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Not Invited to Discordian Parties?

The Judgement of Paris Ca. 1638. Oil on canvas. Peter Paul Rubens, Museo Del Prado.
The Early Discordians enjoyed a damn good party, dating back of course to that earliest of them all, on Mount Olympus, where the whole ball (or the Original Snub produced The Golden Apple) first got rolling when Eris was not invited to a little marriage party hosted by Zeus.

Scattered throughout the Discordian Archives are flyers and invites to such chaotically-inspired soirées. In a recent post, we featured correspondence from Greg Hill about one such meet-up that occurred in Chicago during the early-70s that included Hill, Robert Anton Wilson (RAW), Robert Shea and Tim and Mary Wheeler.

Tim Wheeler at his farm in Shelbyville. Courtesy of Mary Wheeler.

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.

Grand National Founding Convention of Young Americans For Real Freedom.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Proposed planks for the 'Shelbyville Statement.'
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives
Flyer for the Second Annual YARF Convention.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

For further info on YARF, click here.

Louise Lacey, late 1960s. Courtesy of Louise Lacey.

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.

A note from Greg Hill to Louise Lacey composed on genuine Illuminati stationary!

Next in chronological (dis)order is a party described in RAW’s Cosmic Trigger: The Final Secret of the Illuminati that occurred on Crowleymas – October 12, 1974 . According to RAW, this gathering was

“…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…”

Grady McMurtry and RAW some time in the 1970s.

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.

Crowleymass invite sent out by Greg Hill (aka Malaclypse the Younger).
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
RAW’s write-up about Crowleymass.
Camden in the role of his Discordian persona, The Count of Fives.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

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.

Letter from Camden Benares to Greg Hill dated March 3, 1981.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Reverse side of March 3, 1981 letter from Benares to Hill
announcing the Fort Chaotic Discordian party.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

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.

June and Camden Benares. Photo courtesy of John F. Carr.
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The Epistles of Thomas the Gnostic

Among the more obscure Early Discordians was Tom McNamara aka Thomas the Gnostic, who was not only of the Erisian persuasion, but also a member of the Bavarian Illuminati, and a participant in Operation Mindfuck as demonstrated in the letter below published in The Rag, a counterculture mag based out of Austin, Texas, during the 1960s and early-70s.

Bavarian Illuminati letter courtesy of Thomas the Gnostic
sent to The Rag on the 26th of Discord 3136 (April 9, 1970).
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

During the Discordian Society halcyon days, McNamara distributed an Erisian newsletter, the alliterative Papish Pastoral Letter to the Provincials of the Provinces of Patareal Paratheo Providence, a sample of which is presented below.

Papish Pastoral Letter to the Provincials of the
Provinces of Patareal Paratheo Providence
, Page 00001.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Papish Pastoral Letter to the Provincials of the
Provinces of Patareal Paratheo Providence
, Page 00002.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

Included in the Discordian Archives are scattered correspondence between Greg Hill and McNamara. In a letter dated March 22, 1971, Hill related recent Discordian developments, including a Chicago meet-up with Bob Shea, Robert Anton Wilson (RAW) and Tim and Mary Wheeler (aka Harold Randomfactor and Hope Springs). Of this Chicago meet-up, Hill wrote:

“Most sorry missed you at the Chicago Meet, but I supposed goddess knows what she is doing. I genuinely hope that the day will come when we can rap some face to face. This correspondence business, it only goes in some directions and it is hard to anchor sometimes. I’ll buy the beer should the opportunity arise….

“The Chicago Meet, incidentally, was no big thing excepting a retouch in the flesh. Met RF [Randomfactor] & Hope for the first time and was not surprised in any way. Wilson kept engaging in political arguments with them and it bummered kind of, it gets difficult to remember that substantial differences are in accord with the Erisian concept—it gets difficult indeed in personal issues. O Were We All Saints. That bit in diatribe about me slipping into the curse of greyface—that was from the soul my friend. Wilson and Tim had a touch of greyface then (at Chi) too. Doubt if Tim feels much a part of us much anymore.

