All statements are true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense, and true and false and meaningless in some sense.
– Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia.
I arrived too late for Anarchy Bridge; too late for that freaked out array of anarchistic statements and surreal slogans, too late for the I have seen the fnords and the ALL HAIL DISCORDIA.
Too late for all that.
The aforementioned quotes had stemmed from a Discordian religious text entitled Principia Discordia or, How I Found the Goddess and What I Did To Her When I Found Her. It was written by the Omnibenevolent Polyfather of Virginity in Gold Greg Hill, A.K.A. Malaclypse the Younger; along with the help of free thinking nerd and Lee Harvey Oswald acquaintance, Kerry Wendell Thornley, A.K.A. Lord Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst and Hill’s pineal gland, the third eye, a part of the brain he claimed had allowed him direct conversation with the goddess Eris, back in 1965.
The Principia’s first edition was printed on the Xerox machine of none other than Jim Garrison, the District Attorney made famous for his investigations into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Garrison was a man with visions of conspiracy, first describing the assassination as a homosexual thrill killing before that idea soon evolved into a massive CIA and federal government plot, proof of how quickly these things can escalate.
And the product of Garrison’s Xerox, the Principia Discordia, was, for lack of a better word, the bible of the Discordian faith; a hodge podge of both typewritten and handwritten text with a host of clip art, stamps, and seals appropriated from other sources. While full of literal contradictions and unusual humor, it proposed a serious intent behind the work, noting that if you think the PRINCIPIA is just a ha-ha, then go read it again. It described the Discordian Society and its Goddess Eris, the Apple of Discord and the Sacred Chao, and it’s three core principles, outlined below,
The Aneristic Principle is that of apparent order; the Eristic Principle is that of apparent disorder. Both order and disorder are man made concepts and are artificial divisions of pure chaos, which is a level deeper than is the level of distinction making.
With our concept-making apparatus called “the brain” we look at reality through the ideas-about-reality which our cultures give us. The ideas-about-reality are mistakenly labeled “reality” and unenlightened people are forever perplexed by the fact that other people, especially other cultures, see “reality” differently.
It is only the ideas-about-reality which differ. Real (capital-T) True reality is a level deeper than is the level of concept. We look at the world through windows on which have been drawn grids (concepts). Different philosophies use different grids. A culture is a group of people with rather similar grids. Through a window we view chaos, and relate it to the points on our grid, and thereby understand it. The order is in the grid. That is the Aneristic Principle.
Western philosophy is traditionally concerned with contrasting one grid with another grid, and amending grids in hopes of finding a perfect one that will account for all reality and will, hence, (say unenlightened westerners) be true. This is illusory; it is what we Erisians call the Aneristic Illusion. Some grids can be more useful than others, some more beautiful than others, some more pleasant than others, etc., but none can be more True than any other.
Disorder is simply unrelated information viewed through some particular grid. But, like “relation”, no-relation is a concept. Male, like female, is an idea about sex. To say that male-ness is “absence of female-ness”, or vice versa, is a matter of definition and metaphysically arbitrary. The artificial concept of no-relation is the Eristic Principle.
The belief that “order is true” and disorder is false or somehow wrong, is the Aneristic Illusion. To say the same of disorder, is the Eristic Illusion. The point is that (little-t) truth is a matter of definition relative to the grid one is using at the moment, and that (capital-T) Truth, metaphysical reality, is irrelevant to grids entirely. Pick a grid, and through it some chaos appears ordered and some appears disordered. Pick another grid, and the same chaos will appear differently ordered and disordered.
Reality is the original Rorschach. Verily! So much for all that.
– Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia.
