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Deliberate irrationality, the rejection of the prevailing standards in art, media, politics, religion and the world in general, disillusionment, cynicism, nonsense, chance and randomness characterize both Dada and Discordianism. The Dada movement was a protest against the barbarism of World War I, the bourgeois interests Dada adherents believed inspired the war, and what they believed was an oppressive intellectual rigidity in both art and everyday society. The movement influenced later styles, movements and groups including surrealism, Fluxus and to an extent Discordianism itself.

Those who participated in Dada were attracted to a nihilistic point of view (nothing achieved by mankind was worthwhile, not even art), and created art in which chance and randomness formed the basis of creation. Discordianism has been described as a Dadaist religion. This is not entirely true. As previously stated, Dada has a significant nihilistic current; Discordianism, while anarchistic, does not. Much of the similarity appears to be in artistic (or anti-artistic) expression. The use of paste ups and random images, rubber stamps and simplistic black and white line drawings as part of the work and ideal.

Discordianism is a modern, chaos-based religion said to be founded in either 1958 or 1959 by Malaclypse The Younger (Greg Hill) and Lord Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst (Kerry Thornley). It has been described as both an elaborate joke disguised as a religion and a religion disguised as an elaborate joke. Some of its followers make the claim that it is "a religion disguised as a joke disguised as a religion." It can be viewed as a simple rejection of reductionism and dualism, even falsifiability — not in concept different from postmodernism or certain trends in the philosophy of mathematics. It has also been described as "Zen for roundeyes," and converges with some of the more absurdist interpretations of the Rinzai school.

According to its proponents, Dada was not art — it was anti-art. For everything that art stood for, Dada was to represent the opposite. Where art was concerned with aesthetics, Dada ignored aesthetics. If art was to have at least an implicit or latent message, Dada strove to have no meaning — as with Discordianism, interpretation is dependent entirely on the viewer. If art is to appeal to sensibilities, Dada is to offend. It is perhaps then ironic that Dada became an influential movement in modern art. Dada became a commentary on art and the world, thus became art itself. Dada was a way to express the confusion felt by many people as their world turned upside down by World War I. There was not an attempt to find meaning in disorder, but rather to accept disorder as the nature of the world, using it as a means to express their distaste for the aesthetics of the previous order and carnage they believed it reaped.

Discordianism has been said by some to be an anti-religion, a dialectic antithesis to more popular religions based on order, although the rhetoric throughout the Principia Discordia describes chaos as a much more underlying impulse of the universe. This may have been done with the intention of merely "balancing out" the creative forces of order and disorder. Although most religions revere the principles of harmony and order in the Universe, Discordianism can be interpreted as a recognition that disharmony and chaos are equally valid aspects of reality. While Dadaists, through rejection of traditional culture and aesthetics, hoped to destroy traditional culture and aesthetics, Discordianisms focus, while certainly on the more disorderly aspects of the world and the rejection of order in favour of disorder, is on the recognition that both order and disorder exist, and are an essential part of the whole, that is, chaos. Order is not to be wholly obliterated by disorder, merely balanced. Order and disorder are two sides of same coin, the coin being chaos.

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