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Historia Discordia meet Kerry Thornley, the second Oswald.

Kerry Thornley lived and died in obscurity. But while few people noticed, he invented one of the 20th century's more influential religions, helped launch '60s-style sex-and-nature neopaganism Neopaganism, polytheistic religious movement, practiced in small groups by partisans of pre-Christian religious traditions such as Egyptian, Greek, Norse, and Celtic. , and was a major force behind the first modern libertarian 'zine.

He was also, to hear him tell it, part of the conspiracy to murder JFK, and thus escalate the Vietnam War--a conspiracy so secret even Thornley didn't know about it at the time.

Thornley was one of America's most fascinating unknowns. It is fitting, given the underground nature of his claims to fame, that his first biography, The Prankster and the Conspiracy: The Story of Kerry Thornley and How He Met Oswald and Inspired the Counterculture coun·ter·cul·ture  
A culture, especially of young people, with values or lifestyles in opposition to those of the established culture.

, by Adam Gorightly, is published in the quasi-clandestine form of a print-on-demand book from Paraview Press.

Thornley helped his high school buddy Greg Hill invent the comedic religion of Discordianism in dull suburban Southern California in the late 1950s. It was dedicated to the worship of Eris, the Greek goddess of Chaos. Its flavor can be gleaned from this bit of powerful magick mag·ick  
An action or effort undertaken because of a personal need to effect change, especially as associated with Wicca or Wiccan beliefs.

[Variant of magic.
, the Turkey Curse, from its holy book, the Principia Discordia: "Face ... towards the direction of the negative aneristic vibration that you wish to neutralize. Begin waving your arms in any elaborate manner and make motions with your hands as though you were Mandrake mandrake, plant of the family Solanaceae (nightshade family), the source of a narcotic much used during the Middle Ages as a pain-killer and perhaps the subject of more superstition than any other plant.  feeling up a sexy giantess. Chant, loudly and clearly: GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GOBBLE! The results will be instantly apparent."

Thornley joined the Marines in 1959, where one of his buddies at the El Toro Marine Base was Lee Harvey Oswald Noun 1. Lee Harvey Oswald - United States assassin of President John F. Kennedy (1939-1963)
, an openly communist "outfit eight ball" known to his fellow grunts as "Oswaldskovitch."

Thornley began writing a novel based on his disillusioning experience in the Marines. After hearing that of' Oswaldskovitch really meant it with that commie com·mie also Com·mie  
n. Informal
A Communist.

[Short for Communist.]


pl -mies

 stuff when he defected to the Soviet Union, Thornley transformed the book, called The Idle Warriors, into a roman a clef ro·man à clef  
n. pl. ro·mans à clef
A novel in which actual persons, places, or events are depicted in fictional guise.

[French : roman, novel + à, with +
 about Oswald--making Thornley the only person to write a book about Lee Oswald before that fall day in Dallas.

Thornley was living in New Orleans when John F. Kennedy "John Kennedy" and "JFK" redirect here. For other uses, see John Kennedy (disambiguation) and JFK (disambiguation).
John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917–November 22, 1963), was the thirty-fifth President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in
 was killed, hanging out, according to his own recollections (which some friends suspect Thornley invented) with a curious cast of characters. Among them were some unfortunates caught in New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison's feckless investigation into the JFK assassination.

What is definitely not Thornley's imagination, though, is that he was dragged into the "Who Killed Kennedy Who Killed Kennedy is an original novel written by David Bishop and based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. ?" melodrama, testifying before the Warren Commission and targeted by Garrison, who thought Thornley might have been part of the conspiracy as a "second Oswald." The two men allegedly looked quite similar, and there was a weird series of coincidences linking them.

In the mid-'60s Thornley headed back west and became a major writer for the first modern libertarian 'zine, The Innovator. In those years he also became an advocate of the early SoCal free love cult Kerista, which neopagan historian Margot Adler credits, says Gorightly, as "the true beginnings of the neopagan movement in contemporary culture."

Through the '70s and the "80s the "order" reflected in his insanely elaborated conspiracy theories won Thornley's heart away from the chaos of Eris, and also lost him most of his old friends. No one wants to hang with someone who is sure you are part of a baroque conspiracy against him. Thornley had decided that Garrison was right after all, that he was a CIA CIA: see Central Intelligence Agency.

(1) (Confidentiality Integrity Authentication) The three important concerns with regards to information security. Encryption is used to provide confidentiality (privacy, secrecy).
 mind-control slave, that a mysterious pal in New Orleans was E. Howard Hunt, and finally that he had been a Manchurian candidate from birth, with his parents Nazi spies.

He spent the last years of his life (he died in 1998) occasionally washing dishes and living in storm drains, and hanging out as a local eccentric in Atlanta's Little Five Points neighborhood. A sad fate for someone dedicated to spreading forces of upheaval and chaos: from his Discordianism to his advocating a libertarian diaspora populating stateless Refers to software that does not keep track of configuration settings, transaction information or any other data for the next session. When a program "does not maintain state" (is stateless) or when the infrastructure of a system prevents a program from maintaining state, it cannot take  floating cities in The Innovator, to his inspiration of Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea's classic trilogy, Illuminatus!, to all the aftershocks spreading from that earthquake of a novel.

But Thornley still got in his prankish prank·ish  
Given to or characterized by impishness or playfulness; mischievous.

prankish·ly adv.
 fun, for example putting up flyers urging people to "Boycott the illegal weapons amnesty program: Don't bring your illegal weapons to the Super Bowl in exchange for tickets!" when the game was held in Atlanta in 1994.

A strange and troublesome man, that Thornley, serving Eris to the end, and proof that, while you don't have to be crazy to warp American culture, it helps.

Brian Doherty ( is a reason senior editor and author of This Is Burning Man, out in August from Little, Brown.
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Author:Doherty, Brian
Article Type:Critical Essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2004
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