Thursday, September 3, 2015

A couple more Discordian zines

Sorry, this blog is just about dead and buried, I just have not had the time to get around to it in ages. And please ignore all the Amazon VOIDS, I should have known better than to link to them - I'll use Powell's next time.

I have just scanned a couple more of my old Orthodox Discordian zines, so I'll go ahead and post them while I'm thinking about it.

I hope to have an actual web site built eventually (don't hold your breath), and the rest of the zines (there were only five issues, plus a few things from the unfinished issue #6) will hopefully be there soon. Or on reddit. Redditt? I don't even know what that is, or how my first issue of Tsujigiri got on there, but fine by me.

Hope Eris brings you happy tidings!    ><  

Here is (fingers crossed) the link to Tsujigiri: the zine of Orthodox Discordianism issue #2:

And here is (toes crossed) the link to Tsujigiri: the zine of Orthodox Discordianism issue #3:

Feel free to spread them about (or as the zines say, "reproduce and pass out"), but I'd prefer you keep them each together as they are (unless there is a particular article you really want to share, then just provide a link to a full issue). If you use any of my writing, please give credit (Greg Carden, Pope Emeritus & Pseudo-Sadhu Don Coyote) - as for ideas, use what you want (I would be delighted to be notified if you find something useful). And no making money off of it (I sure as heck didn't).

Tech stuff - not sure why google drive seems to try and force you to save the zines in strange PDF readers I've never heard of. I tried the links and was able to see the zines, and I chose to just download each one (the 'arrow pointing down at a horizontal line' button) and opened them in iBook (if you have a Windows, Linux, or other non Mac computer, then you likely already know what you are doing). This was on my iPad, not sure what would happen on a desktop. When I get my own site up, I will have JPG as well as PDF versions available, in case anyone is having trouble. Keep in mind, when I think "cut-and-paste" I'm still picturing exact-o knives and glue sticks, so I am not the best person to seek advice on internet matters!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

some great new § books

Here are a couple of new books on the theory of § (with some examples, of course) that is very good, lots of different perspectives by people who clearly are deep into the Synchronicity Hole. According to the last one, a third and final book in the series is set to come out next year.

Here is another good one I've found, which includes an interesting take on how to cultivate Synchronicity into your lives:

the zine of Orthodox Discordianism

Back in the early to mid 1990's (god, I'm dating myself), I used to publish a Discordian zine, called Tsujigiri (Japanese for "to try out one's new sword on a chance wayfarer" - I am a  pacifist, and the title was purely metaphorical, mind you). Again, for those of you too young to know, a "zine" (short for magazine") was a self-published newsletter type thing, printed on something called "paper." This was before the Internet was readily accessible, before websites pretty much. Zines started in the 70's with cheap mimeographs being available, one could type a fanzine (most early zines were written by fans of bands or TV shows, lots of science-fiction, or whatever), but when home computers (yes, I remember when having a home computer was unusual) became ubiquitous and had easy to use word processors and page layout programs (though a lot of zines, like the first couple of mine, were done using actual physical "cutting and pasting," like with scissors and a glue stick), plus the plethora of stores that let you use copy machines (Kinkos used to be a hipster paradise back in the day), DIY printing created a boom in the zine world.

My zines (five issues plus one that was never finished) have never before been available online, but I think I now have the technology and know-how to get them on the Internet, in case anyone wants to check them out. Keep in mind I was much younger then, had no spell-check program for most of them, and was on lots of pain medications (note: when one has chronic pain, pain killers do not cause one to get high, but they do cause a great deal of brain fog), I had no money and gave the zines away for free (donations were quite helpful, and many of my subscribers did send "the usual," a couple bucks to cover stamps or an exchange of their zines). The first issue is indicative of the lack of money, I tried to squeeze as much as I could into as few printed pages as possible (turned out to be five pages, five being the sacred Discordian number), the tiny print may have caused a few reader's eyes to bleed, but putting them online will allow you to zoom in as you read it.

The reason I'm putting them here (besides not knowing where else to put them), is that when I started writing them, I encountered a synchronicity monsoon which would ebb every time I started working on an issue. I ended up having a § (that's my symbol for "synchronicity," remember) article in each issue, describing the major ones and contemplating their meaning (if any). It will give you something to read while I take forever updating my blog, at least. I'm only going to put the first issue online for now, as I want to make sure that what I'm doing is working (they should be in a zip file, as PDFs, which I hope will be able to be downloaded and read by anyone on any computer system). Please email me, at, to let me know if you could successfully download and read this, or if there was a problem. I have a Mac, so I don't know if this will work on other systems, but I think PDFs work on all platforms. So, cross my fingers, Hail Eris, here we go:

You might have to copy and paste the above link to your browser, where you may or may not be able to download the zine. Apparently, you cannot post PDFs directly into a blog, so I had to jump through some hoops - you'll have to download the zines, unless I figure out some other way to let them be displayed online. Of course, being old school, I recommend you download the zine and print out a copy onto paper, the way zines were meant to be read!

Welcome back!

I should have mentioned at the beginning of my blog that I have a rather ornery chronic pain problem, a result of nerve damage from my above knee amputation back in 1991. Twenty plus years of chronic pain is not exactly conducive to getting things done (hence, why I don't yet have my doctorate, which I definitely plan to get - my New College degree from the University of Alabama in "Comparative Mysticism as Embodied in Religion, Philosophy, and Art" means I either get a doctorate or I work at a fast food joint. Or maybe Denny's... that wouldn't be so bad, I've had a lot of strange experiences as Denny's. But to get back to my point, from time to time, due to the pain and medications I'm on, I tend to drop off the face of the Earth now and then for extended periods. I'm doing a bit better right now, and I thought it was the perfect time to get back to my long neglected blog. I don't know if anyone is still reading this, but maybe the occasional person will be ensnared by Synchronicity and stumble upon this humble blog.

Stay tuned for more posts, I tend to post in bulk when I get back to something like this or FaceBook.

BTW, the photo triptych above was taken by me a few years ago when I was taking a class in Black & White film photography - for those young 'uns, film was what we old people used before digital cameras. I not only took the photos (with some help from my mother to help make sure I was centered for the most part), but I also developed them in an actual dark room, no photoshop or computers, the special effects in the first image were all done in camera using some not so difficult methods, though getting it to look right is apparently harder than I had known at the time, I just got lucky. Old school. The pieces are titled (in order) Body Image I, Body Image II, and Body Image III, and believe it or not was partially inspired by Aztec mythology. But that's another story. I submitted this work to an actual art show, put on by the American Association for Orthopedic Surgeons, they were putting on an art exhibit for both ortho surgeons who are artists, as well as artists who had orthopedic problems at one or more points in their lives - I figured with my extensive orthopedic history, starting at age five with a rare and "terminal" (so they said) bone cancer, an Extraosseus Ewings Sarcoma, if there was any art exhibit I had a chance of being in, this would be the one.

I had actually submitted some drawings for their previous exhibit, despite having never been trained in the technique, not realizing this was a real deal art show with lots of professional artists, and to my shock and joy they accepted one of my drawings. The second exhibit I heard about from AAOS was to honor Wounded Warriors, and since amputations are a common unfortunate type of wound in wars, and much of my art is introverted (not all of it concerns my amputation, of course), I thought I'd send in some photos that I'd taken while I had learned photography, and submitted the Body Image triptych and another photo (in Infra-Red B&W), and they accepted both! Not only did they publish both works in a book for the show with all the other art, the exhibit went all over the country, including the Russell Senate Office Rotunda in Washington, DC (right across the street from the Capitol Building), and I actually sold the triptych to someone who was not a relative, it is apparently hanging in the waiting room of an orthopedic surgeon! I had earlier sold a print (not a digital print, an actual dark room one) of the triptych to a local photographer who saw it at a local art exhibit it was in, so although I'm quite new to the art world, I'm already doing better than Vincent van Gogh did during his lifetime, so obviously expect great things from me in the future! Yes, I'm being sarcastic.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

§ - Brain in Vat

[Note, I'm putting the "§" symbol in the title of any post that is one of my synchronicity (§) stories, so they can be located easier in the archive.]

