Czeslaw Milosz, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, continues, “Thanks to distance the past preserved in our memory is purified and embellished.” We can consider the past “without our former passions” so we can find “details that had escaped our attention.” Rather than creating art “in the moment,” Milosz believed in calmly examining everything from a distance. This isn’t surprising when you consider that he lived through two world wars in Europe, which he described as “lethal events” that are “comparable only to violent earthquakes.” Under those circumstances, perhaps “distance” is a survival strategy and an approach to art.
Milosz, Czeslaw. A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry. Harcourt Brace, 1996, p. xix.