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Today's Stichomancy for Stephen Colbert

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:

an inferior assurance to those of smell or hearing; in place of which, neither our imagination nor our senses can give us assurance of anything unless our understanding intervene.

Finally, if there be still persons who are not sufficiently persuaded of the existence of God and of the soul, by the reasons I have adduced, I am desirous that they should know that all the other propositions, of the truth of which they deem themselves perhaps more assured, as that we have a body, and that there exist stars and an earth, and such like, are less certain; for, although we have a moral assurance of these things, which is so strong that there is an appearance of extravagance in doubting of their existence, yet at the same time no one, unless his intellect is impaired,


Reason Discourse
The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from The School For Scandal by Richard Brinsley Sheridan:

by the whole Town, that Miss Letitia Shepherd had actually been brought to Bed of a fine Boy and Girl--and in less than a week there were People who could name the Father, and the Farm House where the Babies were put out to Nurse.

LADY SNEERWELL. Strange indeed!

CRABTREE. Matter of Fact, I assure you--O Lud! Mr. Surface pray is it true that your uncle Sir Oliver is coming home--

SURFACE. Not that I know of indeed Sir.

CRABTREE. He has been in the East Indies a long time--you can scarcely remember him--I believe--sad comfort on his arrival to hear how your Brother has gone on!

The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from McTeague by Frank Norris:

couldn't understand. What had a clerk at the City Hall to do with him? Why couldn't they let him alone?

"Oh, what's to become of us NOW?" wailed Trina. "What's to become of us now? We're paupers, beggars--and all so sudden." And once, in a quick, inexplicable fury, totally unlike anything that McTeague had noticed in her before, she had started up, with fists and teeth shut tight, and had cried, "Oh, if you'd only KILLED Marcus Schouler that time he fought you!"

McTeague had continued his work, acting from sheer force of habit; his sluggish, deliberate nature, methodical,


McTeague
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 Mother by Owen Wister:

form a very correct idea of the circumstances that attend the happy engagements of all young people. I imagine they prevail in all countries, just as the feeling about 'mother' prevails. Yes, 'Mother' is the right title for my story, as you shall see. Is it not strange that if you add 'in-law' to the word 'mother,' how immediately the sentiment of the term is altered?--as strongly indeed as when you prefix the word 'step' to it. But it is with neither of these composite forms of mother that any story deals.

"Ethel has always maintained that if I had really understood her, it never would have happened. She says--"

"Richard, I"--