In His Own Words
Taken from the introduction to the Principia Discordia
No Discordian Manifesto yet exists. We need at least five. That will generate controversy and confuse Greyface.
In the Army
My own favorite Holy Name -- Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst -- functions 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, Omar K., failed to answer the role call somebody called the captain in charge of motor transport to find 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 as 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 may imagine that one glance at such vital statistics would arouse suspicion. But some days later there occurred within my earshot a conversation between two lieutenants and the swaggering staff sergeant (who, so as to protect his identity from ridicule, I shall here 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.
"I'll bet his parents were missionaries," contributed Karen Elliot.
"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 intelligent guys."
Chadwick, who was lurking nearby, suddenly shouted: "THERE HE IS! THAT'S HIM! THAT'S RAVENHURST, RIGHT THERE!"
A big truck driver whose nickname was Buddha, happened to be dampening the dust in that vicinity with a water-tank vehicle equipped with a sprinkler in back.
Eager to score points with the officers, Karen Elliot ran over and yelled at the Buddha.
Buddha stopped the truck and shut off the engine and then said, "What?"
"YOU WON'T GROW ANY GRASS THAT WAY!" Elliot repeated with a weak laugh.
"Oh," spake the Buddha, before starting up the truck again and driving off.
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 were 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 I will ever be promoted is if I try for second lieutenant." Across the page was stamped: APPROLVED. Nevertheless, for some unexplained reason, Ravenhurst remained a private.
After I was discharged I ran into Bud Simco, who remained in the same unit for 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 the radar center. Everybody had to stand inspection. No exceptions.
Colonel Fenderson and the top sergeant walked down the aisle, 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 your 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 that Ravenhurst is a malingerer.
Then they ask if anybody has even 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 section -- 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 -- congratulating 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.
I'm sure they got the wrong Fenderson.
Kerry Wendell Thornley (April 17, 1938 - November 28, 1998) was a founder with Greg Hill of Discordianism. He was a major contributor to Principia Discordia. He served with Lee Harvey Oswald in the U.S. Marines and is the only person to write a book about Oswald before the John F. Kennedy assassination for which Oswald was blamed. Thornley was sometimes called "the second Oswald" and was investigated after the killing of the U.S. president.
- There is beauty in the silver singing river and the opposite of love, baby, is not hate, but fear.
- Kerry Thornley in letter to Louise Lacey, The Prankster and the Conspiracy pgs. 48-49. The letter prophecized the coming of River Song, wife of Discordian Saint Doctor Who.
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