to the Loompanics Edition of Principia Discordia
G.H. Hill, San Francisco, 1979
All Rites Reversed Reprint What You Like
INTERVIEW WITH NORTON CABAL
by Gypsie Skripto, Special Correspondent
It has been ten years since I met the mysterious Malaclypse the Younger. I was free lancing for the underground papers and went by POEE Head Temple at 555 Battery Street to try for an interview.
I found him in the Temple PO Box busy wrapping up the new Fourth Edition of Principia. He seemed impatient with me, insisting that he didnít have the time or inclination for foolish questions from reporters. Undaunted, I burst out with questions like whether he preferred Panama Red or Acapulco Gold and how the fuck did we manage to fit inside of a tiny post office box and other things apropos a naive young semiliterate dropout hippy writer. He asked me if I wanted to drop mescaline and fuck all night and said he knew how to turn himself into a unicorn and there might be room for a tiny interview on the cover of the Principia if I wanted to work for the Greater Poop so I said sure, OK, Iíve never dropped mescaline in a post office box before.
It turned out I was among the last to see Malaclypse. As subsequent issues of Greater Poop revealed, he was to disappear and POEE business was to be assumed by his students at Norton Cabal. Professor Ignotum P. Ignotius, Department of Comparative Realities, was assigned the Trust of the POEE Scruple and Rev. Dr. Occupant became Keeper of the Box. The newly published copies of Principia were distributed by Mad Malik, Block Disorganizer, who had distribution contacts with the Aluminum Bavariati. Practical relations remained in the hands of concept artist G. Hill.
When the 1000 Principias were gone the Greater Poop stopped publishing, Head Temple closed down and the Cabal just seemed to evaporate. Finally even the box was closed. But over the years I noticed that copies were still circulating, and that independent Discordian Cabals would occasionally pop out of nowhere (and still do). And I would wonder what ever happened to Malaclypse.
When I read the Illuminatus trilogy I resolved to again find and interview the denizens of Joshua Norton Cabal of the Discordian Society.
* * *
As I cabled over Nob to San Franciscoís Station ĎOí Post Office I couldnít help but wonder at Goddess, hand in assigning street addresses to Her outposts. Mal2 had told me that Good Lord Omar always filed everything under "O" for Out Of File.
"Maya is marvelous" I was thinking when I rapped on the little metal door and was greeted warmly by a huge beard who introduced himself as Professor Ignotius. He ushered me into a spacious wood paneled and tapestry hung parlor where three others were laughing and passing around a wine jug. The sunny one in a tunic was the Reverend Doctor Occupant, the trim khaki and jeans was Mad Malik and the wine jug claimed to be Hill. I got the recorder on ....
* * *
GYPSIE SKRIPTO [in response to a question]: ...1969 but only briefly. I guess I missed you guys.
MAD MALIK: No wonder, he was pretty much a one man show then. We were just his students and were usually off on errands. You worked for the Poop?
Gypsie: Well, for one night anyway. The interview is in the Principia.
REV. DR. OCCUPANT: Malik was the only one he would ever let write for the Poop or get on the letterhead.
Gypsie: Did you [Malik] have higher authority than the others?
Malik: No, [but I was allowed to speak in the Poop] because [Malaclypse the Younger] hated politics. He was infuriated with Johnson and Nixon over Viet Nam because it was turning the renaissance into a political revolution and was stealing his sacred thunder. So he trained me in Zenarchy, which he learned from Omar, and
I was the official anarcho-pacifist for the Cabal. Also I was liaison to The Ancient Illuminated Seers of Bavaria, the Chicago Discordians. Later Omar activated the Hung Mung Cong Tong and ELF, on zenarchist principles, and also Operation Mindfuck. I was also into those. Though at that time I was masquerading in Greater Poop as a cremated cabbage to throw off the FBI.
Gypsie [to Hill]: Since you wrote it, I take it you are an anarchist?
G.H. HILL: Since then I have given up anarchy. Too many rules - hating the government and all that stuff.
IGNOTUM PER IGNOTIUS: Itís like hating your own fantasies.
Malik: [Anarchy] is also standing up and proceeding forward, fantasy rule or not. The condition is the same.
Occupant: Brother needs some wine!
Malik: We have had this argument before, Reverend Doctor Brother. But wine before platitudes, fill it up.
Gypsie [to Hill]: And pacifism?
Hill: Iím not sure I ever was one. Mal2 was not, Malik was. Personally I accepted self defense yet I could never reconcile that with the ideal. I finally gave up on that one too. Actually I just gave up on idealism.
Ignotius: Idealism lives with rules. Realism lives with rocks.
Hill: Yeah. I get along better with rocks.
Malik: Mal2 once told me that pacifism was a dilemma. If everybody was a pacifist then everything would be perfect. But nobody is going to be a pacifist unless I am first. But if I am and somebody else is not, then I get screwed. He said that there were five choices under that circumstance. The first was napalming farmers and the second was executing your parents. The third was hypocrisy, the fourth was cowardice, and the fifth was to swallow the dilemma. Zenarchists are trained in dilemma swallowing.
Occupant: So are other Erisians, like POEE.
Ignotius: That is characteristic of the Discordian perspective.
Hill: But of course training contradicts Discordian principles.
Malik: Oh so what. Contradictions are nothing to Discordians.
Occupant: Dilemma, Schlimemma. [to Gypsie]: What do you think of this, pretty maíam? We donít get to hear your thoughts.
Gypsie: Iím reporting now, you talk.
Occupant: Later then?
Gypsie: Perhaps. Later.
Occupant: You are smiling.
Gypsie: Hey, guy, later. [to Hill]: Doesnít this leave you a little schizy?
Hill: Itís OK, Iím half Gemini.
Gypsie: Whatís the other half?
Hill: Taurus. That makes me stubborn schizy.
Ignotius: Iím a Whale.
Occupant: I choose Satyr.
Malik: Spirits donít have signs.
Hill: A character can have a sign if I want it so.
Occupant: Well I can have a sign if I want to and screw both of you.
Malik: Come on Greg, you just think that we are your characters....
Occupant: You were inhabited by Malaclypse the Younger. He caused you to create roles and those roles are being performed by us spirits.
Ignotius: A perfectly normal pagan relationship.
Hill: Well you can look at it like that if you want to, but I created Mal2 to my specifications just as I conceived all the rest of you.
Occupant: You didnít invent Eris. She caused you to think you created the spirit of Malaclypse.
Hill: Oh bull! Besides, I changed her so much the Greeks would never recognize her.
Occupant: Thatís what She wanted!
Ignotius: Deities change things around all the time.
Malik: What you donít realize is that a spirit has a self identity.
Hill: Nope. A spirit is a product of definition and the one who is doing the defining around here is me. Your identity is what I say it is. Just to prove it, Iím going to change your name.
SINISTER DEXTER: Itís OK with me. Fate is fate. I never much liked "Mad Malik" anyway.
Ignotius: Besides people confused him with Joe Malik in Illuminatus.
Dexter: I sort of enjoyed the confusion part.
Occupant: Doesnít prove anything anyway.
Gypsie: That name sounds familiar. Where is it from?
Hill: Its a name I came up with in the old days and never used much. Its on page 38 of the Principia referring to Vice President Spiro Agnew. I always thought I invented it but now it sounds like a Stan Freberg name now that I think about it. It may have stuck in my preconscious memory from early TV.
Gypsie: Can you use it without his permission?
Hill: If it is his? I donít know. I hope so. It means "left right" in Latin and is a perfect name for a libertarian anarchist. Actually in my kind of art the question of what can I use freely and what can I not is a very trickly problem.
Gypsie: How do you mean?
Hill: Well, take a collage for example. Like the early one on page 36 of the Principia. Each little piece was extracted from some larger work created by some other artist and published and maybe copyrighted. I find them in newspapers and magazines mostly. Often from ads. With a collage you select and extract from your environment and then assemble into an original relationship.
The Principia itself is a collage. A conceptual collage. All of it happens simultaneously. But visually it is a montage, passing through time, like a book does.
There is a lot of pirated stuff in the Principia, especially in the margins. But also I sympathize with artists who must own and sell their works to earn a living. Art, like knowledge, should be free fodder for everyone. But it isnít. It is perplexing.
Gypsie: Where did all the things in Principia come from?
