Kerry Wendell Thornley, AKA Lord Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst, AKA
Ho Chi Zen, KSC, JFK Assassin, Bull Goose of Limbo, Recreational Director of the Wilhelm
Reich Athletic Club, Assistant Philosopher, President of the Universal Successionist Association
(USA), Chairperson of the Kronstadt Vengeance Committee, Poet Laureate of the Randolph
Bourne Association for Revolutionary Violets, Minister in the Church of Universal Life,
Trustee for the Center for Mythographic Arts, Correspondent for the Desperate Imperialist
News Service (DIN), Vice President of the Generic Graffiti Council of the Americas, CEO of
the Umbrella Corporation and of the Spare Change Investment Corporation, Treasurer of the
Commercial Erisian Orthodox Tabernacle, Assistant Treasurer of the John-
Dillinger-Died-For-You Society, Public Relations Director of Precision Psychedelics, Managing
Editor of The Decadent Worker, Public Security Committee Chief of the Revolutionary
Surrealist Vandal Party (RSVP), Advisor to the Niccolo Machiavelli University of Jesuit
Ethics, Instructor of the Mullah Nasrudin Sufi Mime Troupe, Dean of Bodhisattvas of the
12 Famous Buddha Mind School, Mail Clerk of Junk Mail Associates, Chaplain of the Erotic
Terrorism Committee of the Fucking Communist Conspiracy (FCC, etc.), Deputy Counsel of the
International Brotherhood of Doom Prophets, Local 666, Alleged Founder of the Zenarchist
Affinity Group (ZAG) and the Zenarchist Insurgency Group (ZIG), Co-Founder of the
Discordian Society, Grand Master of the Legion of Dynamic Discord, Saint 2nd Class in the
Industrial Church of the SubGenius, CEO of the Brooklyn Bridge Holding Company,
Executive Vice President of the Bank of Hell, Chief Engineer of the Southern Fascist Railway
("Our Trains Run On Time!"), Inspector for the Political Correctness Division of the Marta
Batista Cola Company, and Satanist Quaker.
(The above being, more or less, Kerry's signature to official documents.)
A timeline of events in the life of Kerry Thornley:
1938, April 17: Kerry Wendell Thornley is born. Later in life he theorises that his birth was part of a breeding experiment conducted by The Vril Society, a secret Nazi occult order.
1958: Thornley, along with Greg Hill, founds the parody religion Discordianism. Discordians worship Eris, Greek goddess of chaos. Thornley and Hill self-publish their Discordian bible, The Principia Discordia (or, How I Found Goddess and What I Did to Her When I Found Her). An example of Erisian humour:
The Food Blessing
Almighty Eris Discordia, we thank Thee for this meal. But, seriously, Goddess, what about
the ten people somewhere in the world who died of starvation since this prayer began? Seven of
them were children under five. What kind of Creation are you running here anyway? Could you
please get your shit a little more together? Amen.
1959: While serving in the U.S. Marine Corps in California, Thornley meets Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who is later to be named as John F. Kennedy’s assassin. He and Oswald become friends, arguing about politics and philosophy. Thornley is an Ayn Rand-ist libertarian, while Oswald professes sympathy with Marxist ideas. After Oswald leaves the Marines, Thornley reads in The Stars and Stripes that he defected to Russia, which gives Thornley the inspiration to begin work on a novel to be titled The Idle Warriors about a young disillusioned marine.
