Consulting Other Sources

Other versions

Editions 1-3

Eno's diary reports that there are two additional foreign language versions of the Oblique Strategies:

Peter Schmidt died in early 1980, and since then I've been the curator of the Oblique Strategies. They have been published three times in English and also in French and Japanese. They have also been produced as a floppy disc. No two releases are exactly identical - cards come and go.

A Year With Swollen Appendices, P. 34

The French Edition

With some help from a fellow enthusiast and reliable source, I've been able to locate a listing of the French edition of the Oblique Strategies. Click here for a complete listing of les Stratégies Obliques.

This site includes a copy of the French edition of the deck that you can consult quand il faut necessaire. Just like the Oblique Strategies meta-deck, you can click here to draw a card. To draw another card, just reload the page.

The deck lists itself with a 1975 date. However, a perusal of the Strategies in the deck suggest a much later date for the translation. The presence of Strategies which are translations of cards that only appear in the third edition of the deck (e.g., Dès que la recherche progressera, quelque chose sera trouvé - Once the search is in progress, something will be found) suggest a late seventies date of origin. An additional piece of convergent data could suggest a date for the production of the deck (although this is strictly a conjecture); the deck was reportedly produced by and available through a Belgian gallery. A quick perusal of exhibitions of Eno's video works would suggest that they were produced immediately prior to or in conjunction with and exhibition of his piece Two Fifth Avenue (for three or four video monitors) at the Paul Ide Gallery in Brussels in February of 1980.

The Japanese Edition

Tracking down the particulars and contents of the Japanese Oblique Strategies has been a more interesting process. Thanks to some other help from a reliable source, it now appears that there is no Japanese version of the Oblique Strategies currently in existence. The following is an excerpt of some email from a reliable and discreetly anonymous source:

After my question, R** brought the matter up in a recent meeting with Eno in the UK. R** claims that such a set was once proposed with text to be translated by Peter Barakan (an Englishman who has done some collaborative work on lyrics for the Yellow Magic Orchestra and has also worked as a translator and "tarento" or a westerner whose fluent Japanese makes his an interesting talking head) but that it never came to fruition. Eno is certainly not in possession of such a set, but was under the impression that it had been produced at some time. He now stands corrected.

If that changes at any time in the future, you can rest assured that the Japanese deck will be listed here in detail.

The Acute Strategies

An interesting version of some Other Strategies can be found right on this site: the Acute Strategies. They are intended as a sort of an extended homage to the original set created by internet readers such as yourself. Follow the link to learn more, and potentially to contribute some strategic advice of your own. Click here to consult the deck of indeterminate size.

Other Options

But we can think of the idea of "other versions" of the Oblique Strategies in a wider sense. For example, an excerpt of the article Eno=MC2 by Lee Moore which appears in the November, 1978 issue of Creem describes the deck and lists an Oblique Strategy which doesn't appear in any of the three original editions at all:

The commonplace is one thing that Eno studiously tries to avoid at all times. His tool for eliminating preconceived notions is a set of cards he developed with fellow artist Peter Schmidt. "Oblique Strategies" functions as a kind of technological tarot deck, an oracle that can be drawn upon when you're stuck on a particular problem or just want to get a fresh perspective on a situation.
"They're like a series of axioms, if you like. I'll tell you a few. 'Discard an axiom' is one. Another is 'Honor they error as a hidden intention'. Then there's 'Short-circuit principle - a man eating peas in the belief that they will improve virility shovels them straight into his lap'.
"I'll read you a few of the new ones that I added," Eno said as he opened a notebook filled with small, meticulous handwriting. "'Not building a wall, but making a brick'. 'What are the sections sections of?' 'Always first steps'. 'Idiot Glee'. 'Put it where it will be found'.
"They're all really attitude things. They say take a different attitude, try this or abandon that. Some are open to interpretation, while others are more specific - one, for example, simply says 'reverse', which may imply reversing the tape, but it doesn't have to. Most of them have to do with questioning your approach. They're very useful. It's a tactic to keep yourself from falling into a rut."

Moreover, Eno's recently published diary is also salted through with "new" Oblique Strategies. One of these Strategies actually made it into the fourth edition of the deck. you'll find it highlighted.

Here is a list of the "diary" Strategies. Each Strategy is followed by the date of the diary entry in which it appears:

Steal a solution. (22 July)

Describe the landscape in which this belongs. (9 August)

What else is this like? (9 August)

List the qualities it has. List those you'd like. (9 August)

Instead of changing the thing, change the world around it. (9 August)

What would make this really successful? (9 August)

Who would make this really successful? (9 August)

How would you explain this to your parents? (9 August)

Try faking it. - from Stewart Brand (9 August)

What were the branch points in the evolution of this entity (20 August)

Back up a few steps. What else could you have done? (20 August)

When is it for? Who is it for? (23 August)

What do you do? Now, what do you do best? (27 August)

First work alone, then work in unusual pairs. (8 September)

What most recently impressed you? How is it similar? What can you learn from it? What could you take from it? (10 September)

Take away as much mystery as possible. What is left? (30 December)

In the edition of the Whole Earth Catalog titled "Signal", there is a short piece on the Oblique Strategies. The estimable Karen from Atlanta reminded me about this one. This piece is a pretty standard repeat, with the exception that it contains some author-contributed Strategies courtesy of Stewart Brand or editor Kevin Kelly or the staff at the time. Here's the relevant text:

Use an unacceptable color.

Remove ambiguities and convert to specifics.

Fill every beat with something.

Don't stress one thing more than another.

Ask people to work against their better judgment.

Call your mother and ask her what to do.

Humanize something that is free of error.

Breathe more deeply

Do nothing for as long as possible

Use "unqualified" people.

Make a blank valuable by putting it in an excquisite frame

Faced with a choice, do both

Use fewer notes

Get your neck massaged

Remove specifics; convert to ambiguities

Remove the middle, extend the edges

(Picture of man spotlighted)

Imagine the music as a series of disconnected events

Take away the elements in order of apparent non-importance

Discover the recipes you are using and abandon them

Disconnect from desire

Mechanize something idiosyncratic

Do something boring

Accept advice

Pay attention to distractions

Look closely at the most embarrassing details and amplify.

Signal: A whole earth catalog - Communication Tools for the Information Age (ed. Kevin Kelly, fwd by Stewart Brand, 1988, Harmony Books, P. 17)

According to an editorial comment,

"A few of these oracles were contributed by the Whole Earth staff. The others appeared in the March 1979 issue of WET Magazine. Does anyone have others they find useful?"

If you're aware of any other Oblique Strategies which appear anywhere else, contact me and I'll add them to this page and say nice things about you in the Acknowledgements section.

Computer Editions for Users

This web site includes a page which allows users to "draw a card" from a kind of "metadeck" consisting of all four editions of the Oblique Strategies in English (along with some added Strategies from the Eno diary and other sources). Click here to draw a card. All you do is to reload the page to draw another card.

There are several other on-line versions you can also consult:

Several programmers have produced programs for your PC or Mac which behave as though you've got a deck of your own (I know about these primarily because all kinds of programmers have written me to let me know that they used the listings from the original "True History of the Oblique Strategies" pages as their source. There are a couple of versions of these programs available here; I'm sure there are more out there.



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