In all of my books, I've emphasized that the fundamental difference between civilized and indigenous ways of being is that, for even the most open-minded of the civilized, listening to the natural world is a metaphor.
My great-grandmother grew up in a sod house in Nebraska. When she was a tiny girl - in other words, only four human generations ago - there were still enough wild bison on the Plains that she was afraid lightning storms would spook them and they would trample her home.
For us to maintain our way of living, we must tell lies to each other and especially to ourselves. The lies are necessary because, without them, many deplorable acts would become impossibilities.
Maud Gonne was - excuse me, Maud Gonne was central to the Gaelic literature revival. She wrote plays, and she sang.
This question of grades being coercive, and of politics being inherent in teaching, applies not only to writing, but to all fields. Mathematics, science, economics, history, religion, are all just as deeply and necessarily political. To believe they’re not—to believe, for example, that science (or mathematics, economics, history, religion, and so forth: choose your poison) describes the world as it is, rather than acting as a filter that removes all information that does not fit the model and colors the information that remains—is in itself to take a position, one that is all the more powerful and dangerous because it is invisible to the one who holds it.
Someone asked me once at a talk why I so stress the positive with my students yet am such an unstinting critic of those who run our culture and who are killing the planet. I answered immediately, “Power. If I’ve got power or authority over someone, it’s my responsibility to use that only to help them. It’s my job to accept and praise them into becoming who they are.