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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 The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad:

but I was not sleepy; I could not have gone to sleep. I sat there, fagged out, looking at the curtains, trying to clear my mind of the confused sensation of being in two places at once, and greatly bothered by an exasperating knocking in my head. It was a relief to discover suddenly that it was not in my head at all, but on the outside of the door. Before I could collect myself the words "Come in" were out of my mouth, and the steward entered with a tray, bringing in my morning coffee. I had slept, after all, and I was so frightened that I shouted, "This way! I am here, steward," as though he had been miles away. He put down the tray on the table next the couch and only then said, very quietly, "I can see you are here, sir." I felt him give me a keen look,


The Secret Sharer
The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin A. Abbot:

on the East is a small door for the Women; on the West a much larger one for the Men; the South side or floor is usually doorless.

Square and triangular houses are not allowed, and for this reason. The angles of a Square (and still more those of an equilateral Triangle), being much more pointed than those of a Pentagon, and the lines of inanimate objects (such as houses) being dimmer than the lines of Men and Women, it follows that there is no little danger lest the points of a square or triangular house residence might do serious injury to an inconsiderate or perhaps absent-minded traveller suddenly therefore, running against them: and as early as the eleventh century


Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions
The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Of The Nature of Things by Lucretius:

Forth from his splendid halls, and straight- returns, Feeling i'faith no better off abroad. He races, driving his Gallic ponies along, Down to his villa, madly,- as in haste To hurry help to a house afire.- At once He yawns, as soon as foot has touched the threshold, Or drowsily goes off in sleep and seeks Forgetfulness, or maybe bustles about And makes for town again. In such a way Each human flees himself- a self in sooth, As happens, he by no means can escape;


Of The Nature of Things
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 The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg by Mark Twain:

"Edward, why do you object to cheques?"

"Cheques signed by Stephenson! I am resigned to take the $8,500 if it could come in bank-notes--for it does seem that it was so ordered, Mary--but I have never had much courage, and I have not the pluck to try to market a cheque signed with that disastrous name. It would be a trap. That man tried to catch me; we escaped somehow or other; and now he is trying a new way. If it is cheques--"

"Oh, Edward, it is TOO bad!" And she held up the cheques and began to cry.

"Put them in the fire! quick! we mustn't be tempted. It is a trick to make the world laugh at US, along with the rest, and-- Give them


The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg