barbara reid book camden benares discordian timeline discordianism greg hill illuminati illuminet press jfk jim garrison kerry thornley lane caplinger lee harvey oswald monkey business official business principia discordia robert anton wilson robert newport robert shea video warren commission writings

Principia Discordia: Celebrating 50 Years of Chaos! (Maybe!)

1980 yellow covered Loompanics edition of Principia Discordia.
Courtesy of the
Discordian Archives.
Prepare thyselves, O Discordians…

The Truth Shall Set You Confused… in 2,500 words or less!

2015 (or 3181 on the Discordian calendar) marks the 50th anniversary (maybe!) of the first edition of Principia Discordia, or How the West was Lost, published in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1965, consisting of a mere five copies that—according to Discordian co-founder Greg Hill—“were mostly lost.”

The details surrounding this rare 1st edition are enshrouded in as much myth and mystery as the JFK assassination itself, which—it so happens—will be forever linked to Discordianism due to its association with Discordian Society co-founder Kerry Thornley who served with Lee Harvey Oswald in the Marines.

Curiously enough, Thornley was writing a book based on Oswald three years before the Kennedy assassination and afterwards testified before the Warren Commission and was later accused (ridiculously so) by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison as being part of a JFK assassination conspiracy.

The Discordian Society included in its ranks such illuminated seers as Robert Anton Wilson (RAW) who noted in Cosmic Trigger: The Final Secret of the Illuminati: Volume 1:

“A search through the Discordian Archives revealed that the earliest of the Discordian holy books—How the West Was Lost, by Malaclypse the Younger (Greg Hill) — was originally printed on the Xerox machine of D.A. Jim Garrison, in summer 1963. (Greg’s girlfriend was Garrison’s secretary.)”

Thus was birthed the legend of how this mostly missing 1st edition was copied on a Xerox machine belonging to the very same man, Jim Garrison, who would later link Kerry Thornley to a shadowy cabal that allegedly orchestrated Kennedy’s awful offing.

Although RAW was partly correct regarding Jim Garrison’s association with the 1st edition Principia Discordia (PD), it appears that he might not have had his facts quite right. In the Loompanics edition of PD, Greg Hill added an afterword in which he corrected RAW’s claim about the Garrison copying machine caper:

“…Bob [RAW] says that when Oswald was buying the assassination rifle, my girlfriend was printing the first edition of Principia on Jim Garrison’s Xerox. It wasn’t my girlfriend, it was Kerry’s; it wasn’t the First Ed Principia, it was some earlier Discordian thoughts; it wasn’t Garrison’s Xerox, it was his mimeograph; and it wasn’t just before Kennedy was shot but a couple of years before that… The First Ed Principia, by the way, was reproduced at Xerox Corp when xerography was a new technology. Which was my second New Orleans trip in 1965. I worked for a guy on Bourbon Street who was a Xerox salesman by day.”

Afterwards, Hill received further clarification from Kerry Thornley, which he added as a footnote to his Loompanics afterword:

“I checked this further with Mr. Thornley. He says that the woman in question was not his girlfriend, she was just a friend, and it wasn’t a couple of years before Kennedy was shot but had to be a couple of years after (but before Garrison investigated Thornley).”

To confuse matters more (Hail Eris!), Thornley’s introduction to the IllumiNet Press edition of PD states:

“…the First Edition of Principia rolled off District Attorney Jim Garrison’s mimeograph machine (without his knowledge) in New Orleans in 1964. That was the work of Gregory Hill and of Lane Caplinger, a Discordian typist in the DA’s office.”

During the course of researching The Prankster and the Conspiracy: The Story of Kerry Thornley and How He Met Oswald and Inspired the Counterculture (2003 Amazon), I exchanged email correspondence with Lane Caplinger’s sister, actress Grace Zabriskie. For some reason, it’d never dawned on me to ask Grace about the legend of the 1st edition—probably because Grace, by her own choosing, was never really part of the Discordian scene.

In December 2012, I contacted Grace via email with some follow-up questions for my then book in the works Caught in the Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Lee Oswald and the Garrison Investigation (Amazon) and at that time asked: Was the Garrison copying machine caper “truth, legend, or a combination of both?” Grace passed on my query to her sister Lane who replied, quite simply: “Legend. I recall occasional Discordianism reading and giggling only.”

