Izabella Kaminska explains how QAnon stems from the worlds of online gaming and Playboy magazine.
The FT had invited Adam Curtis, the cult BBC documentary maker, to a one-off experimental stage show. He told the story of Operation Mindfuck, which he explained had been devised by two counter-culture radicals in the 1960s. Both were practitioners of something called discordianism, a sort of parody religion centred on the worship of the goddess of chaos, Eris.
One of them, Kerry Thornley, wanted to understand how malleable reality really was. He did so by starting a conspiracy of his own in the letters pages of Playboy magazine. Anonymously. The letter asked if a single secret society, the Illuminati, was really behind all the political assassinations in the world. Kerry Thornley felt this was a crazy idea that nobody would ever believe. Except that over time, strange coincidences, often involving the government, kept happening to him. These eventually made him believe his own conspiracy, prompting a huge amount of self-doubt, to the point he no longer knew what was real or not.
Adam Curtis links that to the emergence of the Dual State theory at the heart of QAnon.
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