You hold in your hands one the Great Books of our century fnord.

    Some Great Books are recognized at once with a fusillade of critical huzzahs and gonfolons, like Joyce's Ulysses. Others appear almost furtively and are only discovered 50 years later, like Moby Dick or Mendel's great essay on genetics. The Principia Discordia entered our space-time continuum almost as unobtrusively as a cat-burglar creeping over a windowsill.

    In 1968, virtually nobody had heard of this wonderful book. In 1970, hundreds of people coast to coast were talking about it and asking the identity of the mysterious author, Malaclypse the Younger. Rumors swept across the continent, from New York to Los Angeles, from Seattle to St. Joe. Malaclypse was actually Alan Watts, one heard. No, said another legend -- the Principia was actually the work of the Sufi Order. A third, very intriguing myth held that Malaclypse was a pen-name for Richard M. Nixon, who had allegedly composed the Principia during a few moments of lucidity. I enjoyed each of these yarns and did my part to help spread them. I was also careful never to contradict the occasional rumors that I had actually written the whole thing myself during an acid trip.

    The legendry, the mystery, the cult grew slowly. By the mid-1970's, thousands of people, some as far off as Hong Kong and Australia, were talking about the Principia, and since the original was out of print by then, xerox copies were beginning to circulate here and there.

    When the Illuminatus trilogy appeared in 1975, my co-author, Bob Shea, and I both received hundreds of letters