Principia Discordia is the central text of Discordianism, a batshit-crazy-awesome pseudo-religion which is part parody and part Zen. It is structured around the worship of Eris, the Greek goddess of Chaos. The book itself is a collage of mock-Biblical chapters, songs, letters, government materials, illustrations, songs and chants, ciphers, apocryphal quotations, advertisements, certificates, and even an application for membership, should you aspire to become a High Priest of the Paratheo-Anametamystikhood of Eris Esoteric (POEE).
Prinicipia Discordia tells the story of Malaclypse the Younger and Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst, who heard Eris’s voice speaking to them through their pineal glands. The pineal gland is an organ at the center of the brain which produces melatonin, a chemical that regulates sleep. Descartes believed it was the Third Eye. It resembles the “third” or pineal eye that appears on some fish and reptiles and is sensitive to light.
Eris tells them the story of the Original Snub, enlightens them to the mysteries of the Hodge and the Podge and the Law of Fives, and instructs them to partake in No Hot Dog Buns. There are explanations for all of these ad-hoc traditions, which make a kind of nonsense sense. The Original Snub is when Eris wasn’t invited to a party with the other goddesses, so she threw a golden apple with the inscription “to the most beautiful one” which caused the goddesses to fight and eventually led to the Trojan War.
Most of the principles of Discordianism come from this love of chaos and anarchy, like “A Discordian is Prohibited of Believing What he Reads”. Discordians don’t take anything very seriously, and taking things seriously is the only thing they’re seriously against. For your enlightenment, the segment on the TERRIFYING CURSE OF GREYFACE:
In the year 1166 B.C., a malcontented hunchbrain by the name of Greyface, got it into his head that the universe was as humorless as he, and he began to teach that play was sinful because it contradicted the ways of Serious Order. “Look at all the order about you,” he said. And from that, he deluded honest men to believe that reality was a straightjacket affair and not the happy romance as men had known it.
It is not presently understood why men were so gullible at that particular time, for absolutely no one thought to observe all the disorder around them and conclude just the opposite. But anyway, Greyface and his followers took the game of playing at life more seriously than they took life itself and were known even to destroy other living beings whose ways of life differed from their own.
The unfortunate result of this is that mankind has since been suffering from a psychological and spiritual imbalance. Imbalance causes frustration, and frustration causes fear. And fear makes a bad trip. Man has been on a bad trip for a long time now.
It is called THE CURSE OF GREYFACE.
It is hard to tell whether Discordians are for or against war generally – war being very chaotic, but also something that’s taken very seriously. There is the part called “An Erisian Hymn” which is about members of organized religions fighting until they’re all dead, which in the end serves the cause of Discordia? And there’s the part about the Pentagon being a holy temple of Discordianism:
… the Pentagon Building, a most pregnant manifestation of straightjacket order resting on a firm foundation of chaos and constantly erupting into dazzeling [sic] disorder; and this building is one of our more cherished Erisian Shrines.
Are Discordians serious or sarcastic about embracing disorder? Probably a little bit of both. This is not a book that wants to give any straight answers. You can read the whole thing (for free!) and decide for yourself at: http://www.principiadiscordia.com/book/9.php
A couple end-notes: Don’t worry about reading in order, it’s not in chronological or other type of logical order. Principia Discordia is a good example of a 60s hippie-humor experience. There’s nothing all that deep, essential, or life-changing in it, but it might bring you a smile or offer a more fun alternative to atheism and agnosticism. Just tell people, “I’m a Discordian!” and see what they say when you explain it. It’s probably still better than 96% of organized religions: all you have to do is eat hot dogs without the buns and appreciate disorder in the universe. :)