Ever since having been plunged into this new level of worldwide conspiracy hysteria fueled by Trumpism and the ongoing pandemic I have thought back to the times in the later 1990s when I was still a teenager hooked on the writings of Robert Anton Wilson that had led me down the rabbit hole of Discordianism. This reality shattering, ever skeptical and tongue in cheek way of seeing the world that I found so inspiring and refreshing over 20 years ago has eventually saved me from drowning in the contrarian plandemic kool aid that online discourse has become in the last few years.
When Weird Studies dropped their epic episodes (1, 2) on Hermann Hesse's last novel The Glass Bead Game I not only remembered how much I had read and loved all of Hesse's works in that same post-adolescent period of my life, but how the idea of the Glass Bead Game has stayed in my mind and fascinated me for a long time.
In the strange years of the naughties that were also soaked with conspiracy hysteria surrounding the terror attacks of 9/11 I rediscovered my Discordian affinities and briefly published blogs with Discordian writings under my discordian "papal name" Episkopos Krishnamürphy Orgonon and reposted these on German language Discordian forums - most prominently the legendary Aktion 23. One of my most popular pieces from around 2006 or 2007 was a simple tabletop game I had invented based on discordian principles and the interdisciplinary idea of Hesse's Glass Bead Game. I found a repost of the original text and translated it into English.
I recommend playing it with your friends. In today's Age of the Feuilleton that Hesse had so prophetically predicted it is more relevant than ever. Here it is. Revived and translated. Please excuse potential post-adolescent naughties cringe.
The Arkona Matata Pakalolo Cabal presents:
Discordian Synchromysticist Glass Bead Game
A game to promote the understanding of reality for 1 to 10 players, ages 5+.
You will need:
5 players - preferably Discordian popes or otherwise initiated eristic weirdos
2 card games with 32 cards each (poker game minus all the 2s to 6s) or any other card game that you have 2 of. It is important that the number of cards somehow complies with the law of 5.
25 glass beads in 5 different colors - or any other objects that can be divided into 5 distinguishable groups of 5 objects. Regardless of the type of object, only "colored glass beads" can be used here!
32 pieces of paper that have to be large enough to be written on and folded up and small enough to fit under a playing card when folded. Each snippet is called "Fnord" in this game. Do not ask why!
Sufficient narcotics containing C2H5OH or C21H30O2 for all players.
Information material: daily, weekly, monthly newspapers and magazines of any age, or even more simply, access to the glittering electric commercial brain called the WWW.
Pseudo-intellectual semicompetence in esoteric rubbish
- Each player receives a glass with liquid containing C2H5OH and some C21H30O2 in any consumable form
- Each player receives 5 glass beads of one color
- Each player receives 6 pieces of paper
- Every player should have access to the information material provided
The cards are in the following order:
Colors: spade (golden apple), heart (love), club (chaote), diamond (bureaucrat)
Cards: Queen (Eris), Ace (Discord), King (Emperor Norton), Jack (Pope), 10, 9, 8, 7
So the highest card is the queen of spades (Eris with the golden apple) and the lowest is the 7 of diamonds (seven bureaucrats). If other card games are used, please define a clear sequence.
The game, like everything in the universe, has 5 rounds called Chaos, Discord, Confusion, Bureaucracy and Aftermath
- The card games are shuffled separately.
- One of the card games is laid out face down in the shape of a pentagon ("Hodge Pile"). How that works is a secret.
- The other deck of cards is placed next to it in the form of an apple for all to see. ("Podge Hile") How do you get the shape of an apple? Use your pineal gland, damn it !!
- The player with the longest religious name or title starts
- Each player must do the following in the Chaos Round:
- place one of their glass beads on any card in the Podge hile
- write any existing term taken from "Reality" onto a Fnord, fold it, and place it onto any card of the Hodge pile. The term should be e.g. a prominent name or place, or a special event in current world affairs.
- This procedure is repeated in turn until all players have distributed all 5 glass beads.
- At the end of the round, when all the glass beads have been distributed on the cards in the podge hile, the player who started writes the terms CHAOS and ORDER onto the last two fnords, folds them up and places them onto two of the seven remaining cards in the hodge pile.
- Each player can now label a fnord and place it on one of the free cards.
- At the end of the round, all players say in unison: "Chaos is the origin and the end!!" and each player in turn "Fnord!"
- Each player in turn takes one of the cards from the podge hile on which one of their own glass beads have been placed in the previous step. The glass bead too, of course!
- Each player now has 5 cards in hand.
- Each player sorts their cards according to their value
- The player with the highest Eris places the remaining 7 cards of the Podge hile that have no glass bead on them face down next to the Hodge pile in the shape of an apple ("Kallisti pile").
