Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Humanity's Curriculum

Ever since its founding, Toli University has been home to a wide curriculum that explores humanity's bite sized triumphs and sundry failings. This toli monger has always aimed to deliver a dynamic conversation on education. Herewith a sampling from our course catalog

Guide to the CatalogHumanity's CurriculumCourse CatalogPlaylist

Guide to the Catalog

You might encounter whiplash
   when you embark on some of these courses.
This is as intended,
   our rigorous emphasis on minutiae and absurdity will trouble the soul.
Indeed, you may feel that some of these classes are incorrectly classified at first glance.
Rest assured that this folksonomie
   has been tested with thousands of students.
We guarantee perplexion
   and, of course, satisfaction if you stick with the curriculum.

Music is an integral part of our method,
You will often find a playlist that comments on,
Or advances the core texts that we study.
Some of our instructors even lead with the playlist
As part of their immersive pedagogy.
It lubricates the slices of life and leavens the hatchet jobs.
If all else fails, we suggest you listen to the playlist.
Shuffle serendipity has been known to impart peace of mind
And palliative relief to the modern condition of mankind.

We have found that a comfortable unease is best for a proper education.
Off kilter, dislocation sharpens the edges of the cultural memory knife.
Do feel free to sample the other offerings in our catalog of delights
They are often only one click away, a stone’s throw
No finger is equal, as the old saying goes.

Humanity's Curriculum

Humanity knows no boundaries, goes the Akan proverb
This is the season of migration to the land of concern
We mine the uncertain terrain of the torrid zone
Secure in the knowledge that no one stands alone
Probing the outer reaches of the liminal landscape during the journey
Always traveling light, this modern traveler, with bags at the ready

An exiled soul, a searcher in pursuit of word fugitives
Scribbling furiously, and engaged in crafting narratives
A mandate to challenge perceptions, and devise new grace notes
Social interplay and cultural observations are the favored antidotes
Established early, I staked my claim and purpose as chief toli monger
Charged by the muse to write further chapters for the books of Nima

Internally displaced, the ellipses and omissions are also necessary
The gaps have meaning, as all blind spots do, and add to the commentary
In this way, the skeptic's credo applies to the normalcy project
And draws a light on what we choose to remember and to forget
While I refine continuously, I pay my soul insurance premium
The course catalog: my jaundiced take on humanity's curriculum

equality rosewood park

Course Catalog

Earth Sciences and Biology

Social Studies and Etiquette

Law and History

Home Sciences



Government and Communication

Business and Marketing


Design, Aesthetics and Material Culture

Political Science


Rogues, Gremlins, and Parasites



lift your voice rosewood park

Operations Research and Game Theory


Social Anthropology

The Culture of Technology


Geography of the Mind

Modern Travelers


Nostalgia Studies and Culinary Cultures



Catastrophe Studies

African Studies

Labor, Capital and Office Civilizations

Grief Studies


Sensory Processing



Humanity's Curriculum, a playlist

A soundtrack for this note. Registration in now open. (spotify version) ...

Timing is everything
Observers are worried

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Writing log. Concept: February 28, 2021; April 14, 2021

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Goody Two Shoes

People who use the word stakeholders with serious intent
Said with a raised, furrowed brow of discernment

People who want to be there for you, to be your ally
And look, for all intents and purposes, as if they're about to cry

People who want to step out of their comfort zone
Who want you to know that you don't face this struggle alone

People who live to create that shared, teachable moment
Who need us to stand together, and face the challenge of the present

People who could never feel your pain,
   and are scared to transgress boundaries
Who recognize the terrible legacy,
   and those matters of historical iniquities

People who want to atone for the system's structural inequality
Who seek to address important matters of diversity and justice

People more liberal than thou, more ethical than thou
Who are more caring, more thoughtful than thou

People who are empathy personified
Who point to all the common ground you share

People who are similarly, if not more, outraged
Who are deeply concerned by the situation, and, above all, who care


I'm tired. Sometimes it's best to keep mum.

I see you. Sometimes it pays to just listen.

I hear you. You don't need to relieve your anxiety for my benefit, nor indeed for yours.

I'm tired. I can hardly summon up the energy to don the mask of concern.

