Behold the Original Deck of Oblique Strategies Cards, Handwritten by Brian Eno Himself

“Hon­or thy error as a hid­den inten­tion.” “Work at a dif­fer­ent speed.” “Try fak­ing it!” These sug­ges­tions will sound famil­iar to every­one who’s ever flipped through the deck of cards known as Oblique Strate­gies. You can now do that dig­i­tal­ly, of course, but Oblique Strate­gies remains an essen­tial­ly phys­i­cal expe­ri­ence, one whose shuf­fling and draw­ing reminds the user that they’re draw­ing from the well of chance for a way to break them through a cre­ative impasse or just rethink part of a project. It also began as thor­ough­ly a phys­i­cal expe­ri­ence, invent­ed by pro­duc­er-artist-ambi­ent musi­cian Bri­an Eno and painter Peter Schmidt, who first came up with them in the pre-dig­i­tal days of 1974.

Back then, writes Dan­ger­ous Minds’ Mar­tin Schnei­der, the con­cept for Eno and Schmidt’s “set of 115 cards with ellip­ti­cal imper­a­tives designed to spark in the user cre­ative con­nec­tions unob­tain­able through reg­u­lar modes of work” emerged as a form of “rad­i­cal inter­ven­tion with roots in East­ern phi­los­o­phy.”

Hav­ing first come on the mar­ket in the 1970s, Oblique Strate­gies has gone through sev­er­al dif­fer­ent pro­duc­tion runs, usu­al­ly pack­aged in hand­some box­es with the deck­’s name embla­zoned in gold. “The first four edi­tions are out of print and collector’s items (and priced to match). The 5th edi­tion is cur­rent­ly avail­able from Eno’s web­site for £30 (about $50). In 2013 a lim­it­ed 6th edi­tion of 500 num­bered sets were avail­able but quick­ly sold out.” At this moment, you can find one import­ed set on Ama­zon.

But it seems that the very first set of Oblique Strate­gies, fea­tured in Schnei­der’s post, is unavail­able at any price. Writ­ten in Eno’s own hand, some­times cur­sive and some­times block, on cards with a wood­en-look­ing tex­ture and with­out the round­ed cor­ners that char­ac­ter­ize the com­mer­cial ver­sion, these first Oblique Strate­gies include “Don’t be fright­ened to dis­play your tal­ents,” “If a thing can be said, it can be said sim­ply,” and “Do we need holes?” Those who have fol­lowed Eno’s work will sure­ly appre­ci­ate in par­tic­u­lar the card that says to “use non-musi­cians,” “non-musi­cian” being one of Eno’s pre­ferred titles for him­self, espe­cial­ly when work­ing in a musi­cal capac­i­ty. The total pack­age of Oblique Strate­gies may have grown more refined over the years, but this hand­made first set does have a cer­tain imme­di­a­cy, and also, in a sense, the impri­matur of his­to­ry: after all, they worked for Bri­an Eno.

via Dan­ger­ous Minds

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Jump Start Your Cre­ative Process with Bri­an Eno’s “Oblique Strate­gies” Deck of Cards (1975)

How Jim Jar­musch Gets Cre­ative Ideas from William S. Bur­roughs’ Cut-Up Method and Bri­an Eno’s Oblique Strate­gies

Mar­shall McLuhan’s 1969 Deck of Cards, Designed For Out-of-the-Box Think­ing

Bri­an Eno on Cre­at­ing Music and Art As Imag­i­nary Land­scapes (1989)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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