Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Discordianism vs the Illuminati

The late great Robert Anton Wilson, in the book series he co-authored with Robert Shea, collectively titled the “Illuminatus!” trilogy, illustrated an epic, century’s old struggle between the agents of chaos and control. Much like they're overtly (and campy) caricatures on the 60’s era comedy “Get Smart”, the agents for chaos (kaos) and control are diametrically opposed forces that engage in an unrelenting jihad of counterbalancing ideologies. At stake are the hearts and minds of the mostly-oblivious human population.

The above mentioned cult-classic television comedy depicts “kaos” as a sinister and secretive cabal… hell-bent on world domination by whatever means necessary. The only organization able to stand against this threat is “control”, a top-secret government counter-espionage agency. In episode after episode, the most outrageously ingenious plots of kaos are routinely thwarted by the bumbling “agent 86”, brilliantly portrayed by Don (would you believe…?) Adams.

Unlike the TV show, where lines between good and evil are clearly drawn, Wilson’s Illuminatus! trilogy weaves a tangled web of intrigue where the sinister element seems to be an age-old secret society acting as puppet-master, orchestrating world events. The stage is thus set: On the one hand is the secret cabal of control, known variously and overtly as the NWO, the trilateral commission, the bilderberg group, etc. and known most famously as the Illuminati. These secret chiefs control most of the world's governments and hence, indirectly their respective intelligence agencies and secret police.

On the other hand are the agents of chaos, comprised of a very loose-knit alliance of anarchists, heretics, poets, free-thinkers, etc., known variously as Discordians, Erisians and known collectively as the Legion of Dynamic Discord. This disorganization of the irreverent makes no claim on control, preferring to revel in the swirling vortex that is chaos theory to effectively challenge the predictable order of the Illuminati. The legion’s preferred tactic… guerrilla mind theatre… defies reason, thereby providing a necessarily perfect balance of power.

And so the two forces go eternally ‘round… in a cosmic dance of equilibrium… yin verses yang… perpetual contradiction. Was Wilson’s intent to personify the dualistic nature of the perceived world? Was his satire mocking a more serious political reality? Did he intend to convey a warning of the increasing erosion of individual liberty? Maybe… Maybe a clue to these questions can be found in the title of the campy TV show… “Get Smart”.