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Fnord: The Illuminatus! Trilogy group read starts Monday, February 24

Discordian Guerrilla Ontology advert for the release of the Illuminatus! Trilogy.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Tom Jackson, who runs the right-fine site, has organized a group reading of The Illuminatus! Trilogy set to begin this coming Monday, February 24, 2014.

Here’s more info from the press release for the group reading:

The ostensible subject of the book is the Illuminati, an alleged secret society that seeks to control the world and is still the subject of many conspiracy theories. Many of the book’s protagonists are either battling the Illuminati or struggling to figure out what is really going on.

The Illuminatus! Trilogy, 'candy apple red' edition from Dell Trade Paperback, January 1984. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
The work makes liberal use of Discordianism, a tongue-in-cheek religion devoted to worship of the Greek goddess Eris, who was blamed for starting the Trojan War, and of the Kabbalah, an esoteric mystical system that began as part of Judaism. The text also reflects the authors’ strong interesting anarchism and libertarianism.

Readers of the website will participate in an online discussion of the book beginning on Feb. 24. The discussion will proceed at a pace of 10 pages a week, to give readers time to untangle many of the esoteric references and meanings in the text. The slow pace also will allow time for readers who missed the initial announcement to get caught up and participate. The standard paperback edition has 805 pages, so the discussion is expected to take well over a year.

Each week, an entry on a 10-page section of the book will be posted on the website’s blog, and readers will be invited to weigh in using the comments.

If you’ve never read The Illuminatus! Trilogy, this is a fine opportunity to get in on this underground classic of subversion.

As one character in the book, Epicene Wildblood, puts it while reviewing Illuminatus! in Illuminatus!, it’s “a fairy tale for paranoids.”

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February 18: This Day In Discordian History

Marquee for the RAW Meme-Orial, February 18, 2007. Courtesy of Tim Cridland.
On February 18, 2007, I had the privilege of attending what was dubbed The Robert Anton Wilson Cosmic Meme-Orial held at the Coconut Grove Ballroom in Santa Cruz, CA, the town where RAW lived the last couple decades of his life.

At the time, Louise Lacey was visiting Santa Cruz, so on the way I picked her up and gave her a lift to the event, which was located right off the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk where I’d spent so many days of my youth and teenage years. So it was nostalgic in that sense, conjuring up memories of days gone by, and also a sense of fond nostalgia about RAW’s influence on all of us Discordians attending the event. In many ways this day signaled the end of an era, although those in the crowd did not dwell on the maudlin, but to the contrary came and celebrated and laughed and lifted a glass (or two) to RAW’s passing into the land of We Know Not What.

RAW’s box of ashes, topped by the Golden Apple, February 18, 2007.
Courtesy of Tim Cridland.
As we entered the ballroom, RAW’s ashes were on display in a wooden box that was appropriately topped off with a Golden Apple. Louise stopped in her tracks and did a double take, recognizing it as the very same Golden Apple she’d given RAW a few years earlier at the premiere of the Maybe Logic documentary at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz back on July 23 of 2003. (July 23rd being a holy Discordian date that celebrates the rising of the star Sirius and RAW’s encounter with otherworldly entities. Maybe.) Outside during intermission, RAW had stepped out to have a cig when Louise presented him with said Golden Apple and recalled that he was completely enchanted with the gift, and couldn’t take his eyes off it as he cradled it in his hands. This was the last time that Louise saw him.

During the Meme-Orial, many took to the stage with their RAW remembrances, including his daughter, Christina, who shared his last message:

“I no longer claim to know anything, but I still have some persistent suspicions. My greatest suspicion holds that all my suspicions may prove wrong. Intelligence recognizes that nothing now seems impossible. Have a good, hearty laugh and do not dare to mourn me.”

The zine movement, in all its nostalgic glory. Left to right: Adam Gorightly, Tim Cridland, Kenn Thomas and Greg Bishop at the RAW Meme-Orial, February 18, 2007.
Courtesy of Tim Cridland.
The event was attended by my good friends Kenn Thomas of Steamshovel Press fame, The Excluded Middle’s Greg Bishop and Tim Cridland (aka Zamora The Torture King), who all, in one way or another, were touched by RAW’s work. Coming of age during the late-80s zine movement, it seemed RAW was a unifying force binding us all together, not only because he had penned such mind bending classics as Illuminatus! and Cosmic Trigger, but due as well to his optimistic and open minded outlook which seemed an inspiring path to follow.

To this end, Greg recalled how his life was literally saved when—during a period of deep depression—he fortunately discovered RAW’s writings about the loser and winner scripts, and immediately took them to head and heart, turning his world around.

Synchronicities were often abundant during personal interactions with RAW, as Kenn Thomas recalled:

“The twenty-three coincidences came up twice when RAW visited me in St. Louis way back in 1978. We were talking about it at lunch one day when the number we were given at the pizza place to wait for our order was 2323. Later, I took him to a radio interview in the nearby burb of Clayton, MO—near where George Noory does his show these days—and I pointed out that the name of the building where the radio station was located must have some mystical significance. It was called the Sevens Building. “Maybe,” he said, “and maybe so does that” and he pointed the top of the tall building across the street which had a large “23” marking its street address. RAW tells some version of this story on one of his videos, saying that the incident reflected a koan ‘Who is the Master who makes the grass green?’”

