This short Errol Morris film really caught my eye today. It features Josiah Thompson, the originator of one of the early Kennedy Assassination conspiracies retelling how the story unfolded. Thompson states it boldly, “If you put any event under a microscope, you will find a whole dimension of completely weird, incredible things going on.”
It strikes me how true the sentiment of the film is regarding the way the mind focuses on detail, on ephemera, and brings it to life by actively searching for corollary evidence. It’s such a natural thing for us to zoom in on the one thing we find objectionable, exciting, aberrant, or affirming and take it as far as we can. The comment section on this youtube video is a treasure trove of people criticizing this statement, which, taken at face value, is pretty hard to argue with.
But the point of the film extends way beyond the Kennedy Assassination. It’s simply an observation of how humans tend to allow our minds to dictate our realities without regard for …well, reality. The only real defense against this lies in accepting it and acknowledging it.
Thompson views “The Umbrella Man” as a cautionary tale. I’m inclined to agree with him.