In late 2002, our own John Fenderson was interviewed for a novel print magazine in Australia. It was called “Sheek”, and aimed at young women who happen to have brains. For those of you who are not young, female, smart, Australian, or any combination of those, we reprint the interview here.
John Fenderson, LDD, BBC, ULC, GWHA, is one of Discordia’s most aneristic eristics, and the most important Pope in his house. He is not a cabbage.
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions.
You asked for it. I’d like to preface this with a disclaimer: I do not speak for all Discordians. No one does, particularly not anyone who claims that they do. Even the Principia isn’t the Final Word. Eris speaks to each of us in the privacy of our pineal glands, and the message she has for you may deviate wildly from the message she has for me. Such is the nature of chaos. So, to save time and effort, just pretend that I’m prefacing each of my comments with “In my opinion” and we’ll understand each other just fine.
Discordianism seems to be the perfect theological outlet for Monty Pyton-esque humour. Is there any more to it than shits and giggles?
Hmmm. Is there anything more to ANYTHING than shits and giggles? That’s part of the point. Monty Python, by the way (as well as the other Greats such as The Firesign Theatre) were some of the truest Discordians there ever were. I hereby declare them Discordian Saints. Here’s some things Eris told me at various times:
“Nobody understands anything that isn’t funny”
“Mankind will begin to solve it’s problems when it ceases to take itself so seriously”
“Is Discordianism a joke disguised as a religion, or a religion disguised as a joke?” (The truest answer to this is “mu”, but an almost-as-true answer is “yes”.)
The Principia spends a couple of pages on this, and it’s at the very core of the disbelief system, so I’ll just summarize: Everyone looks at the True Reality, but through their own filters. Some filters are shared amongst groups of people — this is what religions, cultures, or other variants on belief systems are: shared reality filters. But these filters themselves are not actually True Reality, they are a mere tool we use to make some kind of sense of things. This means that no filter — no belief system, no religion, none of that — can be True (or False). Discordianism is proof that, so long as certain human psychological needs are met, a religion can be based on any damned-fool thing you can think up.
Discordians believe that ALL religions are equal in every important sense. Some Discordians state this as “all religions are bullshit”, and some as “all religions are true” — both of those statements are equal. When people think that one way is “better” or “truer” than another, they are falling for the Aneristic Illusion — what the Buddhists call “Dharma”. In other words, they are comparing filters as if they were Reality, which they aren’t. Now, there are some ways that certain filters can be “better” than others — some are more profitable, some are more pleasant, etc., but none of that speaks to Reality, it only speaks to the usefulness of the tool, and how useful a tool is depends entirely on the context in which it is used.
Now, is it all shits and giggles when it comes to the window-dressing, like all that Eris jazz, or the Pentabarf, and etc.? Kindof. We don’t actually worship the Greco-Roman Eris/Discordia as if she were a living god in some external sense. We worship Eris/Discordia as a symbol of the true nature of reality: All is chaos, upon which we impress (or imagine) order to our own ends.
Are there rituals a Discordian must abide by?
Yes. A Discordian must abide by any and all rituals that help them to become enlightened. Everyday life is a ritual. Brushing your teeth every night before you go to bed is a ritual. Cleaning your house is a ritual. All rituals, whether mundane or mind-blowing, are important. Rituals are part of the whole filter-on-reality thing, and our brains need them, or we become psychotic due to exposure to raw Reality.
There are, however, rituals that Discordians take great joy in disregarding! Take the “no hot-dog buns” thing. We are forbidden to eat hot-dog buns, for such was the solace of Our Lady after the Original Snub. We are also commanded to eat hot dogs on Fridays, as a remonstration, in part, against Discordianism.
How does one attain Popedom? Are we all free to create our own Sects willy nilly?
Every man, woman and child on Earth is a Discordian Pope already. This is critically important to understand, actually. The obvious side-effect is that everyone is ALREADY Discordian, most just haven’t realized it yet because they suffer from the Curse of the Greyface. YOU are Discordian, even though you might not believe this. Yet.
But, more importantly, it also means that every human being deserves to be treated as the Extremely Important Religious Personage that they are. I actually keep a pocket full of Pope Cards, and hand them out all the time to remind people that they are, in fact, Holy Men & Women. They resonate with people deeply.
I can put this in more traditional terms: We are all, literally, an inseparable part of All That Is (or “The Cosmic Muffin”, if you prefer). When you mistreat another human being, it is no different than spitting in the eye of God, or shitting on the Catholic Pope, or calling your mom a dirty whore after you realize that your existence is proof that she balled your old man.
And yes, every Discordian can create his or her own sect. Or join an existing one. Or just be Discordian without having anything to do with this whole Cabal nonsense. Eris speaks to each in her own way.
Can a vegetarian become a Discordian? Do Vegetarian Hot Dogs comply with the commandments?
Well, since I’ve already plainly stated that everyone is already a Discordian, the answer to this becomes obvious. No one is excluded from Discordia. It’s funny you bring up vegetarianism, because my personal favorite Discordian quote (not from the Principia) is on that very subject:
“When a Discordian espouses vegetarian macrobiotics whilst chomping down on a bloody steak, he isn’t being hypocritical — he’s making a point”
I have been asked many variants of this question: “Can I be _______ and still be Discordian?” In short, the fact that you are _____ is proof that you can indeed be that, and still be Discordian. Since you are Discordian already.
What is a Discordian to expect in the afterlife?
After life, there is, of course, death. If the body dies and we end up living on in some spiritual realm, then we haven’t died at all — so the “afterlife” has yet to be attained. Based on this way of thinking, I can state without fear of contradiction that there is no afterlife. If you ever die, you’re dead. It just seems obvious.
You might find this answer a cop-out (although I honestly don’t think it is), so I’ll blabber on a little more. What you mean is, “What is the Discordian perspective as to what happens when your body dies?” The answer is: I don’t know, since no Discordian ghosts have stopped by to explain the matter. I’ll find out for myself in due time. If the death of the body = the death of ME, then I really won’t care too much, will I?
Can you sum up the Discordian religion for the people at home?
Discordianism is like Taoism, but funnier. And don’t forget, chaos and randomness are not the same thing.
Many of your questions are really trying to get a handle on what the Discordian Dogma is. Since dogma is stuff you are supposed to believe just because someone said so, Discordians have no dogma. That is our only dogma.
Discordianism does not hand out any answers, but merely poses an alternative way to think about things like reality, belief, and the like. Any answers must come from within yourself. Discordianism is about freedom, and part of the gift of freedom is the responsibility to think for yourself. If the framework of Discordianism helps you to organize your thoughts, then that’s great! If not, then that’s great, too! It doesn’t matter how you think, just so that you do.