Book review: United We Fnord

One of the aims of our Mycelium Parish News was to cover discordian events in the UK. I wondered what other groups were about, and re-read Brenton Clutterbuck’s United We Fnord to learn more. This book is subtitled ‘more discordian tales from the UK’ and arose from Clutterbuck’s longer Chasing Eris project, which published in 2018. United We Fnord was inspired from a Chasing Eris review by Cat Vincent. While positive about the book, Cat points out that there was more scope for discussing some of the details.

I found the two chapters on the British scene were notably lacking in the kind of in-depth description of the people and scenes that are the lifeblood of other chapters: other than his presence at the Horse Hospital fundraiser for Cosmic Trigger, Clutterbuck didn’t seem to have spent as much time simply hanging out with the people, and so the two chapters on the UK scene focus more on the history

I guess Clutterbuck didn’t want the UK section overwhelming the book, and this additional book features several people who were cut from Chasing Eris. It’s an interesting glimpse into the Discordian scene at the time of Clutterbuck’s visit – or, I think visits, given some of the timings of some of the interviews. He was in the country for the Horse Hospital event, ‘The Late, Great Robert Anton Wilson’ on 23rd October 2013 – but one interview with Ben Graham took place after Festival 23 in July 2016.

The ‘Late Great Robert Anton Wilson’ event is now almost ten years ago. That gathering at the Horse Hospital was described by Clutterbuck as “a fun but unassuming night that never seemed to warn that it would explode outwards with so much power – books, plays, magazines, conferestivals and more can trace their roots back to this event”.

Being at this event introduced Clutterbuck to Jon Harris, the Money-Burning Guy. The interview with Jon shows him early in his explorations of money burning. The book also notes that Jon Harris’s first burn was on 23rd October 2007, six years to the day before the horse hospital event.

One of the most interesting discussions was with Dr Syn, who ran the Syntacalypse Generator press. There are a dizzying number of publications listed, some featuring compilations of online epherma (a ‘web scrounge’), others serious attempts to construct a new Discordian scripture. There’s a part of me that wants a clear bibliography for Discordianism, but the maybe these authorships and publishing histories should be chaotic. The Black Iron Prison book is referred to in several interviews. A Discordian bibliography is listed on wikipedia and on a Discordian fandom wiki. There is a separate list elsewhere of Syntacalypse Generator Press publications.

Clutterbuck found some of his interviewees through the principiadiscordia.com forum, and there are discussions of opaque forum drama, and we see how that relates to the real world. There is also an interview with psychogeographer Morag Rose (albeit with only a brief reference to Discordianism). I also enjoyed reading about Hagbard, who got into discordianism via the ddate utility that was bundled into linux, which generated the Discordian date and led him towards the Principia Discordia.

I signed up for the principiadiscordia.com forum, but things seem quiet and I am not sure if they are taking new members. There may be other Discordian groups on Facebook, but I’ve not been a member there for years. I assume that there are others out there, doing the Discordian thing of ‘sticking apart’.

(The book is currently available only on Clutterbuck’s patreon, which probably limits the opportunity to access it – although I’m not sure if you can get if by signing up for a single month)

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