Words make you free. Without words and the mastery of them, the self remains trapped in cliché. This is the burden of any decent English class.
Innocence is not benign. If we describe our experience only in terms of cultural cliches–shaped by stories received rather than constructed–accurate perception and genuine thought cannot occur. The watchword of literature is “accuracy,” and so reading and writing carry us into an original relation to the world, challenging generalization with particulars known in specific times and places.
Both texts and classrooms are meeting places. Audience and artist meet in the text, and in the classroom members of the audience encounter each others’ readings. When a group reads a rich, significant text together, I’m tempted to describe the experience in sacramental terms. A work of art can host communions.