Let me tell you how it all came about. Yesterday, accompanied by my wife Mxxxxx, I drove to Kalamazoo. Michigan to explore the J. Allen Hynek files of the great UFO historian and blogger Michael Swords. Michael is the de facto head of the UFO Council of Elders about whom I have written before.
When we arrived at his cozy home, Michael was in the midst of writing a new post for his exceedingly entertaining blog, The Big Study, about "pookahs," or ghost dogs. It's a very fun read, as always. The guy is curious about and fascinated by everything, not just UFOs, and he has files and books on everything... So while my wife settled into Michael's library looking at his many books on Poltergiests and haunted houses, I went to work scanning Michael's files with my nifty new scan wand, purchased specifically for the day's mission.
Four hours and about 500 scanned pages later, Mxxxxx and I were chatting with Michael about his work as an educator and researcher, and the man just amazed us repeatedly... We talked about visiting mystical sites in Ireland and Michael had been to them all. We talked about John Keel and "The Mothman Prophecies" and Michael produced a huge binder full of clippings and stories about Mothman, Thunderbirds, and other mysterious winged creatures.We talked about Dr. Morris K. Jessup and the strange case of his annotated UFO book and....
Wait, you don't know the story of Dr. Jessup and the annotated UFO book? My God, it's one of my favorite weird tales of all time...
|The wigged-out book that started it all.|
In 1955, Jessup wrote a book called "The Case for the UFO," in which he tried to establish that UFOs are a real phenomenon and then went about explaining many of the world's great mysteries throughout history as manifestations of the same phenomenon. In the normal course of the events, Jessup would have sold a few thousand copies to "true believers" and then probably faded into obscurity. But the normal course of events never seems to unfold where UFOs are concerned, and Jessup's case was no exception.
Two years after his book came out, a copy of the manuscript was delivered to the U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Research in Washington, D.C. It was wrapped in paper and labelled, "Happy Easter." The margins of the manuscript were filled with notes written in three different hands (or claws, or talons), all apparently alien beings commenting on, and sometimes arguing over, Jessup's wild conclusions. The aliens came to be identified as "Jemi," "Mr. A" and "Mr. B." The essence of their notations was that Jessup was dangerously close to divining their true nature and plans for earth and warning that something needed to be done. Two years later, Jessup was found dead of an apparent suicide.
At the Navy's behest, a publishing company called VARO published a small quantity of annotated manuscripts for official use, and, lo and behold, Michael is in possession of one of those rare copies... And he let me look through it.
You can't imagine what it felt like to thumb through those pages. This manuscript is quite possibly the most significant and valuable artifact in the history of UFOlogy, and I was holding it in my hands and looking through it.... Simply amazing.
In the short time I had to page through the gigantic manuscript, a couple things jumped out at me: 1) Dr. Jessup, like Michael Swords, was curious about everything... His book is an amazing work of investigation and speculation; it would demand a great deal of patience to absorb it all, but the end result would be well worth the effort. 2) These aliens who wrote in the margins of Jessup's book were hilarious! Their notes are, in turns, sarcastic, profane, unintelligible, profound, backbiting, and completely wigged out. And they make it clear that there are different types of aliens, and they don't always hold each other in very high regard...
One passage in particular caused me to lose my fear of aliens forever, and I share it with you now. In one chapter, Jessup spends some time talking about UFO incidents at sea, and recounts some stories where entire ships' crews vanished into thin air, saying:
"To attempt to postulate motive for space inhabitants kidnapping crews from ships--not to mention isolated individuals to which we shall come momentarily--is in the realm of pure speculation. On the other hand, bearing our two possibilities in mind as to the origin of space contrivances, in either case our space friends would want to know what has happened to us since they left, or what has happened to us since they put us down here. Again, there is always the possibility that the open seas provide an easy catching place."After which "Mr. B" writes:
"Ought to, the Sea is the Natural home of the Little bastards. The little pricks come-aboard at nite and go Wandering about the Decks, Scares the Crews but No Crew Man meeting one, ever says so, Just quits drinking."Not exactly sinister, is it? I just stared at this passage for a long time, then started laughing, then read it aloud to my wife and to Michael. "Little pricks?" This is what aliens call each other when humans aren't around?
My head is still spinning... From holding that amazing book in my hands and seeing it with my own eyes, and from the realization that this whole UFO thing could just be one massive cosmic practical joke on us humans...