An Offbeat JFK Murder Conspiracy Book
“The assassination of President John Kennedy and the conspiracy theories that have developed about it might seem to have been covered in many previous books, but self-described ‘crackpot historian’ Adam Gorightly, who has written nine books so far, appears to have found a fresh angle. His new book, Caught in the Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Lee Oswald and the Garrison Investigation details how Thornley, a little-known but influential counterculture figure, had to fight off accusations from conspiracy theorist and district attorney Jim Garrison of New Orleans.”
Jim Harold’s Conspiracy Corner
“Researcher and author Adam Gorightly joins us to discuss Kerry Thornley, a man who found himself in the hall of mirrors that was Jim Garrison’s JFK assassination investigation. We discuss on this Conspiracy Corner.”
Ground Zero with Clyde Lewis: The Tale of Two Oswalds
“One particular conspiracy theory that is compelling and is seldom talked about is the possibility that there were doppelgangers posing as Lee Harvey Oswald before the assassination even occurred. The idea of multiple assassins or Oswald doppelgangers running loose remains a troubling issue and adds a strange curve to the tragic event. It is one theory that only a hand full of JKF researchers wish to examine as it is viewed as one of those truth is out there topics, one worthy of bring a script for the X-Files.”
Coast To Coast AM JFK Assassination Special
“In the third hour, Gorightly spoke about Kerry Thornley, who met Lee Harvey Oswald in 1959 during basic training at El Toro Marine base and, rather curiously, began writing a book featuring a main character based on Oswald (after he defected to the Soviet Union). Gorightly speculated that Oswald was at El Toro as a spy on some sort of intelligence mission. Thornley claimed he never saw Oswald after 1959 yet both men ended up in New Orleans shortly before JFK’s assassination in 1963, he said. During that period Thornley met some shadowy characters, Gary Kirstein and Slim Brooks, that would later lead him to suspect he’d been unwittingly manipulated into a JFK assassination conspiracy, Gorightly explained, noting that Thornley had been specifically asked about how one could go about killing the president.”
Type 1 Radio Lounge with Adam Gorightly
“Adam Gorightly is coming to England, before that he will join the gang in the lounge to take us on a trip back to our conspiratorial roots.”
Adam Gorightly Interviewed on The Outer Edge 11/16/2014: Caught in the Crossfire
“This Sunday night, we talk to Adam about his ground-breaking new work Caught in the Crossfire, which examines the connections between Kerry Thornley (the founder of Discordianism) and Lee Harvey Oswald.”
Caravan To Midnight – Episode 173 UFO Sightings with Adam Gorightly
“Take a trip today with John B. and Adam Gorightly as they explore the hidden world of global conspiracies and UFO sightings with a few drops of psychedelia here and there.”
For a list of my books, check out my Amazon Author Page.
Hail Eris! All Hail Discordia!
Discordianism—for good or ill—will be forever linked to this dark day in American history. Like a chaos magician reaching down into his top hat-rabbit hole, the Discordian-JFK Assassination landscape is inhabited by Playboy magazine bunny ears, Ozzie Rabbit (Oswald’s nickname), Echo and the Bunnymen (see JMR Higgs’ KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money), a certain pooka named Harvey (“How are you, Mr. Wilson?”) as well as Bugs Bunny’s role as a Discordian Society patron saint. I could explain all of these Discordian-Bunny-JFK assassination associations, but that would be like trying to explain a complicated joke disguised as a religion.
11/22 is one of those magic, yet chaotic dates on the Discordian Calendar when the Eristic (as well as Aneristic forces!) come together to perform a triple whammy of sorts, and this year is no exception as Daisy Eris Campbell premieres her much anticipated Cosmic Trigger Play on this very day (11/22) in Liverpool, England at the Camp and Furnace, which looks like a very cool venue where I plan to hoist a pint or two and then slip into a Liverpudian accent.
To complete this Erisian Triple Whammy (the first anniversary of the Historia Discordia website coinciding with the premiere of the Cosmic Trigger Play), I’ll be a guest on Coast To Coast AM with weekend host Richard Syrett to discuss Caught in the Crossfire. And to confuse matters even more (Hail Eris!), my C2C interview—although slated for November 22rd—won’t actually air until the 3rd hour of the program, the witching hour, midnight 11/23. Appearing in the 3rd hour of C2C seems apropos in that it relates to the theories of that late great conspiracy sleuth James Shelby Downard who proposed that JFK’s assassination was orchestrated by high level Freemasons to occur along the 33rd degree latitude as a part of a death ritual ceremony known as The Killing of the King with the numbers 3 and 33 repeated throughout.
