Saunders, of course:
The closer we look at a time and place, the less strange it seems, the more knowable, the more like our own. (And also, of course, the more specifically different from our own.) We learn, or remind ourselves, that we are capable of this sort of deep looking and that with deep looking comes increased feelings of familiarity, comfort, generosity, even love. Close-looking might even, sometimes, serve a protective or cautionary function — learning “how things really, precisely were” might not always be a comfort, but it is, always, good prep for whatever’s coming.