I was always taught to read books from the start to the end, and with equal attention to all parts. I was therefore very surprised to come across a remark by the philosopher Francis Bacon who suggested that ‘Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested’. This applies equally well to the individual letters here.
Some you will find are already largely familiar or seem simple, and can be skimmed through. Others are deceptive. I’ve tried to keep the expression of the ideas as clear as possible. Yet beneath the surface there are often concepts which are quite complex and may be totally unfamiliar. They take time to absorb. In some letters read slowly and just read one letter and no more. The ideas are very condensed; like powder or liquid, let them mix in your mind and expand outwards.
There is obviously no need to read the letters in the order in which they appear in the blog. Start with whatever question most interests you and dot around. As a new puzzle or query occurs to you, see if I’ve written about it. You may also sometimes find it helpful to read a letter, then read other things or talk round it with friends, and then re-read it later when it will have a different meaning.
Although this looks like just another set of thoughts summarizing things, I hope it will be more than that for you. I want it to be a companion on future mental walks. Together we can explore the world in a continuing conversation long after I am old or dead. I would like to continue our walks through the woods, over the hills, along the rivers and through gardens and museums. And if you are not Lily, and I have never, and perhaps will never meet you, I hope to be your virtual companion all the same.