Illuminating The White Room
May 9, 2013 5:10 AM   Subscribe

The strange discordian journey of the KLF. In which John Higgs, writing in the current issue of Darklore, explores the discordian heritage of the KLF.
posted by hydatius (16 comments total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
I've rarely been so conflicted about an artistic statement as when I'd heard about them burning a million pounds. I like how he states in the clip that they really wanted and could have used the million pounds, but that they wanted to burn it even more. Stupid and brilliant.
posted by not_on_display at 5:22 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Hail Eris! Looking forward to reading this later.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:00 AM on May 9, 2013

"Wallis was a big Three Stooges fan, and the name ‘Don Lucknowe’ is based on a Stooges’ catchphrase ‘Don’t Look Now.’

No I'm not; no it wasn't.
posted by Hogshead at 7:08 AM on May 9, 2013 [9 favorites]

Well you can't just stop there!
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:56 AM on May 9, 2013

Well, he is something of a hoaxer.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:00 AM on May 9, 2013

Also I'm not American. I mean, I'm most of the first page of Google results for 'James Wallis' and if this Higgs guy has ever tried to contact me then he hasn't tried very hard.

I was on the fringes of Discordiana back in the late 80s. I still have a Principia Discordia signed by Kerry Thornley, and I knew Bob Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, though that was later. I honestly can't remember how I learned about or got in contact with Yossarian Universal but it either had something to do with Factsheet Five or the fanzine Inside Joke edited by Elayne Wechsler. But Paul Fericano anointed me a 'contributing editor', in much the same way that Discordians declare that everybody is a pope, and I decided I should probably do something with that.

And as to why I wrote the letter—I was probably bored. I was a student, running a games fanzine and a creativity zine based on Inside Joke (it wasn't very good), interested in everything, and looking to make contact of any kind with other people I found interesting. The letter wasn't intended as a threat, and I don't believe it read like one—more of a kind of 'I am into the same things you are into, here is a letter from inside this fictional world'. The beginnings of ARG-like thinking, perhaps. I've always approached the world in a playful context; it's no coincidence that I've ended up as a games designer.

Or I may be lying.
posted by Hogshead at 8:09 AM on May 9, 2013 [12 favorites]

That's what you would say.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:11 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

> From what I've read elsewhere, they actually didn't burn anywhere near a million pounds, but announcing you're burning a few thousand pounds and a bunch of cut-up paper won't get you quite the same kind of press.

Everything I've read has indicated the opposite. Do you have sources?
posted by user92371 at 8:49 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

The press were invited to the burning and were handed wads of cash on the way which they were asked to present at the end for burning. Apparently many of them just pocketed the cash. It's not clear how much money was involved though.

Bill Drummond's ideas about Discordia also filtered through to his work with Echo & The Bunnymen, particularly the quest for the 'Bunny God', trips to Iceland and the whole Crystal Day event in 1984. One particular story has Drummond very shaken when someone pointed out that the weird trees that are used on the sleeve art of the 'Crocodiles' album coincidentally resembled a rabbit.

Oh and it's Mathew Street with one 'T'.
posted by panboi at 9:08 AM on May 9, 2013

That's not really a "source".
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:24 AM on May 9, 2013

It was a million pounds.

Source: I am an Ancient of Mu Mu.

posted by roger ackroyd at 9:45 AM on May 9, 2013

I've spoken to both Bill Drummond and KLF insider/driver/savant Gimpo and have absolutely no doubt the burning happened as stated.
posted by anagrama at 10:08 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just yesterday I was digitising some old theatre programmes at work, one of which was for the Ken Campbell Roadshow. Now this. Thanks for posting.
posted by El Brendano at 11:22 AM on May 9, 2013

This is a great article.
posted by Catblack at 12:43 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hail Eris!
posted by acb at 5:25 PM on May 9, 2013

Relevant to the collective interest.

Not sure what you're describing, panboi. But the million-quid-burning was not a public spectacle. Drummond, Cauty, and Gimpo were the only ones there, on a secluded island in the middle of the night. No press.

Whether or not it was a full million, who knows? But the official story is in the video linked above: Watch the K Foundation Burn a Million Quid.
posted by eric1halfb at 5:28 AM on May 11, 2013

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