“Mostly we just sat around and rapped on petty incidentals. It was a pleasant time, which is want I wanted actually. Wilson & I played around with literature some—that kind of thing. Very therapeutic. Got stoned and giggled a lot…”

While RAW occasionally described himself as a Libertarian, he was definitely on the anti-war/pacifist end of the spectrum, most notably taking to the Chi-town streets with all the hairy freaks during the 1968 Democratic National Convention protests. Wheeler—conversely—was a William F. Buckley conservative and, as noted in this exclusive Historia Discordia interview, worked as a humor editor for Buckley’s National Review. One issue that might have led to a “political argument” between Wheeler and Wilson would have been the Vietnam War. While there was plenty to be critical about Buckley’s worldview, one important contribution he made to the conservative movement was calling out John Birch Society (JBS) propaganda and its influence on the GOP. To this end, Wheeler produced a satirical piece on the JBS, which took the form of a hoax/gag issue of the National Review, kind of a play on Illuminati conspiracies ala the Trilateral Commission, Bilderbergers, etc. Check it out here.

Wheeler’s irreverent nature is what enamored him to his fellow Discordians, who for the most part were politically aligned with anarcho-libertarianism, which included a fondness for pot, another interest they shared with Wheeler, who was a notorious dope-smoking Republican.

While RAW and Wheeler disagreed on certain political issues, they both concurred that it was a fine and righteous thing to poke fun at Illuminati conspiracies of the John Birch Society variety, and then co-opt said JBS-Illuminati mythology for their own nefarious ends, Hail Eris!

Download the March 22, 1971 letter in its entirety here.

Tim Wheeler with Mr. Potato Head sometime in the late 1980s.

Next we find an exchange between Thomas the Gnostic and Reverend Dean Cleveland of the St. Procopius Rectory, wherein Thomas was evidently yanking the good rector’s chain.

Correspondence between Thomas the Gnostic and
the right Reverend Dean Cleveland from May 1971.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

Next in the chronology was a letter dated February 1972 from McNamara to Hill (aka Iggy):

“You know the phantasies you’ve had that the FBI might be after us? Well, you’ll be happy to know that they are at least after me. This is not just paranoia. It seems that recently I wuz incarcerated in the state mental prison here, no shit! How I got there is a long stupid story. How I got out is even simpler. I hired a lawyer to rescue me from the mad doctors. But in the course of all this madness I learned one thing. The F.B.I. is really keeping tabs on me. They made indiscreet ‘inquiries’ to both my lawyer and the keepers. I ain’t going to let this stop me from whatever it is that I am doing that is subversive’. I just wish I could figure out what it is that I am doing. Oh well. As for the mental prison: ‘God save us from those who would save us from ourselves.’

February 1972 letter from McNamara to Hill.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

Also in the letter, McNamara mentions an Illuminati-mythology-then-in-the-making ala Morris Kaminsky’s The Hoaxers, which expounded upon a claim that the real brains behind that dreaded secret society was some dude named Sidney Weinberg.

Morris Kaminsky’s The Hoaxers published in 1970.

McNamara’s visit to the funny farm notwithstanding, by the mid 1970s he apparently had his life together enough to author this stellar review of the Illuminatus! trilogy for the Berkeley Barb.

Tom McNamara's review of Illuminatus!
from the Oct. 10-16, 1975 edition of the Berkeley Barb.

Hat tip to Prop Anon for the heads-up on this Berkeley Barb/Tom McNamara review of Illuminatus!

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Sex, Drugs, and Discordia


The following article previously appeared in a slightly (chemically altered) form in Psychedelic Press Issue 23.


The Original Paste-Up Discordia (PUD), Page 00040, St. Gulik.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
The Original Paste-Up Discordia (PUD), Page 00027, St. Gulik.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.


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.)

The Original Paste-Up Discordia (PUD), Page 00068, Plant Your Seeds.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
The Original Paste-Up Discordia (PUD), Page 00023, Discordian Application for Membership.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives


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!

