.
During this period, Benares was writing erotica for The San Francisco Ball. Kerry was also a frequent contributor to The Ball, chronicling his opinions in a column called “Erotic Minority Liberation,” a 13-part series where he defended nearly every taboo under the sun, including exhibitionists, voyeurs, fetishists, transvestites, nymphomaniacs, obscene phone callers, animal lovers, and sadomasochists.
Benares was also working on a book project, Zen Without Zen Masters, which was subsequently published in 1977 and, like Illuminatus!, dedicated to the dynamic duo of Thornley and Hill.
Cinema Rio and the Monte Rio Community Center eventually folded in the spring of 1973, largely because Newport and Hill were over-extended financially. But there were other factors, as well, which caused the scene to run its course, namely the dissolution of Greg’s marriage to his wife, Jeanetta. As Newport recalled:
“It would have been a miracle if the marriage had survived. Life at the River was incredibly difficult. I mean it was wild, it was high and it was fun, it was creative… and there was no money, which meant that just trying to scrimp by with a living was hard to do… It was hard for me, too. I mean I had a little income because I had a practice going. But the theatre made no money—that cost us money. All these other activities we had going—none of them made money… So things were incredibly stressful. And when the marriage broke up, Greg became very depressed. And basically about that time, my mentor who lived next door to me, who had been a very interesting old man, who had dropped out as a President of Union Bank, and had come to the River, and had a very interesting Libertarian philosophy… ah, anyhow, he died, Jeanetta left, and pretty much everything collapsed…”00013
Psychedelic experimentation continued coursing through the Discordian bloodstream well into the 1970s. In a December 1974 letter, Newport reported to Greg Hill that “There’s a new psychedelic out – Legal, too, still – Ketamine HCL. Dosage 100mg. By I.M. injection – Cosmic consciousness in 4 min. Lasts 1 hour – 2 additional hours to come back down – Brand names Ketaject & Ketalar – Ask a long-haired doctor for a prescription.”
On November 23, 1976—which just so happens to be a holy Discordian Holiday, both due to the mystical manifestation of the number 23 and because it’s Harpo Marx’s birthday—an Englishman named Kenneth Campbell premiered a ten-hour stage production of Wilson and Shea’s Illuminatus! novel at the Science-Fiction Theatre in Liverpool. In true Discordian fashion, the production consisted of five plays of five acts (according with the Discordian Law of Fives) with each act 23 minutes in duration. As RAW wrote in Cosmic Trigger:
Campbell’s adaptation was totally faithful to this nihilistic spirit and contained long unexpurgated speeches from the novel explaining at sometimes tedious length just why everything the government does is always done wrong. The audiences didn’t mind this pedantic lecturing because it was well integrated into a kaleidoscope of humor, suspense, and plenty of sex (more simulated blow jobs than any drama in history, I believe.)00014
RAW and his co-author Robert Shea traveled to London to attend the production of Illuminatus! According to some accounts, RAW came bearing LSD tabs which he passed out to the cast members before the play commenced. As he recalled:
“The cast dared me to do a walk-on role during the National Theatre run. I agreed and became an extra in the Black Mass, where I was upstaged by the goat, who kept sneezing. Nonetheless, there I was, bare-ass naked, chanting ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law’… and I will never stop wondering how much of that was programmed by [Aleister] Crowley before I was even born.”00015
The following year, a Discordian reunion took place that included RAW and his wife Arlen, Bob Newport and his wife Rita, Louise Lacey and Greg Hill who traveled to Seattle to attend the U.S. performance of the Illuminatus! stage play.
‘Twas a chilly night in Seattle, so someone (who shall remain nameless) produced enough MDMA for one and all (ingested between the second and third acts) which in due time took the chill from the bones of the assembled Discordians—and cranked up the glow surrounding their collective auras—as they sat enraptured, entranced by the spectacle. Louise Lacey recalls the Illuminatus! stage production as a “sublime experience.” As usual, laughter was a common theme. On the plane to Seattle, the group laughed all the way there, and in Seattle they laughed all through the stage play, laughed the rest of the night, and laughed all the way back home….00016
“To follow is the third version of ‘A Legacy of Sex, Death and Charisma’ written by myself and Camden Benares around 1988. The first version was written by Camden and was significantly different, featuring a Marilyn Monroe film festival. Brother Ball was the main protagonist and it featured Fitzgerald Baker in a much different situation. The original story was written in the late Seventies before we had completed the first book of our opus, The Crying Clown Celebration.
We had a much better understanding of our characters after completing The Book of Phillip and our intention was to sell this short story to one of the SF magazines and use it to promote the novel. Unfortunately, it never sold. So there it is 25 years later. I still believe it’s one of the best things we ever wrote.” —John F. Carr, Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, Sept. 2015
A LEGACY OF SEX, DEATH AND CHARISMA
Camden Benares & John F. Carr Copyright 2010 by John F. Carr
Fitzgerald Baker may well have been conceived in an act of erotic terrorism. That was what his mother had told him and it can be verified that Felix Pendragon initiated her into the League of Erotic Terrorists. However, she was also known to sacrifice truth for entertainment in most of what she said. Her story of spitting the ejaculation into a hypodermic and using the needle to perforate her hymen to accomplish a virgin birth was entirely fictional. But Fitz hadn’t come to a lifestyle crisis counselor because his mother was an artist at the whiff riff.
He was thirty-eight years old and had already come to terms with his mother’s reality according to the genealogy chart he handed me:
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
1917 to 1963
Norma Jean Baker
alias N.J. Mortenson
alias Marilyn Monroe
1926 to 1962
Gene Fitzgerald Baker
Born between 1958 & 1961
Assassinated in 2002
(see note #1)
birth date unknown
Assassinated in 2002
(see note #2)
Zach Fitzgerald Baker
2003 to 2052
2033 (?) —
(see notes #3 & #4)
Fitzgerald Felix Baker
The allegation that Gene F. Baker’s parents were J. F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe cannot be proved or disproved.
There is no verifiable background data on Zelda Harrington. Mary Gulik has said that the name was an alias for erotic terrorist Robin Jefferson. Zelda Harrington was pregnant when she disappeared immediately after her husband’s death.
The woman who took the name Mary Gulik was approximately two years old when left at a Daughters of Demeter lodge.
Mary Gulik is an unreliable source of information. She once said, “Relating the mundane truth is a failure of the imagination.”
Baker had made the appointment through my answering service. His actual words as recorded on the thread spool were, “My name is Fitzgerald Baker. I want an appointment with Counselor Wendell as soon as possible. He was recommended to me by Clyde Burbank, my partner in the architectural firm of Burbank and Baker. Prior to my appointment, I wish for Counselor Wendell to see the head thread, The Crying Clown Rites. Any expenses in connection with the viewing may be charged to my account.”
As I was waiting for him to arrive, sitting at my console watching the movements of a free fall mime troupe on the holly, the control panel emitted a low chime and showed the flashing light that indicated a visitor had entered the foyer. I punched two buttons on the keyboard. The mime troupe was instantly replaced by the three-dimensional image of a tall, youthful-looking man wearing a sheen suit of metallic blue and gold that fit smoothly over his well-muscled frame.
As he came closer, I looked for signs of strain on the face framed by shingle-cut, shoulder length, chestnut brown hair. When his face was nearer the camera, red fatigue lines showed around the blue irises of his eyes. Beneath the straight nose there was a full moustache that partially obscured the set line of his mouth. The movements he made as he reached into his pocket showed that he was under a strain and putting effort into controlling it.
His hand emerged from his pocket with a key card which he held against the scanner. I looked at it on the monitor and read:
Fitzgerald Felix Baker
I pressed the control that opened the first set of doors. Fitz went through them, waited for them to close and then stepped through the second door when I punched the release. His first words on entering my office were: “Clyde Burbank recommends you highly. Your success in handling his success crisis was very effective. He thinks you can help me with my problems.”
