|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from The Tanach:
Joshua 8: 21 And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city, and that the smoke of the city ascended, then they turned back, and slew the men of Ai.
Joshua 8: 22 And the other came forth out of the city against them; so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side; and they smote them, so that they let none of them remain or escape.
Joshua 8: 23 And the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua.
Joshua 8: 24 And it came to pass, when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, even in the wilderness wherein they pursued them, and they were all fallen by the edge of the sword, until they were consumed, that all Israel returned unto Ai, and smote it with the edge of the sword.
Joshua 8: 25 And all that fell that day, both of men and women, were twelve thousand, even all the men of Ai.
Joshua 8: 26 For Joshua drew not back his hand, wherewith he stretched out the javelin, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.
Joshua 8: 27 Only the cattle and the spoil of that city Israel took for a prey unto themselves, according unto the word of the LORD which He commanded Joshua.
Joshua 8: 28 So Joshua burnt Ai, and made it a heap for ever, even a desolation, unto this day.
Joshua 8: 29 And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until the eventide; and at the going down of the sun Joshua commanded, and they took his carcass down from the tree, and cast it at the entrance o
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from The Hidden Masterpiece by Honore de Balzac:
you may yet paint a worthy picture; you grew weary too soon.
Mediocrity will extol your work; but the true artist smiles. O Mabuse!
O my master!" added this singular person, "you were a thief; you have
robbed us of your life, your knowledge, your art! But at least," he
resumed after a pause, "this picture is better than the paintings of
that rascally Rubens, with his mountains of Flemish flesh daubed with
vermilion, his cascades of red hair, and his hurly-burly of color. At
any rate, you have got the elements of color, drawing, and sentiment,
--the three essential parts of art."
"But the saint is sublime, good sir!" cried the young man in a loud
voice, waking from a deep reverie. "These figures, the saint and the
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from The Alkahest by Honore de Balzac:
the manners and customs of the country as flat as its vast plains, as
cold as its foggy skies. And yet it is not so. Civilization has
brought her power to bear, and has modified all things, even the
effects of climate. If we observe attentively the productions of
various parts of the globe, we are surprised to find that the
prevailing tints from the temperate zones are gray or fawn, while the
more brilliant colors belong to the products of the hotter climates.
The manners and customs of a country must naturally conform to this
law of nature.
Flanders, which in former times was essentially dun-colored and
monotonous in tint, learned the means of irradiating its smoky
|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 The Republic by Plato:
nothing in Homer can be compared. But great dramatic or even great
rhetorical power is hardly consistent with firmness or strength of mind,
and dramatic talent is often incidentally associated with a weak or
In the Tenth Book Plato introduces a new series of objections. First, he
says that the poet or painter is an imitator, and in the third degree
removed from the truth. His creations are not tested by rule and measure;
they are only appearances. In modern times we should say that art is not
merely imitation, but rather the expression of the ideal in forms of sense.
Even adopting the humble image of Plato, from which his argument derives a
colour, we should maintain that the artist may ennoble the bed which he