5th edition introduction:
by Kerry Thornley, Discordian Society Co-founder
If organized religion is the opium of the masses, then disorganized religion is the marijuana of the lunatic fringe.
Most disorganized of all religions, Discordianism alone understands that organization is the work of the Devil. Holy Chaos is the Natural Condition of Reality, contrary to popular belief. Theologians cite Order in the Universe as proof of a Supreme Intellegence, but a glance is enough to see that the stars are not actually in neat little rows. (Oh, sure, there is the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper - but if they were really connect-the-dot drawings there would be numbers next to the stars.) Theology is just a debate over who to frame for creating reality. What we imagine is order is merely the prevailing form of chaos.
Every few thousand years some shepard inhales smoke from a burning bush and has a vision or eats moldy rye bread in a cave and sees God. From then on their followers kill one another at the slightest provocation. Haunted houses called temples are built by one side and torn down by another - and then bloody quarrels continue over the crumbling foundations.
Organized religion preaches Order and Love but spawns Chaos and Fury. Why?
Because the whole Material Universe is exclusive property of the Greco-Roman Goddess of Chaos, Confusion, Strife, Helter-Skelter and Hodge-Podge. No Spiritual power is even strong enough to dent Her chariot fenders. No material force can resist the temptation of Her Fifth Intergalactic Bank of the Acropolis Slush Fund for Graft and Corruption.
All this was revealed to me in an absolutely unforgettably miraculous event in 1958 or 1959 in a bowling alley in Friendly Hills or maybe Santa Fe Springs, California, witnessed by either Gregory Hill or Malaclypse the Younger or perhaps Mad Malik or Reverend Doctor Occupant or some guy who must have vaguely resembled one or another of them.
With the help of a Chaosopher’s Stone I found the Goddess Eris Discordia in my pineal gland (on Cosmic Channel Number Five) and ever since I have known the answers to all the mysteries of metaphysics, metamystics, metamorhpics, metanoiacs and metaphorics. (Before that I didn’t even know how to install a plastic trash can liner so it wouldn’t fall down inside the first time somebody threw away garbage.)
You, too can activate your pineal gland simply by reciting the entire contents of this book upon awakening each morning, rubbing sandalwood paste between your eyes each evening upon retiring, banging your forehead against the ground five times a day, refraining from harming cockroaches and meditating (defined as sitting around waiting for good luck).
When your pineal gland finally lights up you will never again, as long as you live, have to relax.
Eris Discordia will solve all your problems and She will expect you in return to solve all Her problems. In these very pages you will learn about converting infidels. Later on, you will be taught how to annoy heretics. You will also be required to resolve Zen-like riddles, such as: If Jesus was Jewish, then why did he have a Puerto Rican name?
Once you become adept at leaning on backsliders, you will qualify for a calling. Maybe you will be a Chaosopher (who delivers commentaries on chaos) or perhaps, instead, a Chaoist (who goes around stirring up chaos) or, perchance, a Knower (who knows better than to do either one).
But under no circumstances may you become a Prophet. We don’t intend to jepordize our nonprophet status.
What we lack in Prophets, however, we make up for in Saints. Only a Pope may canonize a Saint, but every man, woman and child on this planet is a genuine and authorized Pope (genuine and authorized by the House of the Apostles of Eris). So you can ordain yourself - and anyone or anything else - a Saint.
Times weren’t always so easy. When in 1968 I first declared myself a Saint, Gregory Hill said, “That’s impossible,” insisting, “Only dead people can be Saints,” adding, “and fictional characters,” guessing, “You are neither one.”
But it happened that, although I was no longer a believer, I was still on the membership roles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. So Greg was too late. Me and all the other Mormons were already Saints - and some of us living ones - no matter what he said.
Nowadays only the Mormons have more Saints than the Discordian Society. But we plan to catch up with them. Won't you please join our Sainthood Drive? Moral perfection isn't necessary for Discordian Sainthood. You just have to suffer a lot.
So many other privileges of membership in our religion come to mind that I don't know where to begin. For instance, you don't have to get out of bed early on Sunday morning to attend church. You can sleep in. How many Christian denominations - for all their talk of brotherly love - are that compassionate?
You can even be a Discordian in good standing without ever having to so much as look at another Discordian - early in the morning or any other time. That’s an advantage to mail-order religion that the more conventional faiths try to play down.
What is so unusual about Discordian Abnormail - as we call it - is decentralization. Don’t contact me here at Orthodox Discordian Society Hindquarters! Send your letters, notes, relics, sacraments and writs of excommunication to one another. That, says Discordian Episkopos Ol’ Sam (36 Erskine Drive, Morristown, NJ 07960), is erstic abnormail - adding: “Unfortunately, the majority of eristic abnormail is nothing but inane gossip, masturbatory in-jokes, trivial variations of stale dogma, snide put-downs of those not weird in exactly the same was as ‘us’, and similar such garbage ad naseum; and that’s good too!” (I like the way Ol’ Sam always keeps a positive attitude.)
Our outreach program is called aneristic abnormail and is defined by Ol’ Sam as “weird things sent in fun to those still trapped in the Region of Thud” - squares, that is. When some order-bound heathen makes an especially unenlightened public remark, that unsuspecting dolt is likely to receive a Jake - whole mail box full of weird shit from Discordians everywhere on the same day. “For maximum benefit,” says Ol’ Sam, “a good Jake should be in response to a particularly gross mainfestation of the Aneristic Delusion, not merely intended to chastise, but to teach and amuse as well (or else make them hopping mad). The best Jakes involve a lot of Discordians, all conspiring to contact the subject on Jake Day - a shining example of Discordian accord, as paradoxical as that sounds.” (If you think that sounds paradoxical, wait until you hear about the Discordian accordian.)
Another advantage to Discordianism over the world’s other great religions is that we tell you about the Fendersons. While it is true that you don’t have to be a Discordian before becoming a Fenderson, the Taoists - for instance - don’t even know about the Fendersons. And those who know do not speak.
Fenderson Discordian Graham Trievel explains that “a Fenderson is a member of a family you can join by saying you are one. Yes, anybody who wants to be a Fenderson can be a Fenderson. Just say these three words, ‘I’m a Fenderson.’ It’s as simple as that.”