Groovy Kit instructions courtesy of Kerry Thornley, circa late 1960s.

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 and Kerry Thornley in the late 1960s.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

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,
But now
Chills are back too
And the room is
Very desolate,
Save one single point
Of life and warmth:
The candle,
Far below on the floor.
As a Holy Guru
The Omniscient flame
Radiates its serenity
To all who
Will accept,
And body is once again granted
Warmth and
Comfort.

Kerry Thornley circa late 1960s.
Courtesy of John F. Carr.

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

Louise Lacey, late 1960s.
Courtesy of Louise Lacey.

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.”

The 'Plant Your Seeds' chain letter by Greg Hill.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

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:

Late 1960s correspondence index card from Arthur Kleps to Greg Hill.

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)

Early Discordians Tim and Mary Wheeler.
Photo Courtesy of Mary Wheeler.

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

Tim Wheeler in the late 1960s.

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.

A rare photo of the Cinema Rio being revitalized by Wilfred dePaola.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

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.

Cinema Rio flyer constructed by Greg Hill, August 1972.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

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

Kerry Thornley and Camden Benares circa late-70s.
Photo courtesy of John F. Carr.

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.

For shits and giggles, Camden sent out sporadic dispatches to his Discordian friends under the title of The Camp Meeker Truth and Foma Forum.

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.”

December 1974 letter from Bob Newport to Greg Hill
on an Altair Design coloring book page.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

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

 


Notes


00001 Wilson, Robert Anton. 2016. Cosmic Trigger I: Final Secret of the Illuminati. Hilaritas Press. (Pages 22-23)

00002 Wilson, Robert Anton. Starseed Signals: Link Between Worlds. Unpublished manuscript. (Page 19).

00003 ibid. (Page 18)

00004 Gorightly, Adam. The Prankster and the Conspiracy: The Story of Kerry Thornley and How He Met Oswald and Inspired the Counterculture. Paraview Press. (Page 49)

00005 Thornley, Kerry. 1975. Untitled paper. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

00006 Gorightly, Adam. The Prankster and the Conspiracy: The Story of Kerry Thornley and How He Met Oswald and Inspired the Counterculture. Paraview Press. (Page 60)

00007 ibid. (Page 50)

00008 Clutterbuck, Brenton. Chasing Eris. (Page 51)

00009 “The Secret History of Immanentizing the Eschaton: The Mary Wheeler Interview”, historiadiscordia.com. November 2, 2014.

00010 Clutterbuck, Brenton. Chasing Eris. (Page 53)

00011 Excerpt from Brenton Clutterbuck’s interview with Robert Newport, 2012 .

00012 Clutterbuck, Brenton. Chasing Eris. (Page 53)

00013 Gorightly, Adam. < a href="https://amzn.to/2IL23V9">The Prankster and the Conspiracy (p. 140). Cosimo, Inc. Kindle Edition.

00014Wilson, Robert Anton. 2016. Cosmic Trigger I: Final Secret of the Illuminati. Hilaritas Press. (Page 224)

00015 ibid.

00016 Gorightly, Adam. The Prankster and the Conspiracy: The Story of Kerry Thornley and How He Met Oswald and Inspired the Counterculture. Paraview Press. (Page 210)

Categories
discordian timeline discordianism illuminati interview mary wheeler monkey business tim wheeler writings

Discordianism Meets The National Review

Our Peoples Underground issue of the National Review. Courtesy of Mary Wheeler.
We share with you a long forgotten Discordian classic that appeared in, of all places, William F. Buckley’s National Review, titled “Our People’s Underworld Movement” and written by famed Early Discordian Harold Randomfactor (aka Tim Wheeler).

Download a PDF copy of the National Review article found in the Discordian Archives and labeled “POEE ARCHIVE LOAN COPY.” Please remember to return your PDF copy to the Discordian Archives after you are finished.

Let’s have Tim’s wife, Mary Wheeler (aka Hope Springs), tell us more:

Early Discordians
Tim and Mary Wheeler.
Photo Courtesy of Mary Wheeler.
“Tim wrote an article for National Review which Bill Buckley loved. He published the article and made it the cover story. It was all about conspiracy theories and all sorts of stuff he had picked up from these guys, so that makes me think that article came after our association with them [the Discordian Society]. But that article certainly would have cemented the friendships. Remember we were on totally opposite sides of the political fence… Well, maybe not too opposite. Everyone seemed to be a libertarian/anarchist at the time…

“In those early years when Tim worked in the office [of the National Review], as an editorial assistant, there was a lot of joking about the Illuminati. I can remember conversations with fellow conservatives where the conspiracy of the Illuminati ballooned into a conspiracy of left-handed people, or those with first cousins named Jeffrey. It spawned fantastic letterheads! Nobody at NR took it seriously, and we made fun of those that did. I think that is why it was so much fun to discover the Discordians, who also didn’t take any of that seriously. We had discovered like-minded people who tended to be liberals, or at least anarchists. And we were right-wing crazies, although Tim was very much a libertarian…”

Check out our full Mary Wheeler interview here:

The Secret History of Immanentizing the Eschaton: The Mary Wheeler Interview.

Categories
art book discordian timeline discordianism greg hill illuminati illuminatus! interview kerry thornley letters mary wheeler photo principia discordia robert shea tim wheeler writings zines

The Secret History of Immanentizing the Eschaton: The Mary Wheeler Interview

Guest Post by Steven Adkins

Copies of SNAFU.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Prepare yourself(s) for an amazing interview with a largely unknown (until now!) Discordian named Hope Springs (real name Mary Wheeler) conducted by Steven Adkins of the Law of Silence blog.

Mary—as you’ll soon discover—found herself smack dab in the middle of the Early Discordian scene along with her husband, Tim Wheeler (aka Harold Lord Randomfactor of Illuminatus! fame.)

Tim Wheeler was most likely the one who entered the phrase “Don’t Let Them Immanentize the Eschaton!” into the Discordian lexicon, but (partly thanks to Tim) the phrase already had a life in conservative circles. Eric Vogelin coined it, but someone turned William F. Buckley on to it and he then helped popularize it. This probably accounts for the legend that Buckley was one of the anonymous authors of the Principia Discordia.

An abundance of the Wheeler’s materials have been incubating in the Discordian Archives awaiting the appropriate time to be pulled out, dusted off and re-injected into modern day Discordianism. Consider this but the first installment of a plethora of Tim and Mary Wheeler goodies which we will share with you in the days and weeks to come!
Adam Gorightly

_______________________________________________________

  
  
Steven Adkins (SA): I don’t recall exactly when I first heard of Discordianism. I might have first been exposed to it in The Illuminatus! Trilogy. A friend of mine gave me a bedraggled copy I repaired with duct tape; he handed it to me with the caveat that it was mine, but I had to read it one sitting. It just so happens I was heading to Mexico for a spell so I took it with me and one day, sat down to read it. As ordered, I read it straight through over the course of 14 hours, stopping to eat, maybe not even then, reading throughout the night by candlelight in my rented one-room shack tucked away in the village of General Zaragosa, south of Monterrey in the desert state of Nuevo Léon. It has since had a big influence on me. I later collaborated on a Wiki called PlasticTub which, in retrospect, owes a great deal to the trilogy: a fictitious milieu of people with ridiculous names, divided into factions and factions within factions, quasi-political, spiritually apposed, engaged in clandestine warfare over obscure ideological differences. The “heroes” are vaguely Discordian.

In any event, I eventually moved to New Mexico and ended up in Jemez Springs, another small mountain village in a desert state, and one of my neighbors was a cool woman by the name of Mary Wheeler. She and her two adult children were my friends and co-workers and for two years we hung out and talked, drank a lot, explored the mesas with their abandoned settlements and petroglyphs, chopped wood, shot guns, worked a little….

I knew Mary had been a Discordian because I ran across an old copy of the Principia Discordia at her house one day. I don’t know which edition it was, but it was yellow and about the size of a Jack Chick tract, maybe 2.5 by 5 inches, I’m not sure. I was excited to hold it in my hand and remember going on about how rare it was. Thing is, I never queried Mary about it too much, although at some point she did tell me her “Discordian name” was “Hope Springs.” When I saw Adam Gorightly’s Historia Discordia had come out, I wrote and asked if he was familiar with a Discordian named Hope Springs. He wasn’t, so I thought it’d be a good idea to contact Mary and interview her. She graciously agreed and I was able to ask her about a wide variety of topics. I think it will be of interest to Discordian and fans of the Principia and Illuminatus! I hope you agree.

Mary has been very generous with her memories and even sent me a 3rd edition of the Principia complete with rubber stamps and a rolling paper glued onto the title page. It’s one of the most precious things I own. Thanks Mary!

FNORD THE WHEELERS:
Mary and Tim Wheeler, with son Christopher.
Courtesy of Mary Wheeler.

Let’s start at the beginning…

Mary Wheeler (MA): The real hero behind that silly period was Greg Hill, Malaclypse the Younger. A sweet, smart and funny guy who lived in San Francisco. The Bobs were both working for Playboy, for the Playboy Advisor column. I was Hope Springs, and Tim, my husband, was Harold Lord Randomfactor.

SA: How did you know Greg? How did the nicknames come about? Who dubbed you Hope Springs and Harold Lord Randomfactor? BTW, when you told me Tim was Randomfactor, I nearly popped apart, because he’s a character in The Illuminatus! Trilogy.

MW: We met Greg through Bob Wilson/Shea. We chose our own nicknames. Tim was always citing names like Ida Clair, which were a play on words. And yes, we certainly knew Randomfactor was a character in the Trilogy. And Bob Shea took a humorous interest in Emperor Norton of San Francisco, a crazie who anointed himself.

It was all nonsense and silly and clever fun, none of us were serious at all. In the few times we got together, all we did was laugh. We also sent around “groovy kits,” large Manila envelopes filled with clippings, drawings, objects, that we treated with great reverence. We smoked, opened the envelope, kept what we wanted and added to it, and mailed it on to the next guy.

SA: When you got together, was this in theory at least for the Discordian Society? Where did you all get together? Were these “groovy kits” a Discordian thing? What sort of topics were in the clippings? Were these sent around to friends only or were they ever sent to people you didn’t know personally, with instructions on what to do? Were they actually called “groovy” kits?

Groovy kit instructions from Kerry Thornley.
Courtesy of The Discordian Archives.

MW: Kerry was in Atlanta, as I recall, and an OK guy. There was a fellow in New Orleans whose last name was Cruikshank, I think, that was quite bizarre, and took Kennedy conspiracies too seriously. He was always in a recruiting mode. We never met either of them.

I can remember getting together with Greg only once, at Bob Wilson’s in Chicago. We were living in Indiana by then, so when we heard Greg would be visiting, we came up.

We had many social get-togethers with the Sheas throughout the years, which were less Discordian than simply friendship.

The Groovy Kits were definitely Discordian. The contents were very varied. Newspaper or magazine clippings, funny or serious; actual objects, like something unusual with a “5” or a “23” on it. Maybe a racy photo. A secret message, in code. Maybe a Mexican peso. It could be anything, but it had to be interesting, one way or the other. As far as I knew, it traveled between Wilson, Shea, Greg, Kerry and us. And yes, we called it a groovy kit. And yes, we always smoked before opening it.

There were two versions of the Principia floating around, and I think I have them both still. One groovy kit item we kept was an original Crumb comic book, which I regrettably gave to [a mutual friend] some years ago. I remember those days with great fondness, but never imagined it would still be alive 40 years later. I mean, we were just kidding!

I can’t honestly remember how we came to be a part of this… surely it was either through Bob Wilson or Bob Shea. We stayed close to the Shea’s, not so much Wilson. Tim wrote an article for National Review which Bill Buckley loved. He published the article and made it the cover story. It was all about conspiracy theories and all sorts of stuff he had picked up from these guys, so that makes me think that article came after our association with them. But that article certainly would have cemented the friendships. Remember we were on totally opposite sides of the political fence…. Well, maybe not too opposite. Everyone seemed to be a libertarian/anarchist at the time.