Lane’s response now leaves us in a quandary and seems to put the kibosh on this whole wonderful mythos that the PD was created right under Jim Garrison’s nose by a diabolical Discordian conspiracy.

But wait, let’s not be in a hurry to dismiss the Garrison mimeograph legend. If we examine each of the seemingly conflicting stories regarding the origins of the 1st edition PD, I think in the final analysis there’s some measure of truth to each story, or as the old Discordian saying goes:

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

In the IllumiNet Press introduction to PD, Kerry Thornley identifies 1964 as the year of the publication of the 1st edition and that Greg Hill and Lane Caplinger were the culprits.

Thornley moved to Arlington, Virginia in late 1963 through 1964. Meanwhile, Greg Hill returned to New Orleans in 1964 and was there until mid-1965, which was the relevant period when the 1st edition was published.

My working theory is that Lane Caplinger did indeed run off some mimeograph copies of letters and writings by Hill and Thornley that later found their way into the first edition PD. However, it’s my impression that Lane had but a vague idea at best of what she was involved with—other than just copying some material for a couple of friends who were tinkering around with a joke religion called Discordianism.

As Greg Hill noted, only five copies of the 1st edition Principia Discordia were produced, most of which were lost. Later iterations of PD departed greatly from that long ago 1st edition, evolving into a collaborative art project that included the involvement of such notables as Robert Anton Wilson (Mordecai the Foul), Robert Shea (Josh the Dill), Camden Benares (The Count of Fives), Robert Newport (Rev. Hypocrates Magoun), Bob McElroy (Dr. Mungojerry Grindlebone)—and, of course, Thornley and Hill.

I first became involved in researching this craziness in the late-90s when I was overtaken with an obsession of writing a biography of Kerry Thornley, who had captured my imagination not so much due to my interest in Discordianism (that would come later) but because of all the other high weirdness surrounding his life.

In 2001, I initiated a Freedom of Information Act request for any Kerry Thornley related documents in the CIA and FBI files. Shortly after I was informed by the Feds that these Thornley FOIA materials had been previously released and were available through the National Archives. In short order, I obtained the materials, most of which had been assembled during the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in 1977 and released to the public in 1992 through the Assassination Archives Research Center (AARC.)

In this Kerry Thornley-National Archives package were documents related to Jim Garrison’s investigation, including 36 Discordian related pages which didn’t mean a whole lot to me at the time as I was more interested in getting to the bottom of Thornley’s alleged Kennedy assassination associations than I was all of this Discordian doo-dah. If I’d been paying closer attention, I would have noticed that these Discordian related materials appeared to be the first edition of Principia Discordia, Or How the West Was Lost—or at least a collection of writings from the early days of The Discordian Society. These same materials were later identified in 2006 as the 1st edition PD by a fellow named Karl Musser, who came across the material during a visit to the National Archives.

National Archives version of Principia Discordia, Or How The West Was Lost.
Download PDF

At the time, Musser shared these documents with Discordian historian Dr. Jon Swabey who afterwards transcribed this apparent 1st ed. PD and posted it on the Internet via Creative Commons.

At the time, I was unaware that the Musser/Swabey tag team had brought to the Discordian world this apparent 1st edition PD. A couple years later, Dr. Robert Newport passed on to me Greg Hill’s Discordian Archives, consisting of all 5 editions of PD. However, the discovery of these different PD editions wasn’t immediately apparent and it took me some time to sift through the Discordian Archives and identity exactly what was what. The most amazing discovery of all was an actual honest-to-Goddess copy of the first edition of Principia Discordia, Or How The West Was Lost, numbered one of five, written in Greg Hill’s own hand.

Last page of the Discordian Archives version
of the 1st ed. Principia Discordia, numbered 1 of 5.

My discovery of the Holy Grail of Discordianism led to a period of intensive research into the history of PD. After a review of the Musser/Swabey/National Archives version of PD, I initially arrived at the conclusion (which I now consider erroneous!) that the National Archives version was a later and incomplete reproduction of the 1st edition PD. However, more recently I’ve come to suspect that the National Archives version is actually an early draft of PD.

For sake of clarity, I’ll henceforth refer to these two different versions of Principia Discordia, Or How The West Was Lost as: 1) the National Archives (NA) version, and, 2) the Discordian Archives (DA) version.