Genealogy buffs will be interested to know, “Our Fenderson forefather can be reached at : S.J. Glew, 5611 Lehman Road, DeWitt, MI 48820 ..... Blame him.”
All Fendersons add Fenderson to their existing name or they use the last name of Fenderson with entirely new first and/or middle names. “For example, you can call me Graham Fenderson Trievel, Fenderson Graham Trievel, or Graham Trievel Fenderson.” (And you can call me Saint Ignatius Fenderson.)
But you must at all times keep in touch with other Fendersons. “This,” says Fenderson, “is easy to accomplish as you can make anybody you want a Fenderson, even if they don’t want to be one.”
Write Graham Fenderson Trievel about how to get a 1989 Fenderson family reunion baseball cap at Rt. 113, Box 481, Lionville, PA 19353. But he warns, “I’ll be collecting names and addresses of Fendersons for possible future publication.”
If you become a Discordian and also want salvation in the Industrial Church of the SubGenius (Box 140306, Dallas TX 75214) you are free to mantain a duel membership. Or if you live outside of Texas (in some state where dueling is illegal), you can be an honorary SubGenius and a dishonorary Discordian both at once.
You might even say SubGeniusism is our sister faith or brother religion - or at least our Marine-Corps buddy theology, because J.R. “Bob” Dobbs was my Marine Corps buddy in Atsugi, Japan (where he distinguished himself by shooting his own toe while on guard duty - although he was only aiming for a fly on the tip of his boot). Dobbs want on to become a supersalesman and trance medium who until his untimely assassination channeled Prescriptures that occasionally mentioned Eris Discordia, if not always as kindly as prudence would dictate.
Out of these Prescriptures came the SubGenius Church - so named because you only qualify to join if your IQ is below genius.
A pipe in his mouth and a maniacal gleam in his eyes were trademarks of “Bob” and so his fanatical cult sues for copyright violation anyone whose eyes gleam in a similar fashion. Other exciting features of the SubGenii include their spirited quest for Slack, their brave determination to be Overmen, their understandable disgust with Technoboredom, their unblushing Crass Commercialism and their keen pride in their Northern Tibetan abominable snowman ancestry.
You can find out more by sending them your bank account.
If, on the other hand, you would rather join the Bavarian Illuminati, you have to bury your bank account in a cigar box in your yard. One of their underground agents will find it and contact you.
Our religion is so completely infiltrated with agents of the Ancient Illuminated Seers of Bavaria that if, for instance, you pass out Fair-Play-For-Switzerland flyers for us you are assured of rapid advancement to more important work for the Illuminati.
Both the _Illuminatus!_ trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson and the Illuminati Board Game by Steve Jackson mention the Discordian Society almost as often as they speak of the nefarious Bavarian Conspirators themselves. Prestige of intimate association with the Illuminati is enormous because they have absolutely ruled the whole world for the past five thousand years.
Unlike the Illuminati, who are everywhere, the Right Reverand Jesse Sumps’s First Evangelical and Unrepentant Church of No Faith is an exclusive Discordian franchise. Upon receiving a precious Mao button that said, “We must have faith in the Party and we must have faith in the masses,” Sump exclaimed: “No faith! No faith in the Party, no faith in the masses, no faith in God and no faith in the ruling class!” and thus the First Evangelical and Unrepentant Church of No Faith began. Jesse Sump has faith in Eris Discordia, though, “because everybody has just got to believe in something.”
Perhaps the chief difference between the Discordian Society and Sump’s outfit is one of style. We got it. They don’t.
But if you like working yourself into a frenzy at camp meetings in order to foam at the mouth, speak in tongues, handle snakes, run moonshine and experience phantasmagoria, the No Faith Church will make you happy as a pig in mud.
Of couse, all the high-church glitter of the Paratheoianametamystichood of Eris Esoteric is not just yours for the asking. We solicit no donations, demand no tithes, charge no admission, levy no poll tax and run only a few nifty religious novelty stores on the side. But certain obligations adhere to the more hallowed manifestations of Discordianship.
Eating hot dog buns is prohibited, except on Friday - when it is cumpulsory. Stepped on cockroaches will earn you no pointswith our Blessed Saint Gulik. You must discipline yourself under a certified Slackmaster until you are capable of drinking beer and watching television with total concentration. All bowling alleys are sacred to Discordians and, if necessary, you must give your life to protect them from desecration - if anyone ever decides to desecrate bowling alleys. Finally, you must not rest until all the sheep are brought into the fold. (And when we convert all the sheep we are going to the dogs next, then wolves, goats and, at the annoited hour, human beings.)
Goddess also expects you to work on yourself. You must devote your full attention to every task you perform so you will realise - in a flash of sudden enlightenment - how confusing it is. You must master one Little Moron riddle after another until, with years of study, there is no longer any separation in your perception between subject and object, between you and the Little Moron.
Then there are bigots, who will persecute you because they hate Eris Discordia, and have no better sense than to judge an entire religion by the behavior of a single deity.
But before I was a Discordian, when I entered my room only to be reminded by its disarray that it was a mess, I felt a sense of defeat. These days when that happens I just say, “Hail Eris!” - our customary salute to any embodiment of chaos - and then I cheerfully carry on, secure in the knowledge that the constellations look no better.
Before I was a Discordian, I wasted a lot of time arguing with evangelists about God and Jesus. Now they waste a lot of time arguing about Eris Discordia with me.
Before I was a Discordian, I took life much too seriously. When you take life too seriously you start to wonder what the point of it all is. When you wonder what the point is in life, you fall into a trap of thinking there is one. When you think there is a point, you finally realise there is no point. And what point is there in living like that? Nowadays I skip the search for a point and find, instead, the punch lines.
Before I was a Discordian, I was distressed by the inefficiency and inhumanity of organizations. Now I am vindicated by their inefficiency and inhumanity.
Before I was a Discordian, I used to be afraid of my own shadow. Ah, but now my shadow is afraid of me!
Having at last glimpsed the value of Discordianism, you are hereby ready to be awed by the importance of the little book you hold in your hands this very moment.
