Reshuffling the epigrammatic phrases of Eno/Schmidt's Oblique Strategies into Grotesque Tables

Oblique Strategies (Over One Hundred Worthwhile Dilemmas), released in 1975 by Brian Eno and the late British multimedia artist Peter Schmidt, is a deck of 100+ cards with evocative statements designed for musicians, artists, and others who find their creative imaginations stuck in a ditch. The minimal, modern black and white cards, housed in an equally stark black box, present strange and evocative statements and directives that the querant agrees to follow and allow to inform the current phase of his or her work. Here, let me draw a couple of cards. I got: "Tidy up," "When is it for?," "Give way to your worst impulse," and "Look at the order in which you do things."

If you need any testament to the efficacy of these cards, they were used in the studio to aid in the composition and engineering of tracks on Eno's Another Green World and Before and After Science, Bowie's Berlin-period records (Low, "Heroes," Lodger), and again on Bowie's 1995 record, Outside (among many other records).

I fell in love with Oblique Strategies when I fell in love with all of the above records that were created with its assistance. Oblique Strategies was one of the first apps I installed on my first iPhone (and have had on every phone since). When I heard, in the early aughts, that the long out-of-print deck was back in print, I jumped at the chance to finally own a physical copy. In my world of hoodoo and woo-woo, oracular cards should be physical. Read the rest

3-year-old scrawls on furniture cushions, mom embroiders them

Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like an Artist, reported that his young son drew stick figures on some couch cushions. His wife cleverly dealt with the issue by embroidering the marker art.

It reminds me of the Oblique Strategy: “Honor thy error as a hidden intention.”

Or Bob Ross: “We don’t make mistakes, we have happy accidents.”

Read the rest

Messy: a celebration of improvisation and disorder as the keys to creativity, play, and work

Tim Harford's Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives plays to Harford's prodigious strengths: the ability to tell engrossing human stories, and the ability to use those stories to convey complex, statistical ideas that make your life better.