This is the first § I recall having, where I knew it to be a "meaningful coincidence," numinous feeling and all. It happened in 1990 at the first college I went to, St. Mary's College in Southern Maryland (not a Catholic school, just in St. Mary's County).

It was in the beginning of my first semester, freshman year, and involved my Introduction to Psychology class. The night before one of the classes, I was supposed to be reading a chapter from the textbook, but I was distracted by a book I'd purchased at the campus bookstore, Labyrinths of Reason: Paradox, Puzzles, and the Frailty of Knowledge, a fantastic introduction to philosophy (especially paradox and other logic-twisting topics that make you wonder how we think we know anything). The chapter in the psychology book was one of the first few (maybe even chapter one), and I decided I could afford to skip it, as I had taken a psychology course in my senior year of high school [a minor § about that, the woman teaching that class had had a brother who not only was diagnosed with the same extremely rare form of cancer I had, a Ewings Sarcoma, he also likewise survived the then considered terminal disease, and likewise had to have his leg amputated years later - unlike me, unfortunately, he died from a recurrence shortly after that].

I hadn't even checked to see what the topic of the chapter was for the psychology class the next day, I just assumed I had enough background to be able to keep up without doing the reading (I'd read it eventually, of course). Besides, the Poundstone book was mesmerizing, and I could not put it down. That became especially true when I read about a philosophical conundrum that I had never heard of before, the "Brain In a Vat" theory.

The "Brain In Vat" theory basically is a hypothetical situation in which a mad scientist has somehow removed your brain, placed it in a jar or vat or something, keeping it alive, and attached electrodes all over it. Using his super science computer, the mad scientist can send impulses through the electrodes to your brain, making you (or your brain - is there a difference?) think you perceive whatever he wants you to (this is the basic idea behind The Matrix movie). The problem is, you would have no way (presumably) to know that this was happening, that you were experiencing merely a virtual reality, that everything you know and perceive is fake.

This was just the heady sort of mind bending stuff I love, so when I finished reading this section (well, I think I probably read more of the Poundstone book, but I kept coming back to this theory), my mind kept contemplating the "Brain In Vat" concept. Was my brain floating in a jar in the laboratory of some mad scientist? It would explain a lot, I thought as I fell asleep.

The next day in psychology class, the topic of the day's lesson happened to be the brain (the structure, features and areas of the brain and what they do), which is what the chapter we were supposed to have read was about. I did not think this even as much of a coincidence, let alone a §, as the brain is something one studies in Intro. to Psych. class. As the professor lectured, I dutifully took notes, though as usual I also doodled in the margins from time to time. It wasn't that I was bored (the professor was quite good), it is just a habit . I was still thinking about what I'd read the previous night, and of course due to the subject (gray) matter we were discussing, towards the end of class I began drawing a human brain floating in a glass jar. As I finished the crude drawing, honestly wondering about the possibility that my brain was in a vat somewhere being fed this illusory world in which I was a college student in a psychology class, the professor finished up his lecture and said something like, "Okay now, you all might be interested to see this..."

Literally right as I put the last stroke on my little brain floating in a jar, the teacher leans down, reaches underneath his desk, and brings up (I swear) a real, honest-to-goodness human brain floating in a glass jar, exactly like the one I'd drawn. He placed it on his desk as this strange feeling crept over me. I'd heard of the concept of § by this point, and here was my first real encounter with it. I felt like I was witnessing some sort of sacred ceremony, I got goosebumps all over, my mind was devoid of words, I was simply in Awe. It was both funny and frightening at the same time, and I had this distinct feeling that some sort of intelligence was behind it somehow, that it was too perfectly orchestrated to be just a coincidence. This is the "numinous" feeling that real § seems to be accompanied by.

