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Acute Mystery
January 14, 2009 9:52 AM   Subscribe

Fact: In 1975, musician, producer, and all-around interesting guy Brian Eno (previously, pre-previously) co-created (with Peter Schmidt) the Oblique Strategies cards.
Fact: In August 2008, Oblique_Chirps appeared via Twitter, providing Oblique Strategies-like aphorisms hourly. (via)
Fact: Brian Eno has his own Twitter feed, featuring similarly cryptic updates (as well as differently cryptic updates and the odd political aside), dating back to Oct. 2008.
Fact: Some of the entries are seemingly identical (down to the odd space inserted in the word "straight").
Mystery: Is Eno aware of/involved with the Chirps feed?
posted by yiftach (30 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is there some mechanism to send tweets out at certain times? Or is there some really obsessed/devoted person creating a mystery?
posted by filthy light thief at 9:54 AM on January 14, 2009


What a fascinating mystery. Almost as compelling as "Who ate the last piece of pizza?" and "Where is the DVD remote?".
posted by nasreddin at 9:59 AM on January 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


It's like an enigma wrapped in a riddle, surrounded by mystery.
posted by Aquaman at 10:02 AM on January 14, 2009


Do the words need changing? Try faking it.
posted by mattbucher at 10:09 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just want to know who HotAmishChick is so I can include them in my will.
posted by bondcliff at 10:12 AM on January 14, 2009


There is also a delightful iPhone App 'oblique strategies'.
posted by artaxerxes at 10:12 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I once hid easter eggs containing oblique strategies lines around the Rutgers graduate dorms. I think the children living in family housing were quite surprised when they held their easter egg hunt in our court yard, but all the inside ones lasted quite some time.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:12 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


What a fascinating mystery. Almost as compelling as "Who ate the last piece of pizza?" and "Where is the DVD remote?"

If you had cats, both disappearances are explained. Not solved, but at least you have the culprits.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:16 AM on January 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is there some mechanism to send tweets out at certain times?

There's something called "programming languages" that can do something called "access the internet". Maybe related.
posted by DU at 10:18 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oblique Strategies are kewl. Like the I Ching, but more hip.

Why the f@#k anyone cares about Twitter - now that's the mystery to me.
posted by Artful Codger at 10:34 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mystery: Is Eno aware of/involved with the Chirps feed?

That's not a mystery. It's a question. Do you have some reason to doubt whether he's involved or aware?
posted by rocket88 at 10:47 AM on January 14, 2009


I built a custom Luminis portal channel displaying Oblique Strategies! (Ok, I'll crawl back in my hole now)
posted by sporb at 10:48 AM on January 14, 2009


Mystery: Is Eno aware of/involved with the Chirps feed?

There's many software based versions of Oblique Strategies, so I don't see nay particular reason why he would have to be involved with it. Aware? Who knows.
posted by Artw at 10:49 AM on January 14, 2009


What is the mysterious technology known as "X"-emel???
posted by Artw at 10:50 AM on January 14, 2009


Also Brian Eno is cool, Oblique Strategies is cool, and thanks for this post.
posted by Artw at 10:51 AM on January 14, 2009


Do nothing
posted by infinitewindow at 10:54 AM on January 14, 2009


There is a flaw in your third fact. I do not think this is really Brian Eno's twitter feed.
posted by motty at 11:03 AM on January 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Why the f@#k anyone cares about Twitter - now that's the mystery to me.

Actually, it's quite a good way to share and promote ideas. You just have to sift through all the useless tweets about what someone had for dinner in order to find them, thats all.
posted by scarello at 11:03 AM on January 14, 2009


You're welcome, artw.

Honestly, people! I know this ain't an actual mystery, and I don't even think it really matters if Eno is involved/aware, I just had never heard of Oblique Strategies before I was pointed to the Twitter feed, I took it as an opportunity to do some research, and I thought it was cool and interesting enough to share.
posted by yiftach at 11:09 AM on January 14, 2009


Oblique_Chirps isn't just providing "Oblique Strategies-like aphorisms" — it's giving you a random card from the original Oblique Strategies every hour.

Nearly everything on the Brian_Eno feed is also drawn from the original Strategies. (The only exceptions AFAICT are "Your Mom," the line noise, and the bit about Gaza.)

So, yeah, it's not surprising there's overlap. That quirky space is an interesting coincidence, but like Artw says, it could well just mean that they're using the same text file or the same software version of the Strategies.

(On preview: oh, okay. :) I do love this stuff, and anything that gets it a wider audience is okay by me. And actually, putting it on Twitter — where geeks like me can get at it when they're in need of inspiration, without needing to own a deck — seems like a pretty good use of the technology. So, non-mystery aside, good post.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:31 AM on January 14, 2009


Do you think we could program an Eliza program to churn out these Oblique Strategies in response to conversation? We could call it "Zenliza"
posted by happyroach at 11:41 AM on January 14, 2009


Take away as much mystery as possible. What is left?
posted by carmen at 11:46 AM on January 14, 2009


Move towards the unimportant.
posted by theroadahead at 11:47 AM on January 14, 2009


You're mom.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:53 AM on January 14, 2009


Richard Linklater's Slacker had a guy handing out Oblique Strategies cards (or at least Linklater's versions of cards very much like the OS deck). From this page,
In the film Slacker, a character offers passers-by cards from an Oblique Strategies deck. Strategies mentioned are "Honor thy error as a hidden intention," "Look closely at the most embarrassing details and amplify," "Not building a wall; making a brick," "Repetition is a form of change," and the one which came to be seen as a summary of the film's ethos (though it was not part of the official set of Oblique Strategies), "Withdrawing in disgust is not the same thing as apathy."
posted by aught at 11:55 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Withdrawing in disgust is not the same thing as apathy."

I think we have the new text for the Remove from Activity link.
posted by Artw at 12:02 PM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


A similar treatment was also given to Jenny Holzer's truisms.

Does anyone know of good similar twitter feeds - aphorisms, koans, etc.? It seems like the medium lends itself well to this sort of thing.
posted by regicide is good for you at 12:14 PM on January 14, 2009


Listen to the quiet voice
posted by jcruelty at 2:00 AM on January 15, 2009


Richard Linklater's Slacker had a guy handing out Oblique Strategies cards (or at least Linklater's versions of cards very much like the OS deck).

Actually it was a woman who says, "They're Oblique Strategies." Have you seen the film? You can watch the whole movie on Hulu.
posted by mattbucher at 7:48 AM on January 15, 2009


mattbucher: Not since the year it came out, when I saw it a couple times at the theater, so yeah it's been a while. Thanks for the correction -- I'm clearly due for a re-watch. Happily I found the VHS tape at the local Friends of the Library book sale a year or so ago but it's been sitting on the shelf unwatched so far along with the random Star Trek movies and French films I also bought that day. Sort of coincidentally one of the people I went out for dinner with last night went on at length about how much he disliked Linklater's Before Sunrise.
posted by aught at 5:35 AM on January 16, 2009


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