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Today's Stichomancy for B. F. Skinner

The first excerpt represents the past or something you must release, and is drawn from The Rescue by Joseph Conrad:

arisen, a small heap of black embers smouldered quietly. They stood upright and perfectly still, but for the slight movement of their heads from right to left and back again as they swept their gaze through the grey emptiness of the waters where, about two miles distant, the hull of the yacht loomed up to seaward, black and shapeless, against the wan sky.

The two figures looked beyond without exchanging as much as a murmur. The taller of the two grounded, at arm's length, the stock of a gun with a long barrel; the hair of the other fell down to its waist; and, near by, the leaves of creepers drooping from the summit of the steep rock stirred no more than the


The Rescue
The second excerpt represents the present or the deciding factor of the moment, and is drawn from Alexander's Bridge by Willa Cather:

But, you know, I never wear earrings."

"Yes, yes, I know. But I want you to wear them. I have always wanted you to. So few women can. There must be a good ear, to begin with, and a nose"--he waved his hand--"above reproach. Most women look silly in them. They go only with faces like yours--very, very proud, and just a little hard."

Winifred laughed as she went over to the mirror and fitted the delicate springs to the lobes of her ears. "Oh, Bartley, that old


Alexander's Bridge
The third excerpt represents the future or something you must embrace, and is drawn from Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne:

dit que pour comprendre comme Lipse, il a pu composer un ouvrage le premier jour de sa vie, il faut s'imaginer, que ce premier jour n'est pas celui de sa naissance charnelle, mais celui au quel il a commence d'user de la raison; il veut que c'ait ete a l'age de neuf ans; et il nous veut persuader que ce fut en cet age, que Lipse fit un poeme.--Le tour est ingenieux, &c. &c.) the day he was born:--They should have wiped it up, said my uncle Toby, and said no more about it.

Chapter 3.XLVI.

When the cataplasm was ready, a scruple of decorum had unseasonably rose up in Susannah's conscience, about holding the candle, whilst Slop tied it on; Slop had not treated Susannah's distemper with anodynes,--and so a quarrel