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Today's Stichomancy for Umberto Eco

The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from The Ruling Passion by Henry van Dyke:

communicative. He talked about Canada. All Canadians do. But about himself? No.

If the questions became too pressing, he would try to play himself away from his inquisitors with new tunes. If that did not succeed, he would take the violin under his arm and slip quickly out of the room. And if you had followed him at such a time, you would have heard him drawing strange, melancholy music from the instrument, sitting alone in the barn, or in the darkness of his own room in the garret.

Once, and only once, he seemed to come near betraying himself. This was how it happened.

The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin:

to try for a country school, which he thought himself well qualified to undertake, as he wrote an excellent hand, and was a master of arithmetic and accounts. This, however, he deemed a business below him, and confident of future better fortune, when he should be unwilling to have it known that he once was so meanly employed, he changed his name, and did me the honor to assume mine; for I soon after had a letter from him, acquainting me that he was settled in a small village (in Berkshire, I think it was, where he taught reading and writing to ten or a dozen boys, at sixpence each per week), recommending Mrs. T---- to my care, and desiring me to write to him, directing for Mr. Franklin, schoolmaster, at such a place.


The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Love Songs by Sara Teasdale:

I was chained to loneliness, I, the dancer.

Willow, twinkling in the sun, Still your leaves and hear me, I can answer spring at last, Love is near me!

The Wanderer

I saw the sunset-colored sands, The Nile like flowing fire between, Where Rameses stares forth serene, And Ammon's heavy temple stands.

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 Last War: A World Set Free by H. G. Wells:

that seemed to be burrowing into it like a blazing rabbit . . .

She had all the sensations of waking up out of a dream.

She found she was lying face downward on a bank of mould and that a little rivulet of hot water was running over one foot. She tried to raise herself and found her leg was very painful. She was not clear whether it was night or day nor where she was; she made a second effort, wincing and groaning, and turned over and got into a sitting position and looked about her.

Everything seemed very silent. She was, in fact, in the midst of a vast uproar, but she did not realise this because her hearing had been destroyed.


The Last War: A World Set Free