Darnton gave the advice to his colleagues that they should try to enter the cultures of the past at points where they do not understand something.

When we cannot get a proverb, or a joke, or a ritual, or a poem, we know we are on to something. By picking at the document where it is most opaque, we may be able to unravel an alien system of meaning. The thread might even lead into a strange and wonderful world view.