“Sit down and tell me about them.”
He handed me his genealogy chart and asked, “Have you seen The Crying Clown Rites?”
“Yes. I have a copy here which we can view on the holly if that is desirable.”
“No. I don’t want to see it again. That’s why I asked you to see it before this appointment. Take a look at the chart I gave you and you’ll know almost as much about my origins as I do. Then we’ll get into my present problems.”
I scanned the chart, then read it quickly, finding no connection at least, no apparent connection between it and the thread that detailed the rites of passage into manhood within an obscure, macho enclave.
When I looked up, Fitz said, “As you’ve just read, my background connects me to the old Kennedy clan. That chart doesn’t show the aunts, uncles and cousins whose lives ended by assassination, suicide or disappearance. I don’t know whether I’m going to live long enough to develop a satisfactory lifestyle or not.”
“Do you think that someone is trying to kill you?”
“I don’t know. Lately, I’ve had the feeling several times that I was being monitored.”
“Have you considered hiring a security service?”
“Yes, but I don’t want to do that if there are any good alternatives. I would hate to be imprisoned by my own ancestry.”
“Have there been attempts on your life in the past? You could be being monitored for some other reason than assassination.”
“There haven’t been any attempts in the past several years, but before then there were two definite attempts and some close calls in near accidents that could have been planned by an unknown group or individual. That may sound paranoid to you. Let me show you that if it is paranoia, it has a solid foundation.”
Fitz pulled open the presfast at the top of his suit and showed me a scar that looked like a laser gun crease, dark, puckered skin next to a gold medallion on a chain. Then he said, “That scar was made by an assassin at a political rally on the University of California Berkeley campus. She escaped in the crowd and was never captured or identified. I gave up my political science major, transferred to UCLA and became an architect.”
Fitz seemed lost in memories for a minute. I asked, “What’s the significance of that talisman around your neck?”
He pulled the metal and chain over his head and handed it to me. It looked and felt like gold. The lines of the design were worn but recognizable as a boat. Sunken letters on the back spelled out Kennedy. Fitz said, “My mother told me that it is a replica of the boat my great-grandfather commanded during Hitler’s war. She said that he gave it to Marilyn Monroe and it’s been in our branch of the family ever since.”
“Let’s get back to your present problems and why you wanted me to see The Crying Clown Rites.”
“I wanted you to know a little about my background so you can understand how seriously that head thread affected me. In the thrill kill scene, I saw the hunters as all the assassins lurking around my family tree and I identified with the victim. Maybe I should have left then, but I stayed. When they got to the actual initiation rites and one initiate said, ‘I don’t have to go through this: I can die,’ and then tries to commit suicide by holding his breath. That’s when I ran out of the theater, vomited in the street, again in the vault station lav and for a third time when I got home.”
“What did you do then?”
“I took an Oblivion Blue. When I woke up, I made the appointment with you.”
“Do you have any problems in your business life?”
“Only an increasing feeling of encroaching boredom across the entire spectrum of architecture.”
“Nothing enduring. I find casual encounters adequate to meet my present needs.”
“What is your domestic situation?”
“I live alone.”
“Would you describe yourself as lonely?”
“Not exactly. There are people and activities in my life, but not enough meaning, not enough significance. I’m tired of transient personalities, throwaway relationships and plug-in lifestyles. By objective standards I’m successful, but I’m almost middle aged and bored with the future I see for me. The Crying Clown Rites was the input that caused an overload. Not only did I feel that I had missed something, failed to complete my personal rites of personhood, but I found myself simultaneously worried about assassination and suicide. I don’t know if I’m going to live long enough to come to terms with my own death wish.”
Fitz was showing signs of agitation which meant to me that I should bring this session to a close. I asked, “Do you have any religious or ethical prohibitions concerning suicide?”
“No. I’ve never been captured by any ideology that emphasized negatives and prohibitions.”
“Then the next step in resolving your crisis is to discover whether you wish to live or die. I’ll need a diagnostic analysis and your approval of the procedures.”
“I don’t give a damn about the procedures. I’m very interested in the answer to that question. What do I do and when do we start?”
“Take off your clothes and step into the diagnostic analyzer.”
Fitz shed his sheen suit and entered the white cubical. I keyed in the program for maximum information. In a few minutes I would have a complete medical file on Fitzgerald Baker.
When Fitz emerged dressed from the cleanser, I said, “It will take about three days to make preparations. Can you be here at eleven hundred on Friday?”
Fitz confirmed the appointment and left. I fed the thread I’d made of the session into the computer for stress analysis, punched in a request for full information on John Fitzgerald Kennedy and began to plan the next session with Fitz.
At the end of my working day, I sat down at the console to clear my head for the evening’s activities. I lit the candle in the custom holder, watched it as it flickered. The sensor in the rim of the holder used the heat as energy to push the candle higher each time the flame dipped below the rim. I punched the key for the candle exercise thread and concentrated on the candle flame as my own voice at random intervals asked me, “Where are you?”
When I reached the right space, I left the office, and Fitz’s problems with it, until the next day.
All my preparations were complete when Fitz arrived promptly at eleven hundred on Friday. I ushered him into the green room and asked, “Have you ever experienced pharmodrama?”
“No. My only knowledge of it comes from the holly.”
“I want to explain a little about it so that you will focus on the experience instead of on the techniques used to produce it. Basically, pharmodrama uses pharmaceuticals and technology in combination to create a drama in which you will be the central character. The drug mixture that I’ll give you is adjusted for your chemistry. The drama will take place while we’re sitting in these recliners with the sensor skullcaps on.
Fitz interrupted to ask, “Will we both be having the same experience?”
“Not exactly. You are going to be the star; I’m going to see the same scenes but I will tuned in to your reactions to the experience.”
“Is this going to tell you whether I wish to live or die?”
“It’s going to tell both of us.”
“Good, what else do I need to know before we start?”
“When the drugs begin taking effect, you will become aware of everything that you think of as you slipping away and may be somewhat surprised to discover that you still exist when all that represents you to you is gone. As soon as your reactions to that state stabilize, an identity thread will be fed into your brain via the skull cap to create the temporary persona that you will be for the drama.
“I’ll be outside of your own awareness but tuned into everything that, you experience, ready to handle any problems if there are any.”
Fitz said, “I’m ready.” He sat down in the recliner. I injected the drug mixture into him, adjusted the controls so that only I could read the monitor output and waited for the temporary chemical dissolution of the facade that Fitz presented to the world.
When the readout confirmed that Fitz was ready, I fed the identity thread into his skullcap. As soon as positive pickup registered, I took the maximum dose of Empathy Plus for someone with my metabolism and empathy quotient and waited.
As the Empathy Plus coursed through my blood stream, I could feel my own personality receding, enabling me to identify with the star of the drama I was recreating, a drama based on some of the known facts in an historical event. I put on my skullcap and verified that I could detect and empathize with the thoughts and feelings of my client, who now believed that his name is John Fitzgerald Kennedy and that he is the thirty-fifth president of the United States.
The drama began with the voice of a reporter coming directly into our brains, a voice with most of the regional accent lost through announcer’s training but the rhythm of the speech was definitely American Southwest and the hint of a Texas drawl hovered over the words like a hummingbird checking out a flowering plant. At some deep level I knew it was the voice of an actor hired by me to record the message he was delivering, but within the pharmodrama framework, I was hearing it as Fitz heard it as an announcer’s voice coming out of the open-topped vehicle’s radio, saying, “For those of you who just tuned in, November 22, 1963 is a pleasant day here in Dallas, just right for a presidential motorcade. I’m here at Dealey Plaza and according to the schedule I was given, President Kennedy should be coming into sight any moment now.”
