Kerry Thornley is a name recognized by few, despite his intriguing role in the counter-culture movement, Neo-Paganism, the underground “zine” scene, and deep politics. Thornley was co-founder of the Discordian Society, a multiple aliased writer, a Marine pal of Lee Harvey Oswald, a possible MK-ULTRA mind control victim (who eventually became embroiled in Jim Garrison’s JFK assassination investigation), and a long-time staple of Atlanta’s bohemian Little 5 Points neighborhood. Thornley’s exploits have been thoroughly documented in Adam Gorightly’s book The Prankster and the Conspiracy.
Thornley’s early introduction into the realm of high weirdness began with his Mormon upbringing. Thornley and his childhood friend, Greg Hill, co-authored Principia Discordia, Or, How I Found Goddess, And What I Did To Her When I Found Her. Their comedy religion was dedicated to Eris, the Greek goddess of chaos, strife, and discord (Eris had the distinction of bumping Pluto for the position of the 9th largest planet in the solar system). According to Robert Anton Wilson, the Illuminatus! Trilogy books were an attempt to build a myth around Discordianism. Thornley’s embrace of Anarchism, Atheism, Objectivism, Neo-Paganism, Buddhism, and particularly Discordianism, cemented his role as an unbridled individualist hell-bent on Earthly ride enjoyment.
Lee Harvey Oswald’s pre-JFK assassination exploits were memorialized in “The Idle Warriors”, a book that earned Thornley the attention of the Warren Commission. Jim Garrison attempted to subpoena Thornley regarding his role as the “second Oswald”. Numerous baffling coincidences tie Oswald to Thornley, including their military comaradarie, the fact that they lived in the same New Orleans neighborhood, and Thornley’s repeated run-ins with a vast assortment of CIA and JFK assassination conspiracy figures. Later, Thornley was convinced that he was a victim of CIA MK-ULTRA mind-control experimentation, was being spied on by his close friends, and that he was the product of Vril, a Nazi genetic experiment.
Kerry spend the remainder of his life traveling, contributing to and editing underground newspapers, and handing out fliers on street corners. After settling in Atlanta, Thornley pursued his vocational interest in dish-washing at a number of Little 5 Point restaurants and resided in the back room of the A Cappella bookstore. Thornley died of cardiac arrest on November 28, 1998 at the age of 60. Following a Buddhist memorial service, his body was cremated and his ashes were scattered over the Pacific Ocean.
If organized religion is the opium of the masses, then disorganized religion is the marijuana of the lunatic fringe ~ Kerry W. Thornley
Hail Eris! All Hail Discordia!