SA: Was Tim a freelancer or a staffer? How did you know the Bobs? Did you already share an interest in conspiracies before meeting those guys, or did they turn you on to it? Was Discordianism already well-established when you met them or did you both have a role in shaping the ideas?

Our People's Underground issue of the National Review.
Courtesy of Mary Wheeler.

MW: We were living in Larchmont, NY at the time, and when we moved to Indiana, we began to lose interest in it. We stayed in touch with the Sheas, who were fun and interesting, and way more normal than any of the others. I’m still in touch with Bob’s widow.

Tim was on the staff for about 4 years, and then when we moved to Indiana, he continued to write those short paragraphs up front for the magazine. He was a contributing editor thereafter, for about 30 years.

In those early years when Tim worked in the office, as an editorial assistant, there was a lot of joking about the Illuminati. I can remember conversations with fellow conservatives where the conspiracy of the Illuminati ballooned into a conspiracy of left-handed people, or those with first cousins named Jeffrey. It spawned fantastic letterheads! Nobody at NR took it seriously, and we made fun of those that did. I think that is why it was so much fun to discover the Discordians, who also didn’t take any of that seriously. We had discovered like-minded people who tended to be liberals, or at least anarchists. And we were right-wing crazies, although Tim was very much a libertarian. It was clearly already established by the time we were introduced, because the Principia had already been written. I think there were later editions that included some of Our People’s Underworld paraphernalia.

SA: An old roommate of mine worked for the NRA (years ago) and got this cassette in the mail from a member put out by the John Birch Society, a long thing about the Illuminati, one world government, etc. What was the feeling about this line of thinking among young conservatives at the time? Tim wrote a satirical article, so that’s one indication…. I ask because the belief that the Illuminati is out to install one world government is a strong as ever. I know that this has deep roots with the work of Taxil, Nesta Webster etc. I don’t know as much as I should about the conservative movement of the period, so this may be a dumb question, but what was the view of the Birchers among the NR-type conservatives, the Buckley line of thinking?

MW: Nobody could stand the whackos or the Birchers when we were at National Review. Buckley had dismissed them, losing critical subscribers, but picking up credence in the meantime. It was an important move on NR’s part, and Buckley’s part. There is no one today with that kind of power: he made the Birchers irrelevant to the Conservative Movement.

SA: I’ve always admired Buckley. Was he as charming personally as he appears on film? Did he know anything about Discordianism?

MW: Buckley was wonderful, extremely generous and gracious and loyal. And the real war horse behind National Review those days was his sister Priscilla, who was equally generous, gracious and loyal. Bill did know about Discordians, through Tim, but it wasn’t anything beyond simple amusement… I doubt he gave it much thought. But National Review was pretty hip. The older editors could be a bit stodgy, but they had kids our age, and the staff was pretty young, and very clever. Humor was a big part of National Review, lots of joking, pranking. Bill Rickenbacker was especially mischievous.

SA: BTW, I just read this:

“Conservative spokesman William F. Buckley popularized [Eric] Voegelin’s phrase as ‘Don’t immanentize the eschaton!’, Buckley’s version became a political slogan of Young Americans for Freedom during the 1950s and 1960s.” (citing an NR article by Jonah Goldberg entitled “Immanent Corrections”)

One of the Wheeler's bumper stickers. Note the Larchmont address.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

MW: YAF was never respected by those of us out of college and already at work in Conservative circles. Those were clean-cut college kids, who we made fun of by forming YARF, Young Americans for REAL Freedom, also acknowledged in Illuminatus!

YARF material, dated October 23, 1971.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives

WFB did originally write about Voegelin’s quote, and we also wrote about it in Rally, a magazine we founded in ’64 or ’65, which was meant to be an avenue for young writers. It lasted only a couple of years, not surprisingly. Rally was a serious venture. We were back in Milwaukee, having been fired from the day-to-day National Review job. We went to many Milwaukee businessmen and raised enough money to get it off the ground, and then continued to raise money to keep it afloat. Rally was meant to be a forum for young conservatives, that would theoretically then move on to NR. It was a fine magazine.