The laser beam scanner transferred my client’s thoughts via computer into my skullcap as input, thoughts that became mine as my own personality submerged and I became the pseudo John Fitzgerald Kennedy:
I was waving to the crowds, hearing them cheering, hoping that the presence of Governor John Connally and his wife in the car would help convince skeptics that I had patched up the differences between conservative and liberal factions of the Texas Democratic Party.
With the facsimile of excitement in his voice, the announcer said, “Here comes the lead motorcycles turning onto Elm Street. There is the presidential limousine now, a blue Lincoln coming this way. The President is waving to the crowds who seem very excited. The President’s wife is sitting beside him. Just in front of them, in the seat behind the driver are Texas Governor Connally and his wife. I’ve never seen the people of Dallas give anyone a more enthusiastic reception.”
Mrs. Connally turned toward me from the forward seat and smilingly said, “You can’t say the people of Dallas don’t love you, Mr. President.” As I started to smile at her in reply, there was a loud noise. I seemed to be riding the crest of a shockwave.
What’s happening? I can’t think straight. Did I have too much to drink? Never liked heavy drinking parties anyway. Remember Charley at Harvard. Always lushing it up, especially after midterms. I remember his favorite toast:
Drink it up!
Drink it up!
Drink it up!
If you die young,
What’s the diff?
The coeds will say,
As they lay you away,
“That’s a good-looking stiff.”
The shockwave hit me again. It’s that Japanese destroyer. It’s run into our starboard side. The wheel is being torn out of my grasp. My back just hit the rear of the cockpit. Somebody is saying something, but I can’t understand it. It’s Johnston saying to someone who’s moaning, “Aw, shut up. You can’t die. Only the good die young.”
That’s right, Johnston, you tell them. I can’t die now. I’m still in my twenties. Only the good die young. Like my brother Joe. Joe was good. His death made me resolve to do better. Wait a minute. Joe died in 1944 and I was on Olasana Island with Johnston in 1943. What’s going on? Time and space are closing in together. There’s blood all over Jackie’s pink suit and I hear that voice again.
The announcer’s voice continued, “Those loud noises were shots. I can’t tell whether the President has been hit or not. He’s leaning forward and his wife is bending over him as the car continues down the hill. I think that Governor Connally has been hit. It looks like he was driven downward to the floor of the car. Did you hear that noise? That was another shot.”
Last effort to make sense of this. Got to clear my head. Someone is yelling something about Parkland Hospital. I can take it all in now, all of it. That’s blood on Jackie’s suit. The crowd seems to be running in different directions, screaming, yelling and pointing. What are those People doing? They’re picking up bits of bloody bone. One has a handkerchief. It’s like with Dillinger. They’re souvenir hunters. Where’s that bone from? Is it Connally’s? He’s slumped down and looks bad. But the hair’s wrong. John’s hair doesn’t have that much color. Could it be colored by the blood? Could blood make it look that color of reddish brown? The car is going faster now and I can’t see many details. I’ve got to make sense out of all of this. The wind noise is taking all, the sounds away. I can’t understand what is being said. I can’t feel the air hitting me in the face anymore. Everything has a pink tinge to it. Am I looking at Jackie’s suit or is that blood in my eye? I can feel the pain building into another wave. It’s headed my way. Got to figure out some way to stop it. Feels like it’s going to be as bad as that pain in my back. Oh God, I understand it now, but I’m not ready. I’m only forty-six and I’m dying young.”
With learned mental effort I wrenched my own personality free from the consciousness of the pseudo John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Rapidly I phased out all the input to Fitz Baker and replaced the Dallas assassination reconstruction thread with the personality recovery program that would leave the, memory of the pharmodrama intact. While the monitor gave me visual indications that Fitz was re-becoming himself, I paid attention to my breathing, calming the intense emotional experience with concentration on the repetition of the inhalation crest and the exhalation trough.
Once the disconnection procedure was complete, Fitz, still seated in the recliner, looked toward me and said, “I want to live. I really want to live, don’t I?”
“There is no doubt in my mind. Is there any in yours?”
“No. I was him but the feelings about premature death were all mine. Do you think he felt as I did? Is it possible that our internal experience was the same?”
“It may have been, but there is no known reliable method of chronicling the unrecorded thoughts of the dead. Some of the religious groups are exploring that territory. Of course, very little of their data can be verified because of its subjective nature. Is knowing what he thought as he was dying important to you?”
“I don’t know yet. I haven’t quite recovered from the identification with him in the pharmodrama. I think I’ll go to Arlington, where he’s buried, this year and say a final goodbye to him on the anniversary of his death. Then I’ll be able to let him rest in peace, maybe we both will.”
Fitz resting in peace had an ominous connotation, reminding me of his fears of being monitored for the purpose of assassination. I said, “You might have more peace of mind if you called Max Security and have them check whether or not you’ve been monitored lately and if you have, by whom and for what purpose.”
“Is that a professional recommendation?”
“I’d recommend the same procedure to a friend.”
“Okay, I’ll do it. What else?”
“I’d like to see you again on Monday. By that time you should have the Max Security report. Why don’t we meet for brunch at the Egg Keg around 10:30? You know where it is?”
“I walked past it on my way here from the vault station. I’ll see you on Monday.”
Fitz got up from the recliner and left. That was a reassuring sign. An intense pharmodrama experience like he had just undergone tends to immobilize some of the crisis prone for up to forty-eight hours.
On Monday, Fitz was in the anteroom of the Egg Keg when I arrived. I turned on my ever present pocket recorder before he said his first words to me, which were, “I got the Max Security report: I was being monitored about ten days ago.”
“The government. According to the report, I’m one of the architects being considered for a government project. That is a waste of time and effort on their part. I would never attempt to do creative work for a bureaucracy. It would drive me bureau crazy.”
We went into the restaurant, showed our key cards to the scanner, punched out our orders on the menu terminals and, in a few minutes were eating our omelets, mine with truffles and Fitz’s with mushrooms, and drinking light draft beer from chilled crystal mugs. When we were finished, I asked Fitz if he were willing to vault somewhere else for coffee. (A small minority of humans get nauseous from teleporting on a full stomach. Fitz was evidently not one of them.)
“Do you have a particular place you prefer?” asked Fitz.
“The coffee bar in the pyramound at Calm Springs, if that’s acceptable to you.”
“Of course it’s all right with me. Clyde was certain that you would make yourself familiar with my work as part of the counseling, but then my partner is right about most things. I imagine that we’ll talk about architecture over coffee. I’m ready.”
We left the Egg Keg and began walking toward the vault station, two affluent members of a mobile society where only a minority lived at the misery level. The combination of structural glass and spring sunlight along our route occasionally flashed our reflections back at us two men matching their walking pace to each other, Fitz a few centimeters taller than me, his prominent Adam’s apple and depilated chin contrasting with my full, short, black beard, his copper-colored sheen suit harmonizing with my rust jump suit. Both of our minds were on the same subject. That was confirmed when Fitz asked, “Did my partner tell you why he decided to become an architect.”
“No. He mentioned that his family encouraged him.”
“It was something that his grandfather told him. Clyde asked his grandfather why he had moved to California. The old man told him, ‘I was born in New York. My parents were born in New York. All four of my grandparents were born in New York. When my son was born, also in New York, I couldn’t wait for him to get old enough to appreciate his cultural heritage. By the time he was, we were living in a new building on the other side of the city. I took him back to the old neighborhood to give him an appreciation of the past. All of the buildings were gone, replaced by newer ones. Not a single place where any member of our family ever lived before was still standing. What heritage was there to share? None. I talked it over with your grandmother and your father and we decided to come to California. After we’d been here for a few years, I saw the same thing happening here, new buildings for old. By this time your father had frequently demonstrated a talent for taking things apart, so I encouraged him to go into the demolition business, but you shouldn’t go into your father’s business, Clyde. You are creative. You should create buildings that will last long enough for your grandchildren to see them.’ So Clyde Burbank became an architect.”