Although there are similarities between these two versions—the NA and DA—there are also a number of differences, one of which is the type font. Secondly, the NA version numbers only 36 pages while the DA version comes in at a whopping 60 pages including a number of illustrations that do not appear in the NA version.

My reasoning behind this theory—that the NA version is an early draft of PD—is based, in part, on the handwritten address on the front cover:

Kerry Thornley
5326 85th Street
Apartment T-3
Lanham, Maryland

At first glance, I was a bit befuddled by this address because Thornley’s Warren Commission testimony stated that he’d moved to Arlington, VA in late 1963 and lived there until late 1964. But after giving it some thought, I remembered correspondence in the Archives where Thornley noted that he’d stayed for a period of time—in late-1963/early–1964—with his friend Robert McDonald in Maryland before his Arlington move. This provides further evidence that the NA version actually predated the DA version, and that some of the content in the NA version (as my theory goes) were pages Lane Caplinger ran off on Jim Garrison’s mimeograph machine.

Cover page of National Archives version of the 1st ed. Principia Discordia.
Cover page of Discordian Archives version of the 1st ed. Principia Discordia.

Additionally, my colleague Grouchogandhi pointed out that on the title page of the NA version the author is listed as “Malaclypse the Younger, H.C.” The curiosity, in this instance, is the title of “H.C.” In subsequent editions of the PD—including the 1st edition in the Discordian Archives (DA)—Malaclypse is referred to as “K.C.” (Keeper of the Chao) and in later editions as “K.S.C.” (Keeper of the Sacred Chao).

Title page of the National Archives (NA) version of the 1st ed. Principia Discordia.
Title page of the Discordian Archives (DA) version of the 1st ed. Principia Discordia.

The third page of the NA version consists of a Legion of Dynamic Discord (LDD) certificate awarded to early Discordian Barbara Reid. Conversely, this certificate does not appear on the third page of the DA version. However, there is a blank LDD certificate on page 55 of the DA version, which suggests that the NA version was sent from Kerry Thornley (aka the Bull Goose of Limbo) to Barbara Reid in 1964 and included a signed LDD certificate as confirmation of Reid’s ordination into the Discordian Society.

Legion of Dynamic Discord certificate awarded to Barbara Reid which appears on page 3 of the National Archives (NA) version of the 1st ed. Principia Discordia.
Blank copy of Legion of Dynamic Discord certificate that appears on page 55 of the Discordian Archives (DA) version of the 1st ed. Principia Discordia.

So how, pray tell, did this early Principia Discordia draft wind up in the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HCSA) files? My guess is that Barbara Reid provided the document to the HSCA in the late-70s when she testified before the committee regarding her claims that she saw Kerry Thornley in the company of Lee Oswald in New Orleans in September of 1963. However, another person who might have submitted this document to the HSCA was assassination researcher Harold Weisberg, who worked closely with Barbara Reid during the Garrison Investigation period and entertained the notion, at one time or another, that the Discordian Society was some type of CIA front organization involved in the Kennedy Assassination dance party.

Hail Eris, indeed!

Adam Gorightly presents a brief introduction to the 1st edition of the Principia Discordia, courtesy of Brenton Clutterbuck of Chasing Eris.

Adam Gorightly presents the 1st through 5th editions of the Principia Discordia.

barbara reid book brother-in-law discordian timeline discordianism interview jfk jim garrison kerry thornley lane caplinger lee harvey oswald principia discordia robert anton wilson roger lovin writings

Was the Discordian Society a CIA Front?

Caught in the Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Lee Oswald and the Garrison Investigation by Adam Gorightly
An excerpt from my latest book Caught in the Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Lee Oswald and the Garrison Investigation, available at Feral House and Amazon.

Among Jim Garrison’s more colorful unofficial investigators (otherwise known as the “Irregulars”) was Allan Chapman who subscribed to the theory that the JFK assassination had been orchestrated by the Bavarian Illuminati, that infamous secret society much ballyhooed in the annals of conspiracy lore.

After catching wind of Allan Chapman’s Illuminati theory, Kerry Thornley—with the support of some of his fellow Discordian Society pranksters—initiated what became known as Operation Mindfuck (OM), a campaign designed to screw with Garrison’s head by sending out spurious announcements suggesting that he (Kerry) was an agent of the Ancient Illuminated Seers of Bavaria (AISB). Among the culprits who helped perpetrate OM was none other than Robert Anton Wilson. As Kerry 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).

Another of the “Irregulars”—assassination researcher Harold Weisberg—was also on the business end of OM communiqués as demonstrated in the following anonymous letter authored by Robert Anton Wilson:

Robert Anton Wilson’s OM letter to Harold Weisberg.
From the Harold Weisberg Collection.

The above letter is unfathomable unless one is familiar with the Discordian antics that Thornley and his cohorts were engaged in during this period. Wilson’s prank letter to Weisberg mentions someone named Homer Ravenhurst, another named Hassan Saba X, in addition to Simon Moon and the Illuminat Eye. In Discordian lore, Kerry Thornley’s pseudonym was Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst, and so Wilson’s mention of a “Homer Ravenhurst” was a playful way of messing with Weisberg’s mind. As for Simon Moon, this was Wilson’s sometime alias and a character that later appeared in Wilson and Shea’s The Illuminatus! Trilogy. Hassan Saba X (or Hassan-i-Sabbah X) was a fictitious black militant character that Thornley and Wilson created to propagate the Illuminati mythology, later to be immortalized in a put-on letter planted in the April 1969 issue of Playboy during the period Wilson was an editor at the magazine. As for the Illuminati Eye mentioned in the Weisberg letter, this was an obvious wink and nod to that aforementioned all-seeing secret society from Bavaria. No telling what Weisberg thought of this letter; however, he found it important enough to place in his files for future researchers to ponder.

These OM communiqués led Garrison to suspect that the Discordian Society was a CIA front organization involved in the JFK assassination. As outlandish as this all sounds, those of a conspiratorial bent might find some merit to this theory, due to the fact that—among the handful of people involved in the New Orleans Discordian Society—each of them was, in one way or another, connected to the Garrison investigation as either a witness, suspect or correspondent.

According to legend, the first edition of the Discordian bible, The Principia Discordia: Or How The West Was Lost, was reproduced after hours on a mimeograph machine in Jim Garrison’s office, of which only five copies were produced. This clandestine copying operation predated Garrison’s investigation by nearly two years, and was allegedly perpetrated by a typist in the District Attorney’s office named Lane Caplinger, who was friends with Discordian Society co-founder Greg Hill. (Lane just happened to be the sister of a French Quarter poet named Grace Caplinger who was friends with both Thornley and Hill. Grace later ventured to Hollywood and changed her name to Grace Zabriskie, and has made numerous Movie and TV appearances, including the role of Laura Palmer’s mother in Twin Peaks.)

As for Greg Hill, his association with Garrison’s investigation was minimal, consisting of a letter he wrote to Garrison in support of Thornley. Garrison, most likely having already made up his mind as to Kerry’s guilt, probably placed said letter immediately upon receipt into his round file.

Greg Hill’s letter to Jim Garrison, February 19th, 1968.
Courtesy of The Discordian Archives.

While it’s a given that Hill and Thornley were both in possession of the first edition of The Principia Discordia, what is not commonly known is that Roderick “Slim” Brooks—another key player in the New Orleans Discordian Society—also received a copy of this rare first edition.

Slim Brooks—as it turns out—was the first person Thornley met when he moved to New Orleans. In early 1961, Slim and a shadowy character named Gary Kirstein—referred to as “Brother-in-law”—engaged Thornley in conversations about how to kill a president, and in particular, JFK. Thornley later suspected that he’d been manipulated into these conversations by Brooks and Kirstein with the intent of setting him up as a JFK assassination patsy.

It appears quite likely that Slim Brooks was actually Jerry Milton Brooks, a former Guy Banister employee and member of the Minutemen, a far-right anti-communist militia organization active during the 1960s. According to former Minutemen national spokesman R.N. Taylor:

The fellow mentioned as Slim Brooks, I think he was either Jerry Milton Brooks, or Jerry’s brother… If it was Jerry, that was one of the most bizarre individuals I have ever encountered. One of a kind. For better and worse. I know he spent some time down there with Banister and that crowd in the sixties. He was a walking card reference file of names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. Had a very photographic mind, quite amazing at times. Never knew re¬ally what side he was on. He will forever remain an enigma to me.

It can also be assumed, with some degree of certainty, that the other recipients of The Principia Discordia first edition were Barbara Reid and Roger Lovin, both New Orleans Discordian Society members. In fact, a Discordian Society business card from 1965 lists Lovin as head of the New Orleans Discordian chapter.

Discordian Society membership card.
Courtesy of The Discordian Archives.

Lovin—known in the Discordian Society as Fang the Unwashed—was identified by Garrison witness Bernard Goldsmith as being connected to Lee Harvey Oswald in New Orleans, as well as allegedly involved with the Bay of Pigs invasion. Whatever the case, Lovin had a reputation as a charming con man who, for all we know, might have been pulling Goldsmith’s leg about his connections to Oswald and the Bay of Pigs.

A rare photo of Barbara Reid.
Perhaps the single most curious member of the New Orleans Discordian Society was Barbara Reid, the person most responsible—other than the District Attorney himself—for dragging Kerry, screaming and kicking, into Jim Garrison’s three-ring circus. Reid claimed to have seen Oswald and Thornley in New Orleans during September of 1963, an allegation Kerry denied, insisting that the last time he’d been in contact with Oswald was at El Toro Marine Base in the fall of 1959. Curiously enough, Reid became one of Garrison’s “Irregulars” and often accompanied Harold Weisberg during his rounds questioning French Quarter witnesses.

Among the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) files related to Kerry Thornley (now residing in the National Archives) one will find excerpts from the first edition of The Principia Discordia. It seems unlikely that Kerry would have provided these documents to the HSCA, unless he was trying to make a case that the Discordian Society had been infiltrated by the intelligence community, a theory he entertained upon occasion, particularly during the period in the late seventies when his paranoias ran high.

However, I suspect that it may have been Barbara Reid who provided these Discordian documents to the HSCA, as included among the HSCA files is a Discordian Society membership certificate awarded to Reid and signed by none other than the Bull Goose of Limbo (a.k.a. Kerry Thornley) dated September 18th, 1964. Reid also claimed, at one time or another, to be the incarnation of Goddess Eris, which would certainly explain the unbridled chaos that entered Thornley’s life during the Garrison investigation period.

Barbara Reid’s Discordian Society membership certificate.
From the House Select Committee on Assassinations files.

Another way these Discordian documents might have found their way to the HSCA files was through Harold Weisberg, who noted in an interview he conducted with Roger Lovin, that Lovin “…acknowledged his membership in the Discordians. Today he gave me his files on that outfit…” It could then be assumed that Weisberg copied these files and later submitted them to Garrison and/or the HSCA. That Weisberg was willing to entertain the notion that a religion worshipping the Greek Goddess of Chaos and Confusion was somehow involved is certainly one of the wilder theories in JFK assassination lore, right alongside such other Garrison mainstays as the homosexual thrill kill theory and the involvement of the dreaded Bavarian Illuminati. As Robert Anton Wilson observed in Cosmic Trigger:

Try to picture a jury keeping a straight face when examining a conspiracy that worshipped the Goddess of Confusion, honored Emperor Norton as a saint, had a Holy Book called “How I Found Goddess and What I Did to Her After I Found Her,” and featured personnel who called themselves Malaclypse the Younger, Ho Chi Zen, Mordecai the Foul, Lady L, F.A.B., Fang the Unwashed, Harold Lord Randomfactor, Onrak the Backwards, et al….

Allegations that Thornley and Oswald met at Ryder Coffee House came courtesy of Barbara Reid, who claimed she had evidence backing this up in the form of a guest¬book belonging to the manager of Ryder’s, Jack Frazier, that both Oswald and Thornley had allegedly signed. In a memo Harold Weisberg sent to Garrison, he noted that “several names may be disguised in this book, for example, Thornley’s in the “Discordian” language on the ninth page. You have the Discordian files that I obtained on a previous trip. These will reflect which Omar Khyam is who….” Make of this what you will, but apparently Weisberg thought he was hot on the trail of a Discordian conspiracy and provided Garrison with Frazier’s guestbook as evidence of this. A review of the guestbook reveals that Thornley did indeed sign it using his Discordian persona of Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst, which indicates that Kerry visited Ryder Coffee House on at least one occasion. However, there’s no evidence that Oswald—using his real name or an alias—signed the guestbook. (Sometime Discordian conspirator Lane Caplinger’s name appears elsewhere in the guestbook, which provides further incontrovertible evidence of the Discordian Society’s sinister role in JFK’s assassination!)

Guestbook signed by Kerry Thornley’s Discordian alter ego,
Lord Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst.
From the Harold Weisberg Collection.

