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Week 2 Illuminatus! Group Reading: Joseph Malik

Greg Hill’s 'Bavarian Illuminati' business card, front. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Greg Hill’s 'Bavarian Illuminati' business card, back. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
As we embark upon Week 2 of the Illuminatus! reading, I will continue my obsessive quest to note any Discordian references I encounter along the way. So away we go…

What immediately jumps out is the character of Joseph Malik, who is at least a hat tip to Discordian Society founder, Greg Hill, as among Hill’s various Discordian personas was Mad Malik, an apparent member of the Bavarian Illuminati, as depicted in this Illuminati business card from the late-60s/early-70s.

In Illuminatus!, Joseph Malik is an underground magazine editor who has uncovered an apparent Illuminati plot, as documented in a number of written exchanges between Malik and someone named Pat.

The evolution of much of the Illuminati mythos depicted in Illuminatus! was initially inspired by Jim Garrison’s JFK assassination investigation of all things, which makes all of this even more convoluted, so bear with me. For those unfamiliar with Big Jim, he was the New Orleans District Attorney during the 1960s and the lead character played by Kevin Costner in Oliver Stone’s JFK. As fickle fate would have it, Discordian co-founder Kerry Thornley was identified by Garrison as being involved in the JFK assassination plot, which of course led to a lot of chaos in Thornley’s life (Hail Eris!) in the years to come, a topic I first broached in The Prankster and the Conspiracy and which will be the main theme in my forthcoming book Caught In The Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Oswald and Garrison’s JFK Investigation coming soon from Feral House.

During the course of Garrison’s investigation, one of his unofficial investigators (otherwise known as the “Irregulars”) was a fellow named Allan Chapman who subscribed to the theory that JFK’s assassination had been orchestrated by (you guessed it!) the Bavarian Illuminati. After catching wind of Chapman’s Illuminati-JFK assassination theory, Thornley initiated—along with the support of some of his fellow Discordian Society pranksters—what became known as Operation Mindfuck (OM), a campaign designed to screw with Garrison’s head by sending out spurious announcements suggesting that he (Kerry) was an agent of the Illuminati. Among the culprits who helped perpetrate Operation Mindfuck was none other than RAW. As Kerry later noted:

Wilson and I founded the Anarchist Bavarian Illuminati to give Jim Garrison a hard time, one of whose supporters believed that the Illuminati owned all the major TV networks, the Conspiring Bavarian Seers (CBS), the Ancient Bavarian Conspiracy (ABC) and the Nefarious Bavarian Conspirators (NBC).
—Kerry Thornley, Dreadlock Recollections

I suspect that the “Illuminati Project Memos” on pages 14, 15, 16 and 20 were actually exchanges between Wilson and Thornley during the period the two were conducting Illuminati research, and that Wilson inserted these exchanges into the Illuminatus! narrative. This research led both Thornley and Wilson to compose the infamous letter and answer that appeared in the April ’69 issue of Playboy.

On page 21, Peter Jackson tells Saul Goodman that the missing Malik—through his magazine, Confrontation—was attempting to re-open an investigation into the MLK and Kennedy brother assassinations, which is exactly what Kerry Thornley was attempting to do around the time of the publication of Illuminatus!

Thornley, as well, had been an underground magazine editor during the 1960s, so it can be further conjectured that Malik was a composite character based on Thornley and Greg Hill.

NOTE: After taking another gander at Illuminatus!, I noticed that the first “Project Illuminati Memo” was dated 7/23, the date of RAW’s otherworldly experience with certain denizens from Sirius as well as being the beginning of the Dog Days of Sirius.

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