“You remember that story well. Can you tell me what made it important to you?”
We walked about another thirty meters before Fitz ended his frown of concentration and said, “I never met either of my grandfathers and I never got that kind of advice. I became an architect by a different path but with the same kind of spirit that Clyde’s grandfather inspired in him. That’s what the study of architecture created in me. That’s probably what Clyde recognized in my designs that caused him to ask me to become his partner.”
The vault station was just ahead of us. As we entered an assorted party of six, all wearing the faddish after-midnight makeup of Chinese red, emerged, talking about a festival that they had evidently attended in Hong Kong. They headed for the cleansers as Fitz and I went to the terminals, thumb pressed our key cards to the scanners, punched in our destination, and went to our respective booths.
Inside the darkened cubicle, I felt the sensations that teleportation always induces in me: the bubbling of my blood through my veins and arteries as if champagne were circulating in my body, the tingling of my skin as my brain recorded the feeling of thousands of small brushes gently stimulating the surface that connected me to the rest of the world, the lightless flash as I was transported via the energy force lines of the Earth to the foothills of the San Bernardino mountains.
I emerged from a similar cubical into the Calm Springs vault station, which differed from every other vault station only in its signs. Automatically, although if I had thought about it I would have realized that I hadn’t changed time zones, I checked my watch against the clock showing local time.
Fitz, having, of course, arrived at the same time, saw me look at my watch and said, “Local time is 11:48.” As far as I could tell he hadn’t glanced at the clock and he wasn’t wearing a visible watch. I asked, “What told you the correct time?”
“It’s one of my tricks. I always know what time it is wherever I am.”
“How did you learn that?”
“I’ve always had that ability.”
“Can you teach it to me?”
“I don’t know how to teach it to anyone, but if I ever learn how it’s done, I’ll tell you.”
As we left the vault station I saw the pyramound about two kilometers away. I had seen it before but saw it with new eyes now that I was standing beside the man who designed it. The hemispherical top was the mound that collected the maximum solar energy for utilization in the modules below which were assembled in the form of an inverted pyramid. Each outside corner was supported by a tubular structure that housed both a lift and a baffled gravity drop which could be used for humans and equipment.
The structure was visually appealing and blended harmoniously with the nearby foothills and mountains. With unspoken agreement Fitz and I boarded the tram that ran from the vault station to the building. Moving closer to the pyramound changed the visual, but not the mental, perspective from which I viewed it.
Fitz was looking off into the distance, perhaps at the tops of the mountains. I got his attention by saying, “I compliment you on your achievement.”
“Thank you. It’s one of my better efforts.”
“It looks like it was specifically designed for this spot, was it?”
“Yes, this was where the dowser found the water, using a bent coat hanger as an indicator.”
As we neared the first of the lift/drop tubes, I asked Fitz if he had invented the concept. He said, “Oh, no. The design of powered lifts and gravity drops have both been around for a while. I just modified them for the pyramound. When the techies were responsible for most architectural design, what John Brunner called ‘shitabrick phase architecture,’ there were no gravity drops, which meant that a power failure created instant disaster for the people but no damage to the building it was the same kind of ignorance in action that produced the neutron bomb and a history of human warfare.”
Proceeding to the terrace, Fitz and I continued our discussion. While getting coffee from the automatic dispenser, Fitz asked, “Can you name one architect from the last century who has an admired work still standing now?”
“Right. Can you name one of his works that you’ve seen?”
“The Swedenborg glass chapel at Portuguese Bend.”
“You are hereby awarded two points, would you like to try for four?”
“No, I’d rather concede that most of twentieth century architecture was uninspired and not well adapted to human needs and values.”
We took our coffee cups to a nearby table with a view of the mountains. I mentally reviewed what Fitz had said previously about architecture before speaking again.
“You mentioned at our first meeting that you were bored with architecture. Would you like to expand on that thought?”
“I’ve established myself as an architect. I’m not plugged into any energy drains that require me to work and I’ve accomplished the architectural goals that I set for myself. This building, with its replaceable modules, will probably survive longer than I will. What architect could ask for more in a world where change seems to be the major constant? I could. I wanted to create a building that would be an artistic tribute to those changes, an edifice to edify humanity, a temple of humanity. Do you know the project that I’m telling about?”
“Yes, your design of the Pantheon of Prophets. It’s a great achievement.”
“I’ve completed it. It’s opening next week and I’m so bored with the entire project that I’ve been looking for some excuse to avoid attending the dedication. Do you know what most architects are working on now? Huburbs. That’s like reinventing the wheel. Of course each one is different, but every one has the hub center which usually is a vault station. Every one has a variety of structures in the spokes and rim. Some of them make interesting or practical use of the space between the spokes. The only major question of design is what style: Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Persian, Greek, Roman, medieval, renaissance, academic, baroque, functionalism, technic or some combination of any number. If I had to devote the rest of my life to that kind of work I would feel empty. I don’t intend to suffer that kind of professional deformation.”
“I understand what you mean.”
“Perhaps you do vicariously, but what would you do if you were experiencing a lifestyle crisis? Go to another lifestyle crisis counselor or handle it yourself? Do counselors have the same kind of crises as other people?”
“Some of them do, but the two main occupational hazards are suicide and insanity, the traditional refuges from inescapable reality.”
Fitz finished his coffee in a final swallow before asking, “If you felt near an overload now, what would you do?”
“Meditate, exercise or vault to a place where I could change my head around.”
“Let’s go to one of those places, one with a minimum of architecture.”
We took the tram back to the station, vaulted to Pasadena and walked to the Western Zen Gardens, where there were cacti, rocks and sand enclosed within a perimeter of trees that blocked all buildings from view. A carved wooden plaque, beside the gate read:
The sound of Zen is the sound of rain.
The taste of Zen is the taste of tea.
The feel of Zen is the feel of the wind.
The smell of Zen is the smell of the sea.
Fitz and I walked quietly through the garden until we came to the arced mound where an assorted group of people were sitting cross-legged on the ridge, some of them meditating, others watching the Zen Shaman as he raked gently flowing curves in the sand. When the Shaman finished, he turned to the seated gathering and said, “I feel that it is question and answer time. Any of you may ask any question. I will answer it to my own satisfaction which may not be the satisfactory answer for you. Bear in mind that I speak for no one but myself and that I am not here to debate philosophical or theological points. Who has a question?”
A serious looking young man, halfway between puberty and full physical growth, asked, “How can I atone for original sin?”
The Shaman replied, “There is no original sin and therefore no atonement is required. All of us are born without sin, living Buddha’s full of Zen.”
A balding man in expensive clothes asked, “Why does the quality of life seem to decrease as I grow older?”
“Welcome to the here and now,” said the Shaman. “Everything that you have experienced has been necessary to get you to where you now are. If you think that you have ever been in a better place, stop looking backwards and face the direction in which you are going.”
The balding man responded with, “What will you do if someone asks you a question you can’t answer?”
With no show of surprise, the Zen Shaman answered, “In Zen Buddhism there is a device known as a koan, which is a paradox or seemingly unanswerable question, used for meditation. If I am asked such a question, I shall use it as a koan.”
An attractive brown-skinned woman of less than thirty years asked, “How can I resolve problems of morality?”
“Any code of morality is formed by abstracting from nature and creating a guide to behavior. Such guides are useful to many people, but they become unpleasant tools if they are used to attempt to control the behavior of others. Your morals are for you alone. If they require the belief of others, they will frequently conflict with the reality you experience. Never let your sense of morals prevent, you from doing what you perceive as right.”
A robed figure of indeterminate age and sex asked, “What makes you think you have all the answers?”
