It would be nearly impossible to get very far into a discussion of anything remotely creative or philosophical without Brian Eno coming into it. He is a fellow who, above all others, seems to have tried to turn his mind to every single phenomenon that ever has or could exist, and then come up with something stimulating to say about it. He's had his fingers in most of the cultural strands that have unfurled across the last five decades. And he’s just celebrated his 70th birthday. So why not get to this next exercise now.
If you’re a thinky or arty person, you’ve almost certainly heard of Oblique Strategies. They’re a deck of about 113 cards (the number has varied over the years), created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt. You can buy sets of them in handsome little boxes, or you can download them as an app for your phone. The idea is that any time you find yourself stuck in some sort of creative dilemma, you pick a card at random, and it will offer a vague or ‘oblique’ suggestion of how you could change your approach. For example, there’s one that advises you to “Discover the recipes you’re using, and abandon them.” There’s another that asks, “Do we need holes?” There’s another that just says, “Water.” It’s up to you to figure out how the hell to implement these bits of advice into your particular situation. But if it’s good enough for David Bowie, it’s damn well good enough for the rest of us.
One of these cards – the one we’re interested in today – reads as follows: