|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from Bureaucracy by Honore de Balzac:
guessing the inmost wishes of others; he knew the way to many a castle
in the air, to the dreams about which a man may be fooled because he
wants to be; and he made such men sit to him for hours.
Thus it happened that this close observer, who could display
unrivalled tact in developing a joke or driving home a sarcasm, was
unable to use the same power to make men further his fortunes and
promote him. The person he most liked to annoy was young La
Billardiere, his nightmare, his detestation, whom he was nevertheless
constantly wheedling so as the better to torment him on his weakest
side. He wrote him love letters signed "Comtesse de M--" or "Marquise
de B--"; took him to the Opera on gala days and presented him to some
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Philebus by Plato:
in existence, and never has been, is a contradiction; do you see?
SOCRATES: Then just be so good as to change the terms.
PROTARCHUS: How shall I change them?
SOCRATES: Instead of the oblivion of the soul, when you are describing the
state in which she is unaffected by the shocks of the body, say
PROTARCHUS: I see.
SOCRATES: And the union or communion of soul and body in one feeling and
motion would be properly called consciousness?
PROTARCHUS: Most true.
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Louis Lambert by Honore de Balzac:
My thoughts were many at each step on this road, which Louis had so
often trodden with a heart full of hopes, a soul spurred on by the
myriad darts of love. The shrubs, the trees, the turns of the winding
road where little gullies broke the banks on each side, were to me
full of strange interest. I tried to enter into the impressions and
thoughts of my unhappy friend. Those evening meetings on the edge of
the coombe, where his lady-love had been wont to find him, had, no
doubt, initiated Mademoiselle de Villenoix into the secrets of that
vast and lofty spirit, as I had learned them all some years before.
But the thing that most occupied my mind, and gave to my pilgrimage
the interest of intense curiosity, in addition to the almost pious
|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 House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne:
iron shaped out; nor was there a drop less of brandy in the toper's
bottle, nor a drop more of milk in the milkmaid's pail, nor one
additional coin in the miser's strong-box, nor was the scholar a
page deeper in his book. All were precisely in the same condition
as before they made themselves so ridiculous by their haste to toil,
to enjoy, to accumulate gold, and to become wise. Saddest of all,
moreover, the lover was none the happier for the maiden's granted
kiss! But, rather than swallow this last too acrid ingredient,
we reject the whole moral of the show.
The monkey, meanwhile, with a thick tail curling out into
preposterous prolixity from beneath his tartans, took his station
House of Seven Gables