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
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
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:
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
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
And now, to action. Click here to submit your
best strategizing for our edification.
Click here to select a card from the Acute
I'm looking forward to this.