Oblique Strategies: A Creative I-Ching or Tao of Inspiration
Four decades ago, Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt created this collection of aphorisms, which, to this day, remain an unparalleled source of inspiration.
Creative experience is earned through practice and may be sustained, once set in motion, with its own self-resonance. But, in any case, the victory of lateral thinking over logical thinking is only achieved by approaching everyday challenges with an unusual perspective: perceiving the environment as a question with an infinite number of solutions, allowing us to see the multiple creative alternatives we have at hand.
Oblique Strategies is a type of didactic kaleidoscope, materialized in a deck of cards where each one suggests an unexpected point of view. The deck, written by Brian Eno in collaboration with artist Peter Schmidt, comprises a series of aphorisms, one per card, that are designed specifically to enliven creative, unusual wisdom. Their meaning can, at times, be seen flirting with nonsense, as if reminding us of certain Oriental formats like the Zen koans.
Today, there are countless editions and variations of Oblique Strategies. They have been translated into several languages, and can now be found in recording studios, artists’ workshops, creative agencies, and surely many unexpected corners. In a way, every single one of its maxims has the potential to trigger a short-circuit in our lineal thought process, to enact that click that suddenly and unexpectedly irrupts our inner dialogue and changes the direction of our mental ship. From that moment on, anything can happen; that is, the favorable conditions that may enable the creative act to be gestated are given.
If you ever find yourself going through a creative dry-spell that seems unsurpassable, or you simply want to play with your mind a while by supplying it with bits of stimuli of aesthetic uncertainty, then consulting the I Ching or Tao of inspiration can help you generate a series of answers or, better yet, show you that they have always been by your side —like death or beauty.
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