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Today's Stichomancy for Franz Kafka

The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from Idylls of the King by Alfred Tennyson:

For thou, the latest-left of all my knights, In whom should meet the offices of all, Thou wouldst betray me for the precious hilt; Either from lust of gold, or like a girl Valuing the giddy pleasure of the eyes. Yet, for a man may fail in duty twice, And the third time may prosper, get thee hence: But, if thou spare to fling Excalibur, I will arise and slay thee with my hands.'

Then quickly rose Sir Bedivere, and ran, And, leaping down the ridges lightly, plunged

The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells:

instead of that confidence and sympathy I had expected, a strange enhancement of the uncertainty and dread I had experienced during my stay upon the island. No one would believe me; I was almost as queer to men as I had been to the Beast People. I may have caught something of the natural wildness of my companions. They say that terror is a disease, and anyhow I can witness that for several years now a restless fear has dwelt in my mind,--such a restless fear as a half-tamed lion cub may feel.

My trouble took the strangest form. I could not persuade myself that the men and women I met were not also another Beast People, animals half wrought into the outward image of human souls, and that they


The Island of Doctor Moreau
The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from The Schoolmistress and Other Stories by Anton Chekhov:

experienced when he thought this question was settled was something like inspiration. He cried and laughed, spoke aloud the words that he should say next day, felt a fervent love for those who would listen to him and would stand beside him at the corner of the street to preach; he sat down to write letters, made vows to himself. . . .

All this was like inspiration also from the fact that it did not last long. Vassilyev was soon tired. The cases in London, in Hamburg, in Warsaw, weighed upon him by their mass as a mountain weighs upon the earth; he felt dispirited, bewildered, in the face of this mass; he remembered that he had not a gift for


The Schoolmistress and Other Stories
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 Bunner Sisters by Edith Wharton:

another car to come; and that carried them out to a thinly settled district, past vacant lots and narrow brick houses standing in unsupported solitude, till they finally reached an almost rural region of scattered cottages and low wooden buildings that looked like village "stores." Here the car finally stopped of its own accord, and they walked along a rutty road, past a stone-cutter's yard with a high fence tapestried with theatrical advertisements, to a little red house with green blinds and a garden paling. Really, Mr. Ramy had not deceived them. Clumps of dielytra and day-lilies bloomed behind the paling, and a crooked elm hung romantically over the gable of the house.