Five years of Discordian Society activity transpired before the First Edition of Principia Discordia rolled off District Attorney Jim Garrison’s mimeograph machine (without his knowledge) in New Orleans in 1964. That was the work of Gregory Hill and Lane Caplinger, a Discordian typist in the DA’s office.
During the next five years Greg preoduced bigger and funnier editions, with a little help from me (but not as much as the enemies of our faith suspect).
By no means is the Principia our only scripture. All along Greg has been writing what he says is a summary of the Universe, but evidently it will be quite some time before he completes it. Additionally, there are piles and piles of Discordian leaflets and broadsides cranked out by zealous converts from everywhere - with new ones arriving in the mail each month - but Goddess only knows where they all are now or remembers what they said. There is also Chaos: Broadsheets of Ontological Anarchism by Hakim Bey (Grim Reaper Books) of the Unarmed Expropriation Committee of the John Henry McKay Society and Bishop of Persia (in Exile) of the Moorish Orthodox Church of Amrerica. But out most exalted testament of all is The Honest Book of Truth - of which there is, alas, only one copy locked away in the Closed Stacks of the Akashic Records. Only qualified Discordian Episkoposes with activated pineal glands may copy passages from it - and these may only be published when they can be shown beyond a reasonable doubt to have redeeming social value, such as by educating you or arousing purient interest.
But this Fourth and Fifth Combined Edition of Principia Discordia is unquestionably the most influential of all the great, immortal works of signifigicant literature our classic Greek Goddess has inspired.
Who would even venture to guess how many wretched and thankless lives these few astonishing pages have deprived forever of meaningless purpose? Who can say how many seminarians read the Principia and decided to change vocations and become clowns, or many landlords it has caused to sell their estates and buy yachts or airplanes for smuggling marijuana, or how many politicians it has inspired to vanish alone into the high mountains and become sagacious hermits, or how many investment bankers it has turned into anarchists?
Slim Brooks was just an ordinary merchant seaman dwelling in the New Orleans French Quarter until he read Principia Discordia. The he became the mysterious Keeper of the Submarine Keys who would never tell anyone what submarine or why it was locked.
Roger Lovin was just a dashing, talented and handsome con artist who was too shallow to settle into any one thing. But for years and years after he read the Principia, under his Discordian Name of Fang the Unwashed, he consistently and with unswerving devotion to the task excommunicated every new person any of the rest of us initiated into the Discordian Society.
Robert Anton Wilson was just a Playboy advisor who wrote safe and insipid answers to inquiries from readers about the size and present whereabouts of John Dillinger’s penis until he read this remarkable tract. Then he became Mord the Malignant and wrote a whole library full of widely read books about the Illuminati and how to make Syncronicity work for you in finding quarters on the sidewalk.
Mike Gunderloy was just a compulsive reader of fanzines until the fateful day he read Principia Discordia (under the mistaken impression it was another fanzine). Now he is Ukelele the Short of the Discordian Society and big-time publisher of Factsheet Five.
Elayne Wechsler was just some broad with a funny bone until she read the Principia and asked the question that led to my great definition of theology. “Why,” she wanted to know, “is the Discordian Society, which worships a female divinity, so male dominated?” Recalling that more women than men are devout about Christianity with its male God and His male Son, I decided that people like religions that blame reality on the opposite sex. So let that be a lesson to us males. Behind every great idea there is a broad with a funny bone.
So there is no telling how much happier and better adjusted reading this book will make you. Principia Discordia is both a psychological laxative and a spiritual corn plaster. Unsolicited testimonials can be mailed to me in care of Out of Order - the sectual organ of the Orthodox Discordian Society - at Box 5498, Atlanta GA 30307.
How Discordianism will change you is not, however, the real question. Anybody can be changed by something they read. No wit, imagination, creativity, talent or energy is required for that much. How will you change the Discordian Society is the real question - a question you should be asking yourself from page 00001 all the way through page 00075, a question you should keep asking yourself long after you reverently close the covers of Principia Discordia, wrap it carefully in silk, solemnly return it to its golden box and bow five times after resting it in its place of honor on your altar.
Most neophyte Discordians are either too cautious or too serious. They constantly ask permission to do this or that like there are rules hidden away somewhere in the folds of our robes of office. Or they labor at length over ponderous metaphysical schemata with no gags in them, as if the sole ironclad rule of our Society isn’t that you have to be funny, as much as possible and as often as possible - or else.
But we are indulgent toward monks who catch on in due time. Seldom do I beat anyone with my trusty staff - and certainly never without their help.
On the subject of personal encounters with other Discordians - and sometimes even the most careful among us cannot avoid them - keep in mind the lodge grips of our Disorder. Somewhere in the following pages you will learn the Turkey Curse. Among Zen Buddhists it is said, “When you meet another bodhisattva on the road, greet him with neither words nor silence.” That leaves you with a vast selection of barnyard noises from which to choose.
But as you crow like a rooster or quack like a duck or moo like a cow, scrutinize your brother or sister Discordian with alert interest - never cracking a smile - to see how he or she will respond. An oinking reply that is too loud indicates a swaggering bravado which falls short of mature eristic enlightenment, but that is far better than a feeble and spiritless neigh.
Perhaps best of all is simply uttering a mondo. That is like picking up the telephone when it rings and saying, “Wrong number, please!” However much you think about a mondo it makes no sense - even clamps and pliers cannot get hold of it. Yet at the same time, if it is a good mondo, the longer you think about it the more it seems light it ought to make sense - although you can never figure out why. Beyond that much, a truly great mondo sticks to your mind like hot pine pitch - gumming up your thought process for weeks on end.
When the Zen Master Joshu was still a monk, his master - Nansen - struck him in answer to some dumb remark or other. Joshu grabbed Nansen’s arm, glared at the master and said, “From now on do not hit people by mistake!” Nansen replied as follows: “The whole world can tell a snake from a dragon, but you cannot fool a Zen monk.” That’s a genuinely great mondo.
From this much you can see why meeting other Discordians in person can be harrowing. Besides the pen is only mighter than the sword at a range greater than five feet. When the SubGenius Church held its first Devival, Reverand Ivan Stang of the Dallas Clench expressed suprise at how nice and polite all the fans of his Dobbswork were, adding, “It’s almost disappointing.” Still, the wise take no unnecessary chances.
