Item description for The Prankster and the Conspiracy: The Story of Kerry Thornley and How He Met Oswald and Inspired the Counterculture by Adam Gorightly & Robert Anton Wilson...
One of the 1960s counterculture's most fascinating characters was Kerry Wendell Thornley -- a writer, philosopher, Zen dishwasher, enlightened prankster, and, possibly, an Oswald double with disturbing ties to the Kennedy assassination. A lifelong provocateur, Thornley was linked to many of the fringe elements of the time. He helped create the spoof religion called the Discordian Society and its tract, the Principia Discordia. He coined the term "paganism" to describe various nature religions. And he befriended Robert Anton Wilson, inspired the Illuminatus, and gave his anarchic support to the Bavarian Illuminati, a brilliant prank.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.5" Width: 6" Height: 9" Weight: 1 lbs.
Release Date Nov 1, 2003
Publisher Paraview Press
ISBN 193104466X ISBN13 9781931044660
Reviews - What do customers think about The Prankster and the Conspiracy: The Story of Kerry Thornley and How He Met Oswald and Inspired the Counterculture?
Bizarre Book on a Forgotten Hippie Prankster May 27, 2008
I had never heard of Kerry Wendell Thornley before.I first read the new version of the Manson Family mythos by author Adam Gorightley.This book was also available.This was quite an interesting story about some truth of the sixties counterculture.Kerry Thornley was right in the thick of some rather quixotic prankster activities.I think he was just another hippie guy,who was used by the CIA.Just like Charles Manson was.He lead a carefree and devil-may-care lifestyle that came with a heavy price.Thornley ,like so many other great budding 60's thinkers,could not fully control the explosive politics around him and the frustrations of the peace movement.This book is still worth reading.And be aware that he is forgotten by retrospective books about the sixties.If he had published more writings,he could have established himself as a trailblazer of modern 'paganism'.If he had stayed clear of the anarchists ,venting negative energy over the Vietnam war,he may have seen the folly of a 'lawless' society.The discordian principle that imbrued his moral dogma,left him spiritually bankrupt ,lasting well into the seventies.Nevertheless,this fascinating book about a fringe prankster tells the behind the scenes truth of a youthful provocateur's chaotic search for enlightenment.And the strange characters he met along the way.
Malaclyptic masterpiece Jan 25, 2008
This book is an amazing look at the life of this prankster brought low by the weight of his own paranoid but not entirely unbelievable fantasies. I met Thornley in his final days in Atlanta and found him to be warm & congenial but was unaware that he was living in the storage room of the used bookstore in Little Five Points or I would have attempted to offer him what meager assistance I could have. Despite his own problems he still managed to reach out and help others in need in the community and he is sorely missed.
Excellent, but unexpectedly melancholy Mar 30, 2007
This is a fantastic book, but it left me kind of sad. Prior to reading this, everything I knew about Thornley was filtered through Robert Anton Wilson, and it was all positive (or at least all humorous). This book made me acutely aware that Wilson's Thornley is not unlike Plato's Socrates - an idealized character who reveals more about his biographer than his or her actual self. Unlike Wilson, Gorightly declines the invitation to treat Thornley as a discordian saint/superhero. He depicts a man who was a philosophical and comic genius, but also a raving lunatic (and -perhaps more importantly- an unhappy one).
More alarmingly, Gorightly recounts allegations that Thornley commited acts of sexual abuse against children. Gorightly's case here is pretty slim, and basically amounts to two instances of hearsay, but the allegation changes the character of this story substantially. It is disheartening to learn that the man who you thought was a bodhisattva may just have been a homeless, schizophrenic, child molester with very good PR. (Of course, the same could be said of Socrates...)
Of course, none of this should detract from the appeal of the book, which is very well-written and downright fascinating. Especially interesting are the parts about "brother-in-law," the shadowy CIA/neo-nazi/cowboy who Thornley came to believe had brainwashed him into assisting Lee Harvey Oswald. Did he exist? Was he really E. Howard Hunt? Was Thornley insane, brainwashed by the CIA, or both? With this discussion Gorightly masterfully brings the reader to the threshold of Chapel Perilous and, by the end of the book, the reader may question his or her own sanity.
As the title suggests, The "Prankster and the Conspiracy" is primarily about the nexus between Thornley and the Kennedy assassination, and does not purport to be a full biography of Thornley the man. Still, it is remarkably insightful into his personal character and is based on information from people who were close to him.
This is also maybe the first book to be written about Discordianism (rather than simply being a discordian holy text) which purports to be historically accurate. Anyone interested in Our Lady of Chaos will be interested to hear the backstory to Thornley and Hill's revelations...
