Grok My Enthusiasm (34)
August 31, 2016
One in a weekly series of enthusiastic posts contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars.
Sometimes I pretend my grandma’s necklaces are Oblique Strategies. I grab a strand and run my fingers over the jumble of beads, over the antiquated clasp that doesn’t quite hold, over the gaps where the thread shows. Go slowly all the way round the outside suggests a card in one of the OS decks designed by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt starting in 1975. Each gnomic phrase was supposed to inspire creative thinking through interpretation of the vague directive: you’d translate the directive in a roundabout way to your own project and see the glint of a new idea.
My office-mate is a jewelry designer, and one morning we were talking about how our taste in jewelry reflects our intellectual habits. She designs pieces with a single strong colorful piece of resin because she values clarity and focus, whereas I like jumbles. “I like weird juxtapositions, associations that take some squinting to see properly. You have to trust me to follow the line to see where it leads….” I told her. That is to say, I’m the kind of person who imagines Oblique Strategies as necklace designs.
I find a strand of bright green and amber shapes in my grandma’s box. The deck says: What are the sections sections of? Imagine a caterpillar moving.
I start writing by looking at the necklaces next to whatever I’m working on. I imagine my own versions of the cards: How does this sentence clasp the next one syntactically? Are there too many strands here?
The Oblique Strategies card tells me: Make a blank valuable by putting it in an exquisite frame. Mid-twentieth century designers like Miriam Haskell made affordable pieces featuring glass, crystal, fake pearls, and gold or silver toned filigree. Today, online sellers list the flaws in their offerings: missing rhinestones, tarnished clasps… Emphasize the flaws, reads the card.
Decorate decorate, reads another strategy, and I like the meaningful redundancy. There’s glamor in playing up the artifice of your self-decoration. The rhinestones glitter more brightly when there’s one missing; the tarnish on the gilt edge is a marker of having been worn and loved a lot. The fakeness is the fun. The story goes that Eno brought Oblique Strategies to the recording studio for David Bowie’s Berlin trilogy — a glam-rock icon fashioned out of aleatoric play. Bowie’s glitter is not my grandma’s gilt — it’s silly to even juxtapose them — but I like to think they’re both creative inspirations for a glamorous self.
GROK MY ENTHUSIASM: Rob Wringham on THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF LUNCH | Gordon Dahlquist on WEEKEND | Joe Alterio on MILLION YEAR PICNIC | Adrienne Crew on LA BARONNE EMILE D’ERLANGER | Josh Glenn on THE SURVIVAL SAMPLER | Alix Lambert on THE SKIES BELONG TO US | Adam McGovern on PENELOPE and CHAVEZ RAVINE | Rob Wringham on THE LYKE WAKE WALK | Mark Kingwell on NORTH STAR SNEAKERS & GWG JEANS | Gordon Dahlquist on FELLINI SATYRICON | Erik Davis on AH! | Devin McKinney on WHISPERING AFRAID | Mimi Lipson on 1973 SEARS ROEBUCK CATALOG | Jessamyn West on MOSS | Josh Glenn on THE SCOUT HOW BOOK | Brian Berger on SLACKER | Alix Lambert on ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS | Chelsey Johnson on MONOTREMES | Devin McKinney on THE BUTCHER COVER | Flourish Klink on ONE DIRECTION | Gordon Dahlquist on FULL METAL JACKET | Allegra Huston on CLOTHESLINE | Jenny Davidson on POWERLIFTING | Evan Narcisse on REZ | Deborah Wassertzug on VEGETARIAN MEATBALLS | Chris Spurgeon on WALLACE AND GROMIT | Mandy Keifetz on BENEFICIAL MICROBES | Annie Nocenti on MARKS ON WALLS | Molly Sauter on THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF | William Nericcio on LAND OF THE LOST | Dan Fox on “VOICE OF GOD” RADIO DJS | Brandi Brown on WIKIPEDIA TALK | Claire Lehmann on THE APPARATUS REVEAL | Alice Boone on COSTUME JEWELRY | Colin Dickey on WIDESPREAD PANIC | Anshuman Iddamsetty on THE FULL BODY PROJECT | John Hilgart on MAKING GRATEFUL DEAD ALBUMS | Rob Wringham on STEVEN UNIVERSE | John Overholt on DECKLE EDGES | James Hannaham on HABIT PATTERNS | Jessamyn West on THE PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM | Adam McGovern on THE SPACE GIANTS | Brian Berger on MEDIUM COOL | Chris Spurgeon on THE DUNNING-KRUGER EFFECT | Joe Alterio on TABLETOP WARGAMING | Mimi Lipson on TRASH PICKING | Jason Grote on CZECH CINEMA | Roxane Gay on AUTOMATED CAR WASH | Dan Fox on JULIA DAVIS | Amy Thielen on BINGO | Steph Burt on FEIJOA.
KLUTE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2017): THE KILLERS | BANDE À PART (BAND OF OUTSIDERS) | ALPHAVILLE | HARPER | BLOW-UP | & 20 other neo-noir movies. #SQUADGOALS (2017 weekly): THE WILD BUNCH | BOWIE’S BAND | THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP | THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | VI ÄR BÄST! & dozens of other squads | GROK MY ENTHUSIASM (2016 weekly): THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF LUNCH | WEEKEND | MILLION YEAR PICNIC | LA BARONNE EMILE D’ERLANGER | THE SURVIVAL SAMPLER | & dozens more one-off enthusiasms. QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2016): “Tainted Love” | “Metal” | “Frankie Teardrop” | “Savoir Faire” | “Broken English” | & 20 other new wave songs. CROM YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2015): DARKER THAN YOU THINK | THE SWORD IN THE STONE | OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET | THIEVES’ HOUSE | QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST | & 20 other fantasy novels from 1934–43. KERN YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2014): ALDINE ITALIC | DATA 70 | TORONTO SUBWAY | JOHNSTON’S “HAMLET” | TODD KLONE | & 20 other typefaces. HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2013): “Spoonin’ Rap” | “Rapper’s Delight” | “Rappin’ Blow” | “The Incredible Fulk” | “The Adventures of Super Rhyme” | & 20 other old-school hip-hop songs. KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2012): Justice or vengeance? | Kirk teaches his drill thrall to kiss | “KHAAAAAN!” | “No kill I” | Kirk browbeats NOMAD | & 20 other Captain Kirk scenes. KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2011): THE ETERNALS | BLACK MAGIC | DEMON | OMAC | CAPTAIN AMERICA | & 20 other Jack Kirby panels.