As you can tell, we are much indebted to other religions. Not only SubGeniusism and Zen and Taoism have inspired us, but also Zoroastrianism - which practiced fire worship. We too, pay homage to fire in certain circumstances - such as when it is burning the writings of false prophets or is producing inhalable quantities of cannabis smoke. Our tradition is rooted in a medievil rite called the Mass of the Travesty in which marijuana was the sacrament. According to The Emperor Wears No Clothes by Jack Herer, the Mass of the Travesty “can be liked to a Mel Brooks, Second City-TV, Monty Python, or Saturday Night Live - e.g., Father Guido Sarducci-type group - doing irreverent, farcical or satirical take-offs on the dogmas, doctrine, indulgences, and rituals of the R.C. Ch. mass and/or its absolute beliefs.” Unfortunately, the humorless Roman Catholic Church authorities of the 15th century thought the Mass of the Travesty was heretical - and that was the true story of how marijuana got its bad name, which it has never since been able to shake off.
Actually, the Mass of the Travesty may have been a disguised remnant of the original Greek Discordianism. For history indicates there must have been, among those ancient ones, Erisian Mysteries. (But if so, they were never solved.) Eris tells us they existed and were the work of Malaclypse the Elder, a mystery writer by trade who also tutored the philosopher Diogenes in lamp maintenance, barrel keeping, rock rolling, public masturbation and Cynicism - until Diogenes was with it enough to fend for himself.
No outpouring of gratitude would be complete without acknowledging the desert religions of the Middle East which keep that part of the world alive with action to this day - and from which we inherited our fanatical determination to be at all times, right or wrong, as unreasonable as possible. Translated into Latin this commitment is the motto on our coins, seals, rings, plaques and tomb stones: Semper Non Sequitur!
Much of our grandeur is also derived from Hinduism. From the Aryan mystery cult we aquired our soma-drinking habit. Soma, in turn, fortified us with the confidence that we are better than people who look different than us. From Verdanta we learned how to Sanskrit our temple walls. Tantra taught us our many strange sex secrets. That staying up all night to smoke ganga and dance and sing can be passed off as religious activity was something we learned from the Bauls of Bengal. But surely the cult of Kali, Cosmic Mother, Giver and Taker of Life, resembles Discordianism most. We asked Eris about this and She said Kali is short for the Greek Kallisti, which was engraved on the party-crashing Golden Apple of Discord dealt with later on in this informative volume. She added that Her own full name is actually Eris Kallisti Discordia, but took the Fifth Amendment when we asked if this means She and Kali are one in the same.
Our borrowings from Christianity are so obvious that mention of them is almost insulting to whatever modicum of intellegence you possess. But from that tradition we gained our crafty distrust of the reality principle as well as the rather singular notion of an Only Begotten Son.
We asked Goddess if She, like God, had an Only Begotten Son. She assured us that She did and gave His name as Emperor Norton I - whom we assumed was probably some Byzantine ruler of Canstantinople. Dilligent research eventually turned up the historical Norton, as we call Him, in the holy city of San Francisco - where He walked his faithful dog along Market Street scarcely more than a century ago.
Gregory Hill has since become the world’s foremost authority on Joshua A. Norton who, on September 17th of 1859, crowned Himself the Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. Just before then, He vanished for a number of days - perhaps into the wilderness where maybe He was tempted by the Devil, probably to organize His life and get His affairs in order.
Certainly they looked like that’s what they needed. For on the day before his disappearance Norton, heretofore little more than a successful businessman, cornered the rice market - only to be foiled by the unscheduled arrival of a whole shipload of rice from the Orient. A lesser man would have been thrown out of step by that event which for Him became a step to the throne.
When the U.S. Congress failed to obey His Majesty’s Royal Order to assemble in the San Francisco Opera House, Norton fired every last member of that rebellious organization. Thus, the people of San Francisco knew better than to incute His Imperial wrath. His Royal Decrees were printed free of charge in the newspapers, the currency He issued was accepted in the saloons, local shopkeepers paid the modest taxes He occasionally demanded and on at least one occasion a tailor furnished Him with a new set of Royal finery.
Although a madman, Norton wrote letters to Abraham Lincoln and Queen Victoria which they took seriously.
One night a gang of vigilantes gathered for a pogrom against San Francisco’s Chinatown. All that stood in their way was the solitary figure of Norton. A sane man would not have been there in the first place. A rational man would have tried to reason with them. A moralist would have scolded them. A man as daft as Norton usually seemed would have loudly ordered them to cease and desist in the name of His Royal Imperial authority. All such tacks would probably have been futile, and Norton resorted to none of them.
He simply bowed His head in silent prayer.
The vigilantes dispersed.
Discordians believe everybody should live like Norton.
So write your legislative representatives demanding harsh laws with teeth in them requiring people of all faiths - especially Christians and especially on Sunday - to live as Joshua A. Norton did.
About five years ago I had a dream in which someone was yelling, “SIGNS IN THE SKY!” When I looked up I saw balloons and blimps carrying aloft big neon letters that said: “NORTON DIED! WANT NO DEAD!”
But when Emperor Norton died, tens of thousands of San Franciscans flocked to His full Masonic funeral. Pilgrimages to His grave are still common.
Perhaps occasionally the soul of Emperor Norton descends once more into the world to momentarily inhabit the body of an otherwise undistinguished infidel. One day I was sitting in a hamburger stand in rundown midtown Atlanta. A burned-out speed freak at a nearby table looked at me with a pleasant smile and said, “I’m King of the Universe. I don’t know what I’m doing in a place like this.”
And perhaps that’s the big attraction of our faith. If you want, you can be King of the Universe. Jesse Sump is Ancient Abbreviated Calif. of California. I am Bull Goose of Limbo and President of the Fair-Play-for-Switzerland Committee. Camden Benares is Pretender to the Throne of Lesbos. Greg Hill is Polyfather of Virginity-in-Gold. Sabal Etonia is High Constable of Constantinople. You can declare yourself Archbishop of Abyssinia or Curator of the Moon - we don’t care but your mailman will be impressed.