Hill: Well, a full answer would take a whole book in itself. Most of the writing credited to a name is a true person and almost always a different name means a different person. Most of the non-credited, you know,
Malaclypse, text is mine although some things credited to either Mal2 or Omar were actually co-written and passed back and forth and rewritten by each of us. The marginalia, dingbats and pasted in titles and heads and things came from wherever I found them - some of which is original but uncredited Discordian output, like the page head on 12 and other pages which is from a series of satiric memo pads from Our Peoples Underworld Cabal. All page layout is mine and some whole graphics like the Sacred Chao and the Hodge Podge Transformer are mine but mostly I just found stuff and integrated it. Mostly I did concept, say 50% of the writing, 10% of the graphics, all of the layout.
Gypsie: Specifically, what are some of the sources?
Hill: Well, the poem on the front cover is by Walt Kelly and was spoken by one of his characters in Pogo. The government seals starting on page 1 are from a book of sample seals from the U.S. Government Printing Office. Western Union on page 6 got into the act because I used to be a teletype operator and had access to blank forms. Rubber stamps came from all over the place and some, like the apple on page 27, I carved myself. A few I ordered to my specification, like on page 1. The quote on top of page 8 might be from Barnum, Iím not sure. The jumping man on page 12 is from an advertisement. I recognize the style - a popular commercial artist - but I donít know his name. The Chinese on that page is a grocery ad, I think. The Norton money on page 14 is historic, plus my little additions. The apple on page 17, as well as the triangle on 23 and the Sacred Chao on 50 are, believe it or not, pasteups from mimeoqraphs, from Seattle Cabal. That group produced the best damn mimeography Iíve ever seen. The Lick Here Box on page 23 is one of many tidbits making the rounds in alternative/underground newspapers in those days. Trip 5 page header on 29 was a chapter title in one of Tim Learyís books. The Knight on the bull with the TV antenna on his helmet on page 46 came from a very artistic magazine called Horseshit and put out by two brothers from Long Beach. I donít remember their names. Wonderful magazine.
Occupant: Eris told Mal2 what to use and where to find it.
Hill: Yeah, in a way that is right. That is why my name does not appear anywhere on the Principia and why it was published with a broken copyright - Reprint What You Like. I knew I was taking liberties and didnít want my intentions to be misunderstood. It was an experiment and was intended to be an underground work and that involves a different set of ethics than commercial work.
Gypsie: There are no real names at all?
Hill: Oh, some. Camden Benares is a real name because he legally changed his original name to his Holy Name. Also, instead of using Mordecai Malignatus I used Bob Wilsonís real name on page 12 because Werewolf Bridge was a work before Discordianism. And of course real people like Neils Bohr crop up in quotes.
Gypsie: What do you think about the Principia now? Would you want to change it?
Hill: I consider it a successful work and I wouldnít want to change it. In some ways it is immature and I am not the same person I was 10 years ago, but it accomplished the objectives I set for myself and it has the effect I wanted it to have. There are a few errors though.
Gypsie: Like what?
Hill: Oh, I changed a quote from Tom Gnostic on page 61 and I donít think he ever did forgive me for it. Heís right. Starbuckís Pebbles should have been preceded by the Myth of Starbuck which was being saved for something else and never got used. I should have used it when I had the chance. And then Eris did a neat little trick on me by having IBM make the Greek selectric typewriter element not coincide with all the characters on their keyboard. So the little "kallisti" that first appears on the title page and lastly on the back cover came out "kallixti" and I was too dumb to know the difference.
Gypsie: Will there ever be a Fifth Edition?
Hill: There already is a Fifth Edition, by Mal2. It is a one page telegram that reduces everything to an infinite aum. I found it at Western Union where a machine got stuck and kicked out hundreds of pages of nothing but mís. He made it the Fifth Edition and then left.
Principia/Malaclypse was a very personal work for me and actually took 10 years to culminate. It was one single statement that included my adolescence in the 50ís and my young adulthood in the 60ís. When I finally had the paste-ups done I knew that I had finished it. That is why, quote, Malaclypse left. I knew it was finished. I didnít know exactly what it was, but it was done.
Gypsie: Earlier you said that you met your objectives. Just what were those objectives?
