Stalking the Elusive Fnord
Chaos is an inherent unpredictability in the behavior of a natural system or in the course of human events.
Discordianism is a belief system based on chaos. Some people believe it's a joke disguised as a religion, and others believe it's a religion disguised as a joke. The true believers claim it's a religion disguised as a joke disguised as a religion.
While most religions cherish harmony and order, Discordianism reveres chaos, which it contends is the prevailing impulse of the universe. "There is serenity in chaos. Seek ye the eye of the hurricane."
The Principia Discordia, by Malaclypse (a.k.a. Greg Hall), is the foundational document of Discordianism. It describes an ideal society where there are no rules. The duality of yin and yang are replaced with "Hodge" and "Podge," represented by an apple and the Pentagon. Some of the saints include Don Quixote and Yossarian.
The Principia Discordia also introduced the mysterious word "fnord," considered to be a nonsensical term meaning irrelevant information or disinformation intended to misdirect, with the implication of a conspiracy.
In The Illuminatus! Trilogy, a series of novels by Robert Anton Wilson (with Robert Shea), the term "fnord" was further revealed to be part of a grand conspiracy scheme by the Illuminati (meaning "the illuminated ones" -- the secret wealthy rulers of the world) whereby children in grade school are taught to be consciously unable to see the fnord (not the actual word itself but a substitute word or phrase, always in print form).
Thereafter, every appearance of the substitute (consciously unseen) word or phrase creates a subconscious feeling of confusion and stifles rational thought. Fnords are placed within news media text, causing anxiety about current events. The Illuminati want society in perpetual chaos in order to maintain conformity and control.
However, there are no fnords in advertising, thus encouraging consumerism and enriching the ruling class.
The word "fnord" has also recently been adopted within computer Internet circles to mean something out of context, such as a random sentence, irrational text or anything out of context, intentional or otherwise.
On the other hand, you have different fingers.
The previous sentence was a fnord, which subconsciously compels one to idolize the author of this piece.
Robert Anton Wilson was born in New York City in 1932. He attended Brooklyn Polytechnical College and New York University where he studied mathematics and engineering. He worked as an engineering aide, salesman and copywriter, and he was an associate editor for Playboy magazine from 1965 to 1971. He was also a philosopher, psychologist, researcher, novelist, essayist, futurist, anarchist and a stalker of the elusive fnord.
Wilson was the author of 35 books, including The Illuminatus! Trilogy, covering such topics as metaphysics, paranormal experiences, extrasensory perception, mental telepathy, quantum psychology and conspiracy theory.
At the core of his literary genius, he considered the basic condition of humanity to be both comic and tragic. "Serious people are always so grim and uptight that they make me want to dance naked on the lawn playing the flute ... nothing is true unless it makes you laugh, but you really don't understand it until it makes you cry."
Wilson ran for governor of California in 2004 as the Guns and Dope Party candidate. The party platform was:
1) Guns for those who want them, no guns forced on those who don't want them.
2) Drugs for those who want them, no drugs forced on those who don't want them.
3) An end to Tsarism (rule by emperor) and a return to constitutional democracy.
4) Equal rights for ostriches (large birds incapable of flight that stick their heads in the sand to avoid reality).
Robert Anton Wilson confronted the fnord and found the true meaning within it. He died on Jan. 11, 2007.
His last words, typed on his personal Web site, were, "I don't see how to take death seriously. I look forward without dogmatic optimism, but without dread. I love you all and I deeply implore you to keep the lasagna flying."
Ultimately, a fnord is the mumbo jumbo that dissolves the individual into the crowd. E Pluribus Unum.
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Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels, which are available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.