According to L.A. Rollins in Lucifer’s Lexicon a Discordian is one who likes to wear Emperor Norton’s old clothes. If anything could be added to that definition, I cannot think what.
As I indicated earlier, my own background is Mormon. Since few are familiar with the off-beat creeds of that unusual sect, Mormonism doesn’t land itself to broad satire readily. Yet the temptation is forever with me to swipe such startling rituals as, say, baptism of the dead.
Based on the rule that you cannot enter the Celestial Kingdom unless your name is recorded in Salt Lake City, all who passed away without the benefit - at any time in the past - must, for their own good, be sooner or later baptised. (So strong a conviction is this among the Saints that when my uncle died and left a lot of unpaid bills my Aunt Lena made off with his church records one day while doing volunteer secretarial work, secure in the faith his soul would be locked outside the Pearly Gates until or unless she brought them back.)
But Mormon baptism of the dead is a cop-out because in spite of stressing the importance of complete physical immersion for the living, they dunk the deceased by proxy. A Discordian Church of Ladder Night Saints could open graves for the purpose of submurging skeletons and corpses. Then it could lower them back down before dawn. That would give us an exciting mission which would heighten our commitment by inviting persecution - a function served in the early days of Latter Day Saint Church history by polygamy.
Technically the Mormons practiced only polygyny - one husband with a plurality of wives. Polyandry - one wife with more than one husband - is also a form included by the generic term of polygamy. Discordians are free to practice all varieties of polygamy and polymorphous perversity as well. Marriage is an institution which should adjust itself to the needs of individuals and not the other way around. Any Discordian Episkopos may perform group marriage ceremonies, short-duration marriages, same-sex marriages and, with special permission, straight monogamous weddings.
If Mormonism is out of the mainstream, it still does not rival in that way an obscure Japanese religion called Perfect Liberty. May Goddess damn me if I am putting you on: Perfect Liberty teaches salvation through playing golf (as close to our own theory of salvation through nonsense as anyone else has come). For that reason Perfect Liberty owns many of the regular golf courses that dot the U.S. and Japan.
Personally, I think we Discordians could work out a similar path to liberation via surfing. That sounds like a program that would work for me. Unlike Will Rogers, I cannot honestly say I’ve never met a man I didn’t like. But certainly I have never met a surfer I didn’t like.
When Pope Paul excommunicated Saint Christopher - who happens to be the Patron Saint of Surfers - for what seems to us like the rather negligable fault of never existing, the Discordian Society adopted him, along with Saint Patrick (discharged for the same reason at the same time).
Already an experienced beach bum, with many years on the sands of Florida’s Sun Coast, I think I might very well spend the twilight years of my life in the holy land of California mastering the graceful art of riding a surfboard. When I am ready to take on disciples, you can probably find me somewhere along the stretch between Venice and San Diego, praying to Eris for surf. But joining me will entail sacrafices because a Discordian surfer will be prohibited from owning anything but a surfboard, trunks, a toothbrush, a beach towel and an automobile (maybe a hot rod or dune buggy). Because surfing is not just a sport; it’s a lifestyle. And Discordianism is not just a religion; it is a mental illness.
Should you arrive too late, during the first many years of my next lifetime I shall be found in the Simon Bolivar School for Boys of the Discordian Convent of San Medellin, Ciudad de Sandoz, Columbia - where instead of beating pupils for misconduct, the nuns give them blow jobs and then threaten delinquents with a termination of favors. (At least that’s what Discordian San Juan Batista, Keeper of the Seven Veils, tells us.)
But enough of this vocational planning.
If the Discordian Society is to become the world’s next great cargo cult it will be due to the efforts of the House of Mirrors. Not only have we nunneries, but recognized and accepted heresies, powerful lobbies complete with popcorn concessions and everything from progressive belaboring unions to square sewing circles. Many are mentioned in the /Principia/ proper and I don’t think it proper to repeatedly engage in repetitive repitition by repeating things repeated later on because I hate redundancy.
But there are also some new ones, such as the Ignorant Rescue Mission with its rousing slogans: “Rescue the ignorant! Save the dead! Cast out lepers!” (Members dress in old band or military brass-button jackets and help attractive females get adequate sex.)
There are also the Brunswick Shriners, Moral Regurgitation, Citizens against Infant Sexuality, the Crack House Integration of the Black Lotus Society, the Misplaced Bolivian Wild Animal Relocation Fund, the Laurel Foundation for the Recognition of Unique Achievement, the Gould Charitable Trust for Dynamic Population Control, the Patrio-Psychotic Anarcho-Materialism Study Group and the Sovereign State of Confusion.
Also not mentioned in the Principia - our many business ventures. No church likes to engage in the unseemly practice of boasting of its great wealth, but since I am being paid by the word I will list the names of our financial assets: the Brooklyn Bridge Holding Company, the Umbrella Corporation, the Spare Change Investment Corporation, Junk Mail Assossiates, San Andreas Shoreline Properties, the Fast Buck Riding Academy, the Informed Sources News Syndicate, Fly-by-Night Drug Transport, Infinite Vistas, Ltd., Everglades Land Investment, Cosa Nostra Amusements of New Jersey and the Laughing Buddha Jesus Ranch of Pinga Grande, Texas, Inc.
No doubt you are a little confused. Jesus, God and the Devil get such frequent billing in our religion - whereas most other faiths never advertise the competition. That’s mostly because of the neoGnostical influence of SubGeniusism.
Jesus was not the Son of God at all but - as He says again and again in The Bible - He was the Son of Man. Actually, His mission was to warn us against God - a laser-armed computer-robot space station sent to regulate or destroy humanity. (Our very own Dr. Van Van Mojo finally got rid of YHVH-1 by sticking hat pins in a tetherball, but that’s another story.)
As for the Devil - that is somebody our religion tried to do without for a long time. We didn’t think we needed a Devil, especially with Eris Discordia’s reputation being what it is already.
But religions without devils are like politicians without enemies or perpetual motion machines. If they are possible, they might just work. But who will ever know?
Our Devil came through the back door after introducing himself as Mr. Greyface. You will read about him in “The Curse of Greyface.” After blaming the first few evils on him we realised how handy he was and gave him a lifelong membership before we determined his true identity.
