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Today's Stichomancy for Neal Stephenson

The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from The Lesson of the Master by Henry James:

such dishonour." St. George, in the same contemplative attitude, spoke softly but deliberately, and without perceptible emotion. His tone indeed suggested an impersonal lucidity that was practically cruel - cruel to himself - and made his young friend lay an argumentative hand on his arm. But he went on while his eyes seemed to follow the graces of the eighteenth-century ceiling: "Look at me well, take my lesson to heart - for it IS a lesson. Let that good come of it at least that you shudder with your pitiful impression, and that this may help to keep you straight in the future. Don't become in your old age what I have in mine - the depressing, the deplorable illustration of the worship of false

The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals by Charles Darwin:

from the young themselves loving each other and playing together. Another and very different gesture, expressive of pleasure, has already been described, namely, the curious manner in which young and even old cats, when pleased, alternately protrude their fore-feet, with separated toes, as if pushing against and sucking their mother's teats. This habit is so far analogous to that of rubbing against something, that both apparently are derived from actions performed during the nursing period. Why cats should show affection by rubbing so much more than do dogs, though the latter delight in contact with their masters, and why cats only occasionally lick the hands of their friends, whilst dogs always do so, I cannot say. Cats cleanse


Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals
The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Master and Man by Leo Tolstoy:

shivered all over, then the shivering ceased and little by little he began to lose consciousness. He did not know whether he was dying or falling asleep, but felt equally prepared for the one as for the other.

VIII

Meanwhile Vasili Andreevich, with his feet and the ends of the reins, urged the horse on in the direction in which for some reason he expected the forest and forester's hut to be. The snow covered his eyes and the wind seemed intent on stopping him, but bending forward and constantly lapping his coat over and pushing it between himself and the cold harness pad which


Master and Man
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 Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table by Oliver Wendell Holmes:

the divinity-student,) and all such as have been through college, or, what is the same thing, received an honorary degree, will understand them without a dictionary. The old man had a great deal to say about "aestivation," as he called it, in opposition, as one might say, to HIBERNATION. Intramural aestivation, or town-life in summer, he would say, is a peculiar form of suspended existence, or semi-asphyxia. One wakes up from it about the beginning of the last week in September. This is what I remember of his poem:-

AESTIVATION.

AN UNPUBLISHED POEM, BY MY LATE LATIN TUTOR

IN candent ire the solar splendor flames;


The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table