After many years of searching, I am finally in possession of a deck of Brian Eno’s OBLIQUE STRATEGIES cards.
Encased in a small navy blue box, these are a fantastic creative resource. Created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt, they are “over one hundred worthwhile dilemmas”–somewhat performancy instructions a la John Cage. And because they were limited editions, often cost several thousand dollars.
I found a 2001 edition for the price of a fancy lunch.
How to use them? I learned Tarot by pulling a card a day. These are so instructional, I figured I’d pull one and work with it until I “got” it.
Here goes: GIVE WAY TO YOUR WORST IMPULSE
This took some thought. Bitchy remarks? Lazing about? Writing a sentimental poem?
Then I got it.
Worst impulse: to tell the real story of me and these cards. And post it.
My first husband, Robert, had a set. I loved them. I used them, to write, to teach. He felt I was wearing the out. He hid them from me.
Then he died.
I searched high and low (i.e. the scary basement). I could not find the cards.
Worst impulse: to keep writing about dead husband. To act as if I have not gotten over dead husband despite nineteen years of trying, when it is obvious to me most of the time that I have.
To hold a grudge against dead husband. To feel he should have told me where the cards were hidden. To keep searching. Maybe this is a good impulse.
To keep searching.
So, from time to time I may pull a card and write about it. My even WORSE impulse was to pull a card a day and write a book about it. And not revise my novel or develop a new class or garden. So bad I won’t do it. Not yet.