In Masonry there are the three mystical steps or degrees: The Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason. The third degree of Master Mason pertains to symbolic Death and Resurrection and the ceremonial Killing of the King. To this end, 11/22 (11 + 22=33) signifies (maybe) a Masonic triple whammy, as 33 is the highest degree in Freemasonry. Dealey Plaza—situated near the Trinity River—was the site for the first Masonic temple in Dallas. Kennedy’s ill-fated motorcade was just about to pass through the Triple Underpass when three shots rang out, wounding Kennedy twice and Texas Governor John Connally once.
The 3rd Degree of Freemasonry tells the legend of three “unworthy craftsman”—Jubela, Jubelo and Jubelum—who murdered Hiram Abiff, the architect of Solomon’s Temple. Similarly, three tramps were arrested in Dealey Plaza, then afterwards released. One of the tramps was later identified as E. Howard Hunt, who Kerry Thornley later came to suspect as being one of his MK-ULTRA handlers.
On the afternoon 11/23, I’ll be speaking at the Find The Others Conferestival, along with other such illuminaries as Robert Temple (author of The Sirius Mystery), Daisy Eris Campbell, John Higgs and Robin Ince.
The number 23—as sumbutnotall of you may be aware—is yet another holy Discordian number (2+3=5) which in turns relates to the Discordian Law of Fives, so I think we should have all our bases covered. And although I might have taken the steam out of my so-called Discordian Triple Whammy by not actually appearing on C2C on 11/22, I will be on Clyde Lewis’ Ground Zero Radio on 11/21, although for me it will actually be 11/22 (at the illustrious hour of 4am!) calling in from my hotel room in Liverpool, which further illustrates the quantum mechanical nature of the universe where I can travel back in time from the future to appear on a radio show in the past!
And, of course, 11/21 also has its place inDiscordianism as 1+1+2+1=5!
Here’s a hint of what went down in London.
We’ve reached part two of the Chasing Eris adventure. I’ve taken my accommodation in Bristol, a city full of artistic energy, close to my intended interviewees. On one of my first days in the city, I jump on a train to London.
There are two great stories of Discordia waiting to be told here. One is of The KLF, the superstar band that took the world by storm, before quitting the music business and burning a million pounds of cash. The starting point of that first story grows out of the fertile, imaginative ground of our second story—the Illuminatus! Play of November 23, 1976.
Robert Anton Wilson first discovered Discordianism through his mail correspondence with Kerry Thornley in 1967. In a 1992 interview with Reverend Wyrdsli, Thornley discussed Wilson’s interest in Discordia:
He said, very early in our relationship that one of the things we needed were God models that were appropriate to anarchism. And he had written some stuff about Taoism and the spirit of the Valley Lady: the eternal female, and about Shang Dynasty matrism and so on and so forth. So I suggested to him Eris Discordia and told him about the Discordian Society, and he was just very enthused about it, plunged into it, got very active in it, and was responsible for a lot of our creeds and dogmas and so on and so forth.
Robert Anton Wilson would become involved in Operation Mindfuck that next year, participating in various Discordian shenanigans, including the development of a large mythos built-up around the Bavarian Illuminati. This mythos would appear to have gone on to influence the modern pop-cultural idea of the Illuminati, from books such as Umberto Eco’s conspiracy classic Foucault’s Pendulum (Amazon) to the pop-culture runaway successes of Dan Brown’s novels The Da Vinci Code (Amazon) and Angels and Demons (Amazon), and the film adaptation of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (Amazon Instant Video), though Wilson’s influence is seldom credited.
Robert Shea, the editor of anarchist zine No Governor was Wilson’s partner in crime. The pair were working together editing the Playboy Forum letters section. A number of the letters they received were from paranoids (or most likely letters Shea & Wilson planted), alleging that they were the target of various conspiracies. Using the concept that perhaps every single one of the alleged conspiracies was true, they began work on the Illuminatus! Trilogy (Amazon).
One of the plot devices of Illuminatus! was that it featured a long-running feud between the Discordians and the Illuminati. This was a theme that had previously been carried through a number of Discordian writings in the zine scene, and was invoked in the Illuminatus! Trilogy at Shea’s suggestion.
The first volume of Illuminatus! was released in 1975, and did a great deal to popularize Discordianism. Readers mistakenly assumed the mysterious Principia Discordia mentioned in Illuminatus! was one of the many fabrications of Shea and Wilson, and were later often stunned to learn the Principia Discordia was, in fact, real.