I'm tired. The mask of civility I wear already weighs a ton.

This country will chew you up, drop you for nothing, we both know this.

Today's atrocity joins a long line of rank murder and injustice.

I'm tired. As you can see, my skin is no protection.

I'm tired. Rather it's the reverse, an oft fatal affliction.

I'm tired. And remember, my children have to walk in these same frayed shoes.

My friend, give me a minute, bear with me, Goody Two Shoes.

Just one moment, a little space. Please. Just a few minutes for mourning.

I'm tired. Internally displaced. It really doesn't bear contemplating.

relief by kristin willits

After the killing of Daunte Wright.

Tired, a playlist

A soundtrack for this note. Musical relief of sorts. (spotify version) ...

Timing is everything
Observers are worried

See previously: Defensive Accounting

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Writing log: April 13, 2021

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Such Is My Asylum

Wordplay as balm for disgust
Language as defense mechanism
Wit as refuge from despair
Poetry as exorcism

hutton-mills green huts 1998

Poetry, A Playlist

A soundtrack for this note. (spotify version)


The book is done.

This note concludes a second collection of toli, mostly poems written with furious intent over six weeks early last year. Hopefully it will escape hypertext into physical form sometime soon.

I call it Internal Displacement.


Timing is everything
Observers are worried

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Tuesday, April 05, 2022

The Torrid Zone

Journey with me to a far region of the mind
Ponder the daily reality lived by so much of mankind
There's no escape from these ongoing acts of violence
This disturbing tranquility we face, the rest is silence

Certainties were turned to dust, we learned, back there yonder
The quiet revolutions that were launched so quickly foundered
Despite the debts foretold, many enjoined in mindless speculation
With the inevitable result: functional defenestration

They were early to despair, those who keenly felt the weight of ideas
Swiftly disabused of the notion that the burden of loss would be shared
Justice was a mere concept, a quintessential abstraction
And freedom was a feint, a rhetorical misdirection

The suggestion was displacement to the heart of darkness
Secrets and lies, the new formula, method to the madness
Secret lives, newfangled norms, and forbidden encounters
Artful omissions, ellipses, the purposeful restraint of actors

Things fell apart as we entered the new normalcy
Of pulp fictions and the B-movie theory
We did well to wear our masks of civility
Even as our underlying emotion was incredulity

These were strange days full of chaos and disorder
Rituals from time immemorial upended in short order
The lunchtime heists of fond traditions would cause unbounded loss
Remember: the dark matter of communities lies in the least of us

Strange bedfellows, with impunity, were wont to make the road fearful
Their grim militias were unleashed, while their leaders stayed cheerful
Without restraint, they shattered all records in due course
The question remains: what paradise have we lost?

Useful idiots arrived on the scene with their wishful thinking
Causing confusion with their cacophony of prevarication
Meanwhile the codes of martial music were playing a grim drumbeat
As the tanks and the khaki men made their way into our streets

Whether to engage in the battle, ultimately, the choice is yours
Be mindful of a shadow's burden and the spirit's rhythm of loss
To survive the shell game of life, hew closely to the skeptic's credo
The alternative is to sing the inflation calypso and dance the corruption tango

Observers were worried about all this as you must understand
For absolutely everything turned out to be written in sand
But the muse wills what she wants, you made to follow her demands
All the while singing the old spiritual, the creator has a master plan

The indignity of the great game, soul insurance proved to be a fiction
The normalcy prohibition you faced informed the great longing
Your tribe was denied relief in practice,
   and even in their hypertext dreams
The great historian was mistaken about the end of the age of extremes

The cowboy boots of the colossus stood astride the dark continent
The scramble for black gold and trinkets
  destined to adorn the crown jewels
What was manifest was that
  there would be neither truth nor reconciliation
There was no forgiveness and love in this land,
   there were only resource actions

The elephants fought to standstill, it was a split decision
They decided on rewriting the script to resolve the contradiction
Things would be better for them if we got on with forgetting
Far better than reparations, they disdained the act of forgiving

It was your duty of care,
  you turned to social living to get out of the mess
Mindful as you were of the mosquito principle,
   you were determined to bear witness
The interplay of the conflicted legacies of men
  resounds throughout history
What we choose to remember and forget
   is the essence of cultural memory

