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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 Pathology of Lying, Etc. by William and Mary Healy:

pseudologia phantastica. A young woman, well endowed physically and mentally, for years has often been indulging in extensive fabrications which have no discernible basis in advantages accruing to herself. The peculiarities of the falsifications have given rise to much trouble for her, her family, and for many others who have been incidentally connected with the situation. The genesis of the tendency was finally found in early experiences about which there have been much mental repression and conflict. In the background there was also defective home control and chronic neuropathic tendencies in both parents and in their kin.

The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Four Arthurian Romances by Chretien DeTroyes:

come straight to the tower. When Fenice sees her nurse, she feels already cured, because of the loving faith and trust she places in her. And Cliges greets her affectionately, and says: "Welcome, nurse, whom I love and prize. Nurse, for God's sake, what do you think of this young lady's malady? What is your opinion? Will she recover?" "Yes, my lord, have no fear but that I shall restore her completely. A fortnight will not pass before I make her so well that she was never before so lively and strong."

(Vv. 6317-6346.) While Thessala is busy with her remedies, John goes to provide the tower with everything that is necessary.

The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Pivot of Civilization by Margaret Sanger:

``The internal secretions constitute and determine much of the inherited powers of the individual and their development. They control physical and mental growth, and all the metabolic processes of fundamental importance. They dominate all the vital functions of man during the three cycles of life. They cooperate in an intimate relationship which may be compared to an interlocking directorate. A derangement of their functions, causing an insufficiency of them, an excess, or an abnormality, upsets the entire equilibrium of the body, with transforming effects upon the mind and the organs. In short, they control human nature, and whoever controls them, controls human nature....

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 Baby Mine by Margaret Mayo:

a "slight indisposition." In fact, she had even mentioned "seeing the doctor"--"Good Heavens!" he thought, "Suppose she were really ill? Who would look after her?"

When Alfred reached his rooms, the boy had not yet arrived. He crossed to the library table and took from the drawer all the letters thus far received from Zoie. He read them consecutively. "How could he have been so stupid as not to have realised sooner that her illness--whatever it was--had been gradually creeping upon her from the very first day of his departure?"

The boy arrived with the mail. It contained no letter from Zoie and Alfred went to bed with an uneasy mind.