Outward Bound Ideas

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Friday, February 16, 2007

88. From:, A Book of Luminous Things - Czeslaw Milosz

Goethe to Ackerman
(Translated by Margaret Fuller)

"We are bid to study the ancients; yet what does that avail us, if it does not teach us to study the real world, and reproduce that?––for there was the source of power of the ancients." "I will now tell you something, of which I think you will find frequent confirmation in your experience. When eras are on decline, all tendencies are subjective; but , on the other hand, when matters are ripening for a new epoch, all tendencies are objective. Our present time is retrograde, therefore subjective; we see this now more clearly in poetry than in painting, and other ways. Each manly effort, on the contrary, turns its force from the inward to the outward world. In important eras, those who have striven and acted most manfully were all objective in their nature.".....
The secret of all art, also of poetry, is, thus distance. Thanks to distance the past preserved in our memory is purified and embellished. When what we remember was occurring, reality was considerably less enticing, for we were tossed, as usual, by anxieties, desires, and apprehensions that colored everything, people, institutions, landscapes. Remembering, we move to that land of past time, yet now without our former passions; we do not strive for anything, we are not afraid of anything, we become an eye which perceives and finds details that had escaped our attention.


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