|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad:
It must have fallen off his head . . . and he didn't bother.
Now I had what I wanted--the saving mark for my eyes.
But I hardly thought of my other self, now gone from the ship,
to be hidden forever from all friendly faces, to be a fugitive
and a vagabond on the earth, with no brand of the curse on his
sane forehead to stay a slaying hand . . . too proud to explain.
And I watched the hat--the expression of my sudden pity for his mere flesh.
It had been meant to save his homeless head from the dangers of the sun.
And now--behold--it was saving the ship, by serving me for a mark to help
out the ignorance of my strangeness. Ha! It was drifting forward,
warning me just in time that the ship had gathered sternaway.
The Secret Sharer
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde:
grandfather's will Miss Cardew does not come legally of age till
she is thirty-five.
LADY BRACKNELL. That does not seem to me to be a grave objection.
Thirty-five is a very attractive age. London society is full of
women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice,
remained thirty-five for years. Lady Dumbleton is an instance in
point. To my own knowledge she has been thirty-five ever since she
arrived at the age of forty, which was many years ago now. I see
no reason why our dear Cecily should not be even still more
attractive at the age you mention than she is at present. There
will be a large accumulation of property.
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells:
fear for Moreau. I fell indeed into a morbid state, deep and enduring,
and alien to fear, which has left permanent scars upon my mind.
I must confess that I lost faith in the sanity of the world
when I saw it suffering the painful disorder of this island.
A blind Fate, a vast pitiless Mechanism, seemed to cut and
shape the fabric of existence and I, Moreau (by his passion
for research), Montgomery (by his passion for drink), the Beast
People with their instincts and mental restrictions, were torn
and crushed, ruthlessly, inevitably, amid the infinite complexity
of its incessant wheels. But this condition did not come all at once:
I think indeed that I anticipate a little in speaking of
The Island of Doctor Moreau
|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 Gorgias by Plato:
modern times we almost ridicule the idea of poetry admitting of a moral.
The poet and the prophet, or preacher, in primitive antiquity are one and
the same; but in later ages they seem to fall apart. The great art of
novel writing, that peculiar creation of our own and the last century,
which, together with the sister art of review writing, threatens to absorb
all literature, has even less of seriousness in her composition. Do we not
often hear the novel writer censured for attempting to convey a lesson to
the minds of his readers?
Yet the true office of a poet or writer of fiction is not merely to give
amusement, or to be the expression of the feelings of mankind, good or bad,
or even to increase our knowledge of human nature. There have been poets