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Unforgettable Books

  • Unforgettable Books

    • Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt created this aphorism compendium in the Seventies, and to this date it remains a piece of unparalleled inspiration.

    Oblique Strategies: a creative I-Ching or Tao of inspiration / 

    Creative experience is earned through practice and the constant neuronal stimulation that this provides. The conquest of lateral thought over logical thought is only achieved by approaching everyday challenges in an unusual manner. Perceiving the environment as a question with an infinite amount of solutions allows us to perceive the multiple creative alternatives we have at hand. There is no better alternative to amalgamating these than a concrete compass, for example Oblique Strategies, the deck of cards that makes us rethink things. 

    The deck was written by the always brilliant Brian Eno, aided by the artist Peter Schmidt —who had previously created “The Thoughts Behind the Thoughts”, a series with 55 cards with creative micro-epiphanies that he used in his everyday life.

    The printed aphorisms on each card are creative blossoms of unmatched wisdom —whose meaning at times flirts with the nonsensical, alluding to certain Oriental formats, such as Zen’s koans. Since their publication in 1975, these “oblique strategies” have been a source of inspiration for many creative minds in the musical sphere, as well as in other fields

    Today we have countless editions and variations of the Oblique Strategies. These have translated into several languages, the cards can now be found in numerous recording studios, artist workshops as well as in the homes of celebrities and creative thinkers. Recently a new special edition was published; this contains unpublished cards in a beautiful casing limited to only 500 copies.

    If you ever find yourself going through a creative dry spell that you feel overpowered by, don’t hesitate to take a peek at this creative I-Ching or Tao of inspiration, a simple deck of cards that suggests a different perspective to your inspirational dilemmas. 

    In this link, a web adaptation of Oblique Strategies.

    Also in Sphere: Video paintings by Brian Eno

    Tagged: inspiration, books, Unforgettable Books, Brian Eno, Brian Eno Oblique Strategies, I-Ching
  • Unforgettable Books

    • The writer Mathew Levi Stevens collected the books, practices and methods of Burroughs’ eternal search for magic.

    Elements from William Burroughs’ magical universe / 

    William S. Burroughs, the Beat generation’s great poet, became involved in several methods and systems throughout his life. While his genius is undeniable, he also argued against the idea of being a “person of genius”, and instead said he had no genius, and was no genius, but that he was possessed by genius. “To me ‘genius’ is the nagual: the uncontrollable – unknown and so unpredictable - spontaneous and alive. You could say the magical”, he stated in an interview. Carlos Castaneda’s echoes of the world can be heard from behind his door. Burroughs was a traveller that sought magic everywhere, and who developed an “addiction” of sorts —the same he had for writing— that was translated into an enormous corpus of experiences and lectures.

    The American writer Mathew Levi Stevens, who met Burroughs when he was a young man, has devoted his time to collecting elements from Burroughs’ magical universe (that because of their enormity are almost unfathomable), and as preamble to his next book, he leads us through some of the places where the beatnik traced the mysterious. “To Burroughs behind everyday reality there was the reality of the spirit world, of psychic visitations, of curses, of possession and phantom being” he states.

    His interest in systems and practices that come from “strange” lands found beyond the limits of mainstream religions, or scientific materialism led Burroughs to travel through South America and to drink Yage (now known as Ayahuasca); to become involved with Scientology (that he later dismissed as a “wrong step”); to attend seminaries by Master Erhard, ventured into the Silva Method and to investigate parapsychology, and sensorial deprival, among many other practices, Stevens writes. On one occasion, after being asked what he believed, he answered:

    In the magical universe there are no coincidences and there are no accidents. Nothing happens unless someone wills it to happen. The dogma of science is that the will cannot possibly affect external forces, and I think that’s just ridiculous. It’s as bad as the church. My viewpoint is the exact contrary of the scientific viewpoint. I believe that if you run into somebody in the street it’s for a reason. Among primitive people they say that if someone was bitten by a snake he was murdered. I believe that.

    The magical, psychic, spiritual and occult are present in his fiction. From astral journeys to the descriptions of the rituals he attended, his references range from Aleister Crowley to Necronomicon, all intertwined with “neo-pagan” concerns about the environment and man’s impact on nature and the Industrial Revolution, stressing “quantity, and not quality”.

    Burroughs was a frontline cosmonaut in the sphere of the occult (an essence which is particularly evident in his later writings), sometimes sordid, sometimes luminous and carnal. A wizard that cast a spell on literature (method Carlos Castaneda also employed, in his own way), and who fought with the “horrendous spirit” who “possessed” him throughout his life intermittently.

    There is much we can learn from the author, or simply experience through him, if only we let ourselves be charmed by his literature, which is also, for those interested, overflowing with interesting references to magic. Stevens presents a small list to us with the essential texts for a metaphysical education, which Burroughs himself gave him:

    Breakthrough - Konstantin Raudive
    Journeys Out of the Body - Robert A Monroe
    Magic: An Occult Primer - David Conway
    Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain – Sheila Ostrander & Lynn Schroeder
    Psychic Self-Defense - Dion Fortune
    Real Magic - Isaac Bonewits
    Las enseñanzas de Don Juan - Carlos Castaneda

    Tagged: Burroughs, books, great writers, Carlos Castaneda, Metaphysics & Mysticism