Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Documentary explores Toynbee Tiles mystery, presents theory of afterlife


In the days before the Internet, some introverted people found inventive ways to broadcast their messages. That point is made well by Jon Foy’s documentary “Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles”, in which Philadelphia-raised gumshoe Justin Duerr investigates the mystery of the mass volumes of tiles found in Philadelphia and other cities comprising a message about future resurrection of the dead.

Much of the film concerns solving the mystery of how the tiles (many now erased by street repaving) could have been placed, and documents how the individual used short-wave radio to get others to receive his message.  Of course, today he could have simply used blogging and social media.

Duerr talks about starting his investigation in the mid 90s, when the Internet was new, and actually going to a public library to use it to search for information on Toynbee tiles.

Duerr eventually identifies a “prime suspect”, James Marasco, a pseudonym for Severin Verna.  He also presents the connection to a short play, “4 AM” by David Mamet (link).

The actual message is hopeful enough, and seems to be inspired by the end of the MGM 1968 Stanley Kubrick film “2001: A Space Odyssey” (Oct. 4, 2009).  That is, that “molecules” or atoms (or “vibrations”, as Rosicrucians call them) hold the consciousness of a person that can be reassembled by science. Now, I rather think that this idea violates the laws of thermodynamics, which require new live to reverse entropy. But perhaps a soul’s “consciousness” is a permanent part of physics, somehow linked to matter and energy in a way that it cannot be destroyed.

Director Jon Foy also composed the music, and uses a “3/4” slow waltz theme with shifting harmonies (a four-note motive) to haul the viewer on the journey. 

The film (2011) is distributed by Focus Features and E-1 (UK), with major site here


It strikes me that an investigator could make a good indie film about Dan Fry, his organization "Understanding” in the 1970s (near Phoenix), and maybe even his book “To Men of Earth”, where he claims to have hosted an alien as a house guest.

I have a review of Paul Ziller’s “Solar Attack” on my “cf” blog Saturday September 8, 2012.

Wikipedia attribution link for Toynbee tiles picture. 

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