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Today's Stichomancy for Italo Calvino

The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from Westward Ho! by Charles Kingsley:

till right over their heads it crashed against some cloud-cliff far above, and all was still.

Each man looked in the other's face: but Amyas was unmoved.

"The storm is coming," said he, "and the wind in it. It will be Eastward-ho now, for once, my merry men all!"

"Eastward-ho never brought us luck," said Jack in an undertone to Cary. But by this time all eyes were turned to the north-west, where a black line along the horizon began to define the boundary of sea and air, till now all dim in mist.

"There comes the breeze."

"And there the storm, too."

The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from A Horse's Tale by Mark Twain:

on blasphemy - still, with practice you get at the meat of what he says, and it serves. . . Hark! That's the reveille. . . .


"Faint and far, but isn't it clear, isn't it sweet? There's no music like the bugle to stir the blood, in the still solemnity of the morning twilight, with the dim plain stretching away to nothing and the spectral mountains slumbering against the sky. You'll hear another note in a minute - faint and far and clear, like the other one, and sweeter still, you'll notice. Wait . . . listen. There it goes! It says, 'IT IS I, SOLDIER - COME!' . . .


The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Astoria by Washington Irving:

handed chief placed some of his warriors as a guard to prevent the intrusion of any of his people. The camp was pitched on the river bank just above the boats. The tents, and the men wrapped in their blankets and bivouacking on skins in the open air, surrounded the baggage at night. Four sentinels also kept watch within sight of each other outside of the camp until midnight, when they were relieved by four others who mounted guard until daylight. Mr. Lisa encamped near to Mr. Hunt, between him and the village.

The speech of Mr. Lisa in the council had produced a pacific effect in the encampment. Though the sincerity of his friendship

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 Dead Souls by Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol:

ring of the same with its beak. Also, in the sunshine before the door two pet dogs were sleeping. Here there lived the lady's bosom friend. As soon as the bosom friend in question learnt of the newcomer's arrival, she ran down into the hall, and the two ladies kissed and embraced one another. Then they adjourned to the drawing-room.

"How glad I am to see you!" said the bosom friend. "When I heard some one arriving I wondered who could possibly be calling so early. Parasha declared that it must be the Vice-Governor's wife, so, as I did not want to be bored with her, I gave orders that I was to be reported 'not at home.'"

For her part, the guest would have liked to have proceeded to business

Dead Souls