ART CRITICISM, AS AN ATTEMPT to translate from images into the words of a language, has to do with the building of bridges. In ancient Rome, bridge builders were called pontifices, and the head builder—pontifex maximus—still lives in that city. Which is to soy that art critics and the pope are in the same business.

Bridge building in general is an address of the problem of transportation over the abyss. The ancients, for example, thought there were two worlds, the mundane one below the moon and the heavenly one above it, and they were separated by a divide. But traffic between the two worlds was essential if life was to have meaning. Bridge builders—pontiffs—were needed. They built a temple on a hill, called the “Capitol,” that bridged the space between the sacred and the lowly political space called the “forum,” and for most of the history of Western civilization this bridge and its

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