- The player with the lowest bureaucrat card now turns all the cards of the Hodge pile over so that they are facing up. The folded fnords that were on top of the downfacing cards should be placed back onto the now upfacing cards. (Read this sentence again slowly and aloud.)
- The player with the highest Eris now takes the Fnord from the Hodge pile card that corresponds to their highest Eris. So if they have the "Eris with the Golden Apple" in hand, they take the Fnord from the "Eris with the Golden Apple" from the Hodge pile.
- The player with the second highest card now does the same, the player with the third highest card, etc ...
- If everything went well without casualties now all players should have 5 fnords.
- If a player has drawn the Fnord with the terms CHAOS or ORDER (or both), they must also draw one card from the Kallisti pile and swap the CHAOS or ORDER Fnord (or both) with the Fnord of the corresponding card (or both). The additionally drawn cards are not kept in hand (or both), but are returned face up to the Kallisti pile.
- The player with the lowest bureaucrat now shouts: "The golden apple has been thrown!" - the other players answer in chorus "Ho - Ho - Ho - Chi - Zen!"
- Each player now buggers off with their 5 cards, 5 glass beads and 5 fnords somewhere where they can peacefully milk their pineal gland undisturbed by the others. The 5 fnords are unfolded and assigned to the 5 cards according to any random principle. (REMEMBER IT!!)
- Before the players withdraw, they say goodbye to each other with the words: "Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore"
- Each player now has the task of connecting the 5 terms / names / fnords with each other in the form of an imagined conspiracy theory and to be able to prove this with sound facts, synchronicities, or if this is not so easily possible with the help of esoteric mysteries. Each player should have the opportunity to gather information in order to be able to cope with this task. The internet is the best resource to survive this round.
"Synchromysticism is the art of finding meaningful coincidence in the seemingly mundane with mystical or esoteric significance." - Jake Kotze
"You should pay attention to everything, because you can interpret everything." - Hermann Hesse
- The players should agree on a time span in which this task should be completed. This may be between 10 minutes and 5 years.
- If they still remember having taken part in this game the players return from their journey and gather again around the Hodge and the Kallisti piles, given they still exist.
- The player with the highest Eris starts to share / read out their synchromystic conspiracy theory to the others.
- Every time they have added one of their names / terms / fnords to the conspiracy theory, they place one of their glass beads onto the corresponding upfacing card of the Hodge pile (remember the correspondences of the fnords to any cards in the 'Confusion' ’round). The user also explains why they assigned the name / term / fnord to this specific card.
- The task of the other players is to ask questions about the conspiracy theory and to constructively question and doubt it.
- When the narrator has placed all 5 of their glass beads, it is the turn of the player with the second highest card to tell their story, etc.
- When the last player has explained their theory in a comprehensible manner, everyone shouts in unison: "Nothing is true! Everything is permitted!"
- In turn, each player reveals one of the hidden cards from the Kallisti pile, takes the corresponding Fnord from the Hodge pile, reads it out loud and places it onto the corresponding exposed card from the Kallisti pile.
- The terms CHAOS and ORDER, which lie in the center, are read out, but then simply ignored.
- The players should now consider together how they can combine their own conspiracy theories, which they have previously worked out, with the help of the 5 exposed fnords to form a single all encompassing conspiracy theory of everything. The links should be worked out as conclusively as possible or in a synchromysticist manner. When the mother of conspiracies has been successfully established, the game is finished. Everyone has won. Yay. Yipppieh!
- The conspiracy theory should now be put down in writing and every player should receive a copy of it, which they can anonymously send to a press agency / esoteric association / subreddit / Facebook group of their choice.
- Players discuss the differences in credibility between their developed theories, popular existing conspiracy theories, and what the media is selling as sound truths.
- The players agree on a new date for the next round of the Discordian Synchromysticistic Glass Bead Game and say farewell as follows.
The player with the shortest medal title (SP1) starts shouting, then it goes in turn:
SP1: "Gimme an eff"
SP2: "Gimme an en"
SP3: "Gimme an Oh"
SP4: "Gimme an Arr"
SP5: "Gimme a Dee"
Everyone: "That doesn't work!"
Everyone: "Then fuck off, you dorks!"
All players go home, hopefully enlightened and confused and from that moment on they will probably believe in even less than before.
Hail Eris. Ewige Blumenkraft.
Episkopos Krishnamürphy Orgonon, KSC, 23° Epopt of the Erisian Hysteries, Sublime Knight of Immersion, Rabbi of the Sacred Venus Mound, Initiated Prince of Tohu Va Vohu, Protector of the Arkona Matata Pakalolo Kontra Plaza Kabal at the Temple of Zion in the Orient of Berlin.