Looking toward the speaker, the Shaman replied, “I don’t have all the answers because there are many more answers than questions. For instance, the question, ‘Where have you been?’ has an incredible variety of possible answers from any one person. The answer to the query, ‘What am I seeking?’ differs from individual to individual. The person who has an answer for every question doesn’t have to know all the answers.”
A middle aged woman asked, “What is Zen and what is its purpose?”
The Shaman replied, “Zen is the radical approach to clarifying and liberating consciousness, a way to help create the experience of Buddha that state of enlightenment in which you and your actions are one.”
Fitz got the Shaman’s attention and asked, “Do you believe in any god?”
“I believe in a cosmic consciousness that could be defined as a deity, but belief in a god is not necessarily essential to becoming one with your experience unless you want a personal relationship with a god.”
A restless prepube with shoulder-length hair as black as mine asked, “What is the secret of Zen?”
“Zen has no secrets,” said the Shaman. “Are there-any other questions?”
No one responded, The Shaman, inclined his head toward the gathering, said, “You are the Buddha,” picked up his rake and walked down the garden path. Some of the people remained, but others began to leave, Fitz and I, by unspoken agreement, among them.
Just before we reached the gate posts from which no gate had ever hung, Fitz stopped to read the haiku-type poem there:
With nothing to do,
Liberation’s journey begins
With nowhere to go.
I waited patiently while Fitz pondered that paradox for several minutes. When he had stood there longer than necessary to commit the three lines to memory, he turned to me and said, “I’m going to attend the dedication ceremony for the Pantheon of Prophets. Then I’m going to stop designing buildings, maybe just for a while, maybe for the rest of my life. I’ve concentrated on my profession and neglected my own spiritual development in the process. It’s time for me to take a sabbatical.”
“Call me if you need additional counseling, or even if you don’t. I’d like to know where your journey takes you.”
Fitz agreed to do so. Then we came to the vault station and went our separate ways, for a while.
According to John F. Carr, the following list of Discordian Holidays were part of a non-fiction work entitled How to Have Fun and Be Happy that Camden Benares wrote sensing a strong need for such a work.
Unfortunately, his agent was never able to sell it.
Fun Friday occurs four times each year. In any month that has five Fridays, the fifth Friday is Fun Friday, the symbolic anniversary of the day that Eris decided everyone should have more fun. This holiday is celebrated by doing anything that creates more fun for all.
1-1, Bogey’s Day
This anniversary of the birthday of Humphrey Bogart is celebrated by watching any of the 75 films in which he appeared.
1-5, Carioca Lodge Day
This is the anniversary of the founding of the Discordian Carioca Lodge in Rio de Janiero by the Portuguese Camho family and the Chinese Ho family. It is celebrated by eating Portuguese, Chinese, and Brazilian food, listening to Brazilian music, and watching Brazilian movies.
1-15, St. Afrodite’s Day
This is the day Discordians remember Aphrodite, the Greek goddess who became a Discordian saint when she transformed herself into the black beauty known as St. Afrodite. Celebrations usually include eating soul food and listening to rhythm and blues.
1-23, St. Bobcat’s Day
This is a celebration of the birthday of the son of Fred C. Dobbs and Sara Modrey, the famous Texan Discordian Robert Catman Dobbs, also known as St. Bobcat and the Dealey Lama. St. Bobcat devoted much of his life to aiding unfortunates who joined the Sub Dude cult. Discordians celebrate by saying hello to people named Bob and petting cats.
1-25, Liter Label Lark Day
The repackaging of alcoholic beverages according to the metric system was a Discordian project intended to prevent people from considering consumption of a fifth of liquor to be catma. Discordians who consume alcohol celebrate this day by having one drink. Discordians who don’t consume alcohol celebrate this day with a drink of golden apple juice.
2-2, Renew Old Acquaintances Day
Discordians celebrate this day by sending greeting cards to old acquaintances they haven’t been in touch with lately.
2-5, Dadanova Day
Dadanova is the famous Discordian art movement. The day is celebrated by creating and sharing art.
2-14, St. Heat’s Day
In remembrance of the great love that Valentine Heart and Valentina Heart had for each other, Discordians spend time having fun with those they love.
2-15, Lupercalia Transmogrified
Lupercalia is an ancient Roman holiday concerned with sex and abundance. Discordians are encouraged to develop their own rituals and ceremonies for this holiday.
2-23, Didyme’s Day
This holiday is in memory of the Dogon-Greek oracle who read tarot cards for Eris. Appropriate ceremonies are those which forecast the future or demystify the present. The following poem by Didyme Thelema’s lover, Asklepiades, is usually read aloud:
Didyme plunders me with her beauty.
When I look at her I am wax over fire.
If she’s black, what of it? So are coals.
When kindled, they glow like blooming roses.
3-3, Pass Day
This is the day Discordians pass on the things they don’t want. Special celebrations are held in Pasadena, Pascagoula, Pashkovo, Passaic, and Passo Fundo. Some Discordians pass out free cards which read:
F R E E P A S S
THIS PASS ENTITLES THE BEARER TO PASS BY ANY OPTIONAL OPPORTUNITIES AT ANY TIME. GOOD FOREVER OR UNTIL NEXT TUESDAY, WHICHEVER COMES FIRST. COURTESY OF THE DISCORDIAN SOCIETY.
3-5, Self-Esteem Day
On this day any Discordian may award herself or himself any honor, degree, or title that seems appropriate.
3-15, Turkey Vulture Day
Discordians celebrate this day by facing toward Hinckley, Ohio, where the turkey vultures roost, and by listening to Simon and Garfunkel’s recording of “El Condor Pasa.”
3-17, Rex Saxonda Film Day
Discordians celebrate by brushing the film off their teeth and watching any motion picture film. Rex believed that every film had value regardless of content.
3-19, St. Swallow’s Day
This is the time for remembrance of St. Swallow who spent years breeding swallows with homing pigeons. The faithful face Capistrano and swallow five times. There is no requirement as to what is to be swallowed. Some skeptics believe that people who celebrate this day will swallow almost anything.
4-4, Square Day
Discordians celebrate this day by finding fun in the ordinary. Square dancing to Steve Allen’s “Very Square Dance” is encouraged. At least five minutes of television should be watched as part of the celebration.
4-5, Be Kind To Tourists Day
Discordians celebrate this day with random acts of kindness to tourists. Those who find this difficult to do can go some place out of town and pretend to be tourists.
4-15, Break Day
This is the day all Discordians recognize their value and give themselves a well deserved break.
4-29, Duke’s Day
This is Duke Ellington’s birthday, celebrated by listening to, singing along with, or dancing to the music of this American master of music.
5-1, Adam Weishaupt’s Day
This day is the anniversary of Adam Weishaupt’s founding of the Bavarian Illuminati, rumored to be a front organization for promoting Discordianism. Discordians celebrate by eating Bavarian cake and watching traffic until five autos from the Bavarian Motor Works (BMW) pass.
5-5, St Gulik’s Day
St. Harvey Gulik, Guardian of the Gentle and Protector of the Harmlessly Weird Ones, is honored on this day. St. Gulik’s familiar was the rabbit so eating a rabbit made from chocolate candy is an appropriate act. Watching the motion picture Harvey, inspired by St. Gulik, is considered an act of devotion.
5-15, Tree Day
Discordian celebrate this day by planting a tree, thinking of five apple trees, or thinking of one apple tree five times.
5-23, Buddha’s Birthday
Although the evidence that Buddha was a Discordian is circumstantial and anecdotal, Discordians celebrate Buddha’s birthday by saying “Happy Birthday, Bud.” Discordians who are especially devout read aloud from Discordian Zen Buddhist texts such as Zen Without Zen Masters, A Handful of Zen, and Riding Buddha’s Bicycle.
5-25, Creation Day
This is the anniversary of the Erisian creation of all chaos. Discordians celebrate this day by chanting the Discordian Taoist truth:
“Creation and creator are one; there is no creator separate from creation.”
