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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 Philosophy 4 by Owen Wister:

decided against this at once, and returned to his own room. Three o'clock found him back at the door, knocking scrupulously, The idea of performing his side of the contract, of tendering his goods and standing ready at all times to deliver them, was in his commercially mature mind. This time he had brought a neat piece of paper with him, and wrote upon it, "Called, three P.M.," and signed it as before, and departed to his room with a sense of fulfilled obligations.

Bertie and Billy had lunched at Mattapan quite happily on cold ham, cold pie, and doughnuts. Mattapan, not being accustomed to such lilies of the field, stared at their clothes and general glory, but observed that they could eat the native bill-of-fare as well as anybody. They found

The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Prince Otto by Robert Louis Stevenson:

occurred to nobody to cancel his appointment. His present appearance was the more ominous, coming when it did. Gondremark scowled upon him; and the non-combatant on his right, intercepting this black look, edged away from one who was so clearly out of favour.

'The hour presses, your Highness,' said the Baron; 'may we proceed to business?'

'At once,' replied Seraphina.

'Your Highness will pardon me,' said Gotthold; 'but you are still, perhaps, unacquainted with the fact that Prince Otto has returned.'

'The Prince will not attend the council,' replied Seraphina, with a

The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Phantasmagoria and Other Poems by Lewis Carroll:

She would abate her dulcet tone, Because the talk was all her own, And he was dull as any drone.

She urged "No cheese is made of chalk": And ceaseless flowed her dreary talk, Tuned to the footfall of a walk.

Her voice was very full and rich, And, when at length she asked him "Which?" It mounted to its highest pitch.

He a bewildered answer gave, Drowned in the sullen moaning wave,

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 Divine Comedy (translated by H.F. Cary) by Dante Alighieri:

have understood it of Aristotle, and others, of the writer who goes by the name of Dionysius the Areopagite, referred to in the twenty-eighth Canto.

v. 40. I will make.] Exodus, c. xxxiii. 19.

v. 42. At the outset.] John, c. i. 1. &c.

v. 51. The eagle of our Lord.] St. John

v. 62. The leaves.] Created beings.

v. 82. The first living soul.] Adam.

v. 107. Parhelion.] Who enlightens and comprehends all things; but is himself enlightened and comprehended by none.

v. 117. Whence.] That is, from Limbo. See Hell, Canto II. 53.


The Divine Comedy (translated by H.F. Cary)