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toynbee tile

“the issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution.”


There are these tiles that someone glued to the asphault of major cities in the Americas, that is, North and South America.  I’m pretty sure they are mostly in the United States, but they have been documented all over the place.  They’ve been dubbed the “Toynbee Tiles” over time and there was a lot of mystery and conspiracy surrounding the maker or makers of these tiles for many years.  Supposedly all the way back in the eightie these tiles were showing up.  There was a message on the tiles, a seemingly nonsensical message referring to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Oddyssey.  The same message would show up on the majority of the tiles, but there would also be smaller messages surrounding the tile in smaller text.  These smaller messages often would go unnoticed by the average passers-by, but anyone who concentrated on the tiles would notice the fine print.  Many of the smaller messages seemed to deal with government and media conspiracies, which make the tiles even more intriguing, if you’re into that sort of thing.  On one of these tiles, in one of these smaller messages, it simply read; “kill all journalists. I beg you.”

The mystery surrounding these tiles had to do with their meaning, but more specifically, the lack of meaning.  It was an impossible mystery to solve or so it seemed.  John Foy, a movie director, made a documentary about these tiles.  The documentary follows three men who are borderline obsessed with figuring out the meaning behind these tiles.  The tiles themselves said “Toynbee idea in movie 2001 resurrect the dead on planet Jupiter.”  It refers to an idea that a historian named Arnold Toynbee had, which hypothesized that the dead molecules of everyone who ever died would be resurrected on the planet Jupiter and it happens to also be referred to in Kubrick’s famous film.  Despite the fact that most of the tile’s messages seem like the insane rants of a conspiracy nut, kill all journalists resonates with me.

Am I a journalist?  I started in hip hop, largely to gain attention, to give myself a voice in a world that I felt lost in.  I started in writing in order to give my whole generation a voice in a world where I’ve always felt that we are not ever heard.  I report on everything that I find interesting and my own opinions and theories are often intertwined in my own reporting, which the average journalist may consider bad etiquette.  My ideas are the fuel that keeps my writing going, just as there is a man who made these Toynbee Tiles, I am a man with ideas that I contribute to the world.  There is a person behind everything that exists in the physical world.  In one of the Toynbee tiles that has been documented, it say “I’m just one man.”  And the guys in the documentary do eventually find that it is, in fact, just one crazy guy putting these tiles down on the concrete all across the continent.  To me, after hearing a description of the tiler, I felt that he was probably very socially akward, an avid conspiracy theorist, a hermit and maybe a paranoid schizophrenic.  He obviously wanted his ideas to be heard by the world, but without him having to physically tell the world his ideas.  Every conspiracy theorist probably wishes that journalists would all just spontaneously and simultaneously combust.  They’re liars, but what are we?  What am I?

I drove around for months with a bumper sticker on the back of my car that read; “Don’t Believe The Liberal Media” in big bold letters with a red and white background.  Kill all the journalists, maybe it is just the ranting of a crazy person, but there would be a lot less misinformation if there were no journalists.  Ridding the world of the media would take away an outlet that is used by all major world powers to control and misinform the populous.  These days I can’t tell what is a lie and what is the truth and it seems as though it is as unsolvable a mystery as the identity of the Toynbee Tiles perpetrator.  The three men who followed the Toynbee mystery literally to it’s doorstep, were disappointed that when they knocked on that door, there was no answer.  The man, the one man who had inspired their quest for knowledge had turned out to be a shut-in and, though it was obvious he was at home, he would not answer the door.  They had answered the question of who, but there were more important questions like why.  Why Toynbee? Why Kubrick? Why Jupiter?  How is it that this theory, of all the insane and far fetched ideas that educated men have had throughout history, how could this be the one that stood out.  The resurrection of humans on the planet Jupiter.  It opens up an endless existencial search for information or meaning that has a roadblock right at the beginning.  They had a name and address and no answer at the door, and there would be no answer.

The man behind the tiles was obviously brilliant on some level, but many crazy people are brilliant.  In fact, it is their very brilliance and intelligence that causes their eventual break with reality.  For if you are intelligent and clear-minded enough to see the world for what it truly is, to stare reality in the face, this world will drive you insane.  A man’s search for meaning is never ending and those of us who are brilliant seem unable to let go of the fact that we may never find the meaning.  And that, in my humble opinion, is enough to drive any person out of their mind eventually.  Ignorance is truly bliss.

Part of my search for meaning has been to put my opinion out in the world for everyone to see it, whether they love it or hate it, it’s nearly impossible not to have seen it at least once.  Shameless promotion of ideas or an idea is how many people deal with reality and the world we all have to face every morning when we get out of bed.  The very thing which you tell all your friends is keeping you busy and keeping you from going crazy, is exactly the thing that is going to land you in the loony bin someday.  Accept it, because it’s true.  And right now if you are reading this and simultaneously thinking, “wow I totally know what he means,” you’re fucked just like the rest of the people who have a mind.  