In 1976 Ken Campbell went into Compendium, a bookshop in Camden town. He was looking for a work to perform at the Liverpool Theatre of Language, Music, Dream and Pun, the site founded by poet Peter O’Halligan, who based the location of the theatre on a dream recounted by Carl Jung. In this store he spotted a copy of Illuminatus!, a yellow submarine on the cover. This was a possible synchronicity to the Liverpool music scene that spawned The Beatles who once sang about such a submarine. He opened it to a random page to see what he’d find, and the line he read was all about Jung. Synchronicities were plentiful.
As a result, Illuminatus! became the first project to be performed in Liverpool Theatre of Language, Music, Dream and Pun.
Anyone who has seen a copy of Illuminatus! has had the sheer size of the work impressed upon them. Completing it is no mean feat. Adapting it down to the size of a typical play would be an even more daunting feat. However Campbell took it a step further; instead of cutting out huge chunks of the text he kept the work at largely its original size, and developed eight-and-a-half hours of performance. In Liverpool he presented five plays over five nights, with the fifth being a presentation of all five; one after the other in a mammoth all day performance.
The creative team behind the play included Chris Langham—who helped produce the play alongside Campbell—as lead role George Dorn, Jim Broadbent in a number of minor roles including biological weapon designer Dr. Charles Moncenigo and the sadistic Sheriff Jim Cartwright, Bill Nighy as magazine editor Joe Malik, David Rappaport as Markoff Chainey, and the work of Bill Drummond, later of The KLF fame, as a set designer.
I walked up to the National Theatre. After the Liverpool shows the play moved on to performances in Amsterdam, before finally coming to London. I had come here just to stand in front of the theatre and do a small video talking about the play, but thought I’d try my luck wandering on in and asking at the theatre shop if they knew anything about the Trilogy. They referred me to the National Theatre Archive which, in my ignorance, I had not known about.
The next day I went to the archive and was given a large case full of documentation from the play. The most voluminous (and for reasons of copyright, the most off-limits, with no photocopying permitted) was the play itself, an enormous pile of A4 paper resembling more a Joycean manuscript than any play I’d ever seen. Sketches of Eye-in-the-Pyramid and designs of sets or advertising were scrawled across the backs of several of the pages.
I pulled out several newspaper articles. Most were reviews, but a small number stood out in particular as bizarre oddities that contributed an additional layer of weirdness to the already larger than life Illuminatus! saga.
One article was titled “Horror Mission of an Actor Obsessed with the Occult” from the Daily Mail, dated September 7, 1982 about Illuminatus! cast member Chris Taynton whose roles included the pimp Carmel and Robert Putney Drake, the head of the American Crime Syndicate. The article told of how Taynton, believing he had been overcome by alien forces, attacked Adrena Smith, a 57-year-old lady, by stabbing her multiple times. He blinded her in one eye, and killed her pets, including cutting the ears off her dog. Taynton’s involvement in the Illuminatus! play was raised in court by his defense lawyer, Patricia May, specifically in regard to the play’s supernatural and occult themes.
“Having taken an extremely exciting part in a somewhat bizarre play he became more and more involved in the principles that were propounded in that play,” said May.
It seems a number of the cast went on to have troubled futures. David Rappaport, a dwarf actor, who also played a main role in Terry Gilliam’s movie Time Bandits (Amazon Instant Video), struggled with depression in his later life and ended up shooting himself fatally in the chest in 1990, in Laurel Canyon Park, California.
Chris Langham too was jailed for 10 months in 2007 for possessing Level Five child pornography, which he claimed was both part of researching a character and helping himself deal with his own abuse as an eight year old child.
Before we enter into The Curse of Tutankhamen territory, it’s worth noting not all actors in Illuminatus! had such tragic futures waiting for them. Jim Broadbent and Bill Nighy continue to enjoy prosperous acting careers, and Ken Campbell left a legacy of genius (as well as a record for longest play ever—not in fact for Illuminatus!—but for his 22-hour long The Warp). He was remembered by Liverpool Everyman Theatre and Playhouse Artistic Director Gemma Bodinetz as “The door through which many hundreds of kindred souls entered a madder, braver, brighter, funnier and more complex universe.”
Another, less ghoulish article I read was titled “Raising School Fees for Gorilla,” and was published in The Guardian on April 19, 1977.
In Illuminatus!, our intrepid heroes encounter a group of gorillas. Hagbard Celine, played by Neil Cunningham, has a conversation with them in Swahili (the gorillas all speak English, but are much more comfortable with Swahili). When Malik (Bill Nighy) asks if Celine taught the gorillas to speak, he responds that the gorillas have always been able to speak, but have largely kept their abilities secret:
“…the gorillas themselves are too shrewd to talk to anybody but another anarchist. They’re all anarchists themselves, you know, and they have a very healthy wariness about people in general and government people in particular. As one of them told me once, ‘If it got out that we can talk, the conservatives would exterminate most of us and make the rest pay rent to live on our own land; and the liberals would try to train us to be engine-lathe operators. Who the fuck wants to operate an engine lathe?’ They prefer their own pastoral and Eristic ways, and I, for one, would never interfere with them.”