And then we really promoted the phrase through merchandizing.

Your quote was done by evil Revisionists! (And YAF wasn’t even in existence in the 50s.)

SA: Was it Tim who turned Bill on to the expression for the first time? Did the Bobs and Greg know about it from Tim as well?

MA: It wasn’t Tim who told Bill about the phrase, and it may have even been Milton Friedman… can’t really remember. But it definitely was Tim who popularized it. And I’m sure the Bobs and Greg were not reading somewhat obscure Conservative magazines… they learned it from Tim.

SA: [The phrase basically means trying to create “heaven on earth,” kind of forcing the hand of God into bringing about the final, heavenly stage of history (the eschaton). Conservative critics have used the phrase to criticize usually but not limited to left-wing or utopian ideologies such as communism.]

I’ll definitely be discrete with anything you say about this, but didn’t you once tell me at some point you guys had a farm and grew a little weed? I know RAW was into pot and LSD and I’m assuming this was fairly current. Was this important at the time? Was it seen as something like an exploration of innerspace, cosmic awakening etc… or just a good time? Were young conservatives as apt to smoke a spliff or two as the hippies?

MW: 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, 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 others. My guess is that everybody smoked, but most people didn’t gab about it.

SA: What exactly was Our People’s Underground? I thought it was a group in the satire article, but I see there were little mimeo magazines published by the OPU-SNAFU. What was the group supposed to represent, even satirically and how did it come about? Was it part of the joking about with conspiracies at the NR you talked about?

Also, did you have a hand in creating SNAFU? Anything you could tell us about it?

Front cover of an issue of SNAFU addressed to Greg Hill.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

MW: We were living in Larchmont, had three kids, one on the way. Tim was working for the Conservative Book Club, headed by Neil McCaffery. Danny Rosenthal was the head of the sales department, and he and Neil got into some sort of disagreement, and we wound up siding with Danny, and Tim (and Dan) were fired from the CBC. All of this happened when we were just getting involved with the Discordians.

Tim wrote this hilarious piece about secret societies and goings-on, and when Bill Buckley saw it, he immediately wrote Tim a note that asked if he could have the article for $1000? Tim wrote back “Yes, if I can keep this note.”

So the commercial possibilities were enormous—buttons, notepads, cards, and bumper stickers. We produced them and sold them, and formed Our People’s Underworld. It kept us alive financially until Tim finally got a speech writing job in Indianapolis.

Along the way we wrote and produced Snafu. Only four issues… it was very laborious. We had an electric typewriter, but everything else was cut and pasted onto sheets, and then taken to the printer.
It was, of course, meant to be funny, but it was a source of income as well. Not much, mind you, but we were a struggling family-of-six by the time we moved to Indiana.

The Illuminati-referenced stuff was always a huge seller.

My oldest son Christopher has thousands of photos posted on PBase (csw62) and one gallery is for Tim.

There are lots of shots of old notepads from OPU.

SA: So you sold the notepads as well? Was the OPU at first a satire and then you realized it could be a source of revenue, or was there a financial interest from the get-go? Was there any sense that the Discordian thing could generate revenue as well, or was that more a labor of love? I mean, the Principia was for sale, no?

Wheeler designed letterheads used in Operation Jake.
Courtesy of Christopher Wheeler.

MW: The original article was serious satire of conspiracies, but all the merchandising flowed naturally from OPU. We didn’t have anything to do with any commercial aspect of Discordianism. I wasn’t aware that Greg was selling Principia [he was]… indeed, it seemed to us that copies were scarce and sacred. I think any real commercialism of their stuff was after it faded from our lives.

SA: Did you write any of the SNAFU material? If so, what? Were you personally as interested in the subject of conspiracies as the others? How did the whole interest in conspiracies get started at NR?