1961: Thornley, now out of the Marine Corps and living in New Orleans, is introduced to a “Gary Kirstein” by his friend Slim Brooks. Slim refers to him as his brother-in-law. Thornley has doubts as to the man’s true identity, and for the rest of his life refers to him only as “Brother-in-law.” Through 1961 “Brother-in-law” entertains him with a number of strange revelations, most of which Thornley finds absurd, but enjoys discussing with him in any case. Among these revelations: The Nazis didn’t really lose World War Two (“Brother-in-law” claimed to represent them). They secretly developed free energy sources which they now use to power their flying saucers. And, what is clearly now the most interesting of “Brother-in-law”’s revelations, President Kennedy would be assassinated. He continually returns to this, appealing to Thornley’s right-wing philosophy for Thornley’s approval of the plan. He also intimates possible involvement in the future assassination by Teamsters Union President Jimmy Hoffa (who was later to mysteriously disappear). Thornley finds “Brother-in-law” to be an interesting oddball, and doesn’t take him seriously until the events of 1963. Later he is to notice a strong resemblance between “Brother-in-law” and E. Howard Hunt, the Watergate conspirator who was also later connected by some to the conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy.
1963, November 22: President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Lee Harvey Oswald is soon named as the lone assassin, and is himself assassinated by Jack Ruby, a local nightclub owner with Mafia connections.
1964: Kerry Thornley is called to testify to The Warren Commission. He testifies that Oswald was a communist sympathiser who was trying to find a place in history.
1965: Thornley publishes Oswald, a non-fiction work about Lee Harvey Oswald.
1968: New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison accuses Thornley of being a CIA agent involved in the assassination. He charges Thornley with perjury, alleging that Thornley lied when he claimed to have had no contact with Oswald since 1959. His evidence was that Thornley had a Post Office Box in the same federal building Oswald did in New Orleans in the early 1960s. This building was also supposedly used by many CIA agents as a mail drop. The case never comes to trial, and Garrison’s investigation of the assassination never really gets anywhere, though it does uncover a large amount of strange circumstantial evidence.
Through the remainder of Thornley’s life, he was an interesting counter-culture figure, publishing his often bizarre life experiences and theories as to their meaning (as well as his thoughts on philosophy, politics and spirituality) via the newsletters Kultcha and The Decadent Worker and the book Zenarchy. Among other interesting stories, he alleges that sometime in the 1970s, FBI agents left an unopened can of soda and bag of chips on a park bench, knowing that he would pick them up and eat them. When he did, he found himself heavily dosed with a psychedelic agent he believed to be LSD. At a party in the early 1970s, he was handed a funny-tasting joint. After smoking it, he found himself being interrogated by a group of strangers. Later that night he found that his mouth had blistered. In 1975, at another party, ski-masked bandits arrived and stole identification from he and fellow Discordianism founder Greg Hill, stealing only money from the other guests. Thornley connected this event to his recent report to the Atlanta police of “Brother-in-law”’s mention of Jimmy Hoffa in connection to the Kennedy assassination (Hoffa had just disappeared).
1998, November 28: Thornley dies at the age of 60 of heart failure.
It is difficult to make much meaning of Thornley’s experiences. There is certainly some suggestion that something out of the ordinary was going on, but it is hard to say what. The “Operation Mindfuck” model of the Kennedy assassination conspiracy is that, whoever was responsible, they created numerous red herrings and false leads so that any investigator would either project his own agenda onto the evidence, or be easily discredited as paranoid. Certainly, it is difficult to see Thornley as other than a kook. But, of course, this could be just part of his cover. What about the possibility that he was, as Garrison alleged, working for the CIA as part of the assassination conspiracy? Evidence for this is not in the least conclusive but it is interesting. He visited Mexico City near the time Oswald did. There were witnesses to him meeting and conversing with supposed assassination conspirators David Ferrie and Guy Banister in 1961 – 1962. As mentioned above, he had a P.O. Box in the same federal building Oswald did. There are numerous other seeming connections between Thornley and the assassination, but it is difficult to make sense out of any of them. In any case, he is definitely one of the more interesting characters to be footnoted by history.
Much of my information comes from Thornley’s own account of events (and as such should probably be taken with a large grain of salt), which can be read at:
Thornley’s complete testimony to the Warren Commission:
The Principia Discordia is reproduced in its entirety on E2.
I would appreciate any corrections or addendums to this write-up.