northop frye

Whatever value there is in studying literature, cultural or practical, comes from the total body of our reading, the castle of words we’ve built, and keep adding new wings to it all the time. As for us, we can’t speak or think or comprehend even our own experience except within the limits of our own power over words, and those limits have been established for us by our great writers.
—  Northrop Frye; The Educated Imagination (1964)
Our envelope, as I have called it, the cultural insulation that separates us from nature, is rather like (to use a figure that has haunted me from childhood) the window of a lit-up railway carriage at night. Most of the time it is a mirror of our own concerns, including our concern about nature. As a mirror, it fills us with the sense that the world is something which exists primarily in reference to us: it was created for us; we are at the centre of it and the whole point of its existence. But occasionally the mirror turns into a real window, through which we can see only the vision of an indifferent nature that goes along for untold aeons of time without us, seems to have produced us only by accident, and, if it were conscious, could only regret having done so.
—  Northop Frye, Creation and Recreation