Koko, according to the book Drawing the Line: Science and the Case for Animal Rights (Amazon), knew 2000 spoken English words and 1000 words in American Sign Language as of 2003. However, in 1977, the project was in very real danger of running out of money, the result to be that Koko would find herself returned to the San Francisco Zoo.
Perhaps because of the plot connection, or perhaps for other more incomprehensible and possibly synchronistic reasons, the Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool (the organization run by Campbell and Langham specifically to produce the play) decided to support the project, even going as far as to consider adding an optional 50p levy to the audience in addition to setting up a stall to raise money.
“It was exactly the sort of research we think should be continued,” said Nighy.
“You never know what might be found out,” Campbell was quoted as saying.
The complete version of this article will appear in my forthcoming book Chasing Eris.
Through my remarkable remote viewing powers I’ve had the opportunity to sneak a peek at Daisy’s play, and I must say she’s done a marvelous job of weaving all of RAW’s Chapel Perilous craziness together in a freewheeling romp that includes appearances by Greg Hill and Kerry Thornley, to boot.
Among the Cosmic Trigger perks included at the crowdfunding page are some signed books by yours truly, so surf on over there and gobble up some goodies in support of the Golden Apple Corps. Here’s Douglas Rushkoff endorsing the Cosmic Trigger fund raising drive.
In other important business, 5/23 was also the day the presses starting churning out my latest book Historia Discordia: The Origins of the Discordian Society (RVP Press), although it will be about a week before you start seeing it pop up for purchase, so hang in there and as soon as we have a purchase link, you’ll be the first to fnord know!
According to my publisher for Historia Discordia, part of the delay stemmed from the fact that when he reviewed a test copy of the book, he discovered page 123 had been printed twice.
I kid you not. Hail Eris, of course.
Though not the crispest images, they document the Illuminatus! Seattle production in all its chaotic grandeur.
As I learned from Iona, the Seattle stage production took place at The Empty Space Uncommon Theatre in 1978. At this link is a listing of The Empty Space Uncommon Theatre productions for 1978/79, listing Illuminatus! in three parts. Also listed were a couple other Ken Campbell productions with such interesting titles as Skungpoomery and Psychosis Unclassified.
In the promotion poster below, British Sci-Fi author Brian Aldis had this to say about the Illuminatus! play:
“Nobody is going to believe this… I can’t recall ever sitting in a theatre sweating with suspense while laughing my head off…. here is Genius with a Gee!”
Ken 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.)
Working with the National Theatre (under the Patronage of Queen Elizabeth, no less!), Campbell arranged for the two Bobs, Wilson and Shea, to be flown across the pond for the London production premiere. In appreciation of Her Majesty’s largesse, Wilson made a cameo appearance: “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’ under the patronage of Elizabeth II, Queen of England, and I will never stop wondering how much of that was programmed by Crowley before I was even born.” According to Michael Coveney’s Ken Campbell bio, RAW was so nervous about his nude cameo that he dropped some acid before going on stage, as well as doling out hits to other actors in the play.
At some point, during the course of the production (if I got the story straight), Kenneth Campbell’s daughter, Daisy Eris Campbell, was conceived backstage. More on the adventures of Daisy Campbell in a bit….
A year after of the Illuminatus! stage production, a Discordian reunion of sorts took place that included Bob and Arlen Wilson, Louise Lacey, Greg Hill, Bob and Rita Newport, as well as several other friends of the Wilson’s who traveled to Seattle to take in the Illuminatus! stage production during its stateside run.
‘Twas a chilly Seattle night (as the story goes), so someone (who shall remain nameless) produced enough MDMA for Wilson and all his colleagues (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 collected auras—as they sat entranced by the spectacle which unfolded.
The MDMA notwithstanding, Louise Lacey recalls the Illuminatus! stage production as a “sublime experience” which had one and all rolling in the aisles.
In the spirit of the Illuminatus! stage play—and filled with the same sort of Erisian inspiration as her dearly departed father—Daisy Eris Campbell has taken on the task of creating a stage adaption of Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger, which you can find out more about in the YouTube video to follow.
Here’s a great article on Ken Campbell, Illuminatus! and other Liverpool romps.
And this just in! An update from Daisy Eris!
UPDATE: January 8, 2014: More on the 1978 Seattle Stage Production of Illuminatus!.