Kerry Wendell Thornley (April 17, 1938 - November 28, 1998) is perhaps best-known as co-founder of discordianism, in which context he is usually known as Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst. He co-authored the religion's foundational volume Principia Discordia with Greg Hill. Less known is a series of Zenarchy articles written for Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger under the pen name "Ho Chi Zen". "Zenarchy" is described in the introduction of the collected volume as "the social order which springs from meditation," and "A non-combative, non-participatory, no-politics approach to anarchy intended to get the serious student thinking." Raised as a Mormon, in adulthood Kerry shifted his central ideology as prodigiously as to rival any countercultural figure of the era. Aside from discordianism, atheism, anarchism, neo-paganism and buddhism were all the subjects of conceptual scrutiny during the course of his life. Thornley believed, among other things, that he was involved with MK-ULTRA's LSD-soaked assassin-conditioning program. While more incredulous types may be predisposed to write off as conspiracy theory the notion of his involvement in the JFK assassination or that he was the result of Nazi Vril breeding initiatives, his claims regarding the secret government mind-control trials are somewhat plausible, as they are consistent with the time period and other conditions surrounding his involvement with the military.
Having been a reservist for some time, Thornley was called upon for active duty in the Marines in 1958 at age 20, soon after finishing out his freshman year at the University of Southern California. (Incidentally, this is the same period that he and Greg Hill (Malaclypse the Younger or Mal-2) shared their first Eristic vision in a bowling alley in Whittier, CA, as the story goes.) Thornley served for a short time in the same platoon as Lee Harvey Oswald in 1959 at El Toro Marine Base in Santa Ana, California. He and Oswald were acquaintances who shared a common interest in society and politics, and whenever duty placed them together, discussed such topics as literature and communism, particularly Oswald's interest in the latter. Some time after the two men parted ways as a result of reassignment, Thornley read of Oswald's defection to the Soviet Union in a military newspaper. Kerry had been eager to write about his observations as a marine, and Lee served as inspiration for the book. The aspiring writer saw Oswald as the metaphorical embodiment of the peacetime soldier, disenfranchised by the totalitarian structure of military life. (In later years Thornley became convinced that Oswald was an intelligence agent, whose purpose was to ferret out communist sympathizers.) In rare prophetic form, he wrote a fictionalized account of his experiences with the heretofore unknown Oswald and the Marine Corps called The Idle Warriors. Although unpublished until 1991, the manuscript was finished fully one year before the Kennedy assassination. It has the peculiar distinction of being the only book written about Lee Harvey Oswald before President Kennedy's assassination in 1963. Due primarily to the serendipitous nature of his choice of subject matter, Thornley was called to testify before the Warren Commission on May 18, 1964. The work was subpoenaed by the commission and stored in the National archives. Struggling with illness in his final days, Kerry Thornley died of a heart attack in Atlanta, Georgia on November 28, 1998, a Saturday, at the age of 60. 23 were in attendance at the Buddhist service the following morning. Near the end of his life, Thornley reportedly said he felt "like a tired child home from a very wild circus," a reference to a passage by Greg Hill from the Principia Discordia: "And so it is that we, as men, do not exist until we do; and then it is that we play with our world of existent things, and order and disorder them, and so it shall be that Non-existence shall take us back from Existence, and that nameless Spirituality shall return to Void, like a tired child home from a very wild circus."
Bibliography and references
*Malaclypse the Younger (Greg Hill); Principia Discordia, 5th Edition, September 1991, IllumiNet Press. Introduction by Kerry Thornley. *Thornley, Kerry; Zenarchy, IllumiNet Press, June 1991 *Thornley, Kerry; The Idle Warriors, IllumiNet Press, June 1991 *Gorightly, Adam; The Prankster and the Conspiracy: The Story of Kerry Thornley and How He Met Oswald and Inspired the Counterculture, Paraview Press, November 2003. Foreword by Robert Anton Wilson.
*Introduction to the Fifth (IllumiNet Press) Edition of Principia Discordia
*Impropaganda mirror: Zenarchy
*The Vril, the CIA, and Nazi Secret Societies: Letter From Kerry Thornley *23 Offerings of Prime Erisiana by Kerry Thornley, as given to Sondra London *Confession to Conspiracy to Assassinate JFK, posthumous account of the events surrounding and leading up to Thornley's alleged involvement with the JFK assassination, as told to Sondra London *Excerpt from Gorightly's book The Prankster and the Conspiracy and Foreword by Wilson