That a book like Principia Discordia should appear during the Sixties should come as no surprise; the Sixties were a classical Jungian nightmare cycle, at least according to Christopher Booker, a founding member of Private Eye magazine, where a rigid culture, unable to contain the demands for greater individual freedom, broke free of the social constraints of the previous age through extreme deviation from the norm; its a decade from which we’re still living off the table scraps… they are still being passed around – the music and the ideas; the whole thing going off like some technicolor hand grenade, a wild explosion of free love and psychedelia; bomb with the twist to the beat of The ‘Nam, The Beatles and The Stones launching The British Invasion, a plethora of peculiarity from Moon Landings to Manson Murders…
The Sixties were a decade where the ‘streets of Coventry were paved with gold’, or so an excitable journalist once put it.
When I first read that I laughed and laughed and laughed.
But she was a city in full flow, alright; her recovery after the horrors of the Nazis’ Moonlight Sonata back in 1940 akin to a Phoenix rising from the ashes. The City’s car industry, ranging from Jaguar to Standard-Triumph, employed thousands, along with such engineering firms as Wickman and Alfred Herbert, and the electrical giant, GEC.
Coventry’s new cathedral, meanwhile, had been rebuilt to a design by Sir Basil Spence, a celebration of 20th Century Modernist architecture, a jamboree of huge Sutherland tapestries and emotive Bridgeman sculptures, with the shell of the old cathedral kept in ruins as a garden of remembrance for those lost during that long night in November. St Michael’s was consecrated on the 25th of May, 1962, in the presence of Queen Elizabeth the Second: Head of the Commonwealth and Defender of the Faith. Composer Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem was premiered there later in the year, having been written especially for the occasion.
But where Coventry’s dependence on its automotive industry had been its saviour during the boom period of the 50s and 60s, the downturn in the industry during late 70s and early 80s soon put the City in a terminal decline; jobs became scarce, with rates of unemployment some of the highest in the country, and due to crime rates rising far beyond national average and frequent trouble in pub and clubland, the city acquired her reputation as a violent and hostile place – a city without hope.
It was at Coventry’s lowest ebb when The Specials earned themselves a number one hit, the song Ghost Town; hitting the top-spot in the July of 1981 just as a summer of riots ignited throughout the U.K, violence flaring from Brixton to Handsworth.
At any rate, the Anarchy Bridge is still there, still (officially) the Grosvenor Road Footbridge, still linking Earlsdon and Spencer Park to Coventry City Centre.
But it isn’t the same.
The bridge had been constructed during the 1850s in order to maintain a public right of way through the new railway marshalling and goods yard. It followed an ancient route which had once to run due south and on to Kenilworth some six miles away; a route purported to be haunted by a phantom cyclist frozen in a silent scream, cursed to repeat his crash into the undergrowth edging Warwick Road for all eternity.
The bridge fast became a favourite haunt for graffiti artists and trainspotters during the following decades before being substantially rebuilt during the development of the Central Six Retail Park on the now disused marshalling yard during the 1990’s.
So lost were the anarchist graffiti and Discordian slogans, leaving a rusty and lifeless monstrosity that sways about with the wind; a bridge that you’ll cross in four beers time and instantly come to regret, teetering there above a nondescript car park on a barren side of town, lost amongst the shadows of a myth named progress.
Daydreaming subverts the world.
– Raoul Vaneigem, Revolution of Everyday Life.
While I might err toward the Socialism end of the political spectrum I’ve always had a soft spot for Anarchism, if such a term could even apply. I’ve read some Revolution of Everyday Life and a little The Conquest of Bread; I can get behind V, the ‘hero’ of V for Vendetta, and I love a bit of Crass; I buy the occasional Strike! magazine and subscribe to The Life Anarchic.
But the word Anarchy carries bad connotations. My girlfriend hates it, it conjures voodoo visions of riots in the streets and shop fronts in flames, of smoke and flame billowing from an overturned police car as a terrified single mother attempts to defend her children and meagre belongings from the bloodthirsty mob baying at her door, the House of Lords but a skeletal shell while MPs hang from the lampposts… all of which, of course, is plainly bullshit; a picture painted by an establishment class eager to prove that their way is the one and only way.
That word, Anarchy, it is almost a fnord now, every appearance of the word subconsciously generates a feeling of uneasiness and confusion.
