|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from Records of a Family of Engineers by Robert Louis Stevenson:
he pored over the engineer's voluminous handy-book of nature;
thus must, too, have pored my grand-father and uncles.
But it is of the essence of this knowledge, or this knack
of mind, to be largely incommunicable. `It cannot be imparted
to another,' says my father. The verbal casting-net is thrown
in vain over these evanescent, inferential relations. Hence
the insignificance of much engineering literature. So far as
the science can be reduced to formulas or diagrams, the book
is to the point; so far as the art depends on intimate study
of the ways of nature, the author's words will too often be
found vapid. This fact - that engineering looks one way, and
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Euthyphro by Plato:
the reverse of a wise man, he has found me out, and is going to accuse me
of corrupting his young friends. And of this our mother the state is to be
the judge. Of all our political men he is the only one who seems to me to
begin in the right way, with the cultivation of virtue in youth; like a
good husbandman, he makes the young shoots his first care, and clears away
us who are the destroyers of them. This is only the first step; he will
afterwards attend to the elder branches; and if he goes on as he has begun,
he will be a very great public benefactor.
EUTHYPHRO: I hope that he may; but I rather fear, Socrates, that the
opposite will turn out to be the truth. My opinion is that in attacking
you he is simply aiming a blow at the foundation of the state. But in what
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Padre Ignacio by Owen Wister:
even the ample table at San Fernando could surpass his own on occasions.
And this was for him indeed an occasion!
"Your half-breeds will think I am one of themselves," said Gaston,
showing his dusty clothes. "I am not fit to be seated with you." But he
did not mean this any more than his host had meant his remark about the
food. In his pack, which an Indian had brought from his horse, he carried
some garments of civilization. And presently, after fresh water and not a
little painstaking with brush and scarf, there came back to the Padre a
young guest whose elegance and bearing and ease of the great world were
to the exiled priest as sweet as was his traveled conversation.
They repaired to the hall and took their seats at the head of the long
|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 Charmides by Plato:
beauty and such wisdom and temperance of soul, should have no profit or
good in life from your wisdom and temperance. And still more am I grieved
about the charm which I learned with so much pain, and to so little profit,
from the Thracian, for the sake of a thing which is nothing worth. I think
indeed that there is a mistake, and that I must be a bad enquirer, for
wisdom or temperance I believe to be really a great good; and happy are
you, Charmides, if you certainly possess it. Wherefore examine yourself,
and see whether you have this gift and can do without the charm; for if you
can, I would rather advise you to regard me simply as a fool who is never
able to reason out anything; and to rest assured that the more wise and
temperate you are, the happier you will be.