Beautiful Tools: The Oracle
The purpose of querying an oracle is not so much to foretell the future as to enable the questioner to delve more deeply into his own intuition when dealing with a problem.
Most oracles contain a series of messages from which the questioner randomly selects.
The oracle is intentionally ambiguous in order to force you to go beyond the first right answer.
Random insights can force you to look at your problems in a way you would not have otherwise.
(Roger von Oech, Expect the Unexpected (or You Won’t Find It))
Fragments from imaginary dialogues
“How can I get better at asking questions?”
“Consult an oracle.“
“Are you being an oracle right now?”
“Yes, and no.
Yes because my answer can indeed serve as an oracle if left ambiguous.
No because I’m going to disambiguate it.
The oracle is a beautiful creativity tool I know from Roger von Oech’s wonderful book Expect the Unexpected (or You Won’t Find It). The book, which is about using Heraclitus’s epigrams as an oracle, opened my mind to the beauty and usefulness of ambiguity.
I am a Models Thinker [<link; medium read], so I turned the Oracle into a mental model.
Quite recently, an idea struck me:
What if I implemented an oracle in my random quotes system?
Which I did.
Using the paired-quotes system, I set the one on top to a selection of beautiful questions related to some practical puzzles I’m working on solving, and the one at the bottom – the oracle – to my entire quotes collection.
The question changes every four hours.
The oracle every 5 minutes.
The result is beautiful. Every time I check my phone, I get a little dose of creative joy, in the sphere of the practical, like this one: