Forty-eight years ago, JFK was assassinated in Dallas. In that moment, endless conspiracies were born, and each one was a sure possibility if people were able to make the right connections. In Errol Morris's The Umbrella Man, Josiah Thompson (author of Six Seconds in Dallas) talks about a mysterious person inexplicably holding an open umbrella as the JFK motorcade passed. It was a beautiful day out, so clearly something was amiss... or was it?
Made as an Op-Doc for The New York Times, the six-minute film is a fascinating look at how little details that seem out of place take on sinister significance. And yet in the end, the truth is often stranger and far less logical than the conspiracy. There's a line in Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 that sums up the idea of grand conspiracy vs. mere coincidence: "Behind the hieroglyphic streets there would either be a transcendent meaning, or only the earth."
Or, sometimes a man with an open umbrella is just a man with an open umbrella.
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