Robert Karno—who in the absence of Jack Frazier was managing Ryder Coffee House during the relevant time frame—stated in an interview with Garrison investigator James Alcock that he thought he met Oswald at Ryder’s on one occasion, although he didn’t sound completely positive: “Well, I—I believe I did. I’m almost sure I did…” As for Thornley, Karno remembered meeting him there only once as well, and said nothing about having seen Thornley and Oswald together.

Thanks to Tim Cridland for unearthing the Robert Anton Wilson letter to Harold Weisberg.

Purchase Caught in the Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Lee Oswald and the Garrison Investigation from Feral House and Amazon.

book discordianism greg hill illuminati jfk jim garrison kerry thornley lane caplinger lee harvey oswald letters official business robert anton wilson writings zines

Kerry Thornley’s Paranoid Flash

Kerry Thornley's newsletter Paranoid Flash about the Garrison Investigation, dated February 18, 1970. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Near the tail end of the Garrison Investigation into the JFK Assassination, Discordian co-founder Kerry Thornley began a one-sheet newsletter, Paranoid Flash (later called Paranoid Flash Illuminator and Paranoid Flash Illuminations) that he sent out to keep his friends abreast about developments with the case and his involvement.

In issue #1 of Paranoid Flash, Kerry notes how he decided to hire legal counsel (as opposed to court-appointed representation) and that he was trying to get assistance from the ACLU.

As Kerry later recalled:

Garrison came after me one last time in 1970 just for harassment purposes because I had put an advertisement in a Libertarian magazine that said, ‘Good looking, young District Attorney will do anything for, or to, anyone for a chance to jack off to the John Kennedy autopsy photos.’ (Laughs) This was just to prove I wasn’t afraid of him…It was just my way of saying, ‘Look, you fucker, you’re not going to push me around…’

“Anyhow, the lawyer I wound up with (Ed Baldwin)… who happened also to be Garrison’s brother-in-law, told me in no uncertain terms to stop writing things about Jim. So I stopped, and never heard from the lawyer again, much less from Garrison…

Kerry Thornley's newsletter, Paranoid Flash about the Garrison Investigation, dated March 21, 1970. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
The title Paranoid Flash, I assume, came from Kerry’s belief that Garrison was consumed with paranoia and because of this ran roughshod over the civil rights of those he targeted. Kerry, as well, grew paranoid during this period and later described the defining moment which triggered his paranoia (and eventual psychological problems) as having occurred in Tampa when several helicopters buzzed his house for over ten minutes. Kerry believed that Garrison was behind this helicopter-house-buzzing, and that he’d used his Florida law enforcement connections to orchestrate this harassment.

Assuming that this helicopter incident was the key factor that drove Kerry off the deep end, it was not simply a matter of him immediately snapping and going crackers. What I believe happened was a gradual disintegration, which reached its nadir in the mid-70s when Kerry believed that nearly everyone he ever knew was part of “The Conspiracy.”

The helicopter incident notwithstanding, some suspect that an ill-fated love affair greatly contributed to his subsequent psychological problems. Kerry described it as an “eight-year-long, off-again-on-again, affair/friendship/rivalry/ego-game/karmic unraveling.” The “affair” in question was with Grace Caplinger, who inspired a novel Kerry was writing in the early60s entitled Can Grace Come Out and Play? In a confessional letter from late 1969, Kerry addressed the matter:

For an opinionated sonofabitch like me, learning things and finding out you are wrong are inseparable—so it has been, since education, painful. I learned, for example, that the sort of polygamy I always advocated is precarious at best—since, I at least, cannot ordinarily, to my own surprise, really love (in the full sense of a life-time devotion) two different women to the degree each needs and deserves, not at the same time. And any conflict between them just tears me apart.

Put on top of this that most if not all else there is to it—or was—is that we happen also to be each others’ ego trips, and the whole thing becomes as difficult to integrate as a queer spade in Mississippi…

When I shared the above letter with Grace Caplinger (now known as Grace Zabriskie, most recognized for her famous role in David Lynch’s amazingly Discordian TV series Twin Peaks as Laura Palmer’s mother), she replied:

I have no idea where this long affair thing comes from. Kerry and I and my then husband, Rob, had an intense friendship, which graduated, or from another point of view disintegrated into more of a friendship between me and Kerry. The friendship was centered around an intense shared love for and fascination with the philosophy of Ayn Rand. We were all in our early twenties. This friendship was briefly interrupted by an incident one evening while Rob was away. I was not happy with Rob, and Kerry was on the outs with his then girlfriend, Jessica (Luck). The incident consisted of several hours of Kerry ranting about how excluding sexuality from our friendship was “irrational…”