6-5, Golden Apple Day
This is the day when each Discordian is entitled to award herself or himself the Golden Apple Achievement Award for outstanding achievement in Discordianism.
6-6, St. Helen’s Day
This is the day that St. Helen of Troy is honored. She apologized to Eris for her unintentional part in the Trojan War and became a Discordian. When last heard from, the reincarnated Helen was working as a waitress at Ships Coffee House where it was said that she had the hips that brought a thousand tips.
6-15, Liberation Day
On this day Discordians remind themselves that their lives are much better since they considered themselves liberated.
6-23, Unknown Saints Day
Since all Discordians are considered saints according to the holy writings of Omar and Malaclypse, this day honors all the Discordians whose names are unknown.
6-25, Know Saints Day
On this day, Discordians honor the other four categories of Discordian saints: living saints, dead saints, fictional saints, and imaginary saints.
7-4, Hodge Podge Lodge Day
This is a celebration of the founding of the first American Discordian lodge by Adam Weishaupt after he fled Bavaria and came to America where he initiated George Washington and later impersonated him. Johnny Appleseed was also initiated by Adam in this lodge. The celebration consists of eating an apple while looking for Discordian symbolism on a one dollar bill.
7-5, Freedom Day
This is the day Discordians celebrate being free of the religious dogma that clogs the pathways of so many brains.
7-7, Mirror Compliment Day
On this day, Discordians look into their mirrors and compliment the mirrors on having the good taste of having such a wonderful, fun-loving owner.
7-14, St. Merde’s Day
This is the day Discordians congratulate themselves on turning the crap of their lives into fertilizer.
7-23, Jack Slack’s Day
Jack Slack is honored this day for his work in guru liberation, liberating gurus from their mistaken beliefs that they are channels for liberation.
8-5, St. Otis the Elevated’s Day
On this day Discordians celebrate the elevation of St. Otis by riding in an Otis elevator.
8-8, St. Pythagoras’s Day
St. Pythagoras was fascinated by the number eight. On this day Discordians do eight things that bring more fun for everyone.
8-15, Theatre Night
On this night, Discordians gather at 8:15 before any theatre that has an 8:30 curtain time and entertain those patrons standing in line until they are admitted.
8-23, Nancy Fancymanner’s Birthday
Nancy is remembered by her great contribution to Discordian style. She was the one who said, “Acquiring Discordian style is a matter of individual chaotic subtlety while being fashionable or trendy is merely a willingness to follow herd instinct.”
8-30, St. Scrivener’s Day
On this day Discordian writers are honored by other Discordians who read aloud from published works.
9-9, Eris’s Birthday
Discordians celebrate Eris’s birthday on this date because no one is certain what the correct day is. Greek food and golden apples are usually served.
9-17, Emperor Norton’s Day
This is the anniversary of the day in 1859 that San Francisco Discordian Joshua Abraham Norton issued a proclamation declaring himself Emperor of the United States. Discordians celebrate by reading aloud the Emperor’s proclamation which is reprinted here.
At the peremptory request of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now, for the past nine years and ten months of San Francisco, California declare and proclaim myself Emperor of the United States, and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in the Musical Hall of this city on the first day of February next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad in our stability and integrity. Norton I, Emperor of the United States
9-23, Dog Star Day
On this day, Discordians celebrate the existence of Sirius, the Dog Star, legendary home of the Nommos, space travelers who visited this planet before the Trojan War. This holiday may be celebrated in five ways:
Eating a hot dog
Looking at a dogwood tree
Singing any song with dog in the lyrics
Petting a dog
Telling shaggy dog stories
9-25, Erotic Terrorism Prevention Day
This day marks the founding of the Erotic Terrorism Protection League by Felix Pendragon. Erotic terrorism is defined as activity related to sex for the purpose of scaring one or more bystanders or observers. On this day Discordians expand their knowledge of sex to protect themselves from erotic terrorism. One method is to read the following poem by Felix Pendragon:
THE ABC’S OF EROTIC TERRORISM PROTECTION
Autoeroticism is sex for one.
Brothels charge money for all sexual fun.
Condoms for safe sex are a must.
Dirty pictures show people in lust.
Exhibitionism is showing it all.
Fetishism is weirdness having a ball.
Genital identification is hard to fake.
Hedonism is sex for pleasure’s sake.
Inhibition is what you can lose.
Jailbait is someone too young to choose.
Kinky people to strange sex aspire.
Libido is a name for sexual desire.
Masturbation remains the safest sex play.
Narcissists love themselves in every way.
Obscenity is in the mind of the beholder.
Puberty comes as a child grows older.
Quckie is sex done in a hurry.
Randy is horny to the point of worry.
Satyr is a male who can’t say no.
Tart is a female ready to go.
Uprighters have sex while they stand.
Voyeurs think sex watching is grand.
Yodeling is much more oral than not.
Zoophiles find animals make them hot.
9-30, Kokomo Dragonland’s Day
This day honors Kokomo Dragonlady, the Indian from Indiana, who promotes the safest sex through her mail order organization, Sex Without Partners. Kokomo claims to be a spiritual and perhaps a physical descendent of Johnny Appleseed. She requests that on this day Discordians plant their seeds in her name.
10-5, Inexpensive Gift Day
On this day devout Discordians show self-appreciation by giving themselves an inexpensive gift.
10-10, Hildegarde’s Night
Bewitching Hildegarde was famous for her on-campus tricks, usually performed at night. Discordians tell stories of the sexual escapades of Hildegarde who was famous on ten campuses and captured the heart of Georgia Tech’s most famous student, George P. Burdette.
10-23, Hugo Troy Tutlege, Jr.’s Birthday
Gift’s are optional on this day because Hugo is the richest Discordian in the world. He is honored for financing the liquor liter label lark, the Discordian Street Theater Extravaganza, the Discordian Players Group Spectacular, and the Weird Oral History Organization (WOHO). In person, Hugo is elusive and a bit of a loner. There is no record of him ever having been seen by two people at the same time. The most common thing said about Hugo is, “Hugo was here. He just left.” This day may not be Hugo’s actual birthday but is derived from his favorite verse of his favorite song, “Chisholm Trail,” namely:
I started up the trail October twenty third
And I throwed my rope in a big cow turd.
Come a ti yi youpy, youpy yea, youpy yea
Come a ti yi youpy, youpy yea.
10-31, Discordian Saints Day
Most Discordians use the day to honor their favorite Discordian saints, including themselves.
11-5, Motion Picture Day
This is the day that Discordians look for both obvious and subtle references to Discordianism in any film they watch.
11-11, St. Yossarian’s Day
Since eleven plus eleven equals twenty two, Yossarian, the military navigator in the book Catch-22 and the film of the same title is honored on this day. When Yossarian realized that war was crazy and that being in a war was driving him insane he became the Discordian Saint of Military Intelligence. Discordians remind themselves on this day that any civilian outranks all military personnel.
11-23, Romance Day
Discordians on this day think romantic thoughts and recall the famous romantic marriage of Zelda Harrington and Felix Pendragon.
11-25, Literary Saints Day
On this day Discordians read aloud incidents of Discordian Saints in fiction and in other works containing fiction disguised as nonfiction.
11-30, Early Lunch Day
This is the day that Discordians eat lunch at 11:30 a.m.
12-1, Rosetta Stone’s Birthday
This is the day Discordians remember St. Rosetta Stone by looking at stones in a rose garden.
12-7, Buddy Darma’s Day
On this day Discordians sing “My Buddy” and look for catma in weird publications.
12-23, Dragon Clan Anniversary Evening
On this evening Discordians recall and celebrate the Dragon Clan’s victory over erotic terrorism forces. Achievements are exaggerated and some lies are told.