Poster for the RAW Meme-Orial.
Any decent memorial—as all good Irishmen and Discordians know—has a well stocked bar to which I soon made passage. After securing an ice cold Anchor Steam—and taking a long cool drawl thereof—I worked my way back through the crowd, in the process bumping into R.U. Sirius of Mondo 2000 fame. Though no meaningful words were exchanged between us during the course of our passage, we shared that knowing nod that only RAW initiates know, clinking our bottle necks together, a toast in cosmic unison, as each of us then continued moving through the crowd.

The next RAW initiate I encountered was his long time friend, Scott Apel, who spent a lot of time with Bob during his final days. Scott mentioned that, at one point, RAW had handed him a copy of The Prankster and The Conspiracy and said, “If you want to know what really happened with the early Discordian scene, read this book!”—which was a wonderful anecdote to hear.

There are some very cool clips from the RAW Meme-Orial at this YouTube playlist:

RAW’s ashes being tossed to the sea, and to Eris, February 18, 2007.
Courtesy of Tim Cridland.
Included is a stirring rendition of Auld Lasagna, as well as the procession where we were all given kazoos and such to blow upon and make mad music as we marched out to the beach to watch RAW’s ashes scattered to the sea, and to Eris.

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Who Is The Master Who Makes The Grassy Knoll Green?

Dealey Plaza: Reality Vortex

It’s been a working theory of mine that Dealey Plaza was some sort of inter-dimensional vortex of alternate reality perceptions. That’s why there are so many varying theories about the JFK assassination—because they’re all true and false at the same time.

To further elaborate on this theme, consult the Dealey Lama and enjoy the following video…

And for more ruminations along these lines, check out my recent appearance on The Sync Book Radio’s Always Record radio show:

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An Illuminating Day With Robert Anton Wilson

In 1976, pioneering underground newspaper the Berkeley Barb published the below article on a then 44-year-old Robert Anton Wilson written by Ray Ramsay. The article posted below contains some interesting history on the writing and publication of The Illuminatus! Trilogy.

Greg Hill was thoughtful enough to stash a copy into the Discordian Archives.

Hail Eris!

Berkeley Barb article on Robert Anton Wilson, March 12-18, 1976 edition. Click to Embiggen.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
discordianism robert anton wilson

Yesterday’s Synchronicity

The Axe Murderer and The Buddha
This is a photo of RAW and yours truly from the spring of 2001. In it he is sporting a shirt that says “I have seen the fnords” and of course wearing his famous ring with the spiral on it. A couple years back I had a dream with RAW in which we engaged in a deep discussion about the meaning of his ring, and how it was an allegory to The Buddha.
Photo courtesy of Greg Bishop.

Yesterday I was reviewing a list of potential posts for Historia Discordia, one of which is a piece I wrote on
Robert Anton Wilson’s passing back in 2007. So I got to wondering what day RAW died, and thought it would be apropos to coincide posting the piece on that date.

I did a quick Google search and, as our crazy Goddess would have it, RAW died on the date of January 11th, which is just the sort of stone cold synchronicity one encounters when pulling cosmic triggers and rolling golden apples. Perhaps a day late and a dollar short, we share with you now my RAW eulogy.
Adam Gorightly


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Discordian Culture Jamming: ANARCHO-SURREALISM by Mordecai Zwack

The following review of Illuminatus! entitled “Anarcho-Surrealism” was among the Discordian Archives I was first turned onto by Bob Newport in the early 2000s. At first blush, the document appeared to have been composed by Greg Hill — under the pseudonymous moniker of “Mordecai Zwack” — circa 1974-ish during the period he was living in NYC.

Later, while combing through correspondence between Robert Anton Wilson and Greg Hill from the period, I soon discovered that they actually collaborated on the piece. This would explain the Mordecai moniker in the byline, as Mordecai — it just so happens — was the first name of RAW’s Discordian persona, Mordecai Malignatus aka Mordecai the Foul.

In retrospect, “Anarcho-Surrealism” seems a prime example of Discordian Culture Jamming, in the sense that RAW was writing his own clandestine review of Illuminatus! with the covert aid of Discordian Society co-founder Greg Hill, aka Malaclypse the Younger, Omnibenevolent Polyfather of Virginity in Gold (K.S.C.).

Get yourself Discordian Culture Jammed:

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Kenneth and Daisy Eris: A Campbell Clan Discordian Continuum

Illuminatus! poster for the Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool production, 1976.
On November 23rd, 1976 (which just so happens to be a high holy day in Discordianism, 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 Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea’s Illuminatus! (Amazon Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover) at the Science-Fiction Theatre in Liverpool. In true Discordian fashion, the production consisted of five plays of five acts each, with each act 23 minutes in length. As Wilson wrote in Cosmic Trigger (Paperback):

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.

