3 weeks ago I had the pleasure of joining an online roundtable with Paul Hynek, the son of legendary researcher and astronomer J. Allen Hynek. The event was organized by Adam Sayne and Serfiel for their Conspirinormal podcast, and Dave Altman was also invited.
The conversation centered –obviously– on the work of Paul’s illustrious progenitor and the way he was portrayed in the (now defunct) TV series Project Blue Book, in which Paul acted as consultant; but we also talked about other surprising topics, like Paul’s involvement in the visual effects industry –he told us his brother Joel was responsible for inventing the iconic bullet-time effect used in The Matrix, which is awesome (duh)– and also how he once participated in a medical trial which (according to him) managed to rejuvenate his thyme gland.
The readings of Mark O’Connell The Close Encounters Man and Jacques Vallee’s Forbidden Science public journals have given me a new and profound respect for the figure of Dr. Hynek. I mentioned Paul how Vallee recounts the many deep conversations he had with his friend and mentor in which they discussed many controversial topics, aside from just UFOs, which gives the clear impression on how they considered themselves to be a sort of modern Rosicrucians; something Paul seems to be in full agreement with.
Rosicrucianism, for those who may be unfamiliar with it, was the name of an alleged secret society devoted to the study of metaphysical subjects and scientific experimentation in the XVIIth and XVIIIth century, at a time when the Church and State authorities exerted a lot of censorship against anything that threatened to go against established dogma, and many ‘natural philosophers’ (proto-scientists) had to conduct his experiments in secret. While many historians agree that the Rosicrucians were probably a hoax, the idea of a secret brotherhood of scholars possessing great arcane knowledge inspired a lot of real-life philosophers and intellectuals; like Francis Bacon, who wrote The New Atlantis –which greatly influenced Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers of the United States– and he also influenced the creation of the Royal Society, the first modern scientific institution. So here we have an example of how a fiction ended up having a real impact in the world –and a positive one for a change, unlike QAnon…
Dr. Hynek must have also felt a great affinity with those early precursors of modern science, which had to hide themselves from the scorn and persecution of the Status Quo; which is why he named his group of colleagues who gathered in private to discuss UFO cases The Invisible College –a term which was first mentioned in an anonymous Rosicrucian pamphlet. Vallee also borrowed the term for the title of one of his books –a must read, like everything penned by him.
So here’s the link to the podcast episode. I hope you enjoy it 🙂