12-25, Jay See Fitzdragon’s Birthday
The ideal celebration for this holiday is listening to bootleg recordings of the first Discordian rock band, Jay See and the Disciples of Eris. The rarity of these recordings causes most Discordians to celebrate in some other manner befitting the occasion.
According to Camden’s good friend and writing partner, John F. Carr, Candle and Censer—which was never published—was later retitled The Girl with Karma Colored Hair. —Adam Gorightly
Download a scan of the original Discordian Archives document as a PDF here.
Candle and Censer
When his mental clock registered five o’clock, Martin Tuscan awoke, put on his terrycloth robe, and went into the kitchen to heat the coffee. He shaved, showered, and dressed in denim before preparing a cheese and egg sandwich to eat with the coffee. After washing the dishes, he sat down with his third cup of coffee and reread the letter he had written before going to bed:
You are very much in my thoughts today.
I spent several hours this morning rewiring a ’55 MG, a red one, just like the one you used to have. It made me remember the many adventures we had in it together when I was studying engineering. There are many more adventures in. our future.
Although I don’t know where you are or when we will see each other again, I know that I love you. You are always in my heart.
Martin sat quietly until six o’clock. Then he lit the red candle. He held a stick of incense over the flame and inserted it in the ceramic censer that Paula had made. Being careful to hold the letter over the metal bowl in which the candle sat, he let the flame lick one corner of the letter. The letter crinkled and burned. The ashes dropped into the bowl. Martin waited patiently for fifteen minutes for an answer. None came.
The green Porsche hugged the curved streets as Martin drove from Playa del Rey to his garage, opened the big double doors, and went into the office to make some coffee. He had almost finished a cup of coffee when his first customer of the day left his car to be serviced and walked across the street to the plant where he worked.
It was late afternoon when Martin closed his garage. He drove slowly through the traffic until he got to the beach where he parked and sat watching the sunset, wishing that Paula were there to share it with him. Through the twilight, he mentally composed the letter that he would write to Paula that evening and send to her at six o’clock in the morning through the red candle.
After parking the Porsche in the garage, he looked in his mail box. There were three letters: one from a friend in Atlanta, one from an insurance company, one from a fellow occultist. There were also two circulars addressed to occupant, which he dropped into the trash can, and the latest issue of the magazine, Arcane Events.
Martin read the letters before preparing dinner. During dinner he read Arcane Events. The feature article, “Precognition in Primitive Societies,” ended on the page facing the classified advertisements. Martin read them all until he came to the third ad under personals. It read:
Martin who corresponds with Paula daily at 9 a. m. E. D. S. T. send home address and telephone to Dr. R. E. Benroy, 868 Overton St. Millis, Massachusetts 02054.
Martin wrote the name and address on a piece of paper. He closed his eyes and held the paper in his hands. He attempted to clear his mind of all its thoughts and concentrate on an imaginary, gray screen in his mind, the kind of screen a motion picture would be projected on. When his mind was focused on the screen he held the paper firmly in his hand and watched the gray screen for images. A hazy image began to form—a man sitting at a desk writing. Martin tried to sharpen his focus. He saw a man with dark-rimmed glasses looking through a stack of magazines. Then the screen went blank.
Martin went to the garage and got into his car. Thirty minutes later he was at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Las Palmas. He found a parking place about two blocks away and walked back to the large newspaper and magazine stand. He looked through Fate, Other Worlds, The Occult Reader, and Fantasy and Science Fiction. The same ad from Dr. Benroy was in every one of them.
When Martin got back home he wrote:
Dear Dr. Benroy,
I send a daily letter via augmented telepathy to Paula Deering at 6 A.M. Pacific Daylight Saving Time. I would appreciate any- information you could give me about her, You can reach me during the day at (213) 393-3427 or at (213) 370-7874 in the evening. Mail will reach me at 122 Leach St., Playa del Rey, California 90218.
Martin put an airmail stamp on that letter. Then he wrote his nightly letter to Paula without mentioning Dr. Benroy. In the morning, after sending Paula’s letter through the candle flame, he drove by the post office and mailed the other letter.
On Thursday afternoon Dr. Benroy called Martin from Massachusetts.
“Mr. Tuscan, this is Dr. Richard Benroy. I just received your letter and I’d like to talk to you about Paula Deering.”
“How is she? Is she a patient of yours?”
“Yes. She’s a patient of mine and she is seriously ill.”
“What’s wrong with her?”
“Be assured that she is being well cared for. She’s under my care in the hospital.”
“What hospital? I’ll fly there tonight. ”
“Mr. Tuscan, I don’t think that your coming here would be the best thing for her.”
“What’s wrong with her?”
“She’s a mental patient. I’m a psychiatrist.”
“What kind of mental patient? What’s the problem she has?”
“She is virtually catatonic.”
“I’d still like to see her.”
“Mr. Tuscan, I would like to discuss Miss Deering’s case with you face to face. I can take a plane tomorrow to Los Angeles….”
“I’ll fly to Massachusetts tonight. I want to see Paula.”
“No, Let me fly there and talk to you first. Then if you feel it’s the thing to do you can fly back with me. I will arrive at the Los Angeles International Airport on American Airlines Flight 243 at 6:18 P.M. your time. Can you meet me there?”
“Yes I’ll be at the information booth just to the left of where you’ll pick up your baggage. I’ll be wearing a green jump suit.”
“Thank you, Mr. Tuscan, I’ll see you tomorrow. Try not to worry about Miss Deering. She’s getting the best possible care.”
“Thank you, Dr. Benroy, I’ll see you tomorrow. I’ll be at the airport by six.”
Flight 243 was ten minutes early. Dr. Benroy had no trouble identifying Martin Tuscan by the green jump suit he was wearing.
“Yes. Dr. Benroy?”
“Yes, I’ll get my bag. Then we can go somewhere to talk.”
“We can go to my house. It’s only ten minutes from here.”
On the way to his house, Martin asked the doctor about the details of Paula’s illness. Dr. Benroy said, “As I told you on the telephone, she’s virtually .a catatonic. The only time she shows any animation is when she’s receiving those letters from you. For a short time after that she appears near normal and I have been able to establish some communication with her but sooner or later each conversation touches upon something that threatens her and she retreats behind the wall of catatonia.”
“Why didn’t you get my address and phone number from her? She knows them.”
“She retreats if I ask her about you. When Paula receives your letters her lips form each word but no sound comes out. I have a speech therapist who reads her lips and records the letters for me. I found it very hard to accept the possibility that she was actually receiving letters by telepathy.”
“Yes. I can understand that you would.”
“Your letter said augmented telepathy. What is augmented telepathy?”
“Just doing everything to make certain that all the conditions are as good as possible for thought transmission. I keep all the conditions as similar as I can—the same time, the same fragrance of incense. The incense is her favorite and the censer is one she made in ceramics class and gave to me. The candle is always her favorite shade of red. And I picked an early morning hour to transmit because we are both early morning risers and mentally more alert in the mornings.”
Inside Martin’s house the conversation continued with Dr. Benroy asking, “How long have you been in love with Paula?”
“From about the third time in my life that I saw her. I knew then, as only a romantic and a mystic can know, that I had found a woman to share my life with. And that it didn’t matter very much what kind of a life it was just as long as it was together. Everything that happened would be better if it happened with Paula as part of it. I don’t know if you know of that kind of love…. ”
“I’m neither a romantic nor a mystic, but I know of love. I am a widower. I loved my late wife very much, but not in the Romeo-Juliet way that you speak of love.”
“Yes we would talk about love; we’re both in love with the same woman, aren’t we Doctor?”
“Miss Deering is my patient…”
“Whom you think of as Paula. Whom you love., Doctors don’t fly across the country to see someone who is in love with a patient unless they have a very personal interest. You are in love with her, aren’t you?”