Worst thing one student of Objectivism could possibly say to another, I guess, and then perhaps four and a half minutes in bed before I asked him to leave. More haranguing about irrationality on the way out, as I remember, and that was it. That was the affair. There was no further sexual aspect to the friendship that eventually resumed, and continued until…

I’m not sure. I think Kerry left New Orleans. Within a year or so I moved to Atlanta, and Kerry and I corresponded for years. He asked me at one point to send him all his letters as he was trying to construct a timeline, for Garrison, of what he’d been doing during those years. I sent him all the letters. He wrote sporadically after that, and I stopped ever writing back after he informed me that he believed that

1), I was involved somehow in some conspiracy… to do what I wasn’t ever quite clear on, and

2), that I was involved somehow in “snuff films.” Maybe because I was an actor in films by then. I don’t know…

I lost hope that I could make him see reason in these matters, and I stopped imagining that we could ever be friends again.

From Kerry’s perspective, his affair with Grace extended over a decade, although according to Grace the sexual aspect of their relationship lasted only four minutes. It’s my suspicion that the first seeds of Kerry’s psychological issues began to manifest in the late-60s, and one way it exhibited itself was this fixation with Grace that, at some point, became magnified in his mind.

Kerry Thornley Newsletter Paranoid Flash Illuminations from the late-80s. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
In a Paranoid Flash from the late-80s, Kerry’s paranoias seem to be on full display. In a list of unusual events/occurrences, Kerry includes being dosed with LSD, which he suspected Robert Anton Wilson of being involved with as part of some MK-ULTRA mindfuck—or at least that’s what I’ve been able to piece together. As RAW recalled:

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

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

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

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

The famous thumbprint ID gambit by Thornley: September 1975. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Kerry’s “unusual occurrences” included having been poisoned with sodium morphate, a curious claim that anyone familiar with A Skeleton Key to the Gemstone Files may recall as a means of poisoning politicians—and others who had run afoul of The Conspiracy—by slipping them some sodium morphate (a supposed heart attack inducing drug, which may or may not actually exist) in a slice of apple pie.

The robbed-at-gunpoint incident is documented in a 1975 memo to which Kerry applied his thumbprint as a means of identification and supported by Greg Hill who was there for the robbery in Atlanta.

Caught in the Crossfire by Adam Gorightly
As mentioned in this memo, Kerry suspected that much of this ongoing harassment stemmed from his involvement with the Robert Byron Watson case, which you can find out more about in my latest offering, Caught in the Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Lee Oswald and the Garrison Investigation.

book discordian timeline discordianism greg hill jfk jim garrison kerry thornley lane caplinger lee harvey oswald warren commission

DS Documents A-Plenty!

Official Discordian Business.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
The times they were a changin’ back in ‘64. JFK had just been takin’ out and shortly after The Beatles emerged on the landscape to breathe a little positive vibe into the National Downer that’d just gone down the rabbit hole. Against this backdrop, Greg Hill and Kerry Thornley entered into perhaps their most productive collaborative period, sowing the seeds of what would become the 1st edition of Principia Discordia: Or How The West Was Lost.

Back in ‘61, Thornley and Hill moved to New Orleans where they engaged in a number of early Discordian activities, some of which were covertly copied on New Orleans D.A. Jim Garrison’s mimeograph machine by a friend who worked in the D.A.’s office, Lane Caplinger, who just happened to be the sister of Grace Caplinger, later to become known to the world as actress Grace Zabriskie, none other than Laura Palmer’s mother among other notable roles. Garrison, of course, would play a larger and much weirder role in Thornley’s consciousness in the years to come, to be covered in greater depth in my forthcoming book, Caught In The Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Oswald and Garrison’s JFK Investigation, coming later this year from Feral House.

In ’63 — after JFK’s assassination — Kerry moved from New Orleans to Arlington, Virginia for a number of reasons, one of which included being in closer proximity to D.C. where the Warren Commission had recently convened, and Kerry — looking for an angle to promote his novel in the works, The Idle Warriors (the main character of which was modeled on Oswald before the Kennedy assassination) — was hoping to wrangle an appearance before the Commission. The rest, as we know, is a weird slice of history.