What really fooled us is that his face is grey - and that’s far from being his only resemblance to J.R. “Bob” Dobbs, the SubGenius Messiah of Mediocrity. But then so many grey-flanneled American males look like “Bob”, that is hardly evidence of conspiracy.
One difference: Greyface never smiles except when he is showing you how stupid you are; “Bob” always smiles except when he is showing you how stupid you are. For that reason the SubGenii call Greyface the Anti”Bob”, but in both our churches seers and sages know he is the Devil.
No matter whether he calls himself Greyface or the Anti”Bob” he acts like the Devil, because his most famous line is: “Let me organize it for you!”
But no doubt you are also curious about Eris. Where does she hang out these days - now that Olympus has gone tourist?
Eris Discordia is in Limbo, where all we virtuous pagans and our gods and goddesses go between lifetimes. Think of Key West in the off-season and you’ve got it.
Imagine an open-air bar at about ten in the morning. An aging barefoot Greek beauty with an Art Garfunkel hairdo is giving Zeus, the bartender, a hard time with a barbed wit that always leaves him bereft of any retort besides an extended middle finger.
Another attraction of Limbo is a nonstop party for the faithful, but Zeus has child support bills and Eris never was much of a party animal, contrary to popular belief.
Nor will you find any SubGenii at that party, or anywhere else in Limbo. With bikers and Nazis - if they were good Nazis - skinheads and pillars of the Church of the SubGenius go to Vahallah.
Bad people of every persuasion go to the Region of Thud.
A sprawling astral subdivision where there is nothing to do but eat and watch television and where all the houses, yards and people look pretty much alike, Thud keeps up with the Jonses. Most Christians are there, but in their creed it is called Paradise.
Only souls who, in the eyes of Eris, went out of their way to be a pain in the ass during their earthly sojourns are in Hell. Harry J. Aslinger qualifies. But still, the perils of Hell are exaggerated. Fire and brimstone are sources of heating during cold snaps, but our human rights group, Amnasty Interfactional, reports that nothing in Hell is any worse than the hideous shade of pink on its walls.
There are also such things as Nirvana - an exclusive resort for extinguished Zen Masters - and the Happy Hunting Grounds, where traditional Native American braves and warriors are the forest rangers. Dead cops (and Gurdjieffians who forgot to remember themselves) go to the Moon, a big precinct station in the sky, controlled by space aliens, where there are twice as many laws as here - converted to its present use from what was originally a slain space monster’s hollow titanium skill.
You can only be asking yourself at this point how these guys could possibly be taking all this shit seriously. If we weren’t serious, do you really think we would have published so many tracts and pamphlets at our own expense for so many years? Do people who are not serious stay awake nights thinking up new theologies and scriptures? Who but serious fanatics would have risked their lives by exposing their work to the readership of our first mass-circulation publisher, Loompanics?
Let me answer by asking what being serious has to do with believing what we write. But that isn’t to say we don’t at least believe in Goddess - even if we are skeptical of what She says. But that is now, after more than three decades of Discordianism. No way did we think there was an Eris Discordia at first. But as Greg says, “At first I thought I was fucking around with Eris. Now I see that Eris is fucking around with me.”
A Discordian must believe that Eris Discordia rules the Material Universe - and that She won it from God in a divorce suit during the Beforelife, and that the French anarchist Pierre Joseph Proudhon was Her attorney at the trial, and that nobody is Her Prophet, and that eating hotdog buns is a sin. All else is a matter of individual conscience.
Graven images and icons and pictures of Eris are all right as long as they are flattering.
Safe sex - with a condom, rubber gloves and a wet suit is fine as long as you don’t fall in love.
You may covet your neighbor’s ass - providing your neighbor is into it.
You may drink, but not to escape problems. (Like the Maltafarians of the SubGenius Church, you may only drink to create problems.)
There is no prohibition against prayer - which is not to say we think it is a wise activity.
You don’t have to believe in Eristic Avatars to be a Discordian, but it helps. Eristic Avatars are sent down into Reality, the original Rorschach, for the purpose keeping things from becoming so well ordered that they stop working. This they often accomplish by insisting that certain arbitrary interpretations of reality are the only valid ones. That causes Strife which results in Confusion which revitalizes Holy Chaos. Most Eristic Avatars display certain signs by which they can be certified, such as employment as civil servants. So far, the most successful Eristic Avatar has been Confucius. Eristic Avatars can also be ascertained by the fact that they are always ignorant of their mission and have no idea they are serving Eris or, for that matter, that they are even promoting confusion.
That is made possible by the Law of Eristic Escalation, of which you must be innocent to serve as Eristic Avatar. (For an unknown reason, it does not work as well for those of us who are guilty of it.)
This Law pertains to any arbitrary or coercive imposition of order. It is: Imposition of Order = Escalation of Chaos.
Fenderson’s Amendment adds that the tighter the order in question is maintained, the longer the consequent chaos takes to escalate, BUT the more it does when it does!
Armed with the Law of Eristic Escalation and Fenderson’s Amendment any imbecile - not just a sociologist - can understand politics.
So I will translate into the lingua franca of the Western world: An imposition of order creates a chaos deficit, which compounds until it is paid off (by enduring all the outstanding chaos).
Of course, Eris thinks all chaos is outstanding. But we mortals find too much of a good thing a little overwhelming. Thus we cringe when we encounter an anerism - a pronouncement, that is, which is innocent of the Law of Eristic Escalation.
If you hear that outlawing prostitution will eradicate rape, you are listening to an anerism - a manifestation of Aneristic Delusion. (If you read “The Sacred Chao” on pages 00049 and 00050 - instead of skipping over it in the recommended way - you will comprehend the anamysticmetaphorics of aneristics.)
An anerism nearly always enters the world through the mouth of a politician - but it can come by way of any authority figure such as a minister or a teacher or a parent or a boss or Ronald McDonald.
“We need more laws with stiffer penalties to rid our community of drugs,” says an innocent pawn of Eris. To be sure, these laws make smuggling and selling and buying drugs more risky. That, in turn, drives up their prices - thus making them more profitable. So more money and work goes into expanding the market for the contraband - in keeping with the Law of Eristic Escalation.