A great read! Jan 1, 2004
Adam Gorightly has assembled a truly fascinating story of the life of Kerry Thornley. Yes, he knew Lee Harvey Oswald. Yes, he hated Kennedy. But, was he unknowingly part of the conspiracy? Well, you are gonna have to read the book to make up your own mind!
This book takes so many twists and turns that you are afraid to put it down - you might miss something. I guess that is the sign of a really good book. At times it reads like a cheap spy novel - but the bizarre thing is...all the events are TRUE!
This has to be one of my fave books of 2003!
Kerry the Sin Eater Dec 18, 2003
If there ever was a perennial scapegoat of the 60's counterculture it would have to be Kerry Thornley, one of the founding members of the patently anarchist Discordian Society. With a kind of insurrectionary bravado, he took it upon himself to sponge up the sordid projections of the Military Industrial Mafia Complex as well those from the plethora of intelligence revenants who trailed and taunted him for years, under various disturbing guises. He managed to keep ahead of the archetypal game by purging himself, from time to time, through various prankster like stunts, self published underground 'zines and the writing of fiction. However the Fool ended up occupying the Hanged Man's place in a Tarot deck that had been stacked against him from day one. As a result of such discouraging and divinatory odds, his self imposed role as Sin Eater freely dining at the table of the conspiracy funeral banquet is what probably turned him upside down and killed him in the end.
In Adam Gorightly's The Prankster and the Conspiracy: The Story of Kerry Thornley and How He met Oswald and Inspired the Counterculture, a most intriguing and vivid portrait of this essential and vital anarchist spirit is effectively painted. Kerry freely ranged about in the JFK/MLK/RFK assassination matrixes like a conspiratorial version of Diogenes, the ancient Greek who loved to mock the philosophers and statesmen of his day. In this case, KT was mocking the real assassins at large without anyone really knowing it, since he was drawing so much attention to himself. The author suggests that KT may very well have been an MKULTRA prodigy along with Lee Harvey Oswald himself since they were both in the marines together and stationed in Japan prior to 1963. Maybe KT's Discordian strategy was an attempt to break free of his handlers. It seems that both he and Oswald ended up being double crossed, the latter by some very real forces at work, namely in the form of a mind controlled entity named Jack Ruby, and KT by his ever snowballing delusions which genuinely got out of hand as the author so convincingly points out, thanks to his wide ranging, unbiased, thorough research and interviews with key players such as Robert Anton Wilson. Gorightly maintains a wonderful balance between compelling factoids surrounding the JFK hit, its aftermath and Thornley's proximity to it all and the elusive yet intriguing metaphysics of the Discordian Society he helped to create and promote. It certainly makes for a compelling and very hard to put down book, I can assure you of that. If you are looking to get a bead on the Thornley universe and how you may obtain a key enabling you to enter into it, The Prankster and the Conspiracy will certainly do it for you.
In spite of Thornley's Discordian extremism, mass consumption of LSD and being a target of intelligence forces, within and without, up to the time of his death, I tend to think that it was his early dabblings into Ayn Rand's so called 'Objectivism' that ultimately cracked him in the end. Aynny's I've-got-the-Hots-for-Capitalism philosophy served to malignantly magnetize the ever mutating vortex of KT's psyche and attracted some kind of negative free market investment forces into its realm. No amount of Discordian meme subterfuge could have de-railed the Rand dogma (or catma) from rapidly self replicating within the brain of this errant pixie who seemed to be able to defy everything else and get away with it. Not even the electronic dissolution of memory could neutralize these Objectivist toxins within him, no matter how many times his handlers kept pushing the button to keep him raving. I realize that I'm merely speculating in a possibly communist/socialist manner, but Gorightly's fertile biography is triggering my synapses to bridge so rapidly that I cannot help but entertain such cabals. Your own synapses will be triggered/bridged (and entertained too) when you order your own copy of this excellent proto- biography of an anarchist archetype gone delightfully awry.
While reading the final chapters of this sad, wonderful, tragic, inspiring/electrifying book, I flashed that the `evil' Goddess Eris, who brought a well known apple to a banquet on Mount Olympus celebrating the wedding of King Peleus and the Sea Nymph Thetis, decided to jump ahead a few thousand years into the 1960's and toss another solid, golden fruit into the chaos heart of a Discordian party, a fruit upon which was engraved, 'Who is the most paranoid of all?' No telling what kind of Trojan war her question would have caused if she had chosen to roll it into the mix at the time. Who amongst the group would have fought for the title? Fortunately Gorightly`s keen portrayal of Kerry Thornley gives us a sufficient starting place where we can all freely witness the scapegoat himself stepping forth from the shadowed margins and taking the full honors of the title, in the limelight.