[Language] is like a beam of light on Venus. There, on Venus, heavy atmospheric gravity bends light around the entire circumference of the planet, enabling a man, in theory, to see the back of his own head. Now, the object of every artist's vision is, in one sense, the back of his own. But the writer, unlike the painter, the sculptor, or composer, cannot form his idea of order directly in his materials; for as soon as he writes the least noun, the whole world starts pouring back onto his page. So fiction, using language like a beam of Venusian light to see the back of his own head, to talk about its own art, makes a very wide tautological loop. It goes all around the world of language's referents before coming back to its own surface.
--Annie Dillard, Living by Fiction