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Today's Stichomancy for B. F. Skinner

The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde:

that it was unchanged, and yet his loathing of it was intensified. Gold hair, blue eyes, and rose-red lips--they all were there. It was simply the expression that had altered. That was horrible in its cruelty. Compared to what he saw in it of censure or rebuke, how shallow Basil's reproaches about Sibyl Vane had been!-- how shallow, and of what little account! His own soul was looking out at him from the canvas and calling him to judgement. A look of pain came across him, and he flung the rich pall over the picture. As he did so, a knock came to the door. He passed out as his servant entered.

"The persons are here, Monsieur."


The Picture of Dorian Gray
The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Emma McChesney & Co. by Edna Ferber:

"Married! God bless me--to----"

"To T. A. Buck, of course. He's on that train. He----"

She turned toward the train. And as she turned it began to move, ever so gently. At the same moment there sped toward her, with unbelievable swiftness, the figure of Sam the porter, his eyes all whites. By one arm he grasped her, and half carried, half jerked her to the steps of the moving train, swung her up to the steps like a bundle of rags, caught the rail by a miracle, and stood, grinning and triumphant, gazing down at the panting O'Malley, who was running alongside the train.

"Back in a week. Will you wait for us in New York?" called


Emma McChesney & Co.
The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from The Life of the Spider by J. Henri Fabre:

that, at this moment, lies before my eyes. It is the work of a Spider, the nest of the Banded Epeira (Epeira fasciata, LATR.).

A Spider is not an insect, according to the rules of classification; and as such the Epeira seems out of place here. {16} A fig for systems! It is immaterial to the student of instinct whether the animal have eight legs instead of six, or pulmonary sacs instead of air-tubes. Besides, the Araneida belong to the group of segmented animals, organized in sections placed end to end, a structure to which the terms 'insect' and 'entomology' both refer.

Formerly, to describe this group, people said 'articulate animals,'


The Life of the Spider
The fourth excerpt represents the element of Earth. It speaks of physical influences and the impact of the unseen on the visible world, and is drawn from Meno by Plato:

BOY: Yes.

SOCRATES: But if there are three feet this way and three feet that way, the whole space will be three times three feet?

BOY: That is evident.

SOCRATES: And how much are three times three feet?

BOY: Nine.

SOCRATES: And how much is the double of four?

BOY: Eight.

SOCRATES: Then the figure of eight is not made out of a line of three?

BOY: No.

SOCRATES: But from what line?--tell me exactly; and if you would rather