The story the professor then gave about the brain in the jar made the entire thing seem even more implausible. He actually found it when he moved to St. Mary's to teach, in a closet in the house he bought! Now, how many people own human brains in jars in the first place, and then how many of them would be so careless as to leave them behind in a move? At least it was clearly a lab specimen, not the work of some psycho. But wouldn't they have tried to find the missing brain, maybe called the new owner of the house or something? Also, what are the odds that the new owner of the house with human brain in jar included would be a psychology professor, who could actually make use of said brain in vat?

I wondered for a few moments, sitting there dumbfounded in my desk, if the mad scientist was perhaps sending me a message - or just plain messing with me - giving me a clue that, indeed, my brain is in a vat and the mad scientist is pulling the strings. That seems a more likely explanation than happenstance, to me anyway. I do know, at least, that I will never forget that day, or the feelings that were associated with it. This § seemed to open the floodgates to future §s, and that feeling of the numinous would become quite familiar over time.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Causality makes an ass

There is a Sufi story about a man who was so agoraphobic that he had his back yard enclosed in walls and a ceiling, and it was the only place he ever went outside of his house his entire life. Because of this, obviously, he knew little of the real world.

One day, while in his walled up yard, he noticed a small crack between two wooden planks, and when he bent over to peer at it, he could see through to the street that ran behind his house. Curious about the world outside, he began to look through the hole regularly, and discovered that around the same time every morning, someone led an animal right by the hole in the wall. From what he could see of the creature, he figured out from the few books he had that it was a donkey, and he decided to learn as much as he could about the donkey from his tiny window to the outside.

The man dutifully went to the hole in the wall every morning at the same time to wait for the donkey to walk by, and after a bit of time he would see the head of the donkey appear, followed a bit later by the rear end of the donkey. Every day it was the same. Sometimes he even caught sight of the donkey walking the other direction, first the head, then the rear. After many weeks of such study, the man came to a startling revelation of scientific insight.

"Logically," thought the shut-in, "the donkey's head causes the donkey's rear!"

while I'm at it:

I should give credit where it is due, and plug the terrific book I stole the title of my blog from, Robert Anton Wilson's Coincidance.

It is a great book, like just about everything he wrote was, but I don't recommend it as a first RAW book, if you are unfamiliar with his work. For his fiction, he's best known for the cult classic Illuminatus! trilogy, co-written with Robert Shea (which I'd definitely say is not for children), a bizarre head-trip about conspiracy theories, Discordianism, creative paranoia... oh, I can't begin to describe it. The Illuminatus! Trilogy: The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, Leviathan

Then RAW's non-fiction (which I prefer, though they work well together), I'd start with either the first of his three autobiographical works, which give a great introduction to his ideas, Cosmic Trigger I: Final Secret of the Illuminati, followed by his workbook Prometheus Rising (and I strongly suggest you get this and DO THE WORK! If you are not experiencing § yet, this text and the exercises/experiments within will most likely open the floodgate, and make your reality tunnel far more fun and interesting). There's also a wonderful DVD audio, Maybe Logic: The Lives and Ideas of Robert Anton Wilson, or the Audio CD collection Robert Anton Wilson Explains Everything: (or Old Bob Exposes His Ignorance). If you really want to go wild, and get deep into his work (he changed my life), there's a very nice guide to RAW's works and ideas, written by Eric Wagner, An Insider's Guide To R.A.W.

RAW was admired by such luminaries as Timothy Leary, Philip K. Dick,Paul Krassner, Richard Nixon, Tom Robbins, Alan Moore, quantum physicist Nick Herbert, even George Carlin. As for §, he's primarily responsible (along with William S. Burroughs) with the popularization of the "23" coincidence, Cosmic Trigger is full of them (he also wrote an article on the "23" phenomenon for Fortean Times, which might be online somewhere), along with many other mind blowing §'s.