Hill: Well, thatís hard to answer because it kept refining itself over the years. In 1969 I mainly thought of myself as a cosmic clown and I set out to prove, by demonstration, that a deity can be anything at all.
In other words, people invent gods and not the other way around. Later I decided that I was doing some kind of conceptual art.
In the 50ís my culture taught me that I was created by and for a deity, a specific male deity, and that all other deities are FALSE. Yet my growing experience showed me that any deity is true in some sense and false in some other sense. So I set out to do what my society told me is impossibleómake a real religion from a patently absurd deity.
In the 50ís a female deity was blasphemy. In the 70ís a humorous deity is still considered impossible, ridiculous and blasphemous. As far as Iím concerned, I have proven my point. Eris is a real deity and even though I donít promote Erisianism as a serious religion ....
Occupant: I do!
Dexter: You speak for yourself.
Ignotius: Here, here.
Hill: ...I do point out that it makes just as much sense from its own perspective as all the others do from each of their own perspectives.
Occupant: I think paganism is a valid spiritual path. I encourage Erisianism because it makes fun of itself. I think this is healthy.
Ignotius: If you can live rewardingly with Goddess Eris you can live with any deity, including none or all.
Dexter: I donít much go for the worship business but I agree with Occupant about the spirit of the thing. We live in a time of turmoil, the whole planet is in a state of change. If we, as a species, cower from the confusion then we die with the dying. This is revolution.
Ignotius: I am an athiest myself. There is no Greg Hill.
[ laughter ]
Gypsie [to Hill]: What do you think of Illuminatus?
Hill: Oh, I love it. I was finishing Principia when Shea and Wilson were working on Illuminatus. It took Dell five years to publish it...maybe that is significant. The 1969 Discordian Society was a mail network between independent writers of various kinds. Norton Cabal was just me and my characters and I used the other cabals as sort of a laboratory. In return other Discordians would bounce their stuff off of me. We would toss in ideas and anybody could take anything out. It was a concept stew. The exchanging of ideas and techniques broadened and encouraged all of us.
I like Illuminatus for the surrealism. A very effective method of writing.
Ignotius: I got misquoted. Worse, I wasnít even in that scene and if I had been then I would have said something else.
Dexter [to Ignotius]: That was me in that scene.
Ignotius: Oh, is that what that was?
Dexter: He got our names mixed up.
Hill: He got mixed up about me too, in Cosmic Trigger. Bob says that when Oswald was buying the assassination rifle, my girlfriend was printing the first edition of Principia on Jim Garrisonís Xerox. It wasnít my girl friend, it was Kerryís; it wasnít the First Ed Principia, it was some earlier Discordian thoughts; it wasnít Garrisonís Xerox, it was his mimeograph; and it wasnít just before Kennedy was shot but a couple of years before that.*
The First Ed Principia, by the way, was reproduced at Xerox Corp when xerography was a new technology. Which was my second New Orleans trip in 1965. I worked for a guy on Bourbon Street who was a Xerox salesman by day.
Dexter: I think that George Dorn took too much guff from Hagbard. If someone pulls a weapon on me, Iím more inclined to either leave or kill the sonofabitch.
Occupant: You are supposed to be a pacifist.
Dexter: Iím speaking figuratively of course. Iíll tell you more tomorrow.
* I checked this further with Mr. Thornley. He says that the woman in question was not his girlfriend, she was just a friend, and it wasnít a couple of years before Kennedy was shot but had to be a couple of years after (but before Garrison investigated Thornley). -GS
Gypsie [to Hill]: Did you really translate erotic Etruscan poetry?
Hill: Sure, but I used a pen name. I signed it "Robert Anton Wilson".
[A quick rap is heard on the door]
Gypsie: I have only one question left...
Dexter: Iíll get it.
Gypsie: ...what I really want to know is how can we all fit inside of a tiny little post office box?
Dexter [to Gypsie]: Itís a telegram for you, from Mal2.
Gypsie: To me?
Gypsie [reading]: "If I told everybody how they could live inside of a post office box then everybody would stop paying landlords and go live inside their post office boxes. It would collapse the building! Can you imagine, post offices collapsing all over the country, the hemisphere, the PLANET! The whole worldís communication system would be destroyed. No, no, I must not say. I dare not!"
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