|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from The Lesser Bourgeoisie by Honore de Balzac:
"Well, but what are they, those terms?"
"I gave up my shares for fifteen thousand francs."
"Come, come!" said Dutocq, shrugging his shoulders, "what you are
after is to recover a loss (if you made it) by a commission on my
share--and perhaps, after all, the whole thing is only a plot between
you and la Peyrade--"
"At any rate, my good friend, you don't mince your words; an infamous
thought comes into your head and you state it with charming frankness.
Luckily you shall presently hear me make the proposal to Theodose, and
you are clever enough to know by his manner if there has been any
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe:
circumstances then surrounding me--there arose out of the pure
abstractions which the hypochondriac contrived to throw upon his
canvas, an intensity of intolerable awe, no shadow of which felt
I ever yet in the contemplation of the certainly glowing yet too
concrete reveries of Fuseli.
One of the phantasmagoric conceptions of my friend,
partaking not so rigidly of the spirit of abstraction, may be
shadowed forth, although feebly, in words. A small picture
presented the interior of an immensely long and rectangular vault
or tunnel, with low walls, smooth, white, and without
interruption or device. Certain accessory points of the design
The Fall of the House of Usher
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Gobseck by Honore de Balzac:
idea, a sort of mania with him. It is one result of his illness. Your
father's fondness for you is another proof that his mind is deranged.
Until he fell ill you never noticed that he loved you more than
Pauline and Georges. It is all caprice with him now. In his affection
for you he might take it into his head to tell you to do things for
him. If you do not want to ruin us all, my darling, and to see your
mother begging her bread like a pauper woman, you must tell her
" 'Ah!' cried the Count. He had opened the door and stood there, a
sudden, half-naked apparition, almost as thin and fleshless as a
|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 Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad:
The painfully detached notes grew faint behind his back while he
went slowly upstairs, across the hall, and into the street.
In front of the great doorway a dismal row of newspaper sellers
standing clear of the pavement dealt out their wares from the
gutter. It was a raw, gloomy day of the early spring; and the
grimy sky, the mud of the streets, the rags of the dirty men,
harmonised excellently with the eruption of the damp, rubbishy
sheets of paper soiled with printers' ink. The posters, maculated
with filth, garnished like tapestry the sweep of the curbstone.
The trade in afternoon papers was brisk, yet, in comparison with
the swift, constant march of foot traffic, the effect was of
The Secret Agent