My main problem with Anarchism stems from its idealistic nature. Anarchism is, by definition, the belief in the abolition of all government and the organization of society on a voluntary, cooperative basis without recourse to force or compulsion, and I just can’t fathom a world in which that would be even remotely possible.
I want to. But I can’t.
Because the world is incoherent, it’s berserk, it’s deranged.
And we are, each and every one of us, fucking insane.
The main thing that I learned about conspiracy theory is that conspiracy theorists actually believe in a conspiracy because that is more comforting. The truth of the world is that it is chaotic. The truth is, that it is not the Jewish banking conspiracy or the grey aliens or the 12 foot reptiloids from another dimension that are in control.
The truth is more frightening. Nobody is in control.
The world is rudderless.
– Alan Moore, The Mindscape of Alan Moore.
We like to simplify the stories that we tell ourselves, don’t we? We’re a species with a fatal addiction for those good ol’ easy-to-digest tales of GOOD vs. EVIL, such as:
- God vs. The Devil.
- Sherlock Holmes vs. Professor James Moriarty.
- Sonic the Hedgehog vs. Dr. Eggman.
- US vs. THEM.
Our world may not work that way, the evidence for which abounds, yet still we persist, daubing our blacks and our whites over each and every shade of grey we can get our grubby little mitts on.
Those starving masses encamped at Calais, risking life and limb to reach dear old Blighty, having fled extreme violence, egregious human rights abuses and desperate humanitarian conditions? They are there, quite simply, to steal our jobs and/or our benefits by any means necessary and by doing so are putting British lives at risk. As Katie Hopkins so eloquently put it, they are spreading like norovirus on a cruise ship; the desperate plight of desperate people casually compared to a bout of food poisoning on a Royal Caribbean holiday.
Every Muslim must be a card-carrying member of an Islāmic Death Cult because the world is so much more simple when viewed through this monochrome lens.
But we are swamped by chance and probability, overwhelmed by the arcane and the abominable, left crushed by both the idiotic and the miraculous. Robert Anton Wilson, author, novelist, essayist, editor, playwright, poet, futurist, psychologist, self-described agnostic mystic and Discordian Pope, said reality is always plural and mutable. Chaos and disorder may seem to stalk every corner, the nature of which we neither seem to grasp nor understand, reality as black magic, but Discordianism is centred on the idea that both order and disorder are illusions imposed on the universe by the human nervous system, and that neither of these illusions of apparent order and disorder is any more accurate or objectively true than the other.
Perhaps Malaclypse the Younger and Lord Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst and Pope Bob and the host of artists who left their mark out there on Anarchy Bridge, maybe they were on to something.
Just pick up a pack of cards. After shuffling it is almost certain that the configuration of the deck you hold in your hand has never been held by any human being in the history of mankind, on this Earth, or on any one of its many parallel universes. You currently hold in your hand something that will never again be seen, from now until the end of time itself.
There are no rules anywhere.
That isn’t anarchy. That’s reality.
I like to imagine Eris, the goddess of chaos and strife and discord, out on Anarchy Bridge with Her Golden Apple in hand, dreaming of The Garden of the Hesperides and The Judgement of Paris and the resultant Trojan War. When asked, back in ’65, by Malaclypse the Younger if She had really been behind these terrible things, She told him that She had always liked the Old Greeks but that they could not be trusted with historic matters. “They were victims of indigestion, you know.”
And I like to imagine Her smile, gently carving the words τῇ καλλίστῃ onto that acapulco gold before tossing it out to crowds of Central Six below and then the quarrels and lies that ensue, of how small a push will send us to war.
And I like to imagine the ghosts of graffiti artist and trainspotter past, still hanging out at their favourite haunt, on that wonderful bridge, with their freaked out array of anarchistic statements and surreal slogans, with their I have seen the fnords and with their ALL HAIL DISCORDIA.
There are no rules anywhere.
The Goddess Prevails.
– Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia.
LISTENING: Christ: The Album, by Crass.
WATCHING: Bitter Lake, by Adam Curtis.