Homage - An Internet Community Oracle

The Acute Strategies

Editions 1-3

Since some of the Oblique Strategies present themselves as questions, why not start with one?

Why would anyone want a deck of Oblique Strategies composed entirely of the advice of strangers who've been asked to add their Oblique Strategies, anyway?

The deck of cards known as the Oblique Strategies began its life as a collaborative act by two friends, Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt, who discovered that they were using similar means to solve similar problems which arose in the course of their work.

In turn, several of their friends also appear in the project, since they have various Strategies attributed to them throughout the course of the Strategies' existence:

  • Always give yourself credit for having more than personality (given by Arto Lindsay)
  • Faced with a choice, do both (given by Dieter Rot)

  • Tape your mouth (given by Ritva Saarikko)

  • Try faking it (from Stewart Brand)

Peter Schmidt's death while on holiday in Spain in 1980 effectively ended the Oblique Strategies as a collaborative project between the two men. This closure can be thought of as providing a kind of static image of the microculture formed by Brian and Peter's friendship, and as a gentle way of paying homage to Peter Schmidt's life and work.

The privately produced and distributed Fourth Edition of the Oblique Strategies commissioned by Peter Norton and his family in 1996 represents another sort of collaboration - one which arguably extends Eno and Schmidt's project. The privately produced edition is both multilingual, and its character is also due in large measure to Pae White's exuberant design work on the deck.

Although the Oblique Strategies as physical objects may be limited in number, their notoriety and influence has been considerably wider, taking the form of:

  • Copies painstakingly and lovingly copied by hand for personal use or as gifts.
  • Textual listings published in printed and forms.
  • The creation of which function as a deck of cards.
  • And, more recently, the opportunity to consult the Oblique Strategies online in English or French at this web site.

From the Oblique to the Acute

This page will introduce you to another kind of collaboration: the Acute Strategies - a deck of Strategies submitted by you. This portion of the Oblique Strategies Web Site arose from discussions I've had with Oblique Strategies deck users with whom I've been in contact over the years while working on the complete listing of all four decks about how they modified their decks by either adding their own Strategies (or by being reluctant to).

The fact is that we were all curious about what Strategies of our own seemed worthy of adding to the deck - in effect, it's the equivalent of asking one of your friends what the single best bit of advice they give themselves is.

So, I've begun an online Internet "deck" called the Acute Strategies, and provided visitors to the Oblique Strategies Web Site with a way to submit their own Strategies, as well as a way to consult the deck as it grows and evolves. Each "card" in the deck will contain the Strategy and the name of the person who submitted it.

I'll function as the "curator" of the deck, pruning and tweaking only when necessary. In the interests of avoiding having the thing grow outside of the bounds of all reason, I have one simple request:

Submit sparingly

Imagine that your assignment is to come up with your single best bit of acutely strategic advice to your fellow Strategizers; remember that one of the great strengths of the Oblique Strategies has historically been both their generality and their avoidance of jargon and the inside joke. Those of you familiar with other oracular sources such as the I Ching will doubtless have no trouble with this notion.

An additional something has occurred during the period when I've watched the Acute Strategies come in. In my opinion, some of the less successful submissions have come precisely from those folks who want to make a dozen submittals instead of really thinking through just one. I guess that should not be a surprise; a studied disinterest in constraint and refinement is at odds with the act of aphorizing.

Assuming that we wouldn't be falling afoul of the litigious elements of the new global culture (since this is, in my view, an act of homage rather than appropriation), there has even been some interest in curating a subset of this user-submitted "deck" and producing a physical deck of real cards for use among ourselves at some future date. That is both an ambitious goal, and one that's a ways off. If it does happen, I'll let you know. Does this seem like an interesting idea to you? Drop me a line if you think it's worth discussing.

By virtue of the fact that the Acute Strategies will represent the advice of many contributors, they will also be an instantiation of a kind of non-geographical "local community" of folks; unlike the original deck (where the contributions of both Eno and Schmidt are not always necessarily apparent), each of the Acute Strategies will (discretely?) be accompanied by the name of the person who formulated it.

And now, to action. Click here to submit your best strategizing for our edification.

Click here to select a card from the Acute Strategies deck.

I'm looking forward to this.
With regards,
Gregory Taylor

Edition 4
Other editons
Oblique Stratigraphy  
Pick a card  
Editions 1-3
Eno links  
Editions 1-3  
Obl ique Strategies © 1975, 1978, and 1979 Brian Eno/Peter Schmidt
This web page © 1997 Gregory Taylor