on chaos, creation and destruction

From Principia Discordia:


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 around 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 for a bad trip. Man has been on a bad trip for a long time now.


Bullshit makes
the flowers grow
& that’s beautiful.

Photo: Motlatsi Khosi


To choose order over disorder, or disorder over order, is to accept a trip composed of both the creative and the destructive. But to choose the creative over the destructive is an all-creative trip composed of both order and disorder. To accomplish this, one need only accept creative disorder along with, and equal to, creative order, and also be willing to reject destructive order as an undesirable equal to destructive disorder.

The Curse of Greyface included the division of life into order/disorder as the essential positive/negative polarity, instead of building a game foundation with creative/destructive as the essential positive/negative. He has thereby caused man to endure the destructive aspects of order and has prevented man from effectively participating in the creative uses of disorder. Civilization reflects this unfortunate division.

POEE proclaims that the other division is preferable, and we work toward the proposition that creative disorder, like creative order, is possible and desirable; and that destructive order, like destructive disorder, is unnecessary and undesirable.

Seek the Sacred Chao – therein you will find the foolishness of all ORDER/DISORDER. They are the same!

Read the whole text of POEE’s “Principia Discordia” here.

2 thoughts on “on chaos, creation and destruction

  1. I like the idea of picking creativity/destructivity as one’s primary categories, and I think it has advantages over that of a order/disorder opposition, but I don’t think that it’ll quite straighten out the picture enough.

    This is because I think destruction is still a necessary feature of the world, and something we face unavoidably at every level of reality. Loved ones die, capitalist colonials exploit and pillage, your body will get old and stop working properly, volcanoes, earthquakes, entropy, etc. are unavoidable. All these sorts of things are, I think, destructive (and, in themselves, not creative, although there may be creative after-effects, or maybe creative ways of responding). And if we commit to this view, we’re compelled to think of a lot of reality as evil

    For this reason, it seems necessary to have a system of thought that, instead of declaring destructivity negative, undesirable, or bad, accepts it somehow – and in as positive a light as possible. So here’s a suggestion: destruction and creation are necessarily part of an underlying process by which anything has being, and this process is nothing other than a self-surrendering (‘kenosis’) that is at the heart of normativity in anything. Someone dies to save their friends, people spend their lives at work so that the world can eat and thrive, ecosystems are sustained by organisms becoming food for other organisms, quantum ‘particles’ abandon indeterminacy and a lot of other properties when becoming constituted as atoms, Jesus dies for his enemies. Love is the giving up of oneself for another’s sake. I suspect that love is but a human embodiment of a pattern that pervades reality. Love always involves a sort of dying or sacrifice. Something must be given up. And so loving is not possible without this ‘death’ or destructive act. But what does that make of destruction? It makes it merely part of loving – and a necessary part. E. E. Cummings thought, mystically, that life and death together function as love. I suggest that creation and destruction together function as ‘kenosis’ – a universe-wide self-sacrificing process at the heart of all normativity, being, and becoming to be.

  2. Thanks, Arlyn. Ja, binaries of any sort are rather restrictive ways of understanding energy flow. What makes the Principia Discordia interesting to me is that, as an historical document dating from 1965, at the height of structuralist understandings of social behaviour, its muddling of binaries is quite crazily experimental, psychedelic and subversive, predating the “hippie” revolution (maybe even a seeding factor?)… I can see echoes of its brand of absurdism in the work of entities such as Monty Python. Also, it has expansive notions of “copyleft” the likes of which are not seen again until the “Creative Commons” surfaces in the early 2000s. And it’s also great fun to read.

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