Can Discordianism still be a useful perceptual filter even though it has become a playground of juvenile trolls and edgelord cliches?
The Principia Discordia [PD] lends itself perfectly to obfuscation and prankster ambiguity. For this reason Discordianism has come to mean as many things as there are Discordians. Yet despite this obscurantism I believe that there is an actual point to the teachings passed down to us by Kerry Thornley, Greg Hill, Robert Anton Wilson and others, that there is a core message that stands out among the parody, humor and cunning self-effacement of those original teachings.
The most troubling interpretation of Discordianism in its modern context is the tendency to view it only as a parody, and to not only reject it as a religion, but to use it as a justification for the rejection of religion in general. I have fewer reservations about calling it a religion than a parody, or a satire, for that matter.
Parodies reshape existing narratives using new subjects. A parody need not even be humorous. The PD and it’s related works do not directly ape any pre-existing works, and certainly none by the major religions.
Satire is a reactionary form of literature whose aim is to address an idea or ideology that came before it. They are narratives of negation. It is not always necessarily humorous, either. However Discordian works do far more than just negate other ideologies, they create new ones.
I think that the tendency to reference Discordianism as a parody or satire comes from the false belief that literary humor automatically equates to those forms. It is aided by the inability of the unimaginative to believe that religious truth can take the form of humor while still remaining intellectually and spiritually fulfilling.
When we remove the humor and take the paradoxes referenced by Discordian works as zen riddles of enlightenment, rather than self-refutations or total negations of meaning, what emerges is a set of ideas and principles no less profound than those found in other religions. And like other religions, people have joined together under the banner of these principles. To deny the religious nature of Discordianism is to deny Discordianism itself.
The people who like to deny the religious nature seem to attach themselves to Discordianism merely out of a desire to be edgy by associating themselves with the most potent modern archetype of chaos. Every religion has an embarrassing sect of followers who get a little too heavy handed with their literalism, and Discordianism has it’s fair share. The ‘I Fucking Love Chaos’ contingent do just that. I recently addressed this attitude and behavior on social media:
“Those of you who think that the point of Discordianism is to be an ‘Agent of Chaos’ are sorely missing the point. Eris is THE agent of chaos. Yours is to understand and accept so that, in fear, you do not try to swim against her tides and wind up drowning in her waters in the struggle. Chaos is not to be promoted and worshipped. It was chaos that threw that apple and led us into the first major war. Trying to one up Our Goddess is not going win you Her favor. You let Her divvy up the chaos and do your part by being creative with it.”
It is a vanity and a conceit to believe one has any control or influence over chaos. Chaos is simply that which exists before all else. We are all products of that primordial swamp of all possibilities. How could a drop of water in a bucket have more water to add to the bucket?
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