|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from The Republic by Plato:
Sophocles, when in answer to the question, How does love suit with age,
Sophocles,--are you still the man you were? Peace, he replied; most gladly
have I escaped the thing of which you speak; I feel as if I had escaped
from a mad and furious master. His words have often occurred to my mind
since, and they seem as good to me now as at the time when he uttered them.
For certainly old age has a great sense of calm and freedom; when the
passions relax their hold, then, as Sophocles says, we are freed from the
grasp not of one mad master only, but of many. The truth is, Socrates,
that these regrets, and also the complaints about relations, are to be
attributed to the same cause, which is not old age, but men's characters
and tempers; for he who is of a calm and happy nature will hardly feel the
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Sarrasine by Honore de Balzac:
have reason to fear the effervescence of my passion, tell me that you
" 'Why?' said she; 'for what good purpose? You think me pretty. But
you are a Frenchman, and your fancy will pass away. Ah! you would not
love me as I should like to be loved.'
" 'Purely, with no mingling of vulgar passion. I abhor men even more,
perhaps than I hate women. I need to take refuge in friendship. The
world is a desert to me. I am an accursed creature, doomed to
understand happiness, to feel it, to desire it, and like many, many
others, compelled to see it always fly from me. Remember, signor, that
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from In a German Pension by Katherine Mansfield:
"The man is mad," said Herr Erchardt.
"Well, please let him be mad in peace," said I, putting my hands over my
"Such ignorance must not be allowed to go uncontradicted," said he, and
turning his back on us, too exhausted to cry out any longer, he held up
seven and a half fingers.
"Eight!" thundered the greybeard, with pristine freshness.
We felt very sobered, and did not recover until we reached a white signpost
which entreated us to leave the road and walk through the field path--
without trampling down more of the grass than was necessary. Being
|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 McTeague by Frank Norris:
Suddenly they came to the ground with a tremendous shock.
But even as they were in the act of falling, Marcus,
like a very eel, writhed in the dentist's clasp and fell
upon his side. McTeague crashed down upon him like the
collapse of a felled ox.
"Now, you gotta turn him on his back," shouted Heise to the
dentist. "He ain't down if you don't."
With his huge salient chin digging into Marcus's shoulder,
the dentist heaved and tugged. His face was flaming, his
huge shock of yellow hair fell over his forehead, matted
with sweat. Marcus began to yield despite his frantic