High Strangeness: Crying UFO Tears

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Crying UFO Tears

I'm likely to be away from the keyboard quite a bit for the next several days dealing with family matters, but I do want to share something that happened this week that really delighted me.

This guy was anything but ordinary... just like you and me.
I have written in the past about Jennie Zeidman, who worked closely with Dr. J. Allen Hynek for many years, first as a student assistant and ultimately as a respected, accomplished UFO investigator. Zeidman took an astronomy class taught by Hynek in the early 1950s, and quickly distinguished herself by identifying a UFO seen by the class as a military plane conducting an aerial refueling operation. After that, Zeidman spent years working with Hynek on his Project Blue Book investigations and continued to work with him post Blue Book. She was Hynek's colleague, protege and friend, and she was one of the most fun people to write about it The Close Encounters Man.

Here's what Jennie wrote to me this week:
Dear Mark,
I have just finished my second reading of TCEM and for the second time have found myself in tears.  You have told Allen's story.
                     I was abruptly shaken at both readings upon encountering the italics section on page 343.  Is the referenced document in Allen's very distinctive handwriting?  I remember with great clarity having this conversation with him.  We were discussing the recent film Lawrence of Arabia (Peter O'Toole, 1962) and specifically the emphasis on Lawrence's character; his fragility, his protest-too-much insecurity, and his insistence that he was just an ordinary man.
                      "Lawrence surely did not think of himself as an ordinary man," I said.  "There is no such thing as an ordinary man."
                        Allen picked up his pen (blue ink) and made some notes.  We agreed that the terror of recognizing one's own existence is itself terrifying.
                         "Well, would you rather be a cow in a field?" Allen said.
                    He scribbled a few lines and we moved on to other matters.
This note made my day, my week, my month. Knowing that my book has brought one of Hynek's closest friends to tears... not once, but twice... is deeply gratifying.

That passage Jennie mentions from page 343 of my book is particularly interesting to me. It's a rumination on man's place in the universe that I found in Hynek's files at his Center for UFO Studies. I found it hand-written but untitled and undated, so I had no way of knowing where it came from or what motivated and inspired it.

Now I know, and Jennie's story behind the quote is just as fascinating and inspiring to me as the quote itself.


1 comment:

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