Ludger Schwarte is part of the younger generation of philosophers that are interested in the exchange between philosophy and the arts. He has written about the logical categories of art, the function of architecture and the functioning of public spaces.
During our conversation, Schwarte evoked the bed as a place for encounters, skirmish, exchange and communication.
- To debate, ancient philosophers used to lie (and often drink) together (each of them using a separate 'bed'). Their meetings are known as 'symposions'.
- Seeming a good place to pout, the bed can be a place for (semi-public) demonstrations.
- While we were discussing the communicative qualities of orgies, Schwarte suggested that I read "Satyricon" by the Roman Petronius.
- The use of the bed can reflect the political construction of a society. In family-centred countries, we sleep alone or as a couple. We don't share our bed with other people. On the contrary, the idea of socialism is that of a society where genetic affiliation is neglected for the sake of a more generalized notion of responsibility and community.
Following these ideas, could a bed be a public space?
At one point, I asked Schwarte, how many beds a person would need? "Three," he replied. "First is one's own bed, second is the bed waiting for us on our travels (in a hotel, at our friends' house, in a train); the third is the alien bed, for the pleasure of sleeping in foreign beds."