How did you guys react to Tim appearing as a character in The Illuminatus! Trilogy? Did you feel slighted that Hope Springs didn’t make an appearance? Besides you and Yvonne (Bob Shea’s wife), were there other women Discordians?

Also, was wondering if you had any anecdotes about Thornley. I didn’t get if you’d ever met in person, but maybe the others told you about him.

MW: I didn’t write any of the material, but I helped choose the cartoons, the photos, drawings… all the illustrative stuff. And helped paste it all together. I did all the administrative work. There were supposed to be 8 issues, but only four were published.

I’m sure Tim was pleased about Randomfactor—I don’t really remember. All these years later, I was surprised to see that there were quite a few years between OPU and Discordianism, and the publishing of Illuminatus! I would have guessed it was much closer together.

Our best-selling button was “Don’t Let Them Immanentize the Eschaton.” That appeared in the Trilogy. It referenced the original OPU issue of NR. And lots of OPU stuff was mentioned in the appendix of Part III, and Operation Jake, wherein some selected politicians received weird letters on weirder letterhead.

Bob Wilson’s wife Arlen, I’m sure, was active. But it was mostly a male thing. BTW, I got a beautiful condolence note from Bob Wilson when my step father died in 1970. I kept it for a long time, but don’t have it anymore. It was serious, and sweet, and wise. It was not a side of him I had seen.

We never met Kerry, but certainly had lots of cheerful correspondence with him.

I don’t know if you could see Breaking Bad [she asks because I live in France; I saw it!] but the goofy lawyer was named Saul Goodman, and he now has a spin off show, being filmed in Albuquerque. Coincidence? I think not….

SA: I’d forgotten Saul Goodman was a detective in Illuminatus! Before I print this, you can go over it to make sure you’re ok with the content. I won’t go on forever, but I want to let it unfold slowly so I don’t neglect anything.

MW: I have no problem with anything you print, except if it characterized one of these guys in a mean way. There was nothing mean or nasty or disparaging about any of our relationships.

SA: Can you tell me more about Project Jake, how it came about and was carried out, who was targeted?

You mentioned you were surprised that people are still into this because you were all joking around; why do you think people are still into it? Several editions of the Principia have been brought out, does that surprise you?

MW: We were first involved with Operation Mindfuck, wherein we took all those subscription inserts in magazines, filled in the “enemy’s” name, and subscribed for them!

So just furthering the game, and taking advantage of insane letterheads that we kept creating, we would write bogus letters to politicians that we particularly didn’t like. With us, it would have been people like John Lindsey, or Jacob Javits. With the others it would have been right-wing congressmen or senators. Some carbon copies made their way into groovy kits.

We were drawn in for the humor, the cleverness, the unusual-ness, and maybe even the novelty of conservatives making friends with liberals (although we all were pretty much libertarians). We all thought we were funny and clever. Perhaps that is why people are still being drawn in. The Trilogy was very funny and clever… I think certain types of people are drawn to it. And the guys were writers, who had a respect for their fellow crazies.

And in our own way, we took it seriously to the extent of making some money out of it, though I can’t really speak to Greg’s motives. But the content—it just wasn’t real. It was made up. It was whimsy.
We had tons of correspondence from Kerry, the Bobs, and Greg, but when Tim died, our youngest wound up tossing almost all his papers. If he hadn’t already gotten rid of them, she [Tim Wheeler’s second wife] certainly did.

SA: What were The Freebish Papers?

The Freebish Paper from HOPE & HAROLD.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

MW: The Freebish Papers were nothing really, just a joint letter to a bunch of friends, there weren’t more than a couple of them. Just personal correspondence.

SA: What do you think of seeing all these scanned document you guys made? [I’m referring here to the Discordian Archives that Adam Gorightly inherited containing a multitude of Greg Hill’s papers.]

MW: No wonder Tim never met a deadline! What an insane amount of time he spent on this. I’m sure this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Links to more non-Discordian info about Tim Wheeler:

Human Events: “Friends Remember Tim Wheeler.”