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Did James Shelby Downard ever really exist?

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posted on Sep, 7 2007 @ 09:59 PM
James Shelby Downard has been labelled a "mad genius" who criticized not just "the official story", but the offical way we are all conditioned to think and reason. King-Kill 33, purportedly by Downard and Michael Hoffman, is often considered one of the foundations of modern occult/secret society conspiracy theorizing. I remember reading it for the first time when I was 12 or 13 and thinking it was either an elaborate and hilarious parody or the work of a brilliant madman. It was never convincing, but it was mindtwisting.

The more time has passed, the more I've wondered whether "James Shelby Downard" ever lived. Accounts about his life are sketchy at best, but that's to be expected given how reclusive and paranoid he was purported to have been. I can't find any documentation of his birth, but again it's always possible that he changed names, and he was born in an era when record keeping was shoddy anyway. Besides, no one is even sure where he was born. I find references to an obituary for him, but cannot locate the obituary itself.

I happened to run into Adam Parfrey once at a party we were both attending in Los Angeles, and I said flat out "Hey, man, was James Shelby Downard even real?" He just said "You know I'm amazed more people don't wonder about that" and changed the subject.

Downard, or whomever used that name, was mesmerizing. At its best, the prose reads like if William S Burroughs wrote The Golden Bough. I just have to wonder who really wrote the works of James Shelby Downard.

My own view has long been that it was probably a nom de plume for one or more writers with an interest in the esoteric but with no desire to have their name associated with such experimental and bizarre works. Maybe somebody else out there knows something, though. Secrets, for obvious reasons, are not easy to keep in the Conspiracy scene. Does anybody have any insight?

posted on Apr, 14 2009 @ 12:55 AM
Howdy peabody,
Downard is perhaps the most enigmatic figure in Con literature. I, too have pondered the existence of the man, but came to the conclusion that he did indeed exist and did in fact espouse the manifesto that made him a legend. As to whether he wrote "King/Kill 33" etc... in their entirety is another matter. It is known that the Fortean researcher Jim Brandon (aka William Grimstad) and Michael A. Hoffman II edited and re-wrote much of Downard's work in order to expand upon it and make it more palatable to readers. In fact Downards belief is first mentioned in Brandon's book, "Weird America" in 1978. Years before Adam Parfrey ever came onto the scene. While Michael A. Hoffman II was researching Masonry at this time, and had self published "Masonic Assassination" in 1978. His theories don't even come close to the mind-bending quality of Downard's work.

In the limited correspondence I have had with Hoffman, Downard really did exist and he, Grimstad and Hoffman were closely affiliated. Hoffman has also published "King/Kill 33" and "The Carnivals of Life and Death" through his own publishing house and the 'Downard Trust' is mentioned on the front page. Reading "Carnivals..." shows limited editing and the bulk of it seems to be written by someone with a rudimentary writing skill. Hoffman/Grimstad's edits are very obvious. If you have ever read any of Hoffman's work, you would know that the man is incapable of dumbing his writing down. The Feral House edition of "Carnivals..." is much more thoroughly re-written, although it is quite obvious that neither Hoffman nor Grimstad were responsible for the FH re-write. I assume there was some kind of falling out between Hoffman and Parfrey as Hoffman pursued his critiques of Judaism. Grimstad is also well known within Holocaust Revisionist circles.

Another avenue is to track down the extremely elusive "Sirius Rising" audio tapes that Grimstad recorded of himself and Downard discussing all things Downardian. These tapes (three 90 minute cassettes) are very hard to come by. Apparently Robert Anton WIlson was one of the first to avail himself of these tapes.

Another avenue would be to read Adam Gorightly's bio of Downard.

James Shelby Downards Mystical War

He is a review by Loren Coleman as well as some anecdotes of his experiences with Downardianism.

Synchromysticisms Godfather

As for Adam Parfrey, he is well aware of the many questions surrounding Downards existence. When FH had its forum there were a lot of posters asking those very same questions.

posted on Apr, 14 2009 @ 01:02 AM
reply to post by peabody

He has his own page in Wikipedia, he is real enough for me...

Google image results for his name is quite odd...


[edit on 14-4-2009 by pluckynoonez]

posted on Aug, 25 2010 @ 11:40 PM
reply to post by pluckynoonez

I compiled a large portion of that Wiki entry. Maybe I'm just another shill expounding the myth...

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