Campus Novel attempt to re-establish the bridge as a factor of community formation with specific reference to the stone bridges of the Balkan area, the folklore and myths developed around them. Partaking of the postmodern approach to Myth as a field of correlations, we focus on the paralogi of The Bridge of Arta, as a narrative record of the constructional and demographical aspects of the bridge, but mostly of the intensity with which it has been registered on the collective imagination.
Paralogi (pl. paraloges) is a long, narrative song similar to a folktale, which may be based on an actual event, mostly a tragic one. These are not recounts of heroic deeds, but mostly elaborations of tragic aspects of human life. Paraloges are usually caught in the myth and legend creation process, giving birth to or being nourished by them, as they pass on orally from place to place and from generation to generation. This is the reason one may encounter the same theme in many variants.
Collective memory may be traced on places. In our case the bridge stands for a place, or rather a landmark. According to A. Rossi, the (constructed) places are the elements out of which a communal identity is composed, their bonds with the past being constantly reactivated in the present. It has been quite revealing for Rossi the fact that, according to A. Loos, the purest form of architecture consists in the constructed place coinciding with the need for its construction. Accordingly, the bridge acquires its monumentality through a process of marking in reference to the past and the communal memory. The notions of past and tradition are not limited to an atavistic logic, but rather consist in tracing layers of memory among those various structures which repeatedly/constantly define human life. The bridge of Arta is therefore connected as a landmark to the contemporary urban factors, such as roads, bridges, passages… through the collective habitation experience.
In the Paralogi of the Bridge of Arta the sacrifice of the chief mason's wife is essential for the founding of the building. Tradition has this sacrifice to be part of a ritual of atonement towards the natural elements. Human tampering with the environment was considered to be a sacrilege, a hybris against natural order and as a means of precaution against the destructive angry forces of nature, a living being had to be built in the construction. One encounters the same motif in many ancient Greek tales, but there exists also a long list of references to construction-related human sacrifices in medieval Europe.
Sisters three we were, and doomed we were all three.
One built over the Danube, one the Euphrates river
And as for me, the youngest, I build the bridge at Arta.
The Paralogi of the Bridge of Art exists in three hundred and thirty three variants based on the obstacles in the building of a bridge as well as on the fate of the builders and their families, often a tragic one.
The present booklet is part of the work Paralogi. In it data on the bridge has been gathered and subjected to an editing, focused on the bridge as a passage, a channel of contact, a threshold. The booklet will be placed on a shelf in the middle of the bridge between Oostenstr and Mercatorstr in Antwerp as a link to an internet location where the said data exists. In this way, the potential user of a digital passage – link may be actively involved in processing and distributing the artistic work.