You hold in your hands one of the Great Books of our century fnord.
Some Great Books are recognized at once with a fusilade of
critical huzzahs and gonfolons, like Joyce's _Ulysses._ Others appear
almost furtively and are only discovered 50 years later, like _Moby
Dick_ or Mendel's great essay on genetics. The _Principia Discordia_
entered our space-time continuum almost as unobtrusively as a cat-
burglar creeping over a windowsill.
In 1968, virtually nobody had heard of this wonderful book. In
1970, hundreds of people from coast to coast were talking about it and
asking the identity of its mysterious author, Malaclypse the Younger.
Rumors swept across the continent, from New York to Los Angeles, from
Seattle to St. Joe. Malaclypse was actually Alan Watts, one heard.
No, said another legend -- the _Principia_ was actually the work of
the Sufi Order. A third, very intriguing myth held that Malaclypse
was a pen-name for Richard M. Nixon, who had allegedly composed the
_Principia_ during a few moments of lucidity. I enjoyed each of these
yarns and did my part to help spread them. I was also careful never
to contradict the occasional rumors that I had actually written the
whole thing myself during an acid trip.
The legendry, the mystery, the cult grew slowly. By the mid-
1970's, thousands of people, some as far off as Hong Kong and
Australia, were talking about the _Principia,_ and since the original
was out of print by then, xerox copies were beginning to circulate
here and there.
When the _Illuminatus!_ trilogy appeared in 1975, my co-author,
Bob Shea, and I both received hundreds of letters from people
intrigued by the quotes from the _Principia_ with which we had
decorated the heads of several chapters. Many, who had already heard
of the _Principia_ or seen copies, asked if Shea and I had written it,
or if we had copies available. Others wrote to ask if it were real,
or just something we had invented the way H.P. Lovecraft invented the
_Necronomicon._ We answered according to our moods, sometimes telling
the truth, sometimes spreading the most Godawful lies and myths we
could devise fnord.
Why not? We felt that this book was a true Classic (_literatus
immortalis_) and, since the alleged intelligentsia had not yet
discovered it, the best way to keep its legend alive was to encourage
the mythology and the controversy about it. Increasingly, people
wrote to ask me if Timothy Leary had written it, and I almost always
told them he had, except on Fridays when I am more whimsical, in which
case I told them it had been transmitted by a canine intelligence --
vast, cool, and unsympathetic -- from the Dog star, Sirius.
Now, at last, the truth can be told.
Actually, the _Principia_ is the work of a time-travelling
anthropologist from the 23rd century. He is currently passing among
us as a computer specialist, bon vivant and philosopher named Gregory
Hill. He has also translated several volumes of Etruscan erotic
poetry, under another pen-name, and in the 18th century was the
mysterious Man in Black who gave Jefferson the design for the Great
Seal of the United States.
I have it on good authority that he is one of the most
accomplished time-travellers in the galaxy and has visited Earth many
times in the past, using such cover-identities as Zeno of Elias,
Emperor Norton, Count Galiostro, Guilliame of Aquaitaine, etc.
Whenever I question him about this, he grows very evasive and attempts
to persuade me that he is actually just another 20th century Earthman
and that all my ideas about his extraterrestrial and extratemporal
origin are delusions. Hah! I am not that easily deceived. After
all, a time-travelling anthropologist would say just that, so that he
could observe us without his presence causing culture-shock.
I understand that he has consented to write an Afterward to this
edition. He'll probably contradict everything I've told you, but
don't believe a word he says fnord. He is a master of the deadpan
put-on, the plausible satire, the philosophical leg-pull and all
branches of guerilla ontology.
For full benefit to the Head, this book should be read in
conjunction with _The Illuminoids_ by Neal Wilgus (Sun Press,
Albuquerque, New Mexico) and _Zen Without Zen Masters_ by Camden
Benares (And/Or Press, Berkeley, California). "We are operating on
many levels here," as Ken Kesey used to say.
In conclusion, there is no conclusion. Things will go on as they
always have, getting weirder all the time.
Hail Eris. All hail Discordia. Fnord?
-- Robert Anton Wilson
International Arms and Hashish, Inc.
Darra Bazar, Kohat
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