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Today's Stichomancy for John Von Neumann

The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from Reason Discourse by Rene Descartes:

a declaration by which to make their thoughts understood; and that on the other hand, there is no other animal, however perfect or happily circumstanced, which can do the like. Nor does this inability arise from want of organs: for we observe that magpies and parrots can utter words like ourselves, and are yet unable to speak as we do, that is, so as to show that they understand what they say; in place of which men born deaf and dumb, and thus not less, but rather more than the brutes, destitute of the organs which others use in speaking, are in the habit of spontaneously inventing certain signs by which they discover their thoughts to those who, being usually in their company, have leisure to learn their language. And this proves not only that the brutes have less reason than man, but


Reason Discourse
The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Caesar's Commentaries in Latin by Julius Caesar:

gerendum deficeret, tamen magno sibi usui fore arbitrabatur, si modo insulam adiisset, genus hominum perspexisset, loca, portus, aditus cognovisset; quae omnia fere Gallis erant incognita. Neque enim temere praeter mercatores illo adit quisquam, neque his ipsis quicquam praeter oram maritimam atque eas regiones quae sunt contra Galliam notum est.

Itaque vocatis ad se undique mercatoribus, neque quanta esset insulae magnitudo neque quae aut quantae nationes incolerent, neque quem usum belli haberent aut quibus institutis uterentur, neque qui essent ad maiorem navium multitudinem idonei portus reperire poterat.

Ad haec cognoscenda, prius quam periculum faceret, idoneum esse arbitratus C. Volusenum cum navi longa praemittit. Huic mandat ut

The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from The Enchanted Island of Yew by L. Frank Baum:

then you will escape being June-bugs."

"The fact is," said the captain, woefully, "we simply can't fight. For our swords are only tin, and our axes are made of wood, with silver-paper pasted over them."

"But why is that?" asked Wul-Takim, while all the party showed their surprise.

"Why, until now we have never had any need to fight," said the captain, "for every one has quickly surrendered to us or run away the moment we came near. But you people do not appear to be properly frightened, and now, alas! since you have drawn upon us the great sorcerer's anger, we shall all be transformed into June-bugs."


The Enchanted Island of Yew
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 Rescue by Joseph Conrad:

him wonderfully well adapted to the man, in its familiarity and deference. And if you prefer. . . ."

"I would prefer to hear nothing," said Mr. Travers, distinctly. "Not a single word. Not even from you, till I am a free agent again. But words don't touch me. Nothing can touch me; neither your sinister warnings nor the moods of levity which you think proper to display before a man whose life, according to you, hangs on a thread."

"I never forget it for a moment," said Mrs. Travers. "And I not only know that it does but I also know the strength of the thread. It is a wonderful thread. You may say if you like it has


The Rescue