Or, as the Taoist sage Chuang Tzu simply said, “The more laws there are, the more crime there is.”
(Identification and elucidation of anerisms is a favorite pastime of politically conscious Discordians - who note that the whole text of my “Epistle to the Paranoids” on page 00069 is a psychological anerism. Goddess punished me for it, about five years later, by turning me into a paranoid myself. A conspiracy helped Her. As of this writing, I am still paranoid - according to my friends.) (Or are they my enemies?)
Proliferation of crime in the wake of multiplication of laws is more than a matter of expanded definition. Governments are impositions of order designed to discourage theft and killing. But they wind up taking more in taxes than all the freelance crooks around could steal. Their wars involve more killing than all the meanest toughs and hoodlums can hope to rival.
Laws were unknown to the True People of Old, says Chuang Tzu. All during the paleolithic and the neolithic there could hardly have been any laws, because the cave paintings in France and Spain depict no battle scenes.
We know that in the time of Moses many laws did not seem necessary or desirable because the second time he came down from Mount Sinai he said: “The good news is I got Him down to ten; the bad news is that one of them is still THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY.”
In Limbo there are only five laws: 1) No making anybody do anything they don’t want, except mind their own business; 2) No shitting or pissing in the streets; 3) No spitting on the floors; 4) No undated notices on the bulletin board; 5) No eating of hotdog buns. That sounds like a program that will work for me because there is nothing in there against swiping jokes.
Nearly all the graphics in Principia Discordia, by the way, were ripped off. (I don’t know why, because Greg and I are both passible artists.) The Discordian Society does not condone plagiarism. (Our rates for illos are quite reasonable.) Discordians hold all unoriginality in contempt. (Our familiarity with Discordian themes is unsurpassable.) Henceforth, no Discordian shall rip off graphics. (Contact me, or Greg, for your eristic artistic needs.)
All I can say in our defense is at least we were honest about it. As we reached the end of the Third Edition, Greg pasted in a little blurb that credited the graphics to Rip-Off Press - which he snipped out of something that was actually printed by Rip-Off Press. How’s that for a rip-off?
You will also notice an unusual number of unusual rubber stampings scattered about among the following pages. That was Greg showing off his rubber stamp collection. Few hobbies are as psychologically gratifying - especially when some bureaucrat is making you wait, with his or her back to you for a moment - as collection rubber stamps. This is also an exciting way to recoup some of your tax losses. But you must abide by the laws of the Rubber Stamp Congress. All Discordians are permitted to collect rubber stamps provided they don’t mention the Discordian Society if they are caught. Just point out to them that among people of all faiths stamp collecting is a popular hobby. And tell them your religious preference is none of their business. Tell them that collecting stamps in the name of your nameless religion is your Constitutional right and then, to make your point, take the Fifth Amendment. They will find themselves in a legalistic quandary.
On most occasions mentioning your Discordian Society affiliation is perfectly acceptable. If perchance, you are idiotic enough to somehow foolishly blunder and end up in the military, insist they stamp DISCORDIAN on your dog tags. Because we are sick and tired of hearing there are no Discordians in foxholes.
You might also wish to list “Discordian” as your religion on job applications - especially if you are already on unemployment and don’t want the damned jobs anyhow.
A secret method of identifying your Discordianship for the benefit of other Discordians is by wearing a pull-off aluminum beer-can tab, strung through its ring, around your neck. That is called an All-Seeing Eye of Eris (complete with Tear) and it will help other members of the Discordian Society keep out of your way.
Or if you are an extrovert - and are not even ashamed of it - you can get up on a soap box and rant for Goddess right out in public. Personally I prefer standing on a wooden box but, anyway, you get at least five points for every rant you deliver. Extra points are awarded for handling hecklers with aplomb - or with anything else besides your fists.
A secret of dealing with hecklers, incidentally, was imparted to me by a professional rabble rouser who used to speak in Hyde Park. You memorize a bunch of standardized put-downs good for all occasions. So no matter what your tormentor says, you can fire back with something like: “Hot air makes a balloon go up. What’s holding you down?”
Another secret of ranting was revealed by Rev. Ivan Stang when, of a rejected submission to The Stark Fist, he said: “It wandered, but not enough.” A fine rant doesn’t just wander, it positively meanders. (Use this introduction as a model.) Keep changing the subject so your listeners, with their short attention spans, won’t get bored. If you change themes between 45 and 72 times a minute (a rhythm close to the human heartbeat) - and mystify them by mixing metaphors - pretty soon those suckers will be putty in the palm of your hand at your feet wrapped around your little finger.
You can also learn a great deal by studying magnificent orators of the past. Huey P. Long taxed Standard Oil ten dollars for each barrel they pumped in Louisiana and then gave them back 90% of it under the table. Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton.
Mark Anthony kept saying, “...but these are honorable men,” all through his speech. Remember how effective that selective repitition was in swaying the emotions of the actors in Shakepeare’s play who were cast as Roman citizens.
Do not for a moment think you cannot be an exceptional orator if you can just find some way to keep repeating yourself hypnotically and changing the subject of your speech frequently at the same time.
Winston Churchill pointed out another attribute of good rhetoric: it is sincere. You must yourself really be against the Germans buzz-bombing London before you can persuade the English people it is a rotten notion.
Natural aptitude also plays its part. America has known no greater public speaker than Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose son once quipped, “Father wanted to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral.” And that’s important to keep in mind, because if you want to be the bride at every funeral and the corpse at every wedding you just are not made of the right ingredients. Your timing is off.
In that case you could have better luck with eyeball-to-eyeball conversations, the versatile art of one-on-one seduction which you want to learn anyway. Here, too hypnotic repitition is a key to unlimited potential. Pick any theme out of the air for repeating - a word, a name or a number will do. Let us say, for this example, that you choose the number five into your pitch. Again and again, five times five, over and over, drive that mother home until your victim is entranced in the Fifth Dimension. Then dazzle them with all the techniques in “A Primer for Erisian Evangelists” on page 00065.
Such mood setters as lighting and music are also important. For maximum results, illuminate the room with strobe lights. Play Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony in the background. They will be putty eating out of your hand.
