Tag Archives: Writing

Oblique Strategies


I am going to start this again…tried it once, now more time. I have Nicholas to thank for introducing me to these cards.  Maybe one day we can write something together.  I have 127 Oblique strategies written on cards. Thank you Brian Eno. Over the next 127 days I am going to write 127 essays. Some may be longer than others and some may include YOUR name. If you strongly believe I should not use your name in any of these please let me know. I may change your names but one way or another I will try to incorporate all of you into these passages.

I am doing this to refresh my writing and vocabulary for the coming school year, along with a way to pass time during the summer while having fun and learning more about life. Here are the list of categories given. I may choose at random or simply go in order of 1-127.

01) Remove specifics and convert to ambiguities

02) Don’t be frightened of clichés

03) What is the reality of the situation?

04) Are there sections? Consider transitions

05) Turn it upside down

06) Think of the radio

07) Allow an easement (an easement is the abandonment of a stricture)

08) Simple subtraction

09) Be dirty

10) Go slowly all the way round the outside

11) A line has two sides

12) Make an exhaustive list of everything you might do & do the last thing on the list

13) Into the impossible

14) Towards the insignificant

15) Ask people to work against their better judgement

16) Take away the elements in order of apparent non-importance

17) Infinitesimal gradations

18) Change instrument roles

19) Accretion

20) Disconnect from desire

21) Emphasize repetitions

22) Faced with a choice, do both (given by Dieter Rot)

23) Children -speaking -singing

24) Lost in useless territory

25) A very small object Its center

26) Dont be afraid of things because they’re easy to do

27) Dont be frightened to display your talents

28) Breathe more deeply

29) Honor thy error as a hidden intention

30) What are the sections sections of? Imagine a caterpillar moving

31) Only one element of each kind

32) Is there something missing

33) Use ‘unqualified’ people

34) How would you have done it?

35) Emphasize differences

36) Do nothing for as long as possible

37) Bridges -build -burn

38) Always give yourself credit for having more than personality

39) You don’t have to be ashamed of using your own ideas

40) Tidy up

41) Do the words need changing?

42) Ask your body
43) Tape your mouth

44) Water

45) Simply a matter of work

46) Make a sudden, destructive unpredictable action; incorporate

47) Consult other sources -promising -unpromising

48) Use an unacceptable color

49) Humanize something free of error

50) Use filters

51) Fill every beat with something

52) Discard an axiom

53) Not building a wall but making a brick

54) What wouldn’t you do?

55) Lowest common denominator

56) Decorate, decorate

57) Balance the consistency principle with the inconsistency principle

58) Get your neck massaged

59) Listen to the quiet voice

60) Do the washing up

61) Is it finished?

62) Put in earplugs

63) Reevaluation (a warm feeling)

64) Give the name away

65) Intentions -nobility of -humility of -credibility of

66) Abandon normal instruments

67) Use fewer notes

68) Repetition is a form of change

69) Give way to your worst impulse

70) Reverse

71) Trust in the you of now

72) Imagine the piece as a set of disconnected events

73) What would your closest friend do?

74) Distorting time

75) Make a blank valuable by putting it in an exquisite frame

76) Feed the recording back out of the medium

77) Convert a melodic element into a rhythmic element

78) The most important thing is the thing most easily forgotten

79) Ghost echoes

80) You can only make one dot at a time

81) Just carry on

82) (Organic) machinery

83) The inconsistency principle

84) Don’t break the silence

85) Idiot glee (?)

86) Discover the recipes you are using and abandon them

87) Cascades

88) Courage!

89) Spectrum analysis

90) What mistakes did you make last time?

91) Consider different fading systems

92) Mute and continue

93) Be extravagant

94) It is quite possible (after all)

95) What are you really thinking about just now?

96) Don’t stress on thing more than another [sic]


98) State the problem in words as clearly as possible

99) Assemble some of the elements in a group and treat the group

100) You are an engineer

101) Remove ambiguities and convert to specifics

102) Look at the order in which you do things

103) Go outside. Shut the door.

104) Disciplined self-indulgence

105) Do we need holes?

106) Cluster analysis

107) Always first steps

108) Cut a vital connection

109) Do something boring

110) Define an area as ‘safe’ and use it as an anchor

111) Is the information correct?

112) Overtly resist change

113) Question the heroic approach

114) Accept advice

115) Twist the spine

116) Work at a different speed

117) Look closely at the most embarrassing details & amplify them

118) Mechanicalize something idiosyncratic

119) Emphasize the flaws

120) Remember those quiet evenings

121) Take a break

122) Short circuit (example: a man eating peas with the idea that they will improve his virility shovels them straight into his lap)

123) Left channel, right channel, center channel

124) Use an old idea

125) Destroy -nothing -the most important thing

126) Change nothing and continue with immaculate consistency

127) The tape is now the music

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