|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from The Figure in the Carpet by Henry James:
that startled me: "Ah I'm not a bit engaged to her, you know!"
"Not overtly," I answered, "because her mother doesn't like you.
But I've always taken for granted a private understanding."
"Well, there WAS one. But there isn't now." That was all he said
save something about Mrs. Erme's having got on her feet again in
the most extraordinary way - a remark pointing, as I supposed, the
moral that private understandings were of little use when the
doctor didn't share them. What I took the liberty of more closely
inferring was that the girl might in some way have estranged him.
Well, if he had taken the turn of jealousy for instance it could
scarcely be jealousy of me. In that case - over and above the
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Alcibiades I by Plato:
SOCRATES: And they ought to go to war with those against whom it is better
to go to war?
SOCRATES: And when it is better?
SOCRATES: And for as long a time as is better?
SOCRATES: But suppose the Athenians to deliberate with whom they ought to
close in wrestling, and whom they should grasp by the hand, would you, or
the master of gymnastics, be a better adviser of them?
ALCIBIADES: Clearly, the master of gymnastics.
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Fantastic Fables by Ambrose Bierce:
"My good friend," said the Traveller, "according to the terms of
your demand my money will save my life, my life my money; you imply
you will take one or the other, but not both. If that is what you
mean, please be good enough to take my life."
"That is not what I mean," said the Highwayman; "you cannot save
your money by giving up your life."
"Then take it, anyhow," the Traveller said. "If it will not save
my money, it is good for nothing."
The Highwayman was so pleased with the Traveller's philosophy and
wit that he took him into partnership, and this splendid
combination of talent started a newspaper.
|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 Meno by Plato:
that ideas, or rather ideals, must be derived from a previous state of
existence because they are more perfect than the sensible forms of them
which are given by experience. But in the Phaedo the doctrine of ideas is
subordinate to the proof of the immortality of the soul. 'If the soul
existed in a previous state, then it will exist in a future state, for a
law of alternation pervades all things.' And, 'If the ideas exist, then
the soul exists; if not, not.' It is to be observed, both in the Meno and
the Phaedo, that Socrates expresses himself with diffidence. He speaks in
the Phaedo of the words with which he has comforted himself and his
friends, and will not be too confident that the description which he has
given of the soul and her mansions is exactly true, but he 'ventures to