If you are repelled by having anything to do with human beings whatsoever - as individuals or in groups - then you were probably meant to be a great Discordian writer such as myself.
That being the case, my advice to you is consider that rousing literary form known as the manifesto. Not only should you read The Communist Manifesto so you can find our how to get bankers to finance your activities, you should also study the lesser-known but equally great specimens of this genre. What especially comes to mind in this respect is that underground classic anonymous authorship, “Manifesto of the Artistic Elite of the Midwest.”
As it has not yet been anthologized, I reproduce it here in full just as it appeared in issue #2 of False Positive (c/o Donna Kossy, Box 953, Allston, MA 02134):
Note the presence here, in spite of a lack of explicit Discordianism, of all the characteristics of an excellent manifesto: mixed emotions expressed with all the vitrolic vehemence of unmixed emotions.
So if there is a cause about which you are ambivalent, do like Karl Marx did. Pen its manifesto.
No Discordian Manifesto yet exists. We need at least five. That will generate controversy and confuse Greyface.
My own favorite Holy Name - Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst - functions in that way. It is a walking identity crisis. Anybody can say or do anything in the name of Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst. For better or worse, that never fails to confuse the authorities.
This tradition started in 1960 when I was basic training clerk in Marine Air Base 11. I typed in the Ravenhurst moniker on a training lecture roster, listing him as a truck driver in motor transport - serial number 1369697, rank: private.
When Ravenhurst, Omat K., failed to answer the role call somebody called the captain in charge of motor transport to find out where Ravenhurst was. Of course nobody in the motor pool ever heard of any such private.
Motor transport called administration. No Ravenhurst on record there, either. A clerk-typist from administration Corporal Chadwick, came by to ask me about the mysterious Marine.
Upon returning to his desk, Chadwick completed an IRC card - a condensed record - which would have to do until Ravenhurst’s entire file arrived from his last duty station: Marine Barracks, East British Outer Cambodia.
An unusual man, this Ravenhurst - with his IQ of 157. How many other truck drivers spoke 17 languages but, in ten years of service, had never been recommended for promotion?
You would imagine that one glance at such statistics would arouse suspiscion. But some days later there occured within my earshot a conversation between two lieutenants and the swaggering staff sergeant who headed basic training (who, so as to protect his identity from ridicule, I shall call Karen Elliot instead of Sergeant Garcia).
“Where do you figure he learned 17 languages - including Upper and Lower Swahili?” one of the officers wondered aloud.
“Most men make private first class in about six months. This guy has been a private for ten years! I’m going to recommend him for promotion,” announced the other lieutenant.
“You better have a talk with him first, sir,” Karen Elliot warned. “You just never can tell about them intellegent guys.”
Chadwick, who was lurking nearby, suddenly shouted: “THERE HE IS! THAT’S HIM! THAT’S RAVENHURST RIGHT THERE!”
A big chunky truck driver whose nickname was Buddha happened to be dampening the dust in that vicinity with a water-tank equipped with a sprinkler in back.
Eager to score some points with the officers, Karen Elliot ran over and yelled at the Buddha.
Stories like that spread rapidly and so did the Ravenhurst name. On his behalf, I for my part answered a survey on improving basic training. More realistic combat conditions on the obstacle course and field training in venereal disease control where among his recommendations.
Later on, I added to our files an application by Ravenhurst for officer training school. Reason: “I have been a private for ten years, so the only way I expect to be promoted is if I try for second lieutenant.” Across the page was stamped: APPROVED. Nevertheless, for some unexplained reason, Ravenhurst remained a private.
After I was discharged I ran into Bud Simco, who remained in the same unit a short while longer than me. “About a month after you mustered out, there was a dress rehearsal for the biggest inspection of the year.
“By then Ravenhurst had a wall locker with his name on it and a bunk. Somebody even added a touch of realism by putting an old pair of size six shoes with holes in them under Ravenhurst’s bunk.
“There was only one other guy in that cubicle and he was pretty bent out of shape because Ravenhurst was never there in the mornings to help sweep. Once or twice he even brought it up with the top sergeant.
“When the big day came, they even shut down radar center. Everybody had to stand inspection. No exceptions.
“Colonel Fenderson and the top sergeant walked down the isle, inspecting one cubicle at a time. It was junk on the bunk,” he added, indicating the most thorough inspection there is - with every piece of gear spread out neatly on the bunk. “Only one bunk with bedding on it was empty. Only one man was missing.
“They wanted to know who Ravenhurst was and, more importantly, where he was. Nobody knows, but the other guy in his cubicle reminds the top sergeant than Ravenhurst is a malingerer.
“Then they ask if anybody has ever seen this Ravenhurst. Private Monty Cantsin pipes up. Every afternoon Ravenhurst sits right there on his bunk.
“Well then, what does this Ravenhurst look like? Cantsin stretches out both arms and says, ‘Oh, he’s a big mountain of a man!’ But just then the top sergeant bends over and picks up these little size six shoes.
“They call up motor transport. ‘For the hundredth goddamned time,’ the captain tells the top sergeant, ‘there is nobody named Ravenhurst in motor transport.’ So the brass huddle together and decide Ravenhurst must have mustered into squadron without checking in with his assigned work station - so he could just fuck off all the time. So they are ready to hang him - as soon as they find him.”
A futile base-wide manhunt was conducted before Sergeant Karen Elliot heard they were searching for Ravenhurst. Somehow - perhaps by examining the basic training files - he discovered that Ravenhurst was a hoax earlier and now he spilled the beans in exchange, I’m sure, for many points.
A few days later a letter of commendation, dictated by Colonel Fenderson, appeared on the squadron bulletin board - congradulating Private Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst for outstanding conduct.
In 1968, when Robert Anton Wilson and I decided to form a conspiracy with no purpose - so that investigators would never be able to figure out what it was doing - I told him about Ravenhurst and invited him, or anyone else he recruited, to do anything, anywhere, any time under the already-ubiquitous name. We decided to call that conspiracy, however unoriginally, the Bavarian Illuminati - a caper that culminated eventually in the Illuminatus! Trilogy.
As for Ravenhurst, the last I heard was the KGB was trying to find him so they could make him Chairman of the American Communist Party.