Wednesday, December 21, 2016

For Winter Solstice 2016, the Archdruid and I discuss Discordianism and fake holidays

Happy winter solstice, everyoneYesterday, I promisted I would have something special planned for the occasion.  Instead of the usual scientific explanation for today's astronomical event and pagan holiday, I'm sharing another conversation with The Archdruid for the Solstice.  This time, it's one that took place in the comments to The Fifth Side of the Triangle.  Halfway through the essay, Greer finally got to its main topic.
This is where we move from orthodox Hegelianism to the quirky alternative I have in mind. It didn’t emerge out of the profound ponderings of serious philosophers of history in some famous European university. It first saw the light in a bowling alley in suburban Los Angeles, and the circumstances of its arrival—which, according to the traditional account, involved the miraculous appearance of a dignified elderly chimpanzee and the theophany of a minor figure from Greek mythology—suggest that prodigious amounts of drugs were probably involved.

Yes, we’re talking about Discordianism.

I’m far from sure how many of my readers are familiar with that phenomenon, which exists somewhere on the ill-defined continuum between deadpan put-on and serious philosophical critique. The short form is that it was cooked up by a couple of young men on the fringes of the California Beat scene right as that was beginning its mutation into the first faint adumbrations of the hippie phenomenon. Its original expression was the Principia Discordia, the scripture (more or less) of a religion (more or less) that worships (more or less) Eris, the Greek goddess of chaos, and its central theme is the absurdity of belief systems that treat orderly schemes cooked up in the human mind as though these exist out there in the bubbling, boiling confusion of actual existence.
While I had orginally planned not to comment on Greer's blog this month, as I hadn't left a response there since Retrotopia: The Only Way Forward in early September, but I couldn't resist the subject matter.
Hail Eris!

Oh, I'm familiar with Discordianism.  I'm single-handedly keeping alive a fake holiday called Wester, which is the first Sunday following the first Full Moon after the Autumnal Equinox.  When I first posted about it, my Discordian friend claimed it for Discordianism.  As far as I'm concerned, it's still a Discordian holiday.

Now, would you like to play catch with this golden apple inscribed with "Kallisti (To the Fairest)?  I got it to commemorate The Original Snub.

Greer did play catch with me.
Pinku-Sensei, yes, I thought I remembered you were a closet Discordian. Wester is funny; presumably that was the day that some messiah or other descended from the living?
Toss, catch, toss!
Yes, I do worship Discord in my own way.  My time on USENET had that effect on me.  It also made me familiar with the Church of the Subgenius.  I absorbed their attitude, which is more misanthropic than the Discordians, but not much else of their beliefs.
I'm actually not a Discordian; they're a little too silly for my taste.  However, I do like an environment with a certain level of conflict.  In those kind of environments, I've found it's more important to have the right enemies than the right friends.  If you have the right enemies, the right friends will come to you.  Just the same, there is such a thing as too much conflict and discord; it becomes too dangerous and chaotic.  That's where the Crazy Eddie in me comes out, trying to forestall the decline and collapse.

Follow over the jump as for the rest of the conversation.

The topic then changed from Discordianism to the fake holiday of Wester.
I agree, Wester is funny.  As for an anointed one descending from the living, sorry, that wasn't part of the Wester story that I heard.  However, the holiday has its own animal mascot, the Wester Squirrel, which goes around and gathers goodies to hide instead of hiding goodies to pass out like the Easter Bunny.

The Wester Squirrel

Greer decided that one parody holiday wasn't enough.
Pinku-sensei, ah, well, it was merely a speculation. Druids would likely demand a Souther and a Norther, too, with a Souther Wombat and a Norther Lemming as animal mascots; I'll leave you to decide what if anything they do with goodies.

My first reaction was to throw the apple at Greer's head, but the result would have been "too much conflict and discord," so I slept on it.
Ah, but which solstice gets which holiday?  At first, I was not amused by your suggestion, as I thought one parody holiday was enough.  Then I slept on it and not only was I OK with it, I decided that Norther would come after the Winter Solstice and Souther would come after the Summer Solstice.  Why would a lemming visit in the middle of summer?  Norther would usually have little competition for holidays, at least in the U.S., most of the time.  Next year, it would fall on January 15th, the day before MLK Day.  Not a bad three-day weekend!  Souther, on the other hand, falls in more crowded field.  Next year, it would be July 16th, after a long series of patriotic holidays, Canada Day, 4th of July, and Bastille Day.  Oh, well, why not another reason to celebrate?

As for the animals' actions, lemmings could stampede off a cliff and drop presents into the sea.  I don't know what a stereotypical wombat thing to do is other than be the alternative to a panda for a joke about an animal that "eats roots, shoots, and leaves."  Maybe eats roots, shoots, and leaves presents?
Greer professed ignorance and wisely asked for someone else to inform us.
Pinku-sensei, we'll have to ask Cherokee for advice on the behavior of wombats. I admire them but have no personal experience of them.
Cherokee Organics chimed in.
Hi JMG and Pinku-Sensei,

Ooo, I do like the idea of a Souther wombat minor deity. Very cool. And thanks for the suggestion.

More on wombats tomorrow evening! ;-)! I'm busy writing a day early this evening.
That might have been helpful.  Unfortunately, what he responded with had more to do with Greer's "Wombat of Entropy" than the kind of holiday animal I had in mind.  Read about Fatso the Wombat at his blog.  Oh, well, I have until July to figure out the story for the Souther Wombat.

I did get one convert to the cause, as Yucca Glauca said he'd observe Wester.
Pinku-Sensei, if I still remember come next year, I'll celebrate Wester. I've done the occasional pilgrimage involving bowling alleys and hot-dogs before, so that'll fit right in.
Wester will fall on October 8th this year.  I'll be sure to remind Yucca on the 4th, right before the first full moon after the Autumnal Equinox.

Speaking of fake holidays, Friday is Festivus, time for airing of grievances and feats of strength.  It kicks off a weekend of holidays, with both Hanukkah and Christmas Eve on Saturday, Christmas on Sunday, and Boxing Day on Monday.  I might just take a holiday from entertainment posts.  Stay tuned.

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