Friday, December 18, 2009

Close Encounters of Fourth Kind Author Dies

The death of author C. D. B. Bryan, 73, who wrote his last book about an academic symposium that examined claims of alien visitations, Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind: Alien Abductions, UFOs and the Conference at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (NY: Alfred A. Knopf,1995), has been detailed in an obituary by Bruce Weber at The New York Times.

C. D. B. Bryan, a novelist and journalist whose 1976 book, "Friendly Fire," about the accidental death of a soldier in Vietnam, the consequent anguish of his family and their rage at the Army and the federal government, became one of the enduring works of reportage on the Vietnam War, died Tuesday [December 15, 2009] at home in Guilford, Conn....The cause was cancer, said his son, St. George Bryan.

Bryan's own military career involved serving in the U.S. Army in South Korea (1958–1960), but not happily, according to source material. He was mobilized again (1961–1962) for the Berlin Crisis of 1961. He was an intelligence officer, according to his profile at Wikipedia.

Bruce Weber notes later in the Times obituary:

Courtlandt Dixon Barnes Bryan, known as Courty, was born in Manhattan on April 22, 1936, and grew up in various locations, but mostly in Doylestown, Pa. His father, Joseph Bryan III, was a magazine writer and editor who had a fascination with unidentified flying objects, a subject C. D. B. Bryan would explore himself in his final book....

His father was a major actor in the study of UFOs, actually, especially regarding his role in the relatively mainstream workings of the Washington D. C.-based organization, the National Investigations Committee On Aerial Phenomena.

[Donald Keyhoe, Maj USMC (Ret.)]became NICAP’s director. He established a monthly newsletter, The U.F.O. Investigator. Another prominent figure joined NICAP’s board of governors: Keyhoe's Naval Academy classmate VADM Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, USN (Ret.) He had been Director of Central Intelligence and first head of the Central Intelligence Agency. Another important name on the letterhead was that of Gen. Albert Coady Wedemeyer USA (Ret.)....

By 1969, Keyhoe turned his focus away from the military and focused on the CIA as the source of the UFO cover up. By December 1969, NICAP's board, headed by Colonel Joseph Bryan III, forced Keyhoe to retire as NICAP chief. Bryan was actually a former covert CIA agent who had served as founder and head of the CIA's psychological warfare division. Under Bryan's leadership, NICAP disbanded its local and state affiliate groups. Source

The New York Times concludes with the following personal information:

His parents divorced when he was in his late teens, and his mother, Katharine Lansing Barnes, married the novelist John O'Hara, who was especially influential in turning the young man toward writing fiction.

Young Courty Bryan was educated at several private schools and was thrown out of two of them, one for cheating, an incident central to an early short story, "So Much Unfairness of Things," which appeared in The New Yorker and grew into his first novel, "P.S. Wilkinson." It won the Harper Prize, given by the publisher Harper & Row to the finest manuscript turned in by an unknown writer, in 1965.

In spite of his spotty academic career, he was admitted to Yale. After graduation he served in the Army in South Korea in the late 1950s, an unhappy episode that also found its way into the novel.

* * *

Mr. Bryan was a smoker, a drinker and an avid and gifted conversationalist who effortlessly commanded the attention of people around a dinner table, his son said. He will be cremated in advance of a memorial service early next year, St. George Bryan added; until then, his remains are to be stored in martini shakers.Source.

The Fourth Kind

zamora5 tag

It is to be noted that the movie The Fourth Kind opened on Friday, November 6, 2009. It is a science fiction/thriller/horror film directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi, and starring Milla Jovovich. The film is purported to be a documentary reenactment set in Nome, Alaska, and deals with alien abductions. The film's promotional material says the title is derived from J. Allen Hynek's classification of close encounters with aliens, in which the fourth kind denotes an alien abduction.

As researcher S. Miles Lewis points out in personal correspondence, this is technically incorrect.

A close encounter of the fourth kind is said to be when a "human is abducted by a UFO or its occupants." But this type was not included in Hynek's original close encounters scale.

Jacques Vallee, Hynek's associate, argued in "Physical Analysis in Ten Cases of Unexplaind Aerial Objects with Material Samples." (Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 12, No. 3., pp. 359-375, 1998) that a CE4 should be described as "cases when witnesses experienced a transformation of their sense of reality," so as to also include non-abduction cases where absurd, hallucinatory or dreamlike events are associated with UFO encounters.

Lonnie Zamora, famed historical UFO eyewitness who was a member of law enforcement when he had his experience, also recently died, on November 2, 2009. Zamora had encounters of the first, second, and third kind, but not the fourth kind.

C. D. B. Bryan's book, Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind, actually does involve the academic analyses of those level of claims of alien visitations. The five-day conference that Bryan covered was chaired by M.I.T. Professor of Physics David Pritchard and Harvard Professor of Psychiatry John Mack. John Mack, M.D. (who was killed when hit by a car in London, on September 27, 2004) was a historically significant figure in abduction studies, who gave much credibility to the field, especially after Bryan's book appeared.


Therese said...

It was disconcerting to read the details about the death of John Mack. According to the link, he was run over by a car, when on his way to a function sponsored by the T.E. Lawrence society. Lawrence himself died after being struck by a vehicle, in an accident many consider to be suspicious, and Lawrence's whole career was full of Fortean overtones.

Sam G said...

C. D. B. Bryan's book "Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind" is a great book...very sad to hear of his passing. Also Met Mr. Zamora when I was 9 years old. Great guy as well.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear of the passing of Mr. Bryan. I had contacted him personally seeking background information when I was writing my book about the alien agenda, "Warning," by Art Greenfield. The information he provided was invaluable in filling in parts of the big picture.
Art Greenfield

Greg Bishop said...

I actually pointed out the gaffe in the hype for the 4th Kind movie in a post on September 30th at ufomystic in which I lambasted the film I hadn't seen (and likely don't plan to):

"The online trailer states 'In 1972, a scale of measurement was established for alien encounters. The first kind: Sighting. The second kind: Evidence. The third kind: Contact. The fourth kind: Abduction.'

Wait a minute. Number four was added in the late 1980s by abduction researchers."

Anonymous said...

Your review did him justice.

John Ludi said...

Godspeed to him. That was an excellent book...I read it probably about 6 years ago and was greatly impressed by it. It's rare that someone outside the abduction research community writes so objectively and evenhandedly about the subject.