Created | Updated Nov 7, 2011
This entry should clear up some of the questions that are plaguing any of you about the world's first and finest parody religion started in a bowling alley. Discordianism is hard to define. It's a belief that chaos, or disorder, is as vital to the universe as order and harmony. All things 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, false, and meaningless in some sense.
The Book That Began It All
are a tribe
of philosophers, theologians,
and similar maniacs
who are intrigued
GODDESS OF CONFUSION
Thus starts the Principia Discordia or How I Found Goddess and What I Did To Her When I Found Her1. This amazing book can be taken as literature, art, social commentary, or plain old-fashioned bunk.
The Principia is a collage of entertaining and enlightening snips from life in the United States from the mid-20th Century onwards. It intermingles a child-like humour and love of life with serious political commentary.
A free-thinker's guide to life, the Principia takes itself no more seriously than it takes anything else. It's irreverence is canny and wild. It provides five commandments for pure Discordian living. The third and fourth contradict each other, and the fifth negates all the commandments.
Discordians enjoy a sort of Dada2 Zen. Discordian stories are almost always parables for something, and even if they aren't, they're meant to be the equivalent of the Zen master smacking the student over the head with a stick. It's a round-about way of yelling out to all of creation, 'Think for yourself schmuck!'
Throughout all Discordian writings is the same message that Jesus tried to tell everyone two thousand years ago; 'I tell you that you are free'. But it comes with a warning, to be free you have to use your freedom. Exercise your right to think. Think hard. Think often.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. If you don't take it out and use it, it's going to rust.
What's a religion without a deity? It simply wouldn't do for the Discordians not to have one. What would the neighbours say? So they cast high and low for the celestial being that was the most influential in their time. And boy did they find her. Eris, also known to the Romans as Discordia, was the Greek goddess of chaos.
What We Know About Eris
The Romans left many likenesses of Her for posterity. She was shown as a grotesque woman with a pale and ghastly look, Her eyes afire, Her garment ripped and torn, and concealing a dagger in Her Bosom.
Her genealogy we know from the Greeks and is utterly confused. Either She was the twin of Ares and the daughter of Zeus and Hera; or She was the daughter of Nyx, goddess of night (who was either the daughter or wife of Chaos, or both), and Nyx's brother, Erebus, and whose brothers and sisters included Death, Doom, Mockery, Misery, and Friendship. And that She begat Forgetfulness, Quarrels, Lies, and a bunch of gods and goddesses like that.
Even non-believers can find evidence of her in their daily lives. She's the one who unties your shoes before you go up the stairs. She's the one who cracks the freezer door at night so there's a puddle of ice cream on the floor in the morning. She's the one who put that plant in your backyard which the cat ate and subsequently developed a mysterious intestinal disorder. Evidence of her good work is everywhere.
The Myth of Eris and the Apple of Discord
It seems that Zeus was preparing a wedding banquet for Peleus and Thetis and did not want to invite Eris because of Her reputation as a troublemaker3.
This made Eris angry, and so She fashioned a apple of pure gold4 and inscribed upon it Kallisti meaning 'to the prettiest one'. On the day of the fete She rolled it into the banquet hall.
Now, three of the invited goddesses; Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite, each immediately claimed it to belong to herself because of the inscription. They started fighting, and they started throwing punches all over the place.
Finally, Zeus calmed things down and declared that an arbitrator must be selected, which was a reasonable suggestion, and all agreed. He sent them to a shepherd of Troy, whose name was Paris because his mother had a lot of Gaul and had married a Frenchman; but each of the sneaky goddesses tried to outwit the others by going early and offering a bribe to Paris.
Athena offered him Heroic War Victories, Hera offered him Great Wealth, and Aphrodite offered him The Most Beautiful Woman on Earth. Being a healthy young Trojan lad, Paris promptly accepted Aphrodite's bribe and she got the apple and he got his girl.
As she had promised, she manoeuvered earthly happenings so that Paris could have Helen (the Helen) then living with her husband Menelaus, King of Sparta. Anyway, everyone knows that the Trojan War followed when Sparta demanded their queen back and that the Trojan War is said to be the First War Among Men.
And so we suffer because of The Original Snub.
A fnord is simply a buzz-word. It's a word that makes your mind stop, and all rational thought goes out the window. It can be as simple and innocuous as putting the characters '3-D' on a box. It can be as potent as Hitler using the word annihilation in his speeches. It's any word that gets you excited, just by it's connotation. You don't spot them in print, but they're there. Here's a few words for you, just to give you the idea: propaganda, paraphernalia, light, and free. These words invoke feelings in people, and if you use the right word at the right time, you can change history.
Words have power. A powerfully used word that goes undetected is a fnord. It could also be music. The next time you get choked up at some sentimental Hollywood run-off, check to make sure they're not playing a powerful emotive tune to go along with the poorly scripted scene.
Everyone wants to know what a fnord is, and what a fnord isn't. Ladies and gentlemen, fellow Discordians (you're all Discordians whether you want to be or not), a fnord can be whatever you want it to be. It's a very simple thing, and a dangerous thing too. It's dangerous because it effects how you think. That's why the only good fnord is a dead fnord.
Popes and Saints
Every man, woman and child on the planet is a pope5. The Discordians so much loved the idea of papal infallibility that they couldn't resist. Now that they're popes, they must have been right to make everyone popes, as they're infallible.
Saints are a little different. Not everyone is a saint, but the people who are sainted aren't always sainted because they were darn fine people. Sometimes they're sainted just because they've spread a little chaos around.
A fine example of a Discordian Saint is Emperor Norton I. Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. Funny chap.
The Law of Fives
The Principia Discordia has this to say about the number five:
The Law of Fives states simply that:
All things happen in fives, or are divisible by or are multiples of five, or are somehow directly or indirectly appropriate to five.
The Law of Fives is never wrong.
In the Erisian Archives is an old memo from Omar to Mal-2: 'I find the Law of Fives to more and more manifest the harder I look.'
This quotation from the Principia illustrates that people will see anything they look for, if they look hard enough. That's the gimmick. You see what you look for far more often than what you don't look for. It's simple. Under the surface, Discordianism urges you to look at everything. Look at things with wonder, as a child looks. You'll be amazed at what you notice.
The currently favoured art form of the Discordians is the haiku. It used to be black and white line drawings and stolen stamps, but now it's moved on to the simple haiku.
The haiku is a simple poem containing the juxtaposition of two ideas in three lines. These three lines total 17 syllables with the first and third lines containing five syllables and the second line containing seven.
The average Discordian finds these rules too confining and eschews them. Their poems often have many more lines and just about any number of ideas. They go on calling them haiku anyway.