For want of a bolt, you had close encounters with collateral damage
Where others feared to tread for fear of the noble savages
It was an obstruction of justice, there was no easy way to assign blame
Detached as you were from a land that had herd immunity to shame

You were left to learn by bitter experience the laws of grief
The writing was on the wall, no one was coming to give you relief
Unable to salve the wound, you would face the challenge on your own
Stranded as you were, the Gods bade you welcome to the torrid zone

Africke hath ewer beene the least knowen and haunted parte in the world, chiefly by reason of the situation thereof under the torride Zone; which the ancients thought to be unhabitable. Whose opinion, although in verie deede it is not true, bicause we knowe that betweene the two Tropickes there are most fruitefull countries.

— John Pory, 1600.

In his translation of A geographical historie of Africa by Leo Africanus
Yinka Shonibare MBE at Brooklyn Museum

Soundtrack for this note

Mountain of When by Amel Larrieux


Timing is everything
Observers are worried

This internal displacement is part of a series: In a covidious time.

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Writing log: March 30, 2021

Saturday, April 02, 2022

The Conqueror's Catechism (Part 6 The Heavy Mantle)

Part 6 of The Conqueror's Catechism (see previously)

VI. The Heavy Mantle

And for the putative opposition, the remedy is character assassination
At first. And then, if necessary, one can proceed to physical liquidation
A penchant for frequent reorganization to keep competitors on their toes
Call them sellouts and traitors, it's not really a trial, it's a show

All is left to the man of the people
   who wears the heavy mantle of populism
And accuses all others as petty bourgeois refuseniks, prone to vandalism
Shirtless perhaps, or with his sleeves stylishly rolled up,
   behold a man of action
Servant of the downtrodden and the common man,
   enamored of mass mobilization

Regimes, for their continued survival,
   require some amount of indoctrination
A few true believers will argue the total sagacity, the rhetoric of delusion
Chairman Mao had his Red book,
   Lenin had What Is To Be Done at the outset
Even Stalin, no wordsmith he, had his impenetrable doctrinal texts

Hitler, though, had a way with the furious speech,
   and even the dismal pen
No wonder Prince sang of 1999,
   we all needed the twentieth century to end
There is only a matter of degree between the rogue authoritarian
And the pinnacle of infamy in human history, the totalitarian

A roll call of emperors, dictators, and plain vandals have come and gone
Ask yourself where your present tormentors would stand in the pantheon
The enduring legacies of conquerors are often promoted
Indeed, the massive genetic imprint has long been noted
Of the famed Mongol emperors, scions of Genghis Khan
Awesome, none dared called them to their face barbarian
For fear of the dire repercussions of that insult
Nay, the great leader deserves a personality cult

Modernity imposes a triage
   on those who might reach the upper echelon
Dwindling numbers attend the closing ceremony
   of an era hopefully bygone
Of fierce warriors, even female like Boudica,
   or more like Attila the Hun
Nay, the Ming Dynasty is so called
  for being the last to rule over the Han

Los Conquistadores, El Supremo, with the martial outlook,
If all goes well, you can be known as He of the Little Green Book
In time, you can print the pamphlets
   to be shared of your empty aphorisms
I'll simply suggest the title, Dear Reader,
  The Conqueror's Catechism

talking drums 1984-06-25 why Ghana is not stable - Nigerian journalist's trial Rotimi

Conqueror's Catechism, a playist

A soundtrack for this note bookended by the cool ruler himself, Gregory Isaacs, and heavy on the reggae angle of things. (spotify version)

The Conqueror's Catechism

A few articles of faith
  1. To Loot Without End
  2. Droit de Seigneur
  3. The Dictator Dictates
  4. An Iron Fist
  5. The Ruler's Rules
  6. The Heavy Mantle
This piece went far beyond a haiku to become positively Talmudic in scope, hence the experiment in splitting it and dispensing over a week. Or you can wait for the book to put it all together... Do let me know how it went down.

I nominate this internal displacement for the Things Fall Apart series under the banner of Fallen Angels.

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Writing log: Concept: May 1, 2006; April 6, 2021