|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from The Unseen World and Other Essays by John Fiske:
paper, as if there were really nothing in this universe worth
thinking of, save only the interchange of dollars and
commodities. So constant and unremitted is our forced
application, that our minds are dwarfed for everything except the
prosecution of the one universal pursuit.
Are we now prepared for the completing of the contrast? Must we
say that, as Athens was the most leisurely and the United States
is the most hurried community known in history, so the Americans
are, as a consequence of their hurry, lacking in thoroughness of
culture? Or, since it is difficult to bring our modern culture
directly into contrast with that of an ancient community, let me
The Unseen World and Other Essays
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Cousin Pons by Honore de Balzac:
a proper object for infatuation. Now and then the vein of genius gives
out, and at such times the Parisian may turn supercilious; he is not
always willing to bow down and gild mediocrity.
Mme. Cibot, entering in her usual unceremonious fashion, found the
doctor and his mother at table, before a bowl of lamb's lettuce, the
cheapest of all salad-stuffs. The dessert consisted of a thin wedge of
Brie cheese flanked by a plate of specked foreign apples and a dish of
mixed dry fruits, known as /quatre-mendiants/, in which the raisin
stalks were abundantly conspicuous.
"You can stay, mother," said the doctor, laying a hand on Mme.
Poulain's arm; "this is Mme. Cibot, of whom I have told you."