Principia Discordia

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GREATER POOP: Are you really serious or what?
MAL-2: Sometimes I take humor seriously. Sometimes I take seriousness humorously. Either way, it is irrelevant.

Interview with Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia

"If you think the Principia is just a ha-ha, then go read it again."

Not The Bible of the Discordian Movement (that would be the Honest Book of Truth - and, actually, The Bible is the Principia Discordia of the Christian Movement), this book [1] was originally published in 1965 by Greg "Malaclypse the Younger" Hill and Kerry "Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst" Thornley, and went through several major revisions before the "Fourth Edition", the version most circulated today, was produced in 1970.

Discordianism is a philosophic movement that worships the chaos Goddess Eris (yes, that goddess with the Golden Apple of Discord who sparked the Trojan War. It was the Original Snub). Goddess Eris isn't malicious, though; She's funny, She's smart, and She brings mischievous chaos and change to stodgy, petrified order. Eris likes the number 5 and hot dogs.

More generally, Discordia believes that humanity's in trouble[2] as long as it continues to take itself too seriously, that chaos is needed in life so that creation can occur, and that sometimes things are just ineffable. Logic isn't everything.

The actual layout of the Principia Discordia mirrors the chaos included in its pages. Pages of typewritten copy are side-by-side with clip art, stamps, seals and hand scrawled quotes. Sometimes important philosophical ideas are crammed into the margins and barely legible. Get it online here.

Tropes used in Principia Discordia include:
  • Aliens in Cardiff: According to the Principia, Eris first made herself apparent to Malaclypse and Omar in... a long-since-defunct bowling alley in Whittier, CA, a suburb of Los Angeles (and given the years in which it was written, not coincidentally the home town of Richard Nixon).
  • Alternative Calendar: The Principia presents a calendar divided into five 73-day months (Chaos, Discord, Confusion, Bureaucracy, and Aftermath), with a five-day week (Sweetmorn, Boomtime, Pungenday, Prickle-Prickle, and Setting Orange). This has the advantage of making each day of the year fall on the same day of the week every year (e.g., 34 Discord - 17 April - will always fall on a Boomtime). Leap years are the same as in the Gregorian calendar, and the Discordian leap day, St. Tib's Day, is considered to exist outside the normal five-day week. Year 1 of the calendar corresponds to 1166 BC, making 2011 AD Gregorian correspond to 3177 YOLD (Year of Our Lady of Discord).If you're curious, you can use the Gregorian-to-Erisian Date Converter here
  • Blatant Lies
  • Ancient Conspiracy: the Bavarian Illuminati
  • Classical Mythology: in the story of the Original Snub. The Greeks viewed Her only as the Goddess of Discord and Strife, but their views on history can't be trusted. "They were," Eris explains, "victims of indigestion, you know."
  • Easy Evangelism -- in seven easy steps!
  • False Dichotomy: EVERY Dichotomy, but especially Order vs Disorder.
  • 555
  • Everything's Better with Cows - Mu!
  • Ha Ha Only Serious: One suspects it is everywhere in the book.
  • Ice Cream Koan/Koan: And how. Some borrowed directly from Zen, others created by the authors, to deliver lessons about the Discordian belief system. For example, the Principia states, "Among Zen Buddhists it is said that, 'When you meet another bodhisattva on the road, greet him with neither words nor silence.' This leaves you with a vast selection of barnyard noises from which to choose."
  • Lampshade: The Law of 5s is explicitly true because Discordians believe in it and look for 5s all around them. They know this is how it works, that's the point.
  • Logic Bomb: "A Discordian is Forbidden of Believing what he Reads."
  • Lost Forever: The First Edition (which differs wildly from the Fourth) was thought to be so for many years, as only a handful of copies were produced and most of them were lost. In 2006, a copy turned up in the unlikeliest of places - a cache of documents subpoenaed by the Warren Commission.
    • "Unlikely," you say...
    • According to the Principia, there existed before it an "Honest Book of Truth" which was Eris' true final testament to mankind - but there was only ever made one copy, which was mistaken for refuse and taken away by a garbageman who refused to give it back.
  • Mind Screw: Oh boy, does it ever. In fact, the whole thing is (possibly) intended as a Mind Screw. There is a religion based on it.
  • Numerological Motif/Arc Number: 5 and 23. Though this is really a subversion, given the intent of the Law of Fives.
  • Pineal Weirdness: the way one talks to Eris.
  • Public Domain: The disclaimer on the final page of the Fourth Edition reads "All rights reversed - print what you like" also known as Copyleft.
  • Pungeon Master
  • Spin-Off: Lots and lots of spinoffs. You can find them online, at Amazon, at Scribd, at Cafe Press, etc.
  • Subverted Trope/Double Subversion: It turns out pretty much all of these tropes are subverted in someway -- or are they? From the end of the book: "If you think that the PRINCIPIA is just a ha-ha, then go read it again." See Mind Screw and Ha Ha Only Serious above.
  • Surreal Humor
  • Take a Fifth Option
  • Take That Us: A Discordian is instructed to remonstrate against all the common religions of the land, including Discordianism.
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: The Pentagon, as a symbol of order, in contrast to the Apple of Discord.
  • What Do You Mean It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: Well, it probably was.
  • Who Shot JFK?: Kerry Thornely, one of the two founders of Discordianism, was in the Marines with Lee Harvey Oswald, and wrote a novel about him before he (allegedly) shot Kennedy. In later years, he became convinced that he'd been Brainwashed by the CIA to be a backup assassin.