Western civilization may still have a lot of ruin left in it. But the tocsin rang twice for me in the last weeks, and it told me that we are much closer than I had thought.  Of course, the Metropolitan Museum of Art did not mean to alarm me. But it surely did.

The first of its unintended alarums was the happenstance of three simultaneous exhibits at the Met. One was the Poussin show, reviewed by Jed Perl in the current print edition of TNR.  (The truth is that Nicolas Poussin is a bit impenetrable to me. But, curated by my learned friend Pierre Rosenberg, past director of the Louvre and a member of the Acad