I like thick socks and heavy shirts because I live in a cold country, but all my theories are threadbare. All I have ever asked a theory to do is help me, like a bowline or a compass, get from one ledge or campsite to another. If it also tells me where to find true north, of course I’m grateful, yet I don’t suppose that any north is permanently true, or that it could or should be. I suppose meaning exists—and I suppose that, being meaning, it exists in a meaningful way. I imagine it persists as best it can and changes as it must, like the shapes of ancient headlands and the angle of the sun. But the sun itself is mortal, like all the stars, flowers, snowflakes, faces, weathered rocks, and other funnels and channels of meaning. Mortality, I guess, is one way meaning gets around: how it limps and jumps from day to day and place to place, once in a while in fancy dress but much more frequently in rags.

In other words, I think a theory worth its salt is likely not to be the blueprint for a dream house but closer to a proverb: the oatcake of experience that common sense is spread on, for the good and modest purpose of living through the day.

Robert Bringhurst, foreword to Everywhere Being Is Dancing: Twenty Pieces of Thinking