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Today's Stichomancy for Isaac Asimov

The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from The Republic by Plato:

What may that be?

There seem to be two causes of the deterioration of the arts.

What are they?

Wealth, I said, and poverty.

How do they act?

The process is as follows: When a potter becomes rich, will he, think you, any longer take the same pains with his art?

Certainly not.

He will grow more and more indolent and careless?

Very true.

And the result will be that he becomes a worse potter?


The Republic
The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Dark Lady of the Sonnets by George Bernard Shaw:

virgin, madam, albeit tis my misfortune.

THE DARK LADY. _[terrified again]_ In mercy, madam, hold no further discourse with him. He hath ever some lewd jest on his tongue. You hear how he useth me! calling me baggage and the like to your Majesty's face.

ELIZABETH. As for you, mistress, I have yet to demand what your business is at this hour in this place, and how you come to be so concerned with a player that you strike blindly at your sovereign in your jealousy of him.

THE DARK LADY. Madam: as I live and hope for salvation--

SHAKESPEAR. _[sardonically]_ Ha!

The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Pericles by William Shakespeare:

Who takes offence at that would make me glad?

SIMONIDES. Yea, mistress, are you so peremptory? [Aside.] I am glad on't with all my heart. -- I'll tame you; I'll bring you in subjection. Will you, not having my consent, Bestow your love and your affections Upon a stranger? [Aside.] who, for aught I know,

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 A House of Pomegranates by Oscar Wilde:

sound of her voice became sweeter to his ears. So sweet was her voice that he forgot his nets and his cunning, and had no care of his craft. Vermilion-finned and with eyes of bossy gold, the tunnies went by in shoals, but he heeded them not. His spear lay by his side unused, and his baskets of plaited osier were empty. With lips parted, and eyes dim with wonder, he sat idle in his boat and listened, listening till the sea-mists crept round him, and the wandering moon stained his brown limbs with silver.

And one evening he called to her, and said: 'Little Mermaid, little Mermaid, I love thee. Take me for thy bridegroom, for I love thee.'