|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from The Hidden Masterpiece by Honore de Balzac:
"we need faith; faith in art. We must live with our work for years
before we can produce a creation like that. Some of these shadows have
cost me endless toil. See, there on her cheek, below the eyes, a faint
half-shadow; if you observed it in Nature you might think it could
hardly be rendered. Well, believe me, I took unheard-of pains to
reproduce that effect. My dear Porbus, look attentively at my work,
and you will comprehend what I have told you about the manner of
treating form and outline. Look at the light on the bosom, and see how
by a series of touches and higher lights firmly laid on I have managed
to grasp light itself, and combine it with the dazzling whiteness of
the clearer tones; and then see how, by an opposite method,--smoothing
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Ursula by Honore de Balzac:
this intended neglect, was forced to be respectful to Desire, who,
since his entrance into office, had assumed a haughty and dignified
air, even in his own family.
"You must have forgotten Esther," Goupil said to him, "as you are so
much in love with Mademoiselle Mirouet."
"In the first place, Esther is dead, monsieur; and in the next I have
never even thought of Ursula," said the new magistrate.
"Why, what did you tell me, papa Minoret?" cried Goupil, insolently.
Minoret, caught in a lie by a man whom he feared, would have lost
countenance if it had not been for a project in his head, which was,
in fact, the reason why Goupil was invited to dinner,--Minoret having
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Pierrette by Honore de Balzac:
in the latest style. Pierrette had the same. Sylvie ordered for her a
charming little drawn bonnet of blue velvet lined with white satin,
precisely like the one worn by Dr. Martener's little daughter.
Thus attired, Pierrette was the most enchanting little girl in all
Provins. On Sunday, after church, all the ladies kissed her; Mesdames
Tiphaine, Garceland, Galardon, Julliard, and the rest fell in love
with the sweet little Breton girl. This enthusiasm was deeply
flattering to old Sylvie's self-love; she regarded it as less due to
Pierrette than to her own benevolence. She ended, however, in being
affronted by her cousin's success. Pierrette was constantly invited
out, and Sylvie allowed her to go, always for the purpose of
|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 Sophist by Plato:
within which the human mind was confined. Formerly when philosophers
arrived at the infinite and absolute, they seemed to be lost in a region
beyond human comprehension. But Hegel has shown that the absolute and
infinite are no more true than the relative and finite, and that they must
alike be negatived before we arrive at a true absolute or a true infinite.
The conceptions of the infinite and absolute as ordinarily understood are
tiresome because they are unmeaning, but there is no peculiar sanctity or
mystery in them. We might as well make an infinitesimal series of
fractions or a perpetually recurring decimal the object of our worship.
They are the widest and also the thinnest of human ideas, or, in the
language of logicians, they have the greatest extension and the least