The documents I’ve posted here would — in the following year, 1965 — greatly influence the 1st edition of the PD, which will soon appear in its entirely for the first time in 50 “odd” years in our forthcoming book project Historia Discordia: The Origins of the Discordian Society, coming soon from RVP Publishers.

In these early years, Hill and Thornley spent an inordinate amount of time developing a Discordian Society hierarchical structure that would eventually dissolve into nothingness when Greg Hill later decided to forgo any type of formal Discordian structure and turn the whole thing into an art collage project without rules and regulations, which led to a more free form approach to later editions of the Principia Discordia.

Some items to note include Kerry’s (Omar’s) mention that he sent a copy of “Why We Think The DS Is A Hot Item” to Grace Caplinger (Zabriskie), as well as what is perhaps the first formal mention of the fabled Law Of Fives, a document lovingly adorned with a slew of Greg Hill stamps, as he was wont to do.

Discordian Documents, April 1964 and May 1965

discordian timeline discordianism jfk jim garrison kerry thornley lane caplinger lee harvey oswald

JFK Assassination Day and Discordianism by Adam Gorightly

Nov 22nd, also known as “JFK Assassination Day,” is a high holy day in Discordianism—or if it’s not, it should be.

Discordianism—for those not in the know—is a religion that worships Eris, the Greek Goddess of Chaos and Discord, that was created (or revealed) to a couple of lads named Greg Hill and Kerry Thornley in a Southern California bowling alley in 1958. Afterwards, the official organization (or dis-organization) of the religion was dubbed The Discordian Society.

Numerous hints as to the mystical significance of bowling alleys and their relation to Discordianism can be found in the movie The Big Lebowski, such as the Dude’s preference for Lane 23. 23—it should be noted—is one of the holiest of numbers in Discordianism, second only to the number 5. If you’re interested in finding out more about the Law of Fives and other such holy wonders you’re encouraged to read The Principia Discordia, the Bible of the Discordian religion (or irreligion, as the case may be) which, in turn, became a major influence on the underground classic Illuminatus! So much so, that the authors of Illuminatus!Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea—dedicated the first book in the trilogy to none other than Discordian founders, Hill and Thornley. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves….

Back in 1959, Kerry Thornley served in the Marines with none other than Lee Harvey Oswald, and was actually writing a novel based on Oswald three years before JFK’s Assassination. Thornley considered Oswald a bright and interesting fellow, although somewhat of a natural born screw off who could fuck up a wet dream. With that being said, Thornley was a bit of a loose cannon himself, constantly bouncing from one political stance to the next; one minute a card-carrying commie, the next moment an Ayn Rand Libertarian, then later transforming into an acid gobbling anarchist. Somewhere along the line, Thornley grew to detest JFK, mainly because of a United Nations supported massacre that took place in the Katanga region of the Congo that was endorsed by the Kennedy administration. So when Thornley—ever the irreverent one—got wind of Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963, he joked openly about the Pres’s death to co-workers at a restaurant where he waited tables, then later that evening he and a friend wound up at the bar where they made tongue-in-cheek toasts to the Marine Corps drill instructor who taught Oswald how to fire his rifle, offending most everyone in earshot. A couple of days later when his old friend Oswald got pumped full of lead to the point of being dead, all of Thornley’s laughter died in sorrow… But the story doesn’t end there.

During the period Thornley and his friend Greg Hill lived together in New Orleans in 1961, some of their early Discordian writings—that later made their way into the 1st ed. of the Principia Discordia (published in 1965) —were covertly copied, after hours, on New Orleans’ District Attorney Jim Garrison’s mimeograph machine by Hill’s friend, Lane Caplinger, a secretary in the office.

Oddly enough, when Garrison launched his JFK assassination investigation in 1967, Kerry Thornley became a key suspect in the case. To this end, Garrison claimed that Thornley was a deadly CIA agent who was part of a JFK assassination conspiracy, but Kerry claimed innocence and that he was being framed. It didn’t help his case that he had earlier joked about JFK’s death. Of course, Garrison had a lot of odd theories, including that Thornley was one of the notorious Oswald doubles and that the Discordian Society was a CIA front organization that had been involved in the assassination. Hail Eris!

For further details about this and much, much more related to Discordianism fnord visit

That was today in JFK Assassination History.

Adam Gorightly