"And so it is that we, as men, do not exist until we do; and then it is that we play with our world of existent things, and order and disorder them, and so it shall be that Non-existence shall take us back from Existence, and that nameless Spirituality shall return to Void, like a tired child home from a very wild circus."

~ Principia Discordia


Right after Thanksgiving Day in 1998, it became my sorrowful duty to report the loss of the Discordian Nonprophet known as Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst, the Right Rev. Jesse Sump, the Grand Caliph of California, and Ho Chi Zen - author of Zenarchy and The Idle Warriors, co-author of the Principia Discordia - my dear friend, Kerry Thornley.

Kerry went into cardiac arrest after an extended illness at Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia at about 12:30 a.m. Saturday, November 28, 1998. Team efforts to rescusitate him continued until approximately 1:15 a.m. when he was pronounced dead.

He had suffered the gradual breakdown of all systems that is the course of his fatal disease, Wegener's granulomatosis, which begins with tumors in the lungs and advances through to kidney failure and global vascular breakdown.

He had been rushed to the hospital for emergency bladder surgery just before Thanksgiving, and was not dialyzed on the holiday. On Friday, when I last spoke with him by phone, he was trying to arrange for dialysis; but that never happened, and his heart just gave out.

Born sixty years ago in the City of Lost Angels, in the Golden State of California, on April 17, 1938, Kerry Thornley had only one son, Kreg Thornley, a young computer professional who wants the world to know little of him except that he is not ''Kerry Junior,'' and he is not involved in Kerry's politics or philosophies. His son loved him ''as a dad.''

A private viewing and ritual was held on Sunday morning, November 29, 1998 at a crematorium in what Kerry had called ''Enemy Territory'' - Cobb County. His remains laid out on a hospital gurney were draped with a green cotton cover, except for his face, which was unretouched. He was cold and still. Among the five seated in the front row with his son were Kerry's former wife, Cara Thornley, who cared for him throughout his last year.

Twenty-three participated in the Buddhist ceremony, which included meditations allowing the fetters which had bound Kerry to his suffering to be breathed in, and then released with the exhalation, along with prayers that his spirit be freed from confusion and pain, and allowed to achieve its own true Illumination. Then a paper inscribed simply "Kerry Thornley" was burned while his spirit was chanted free.

After cremation, his ashes were divided into three portions. One was scattered in the sea off the coast of Sonoma, as were his father's; another portion was scattered on a peak in Colorado; and the third was sprinkled into the river right below the Discordian waterfall at the Mill House, where he had been most at home in his latter days.

A Public Memorial Service was held for family and friends on the Fifth of November, a Saturday night, at 7:30 p.m. at a Buddhist temple. Dick Thornley, one of Kerry's two younger brothers, started out by reminiscing about how Kerry had taken over the role of father for him and his brother Tom, but he was not the kind of father most people have. Rather, he was creative and funny and generous and nonjudgmental. Dick said Kerry made him feel like anything was possible, and nothing that he might do could ever conceivably be wrong, stupid or foolish. He discussed how he had been inspired and empowered by his big brother.

Several friends spoke about their memories of Kerry, and Cara read a letter Kerry had written to a well-known pastor of the local First Baptist Church that satirized the pastor's views on diseases he had preached were sent by God as punishment for the usual sins. There were many smiles and only a few tears.

On his last visit to Little Five Points, when Kerry had felt our journey drawing to a close, he had observed that he felt ''like a tired child home from a very wild circus,'' alluding to his favorite passage from the Principia.


You'll Get Better | Kerry Walked | Requiesquat in Pace | In Memoriam | The Poet Game