So what was the meaning of these tiles?  Was it simply just to inform the world that one day all of us could possibly be brought back from the dead on Jupiter?  Science has proven that energy cannot be created nor destroyed, which means that when we die, our essence is still left over in this dimension.  Toynbee believed that if we could reconstruct that essence in exactly the same way it was put together while that person was still alive, then they would be alive once again.  Someone became so obsessed with this idea that it became a part of their life and of their pathology.  So much so that they felt it necessary to travel all around putting these tiles down in cross-walks, on freeway exit ramps and city sidewalks.  The journey that this idea inspired was so powerful that it began to cross over into the lives of other people that read the tiles and sent them on a journey of their own.  It’s impossible to know in advance what kind of effect one’s idea may have on people once those ideas have been unleashed on the world.  The holocaust, the civil rights movement, the Communist revolution and many other major events in history were originally inspired by an idea.  Ideas can be dangerous, but ideas can be the greatest thing that ever happened as well.  Ideas alter people’s lives and more importantly, ideas change the world and the course of our history.  Everybody has seen protesters wearing bandanas over their faces and those bandanas say “you can’t arrest an idea.”  And you truly cannot arrest an idea, once it is formed it cannot be stopped.  Even if the person who has the original idea dies, as long as there are people to carry on the legacy of their idea, then it will live on.

The revolution, the proverbial revolution, is just another idea that caught on.  The first man who ever saw political injustice or witnessed governments and leaders who had much too much power as well as the consequences that come along with those types of scenarios, there was a first person to see all those issues and decide that something different needed to be done.  The first man who thought of the first revolution in the history of the human race probably did not know what he was doing at the time.  He did not realize that his little idea would be refined and built upon by those who would later follow in his footsteps.  He had no idea how many revolutions there would be over the course of human history, but he knew it was time for a change.  It’s impossible to know who that man was and what revolution he created, but it is obvious the effect it has had on the history of mankind.  

But, unfortunately, the first time the revolution happened, it was in it’s purest form and now it has become convoluted.  The human race inevitably changes everything for the worse eventually, and ironically it is usually in the name of so-called progress.  Today’s revolution is not the same as the American Revolution or the French Revolution, though it is disguised as if it was the same.  The proletariat is no longer truly in control of the revolution and the control has fallen into the hands of community organizers and so-called activists.  The man who was behind the Toynbee Tiles was a true activist and a true revolutionary.  And his direct action, the way he was going to spread his message across the land was through these tiles.  But all these kids fighting “this terrible capitalist system” seem to be white kids, with a lot of time on their hands and very little knowledge of what they are actually fighting for.  It’s trendy to be a protester, so all these hipsters, punks, yuppies and trustafarians band together and go do nothing.  There is still a war in the Middle East, the wealth still sits with the one percent, the federal reserve still operates with impunity, the police seem to become more brutal everyday and the FBI has undercover agents at every major demonstration that takes place in the United States.  Community organizers, so-called activists and the liberal media are known to have gotten together and organized the supposedly spontaneous “Occupy Wall Street” movement.  And then they exploited unwitting protesters as well as college students and even paid some people to show up at demonstrations to make the movement seem larger.  And this is not the only documented incidence of different movements paying people to show up at their protests and events to give a better public appearance.  It seems to be a somewhat well known practice even.  

So who are we supposed to believe?  We can’t believe the politicians or the activists, the right nor the left.  We certainly know better than to believe the leaders of organized religions and Americans are very familiar with the corruption within most law enforcement agencies.  Often times, it seems to me, that nobody in the world tells the absolute truth about anything anymore and honesty is no longer valued in our society.  People know that the church lies, but they donate money every sunday at their respective church services.  People give money to political campaigns and environmental campaigns alike.  And we pay our taxes and watch the nightly news, which are the biggest scams of them all.  Everybody is being lied to on a daily basis and the worst thing is that we accept it.  The vast majority of the public is aware we are being lied to, are opposed to the policies and actions of the current administration and it seems that most people are very ready for a change of government.  So why is there no revolution taking place?  Because all of our leaders are liars, which includes the leaders of leftist political movements as well as rightist political movements.  These people would not know a true revolution if it walked up and punched them square in the face.  The revolution begins in the minds of the masses and our minds are being controlled by people who do not have our best interests in mind, but only their own personal agenda.  The revolution begins with the agenda and demand of the many and not the personal demands of one person or a few people.  The revolution will not be televised, because the real revolution will be opposed to the media, whether it’s the liberal media or the conservative media, the media needs the current system in order to operate the way they do.  And the revolution will most likely not be organized, but instead will be a spontaneous call to action spurred by some horrifying government action.  The revolution begins with the actions of people like the Toynbee Tiler, who defied the law and the rules of society in order to spread what he considered to be a very important message.  The revolution begins with those of us who can read between the lines and who believe none of what they hear and only half of what they see.  Don’t believe the lies told by so-called “great” men and women of our time, because anything that you see widely publicized these days is also being controlled and spoon fed to the general public for a specific purpose.  Go underground, go off the grid and seek out the truth.  If enough people genuinely do this, then the revolution may finally begin.


-Sal Paradise


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