This translates as "follow the woman". Its a phrase Dumas used for when one is trying to understand a man's inexplicable behavior. There is a method to his madness, but if you didn't realize the madness was caused by his secret pursuit of la femme you wouldn't see the method he is using. Once you know of la femme, everything falls into place.
When we use the term "linear" it means we know the line ("la femme"). When we use the term "non-linear" we don't know the line, but it it out there.
When we see the results of an iterated equation it may look nothing like a line. But if we were lying along the right x-axis and staring "up" the line would be revealed. So perhaps when were trying to sort through complexity we should take comfort that there is an answer out there, somewhere. We just must continue to Cherchez La Femme.
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