Upon a bridge we see with new eyes, we feel with a new consciousness. And we do so for the very first time, in part, because a bridge usually elevates us slightly allowing us to have an overview of the whole, an overview of the interconnected parts and events, an overview of the ‘where from” and the “where to”... But to actually move slowly across a bridge; that is one of the most unique experiences we can have as humans. One feels as if part of a primordial connecting power and desire which we humans possess at our core. We feel the beginning of a voyage, a departure, and sense that there is a new and unknown destination over there, on the other side of things. Of course, sometimes bridges are small, so we actually see the other side! But we also recall how very short bridges bridge what are monstrous abysses! Sometimes it even takes time to cross a bridge, some even many minutes! In this respect, bridges also link us to our temporality: for our very lives are like bridges between our births and our deaths. And in the in-between of our lives, in that unique expanse which is living, we may actually become experts in bridging itself by reflecting on what a bridge is and does.
But this is no easy task, for as with many other over-used things of our lives, we use them and only realize what they are, what they could be and what is their essence, when they actually fail to provide the use they were intended for. Recently a bridge collapsed in Montreal killing several fellow Canadians; it was then that bridges came to our public attention. But it is not that type of attention we seek here. We wish for a reflective type of attention.
Bridges we mostly go into in order to get to our destination. Infrequently we pause to consider in wonder what a bridge actually is. Actually, more and more given our traffic realities, it is quite unsafe to even stop at a bridge! And though I could not begin to tell you how to build a bridge, I have been fascinated by their multiple forms and the underlying symbolic nature for many years. As a matter of fact, I have dedicated many years to trying to understand how one could build bridges in a metaphorical sense between diverse areas of human understanding and experience. This is in part what comes about when one purposefully seeks to become a T or Ω-kind of person who, as I have argued elsewhere, takes up a form of life in which overspecialization is moderated by a permanent Socratic search for a deeper understanding in other non-specialized areas as well. The very letter omega (Ω) is, in fact, like a bridge...
I hope now you can sense why some of us are deeply interested in bridges and, more specially in bridgers. But at the same time, we seriously seek to reject a naive form of bridging which is dangerous to our very health! This is the reason why I forcefully stand against the very dangerous philosophical idea of a “fusion of horizons” a la Gadamer/Taylor, and instead more realistically consider bridging as a healthier and more prudent alternative for those who are truly interested in connecting the diverse. Fusing dangerously seeks to do away with difference, bridges connect in separation. For to bridge is pleasurable in-and-of-itself and one must seek to protect bridgers from the excesses of those parties who care little for bridges and their beautifying presence. It would be very odd that those who did not bridge actually were happier than those who risked bridging; though as things stand, the non-bridgers swear to be the happiest in their smug alleged self-sufficiency. In contrast, when you bridge you gain a dual bilingual reality even if others decide to remain monist and unilingual. To those we could apply Wordsworth’s striking words: “dull would be he who could pass by.” Many are dull and the adventure of bridging must not be tainted by such dullness.