“Is that why you didn’t want me to fly there and see her?”
“No. I don’t want you to see her because I think it would worsen her condition. I know how much you love her from your letters to her. The way you love her is awesome; it’s the kind of love that a saint has for his god. She can’t respond to it: The demand on her is too much. You don’t realize what you’ve done to her.”
“All I’ve done is love her. Her happiness is the most important thing in the world to me. She’s the most important person in existence.”
“That’s what females in our society often believe they want. But that’s an ideal; the reality of it demands the identical ideal response. Few are capable of it. Paula is not capable of it. Her dilemma is a double bind. She can’t respond to your love and she can’t admit that she does not want such an ideal love. Therefore, she keeps limiting her responses to few more than those necessary to continue living.”
“What can I do to help her?”
“Let go of her. As much as you love her, let go of her.”
“If you can make me believe that I can help her by giving her up, I’ll do it. I only want the best for Paula.”
At a few minutes before six o’clock in the morning, Martin lit the red candle and the incense. Dr. Benroy sat across from him with the telephone pressed to his ear. At six o’clock Martin let the flame consume a letter that read:
Dr. Benroy is here with me; he is talking on the phone to Dr. Tarnek there in the room with you. They both know that you are receiving this letter and they know what it says.
Dr. Benroy has convinced me that there is a strong possibility that my daily letters to you while you are in the hospital may not be good for you. So I have agreed not to write to you while you are under Dr. Benroy’s care unless you ask me to.
I love you as much as ever. If it seems to be the right time to talk to me, ask Dr. Tarnek for the phone.
As the letter was burning, Dr. Benroy said, “Is she receiving it, Dr. Tarnek?… She is. Good. How is she responding…. What?” Turning to Martin, he said, “She’s dead.”
“Is there anything you’d like me to tell her in my next letter?”
Download a scan of the original Discordian Archives document as a PDF here.
Thornley’s vision for the character was that of a “black writer” who chose the name “as a somewhat whimsical put-on, as Hassan i Sabbah was the Moslem heretic who founded the assassins, after which was patterned the Roshaniya (or Illuminated Ones), after which were patterned the Alumbrados of Spain and the Illuminati of Bavaria…”
Hassan i Sabbah X seems a composite of other black radicals based out of the Berkeley/Oakland area of the era, perhaps inspired to a certain degree by Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver, who became good friends with Louise Lacey when the two worked together at Ramparts Magazine.
Also identified in Thornley’s letter as part of this Discordian-Illuminati conspiracy was Paul Encimer (aka Dr. Confusion) who—among other endeavors—published St. John’s Bread, a late-60s counterculture magazine that featured Thornley’s classic poem, “Illuminati Lady,” as well as other Discordian writings. (Encimer currently resides in Northern California where he is involved in activist causes.)
Thornley—like fellow Discordian Robert Anton Wilson (RAW)—was well versed in Illuminati mythology and the two were picking each other’s brains on the topic during the period.
These Illuminati discourses ultimately manifested in a letter & answer in the April ‘69 Playboy Advisor, which RAW was then editing, and it was actually RAW—with input from Thornley—who composed both the question and answer.
In addition, this Playboy Advisor letter & answer mentioned a Cal Berkeley campus group which identified itself as “The Bavarian Illuminati” and issued press releases on all sorts of weird subjects. Louise Lacey—as it turns out—was part of this Berkeley campus group, although she doesn’t really remember a lot about that scene other than it was a collective of campus anarchists who did indeed disseminate made-up Illuminati stories in the same manner as Thornley, RAW and other Discordian conspirators who engaged in Operation Mindfuck.
Sharon Presley was another member of this Berkeley group. As Presley revealed to Jesse Walker in The United States of Paranoia: “We actually had a recognized student group at Cal called the Bavarian Illuminati… the by-laws were a hoot; obviously no bureaucrat actually read them.”
Perhaps the key event that sent Thornley, RAW and their fellow Discordian colleagues down this Operation Mindfuck-Illuminati rabbit hole was a fellow named Allan Chapman (mentioned in the Playboy Advisor Q & A), one of the many unofficial investigators (also known as The Dealey Plaza Irregulars) who assisted in the Garrison Investigation.
Chapman subscribed to the theory that the Illuminati was behind the JFK assassination conspiracy, and that these very same illumined ones also controlled all the major television networks. As Thornley later noted:
“Wilson and I founded the Anarchist Bavarian Illuminati to give Jim Garrison a hard time, one of whose supporters believed that the Illuminati owned all the major TV networks, the Conspiring Bavarian Seers (CBS), the Ancient Bavarian Conspiracy (ABC) and the Nefarious Bavarian Conspirators (NBC).” (The Dreadlock Recollections, Kindle Edition, ovo127.com)
Chapman also authored the theory that one of the JFK shooters had hidden inside a Dealey Plaza storm drain. To this end, Garrison later informed the Illuminati-controlled media that the fatal shot was “fired by a man standing in a sewer manhole.”
According to RAW, these Discordian Society hijinx set a new mythology in motion:
“The Discordian revelations seem to have pressed a magick button. New exposés of the Illuminati began to appear everywhere, in journals ranging from the extreme Right to the ultra-Left. Some of this was definitely not coming from us Discordians. In fact, one article in the Los Angeles Free Press (FREEP) in 1969 consisted of a taped interview with a black phone-caller who claimed to represent the “Black Mass,” an Afro-Discordian conspiracy we had never heard of. He took credit, on behalf of the Black Mass and the Discordians, for all the bombings elsewhere attributed to the Weather Underground.” (Cosmic Trigger, p. 64)
During a 2003 interview with this author, RAW noted that the black Discordian phone caller in the FREEP article identified himself as “Hassan-i-Sabbah X.” Over time, Hassan-i-Sabbah X’s name would appear in a number of Discordian related writings—including Illuminatus!—so, it would appear, the FREEP “Black Mass” article was a Discordian Society prank that may have been perpetrated by Kerry Thornley, although Thornley never admitted a role in this hoax. Whatever the case, the article in question deeply disturbed Greg Hill with its association of Discordianism to terrorist activities.
In a January 24th, 1971 letter to Greg Hill, Thornley wrote: “I’m fairly sure the FREEP interview was the work of Mord (Robert Anton Wilson)—as I see signs of his style and sense of humor in it…” However, it should be noted that Discordian Society member Roger Lovin (aka Fang The Unwashed) worked for the FREEP from 1969-1972, so his name can also be added to the list of suspects who may have perpetrated this ruse—if it was indeed a put-on. A more disturbing explanation is that neither RAW, Thornley or Lovin had anything to do with the “Black Mass” article and like so many other strange occurrences surrounding Kerry Thornley’s life, the answer will forever remain a mystery.
For more insights into Illuminatus!, you can find the group reading page at RAWIllumination.net.
Camden congratulates Louise on the recent publication of Lunaception, her landmark work on a natural method to conception, using the phases of the moon as a guide, a concept later explored by Tom Robbins in Still Life With Woodpecker.
Camden also floats the idea of putting together a list of Discordian books then in publication. With that theme in mind, here is just such a list, a snap shot in time of books in print by Discordian authors as of 1977.
John F. Carr has just recently published the long ago written and much anticipated (at least by me!) first book in the Crying Clown series, A Certain Flair For Death (Amazon Kindle, Hardcover), a collaboration with his good friend and fellow Discordian, the late, great Camden Benares, a result of their many “pot and plot” sessions of the mid-70s through late-90s.
Robert Anton Wilson once described A Certain Flair For Death as “The best psychological science-fiction novel since The Demolished Man… the tension mounts and mounts… I couldn’t put it down… it might do your head as much good as an Encounter Group with the Marx Brothers!”
I recently contacted John to get some background about how and when the Crying Clown series were written, and he was kind of enough to share the following response. —Adam Gorightly