Wilson (l) and Shea (r) during the Illuminatus! publication period.
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!.

audio music robert anton wilson video

Robert Anton Wilson and The Golden Horde

Robert Anton Wilson first met Ireland’s most fnord notorious “psychedelic/garage/trash punk” band, The Golden Horde, while on vacation in Dublin in the early-80s. In 1985, The Golden Horde released their first LP, The Chocolate Biscuit Conspiracy!, on Hotwire Records with co-credit to Wilson, who provided lyrics and spoken word vocals on several tracks.

The Chocolate Biscuit Conspiracy! had four weeks on the 1986 UK Indie Charts, peaking at, you guessed it, #23. Hail Eris!

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Interview of Louise Lacey, Early Discordian Goddess by Adam Gorightly

Early Discordian Louise Lacey. Photo courtesy of Faith Echtermeyer, Copyright 1980.

I recently happened upon an interview I did with Louise Lacey back in 2007 and thought it’d make a good addition to Historia Discordia, including — as it does — Louise’s recounting of the halcyon days of Discordianism along with some fond remembrances of Robert Anton Wilson, Greg Hill and Kerry Thornley.

At one point in the interview, Louise corrected (as she is wont to do!) my apparent butchering of the pronunciation of Eris — “Ear-reese” — which is how Robert Anton Wilson invoked the Goddess, and so often times I’ll use that pronunciation. Wilson was also the first person I heard pronounce “Principia” with a hard “c,” which is the correct way of saying it in Latin. (Just so ya know I’m not a total dodo!)

Elsewhere in the interview I state erroneously that Kerry Thornley did NOT appear before the Orleans Parish Grand Jury (during the Jim Garrison Investigation madness) which at the time of our interview was my understanding. However, I was wrong, which seldom happens to your humble Discordian reporter, but when it does I’m the first to admit it!

Hail Eris! All Hail Imperfection!

On to the Untamed Dimension’s Louise Lacey fnord Interview…

Links for Louise Lacey:

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The Discordian Timeline of Chaos – Kerry Wendell Thornley

April 17, 1938: Kerry Thornley is born in Los Angeles to Kenneth and Helen Thornley.

1956: Kerry Thornley meets Greg Hill and Bob Newport while attending California High School (CalHi) in East Whittier, California.

Kerry Thornley: An award winning high school student who had no idea of the conspiratorial madness that would await him in 1976!

1957: Kerry Graduates from CalHi.

1958: Kerry attends the University of Southern California as a journalism student. That same year, Kerry and Greg Hill form the Discordian Society.

1959: Kerry enlists in the Marine Corps and meets Lee Harvey Oswald and Bud Simco. Begins work on The Idle Warriors (Paperback). Oswald is dishonorably discharged from the Marines and defects to Russia.

1960: Kerry is discharged from the Marines and returns to Los Angeles.

1961: Kerry and Greg Hill move to New Orleans, where they meet Slim Brooks and Gary Kirstein, aka “Brother-in-law.”

June 1962: Oswald returns to the U.S. from Russia.

November 1963: President John F. Kennedy is assassinated.

December 1963: Kerry moves to Alexandria, Virginia, and works as a doorman at the Shirlington House.

Spring 1964: Kerry testifies before the Warren Commission.

April 1965: Kerry’s book, Oswald (Paperback), is published by New Classics House.

December 1965: Kerry marries Cara Leach at Wayfarer’s Chapel near Palos Verdes, California.

Late 1965 through early 1966: Kerry begins experimenting with psychedelics. Meets Camden Benares.

1967: Kerry helps organize and participates in the first Griffith Park Human Be-In. Begins correspondence with Robert Anton Wilson.

Late 1967: Kerry and Cara move to Tampa, Florida. Jim Garrison launches his Kennedy assassination probe.

January 1968: Kerry is served with a subpoena to testify before the New Orleans grand jury in Jim Garrison’s investigation.

Later in 1968: Operation Mindfuck begins.

1969: Greg Hill creates the Joshua Norton Cabal. Kerry’s son Kreg Thornley is born.

1970: Perjury charges against Kerry in the Garrison investigation are dropped.

Late 1971: Cara and Kerry separate.

1973: Kerry’s memories of “Brother-in-law” come flooding back, and he suspects he was part of a Kennedy assassination conspiracy.

Not only the definitive, but only, biography of Kerry Wendell Thornley by Adam Gorightly, The Prankster and the Conspiracy: The Story of Kerry Thornley and How He Met Oswald and Inspired the Counterculture
1975-1977: Kerry’s paranoia intensifies. He now suspects that Robert Anton Wilson is his CIA controller and part of a clandestine assassination bureau.

1980s: Kerry lives the life of a vagabond, hitchhiking from coast-to-coast. Most of his time is spent in Florida or Atlanta, with occasional trips to the West Coast.

1986-1987: Kerry begins circulating The Dreadlock Recollections (recounting his unwitting participation in a JFK assassination conspiracy) via samizdat format.

1991: Kerry starts experiencing kidney problems.

1992: Kerry is interviewed by Oliver Stone, who is researching his forthcoming movie, JFK. Kerry appears on A Current Affair (YouTube: Part 1, Part 2).

November 28, 1998: Kerry dies from complications related to Wegner’s granulomatosis disease.