|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from Democracy In America, Volume 2 by Alexis de Toqueville:
who cultivate literature have received a literary education; and
most of those who have some tinge of belles-lettres are either
engaged in politics, or in a profession which only allows them to
taste occasionally and by stealth the pleasures of the mind.
These pleasures, therefore, do not constitute the principal charm
of their lives; but they are considered as a transient and
necessary recreation amidst the serious labors of life. Such man
can never acquire a sufficiently intimate knowledge of the art of
literature to appreciate its more delicate beauties; and the
minor shades of expression must escape them. As the time they can
devote to letters is very short, they seek to make the best use
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from End of the Tether by Joseph Conrad:
my first illness will be my last. I've never been ill that
I can remember," he had remarked. "Let it go."
But at this early stage he had already awakened
Massy's hostility by refusing to make it six hundred
instead of five. "I cannot do that," was all he had said,
simply, but with so much decision that Massy desisted
at once from pressing the point, but had thought to
himself, "Can't! Old curmudgeon. WON'T! He must
have lots of money, but he would like to get hold of a
soft berth and the sixth part of my profits for nothing
if he only could."
End of the Tether
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Charmides by Plato:
The definitions which are offered are all rejected, but it is to be
observed that they all tend to throw a light on the nature of temperance,
and that, unlike the distinction of Critias between (Greek), none of them
are merely verbal quibbles, it is implied that this question, although it
has not yet received a solution in theory, has been already answered by
Charmides himself, who has learned to practise the virtue of self-knowledge
which philosophers are vainly trying to define in words. In a similar
spirit we might say to a young man who is disturbed by theological
difficulties, 'Do not trouble yourself about such matters, but only lead a
good life;' and yet in either case it is not to be denied that right ideas
of truth may contribute greatly to the improvement of character.
|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 Songs of Travel by Robert Louis Stevenson:
And teem, and suffer without sound:
Or in your tranquil garden ground,
Contented, in the falling gloom,
Saunter and see the roses bloom.
That these might live, what thousands died!
All day the cruel hoe was plied;
The ambulance barrow rolled all day;
Your wife, the tender, kind, and gay,
Donned her long gauntlets, caught the spud,
And bathed in vegetable blood;
And the long massacre now at end,