Magic Theatre

“One day I would learn how to laugh.”

Whilst Harry Haller acknowledges his epiphany following a visit to the Magic Theatre, many of his readers remain unconvinced. Is laughter, as promised by Pablo and Mozart, truly the key to transcendence of the often incomprehensible happenings of life? There are events in life that are just hard to laugh off. Harry’s punishment for taking life too seriously is destruction – ironically the death of his saviour, Hermine. How more bizarre can life’s twist be?

It is uncommon amongst teachers who, like the middle-aged intellectual recluse, find themselves steppenwolves of the modern education world. Is that compelling enough a reason for us to commit a metaphorical professional suicide when we find ourselves at odds with all that is touted as the true meaning of an excellent teacher? After all, there are multitudes of voices coming from multitudes of educational establishments in both private and public sectors, not to mention other stakeholders. Even commercial training providers are vying for the ludicrous market that is education business, gearing up to sell us their wisdom.

Perhaps, our salvation is really through stripping off our own sense of ego and prestige, the trappings that come with pride and status. Knowledge may bring us intellectual power. In Pablo’s and Mozart’s eyes, such power is but an entrapment of self-delusion. A life denied of its shifting shades and colours is a life unlived. Like Harry, intellectual posturing and obstinacy only result in moral isolation and emotional solitude. Yet at a symbolic level, his fate is ultimately determined ironically by the very people he despises – the bourgeois, an unbearable absurdity that has to be endured.

Maybe, live and let live should be our motto in the job that we do as educators.
Whilst we don’t always find it easy to laugh off what seems to us as being ridiculous and absurd, we can reflect that what we gripe about may well be the reflections of our own shortcomings, like the darkest corners of Harry’s psyche that he discovers behind the mirror doors in the Magic Theatre.

Next time, when we are all poised as iconoclasts of idols, enter the Magic Theatre.

Learn how to laugh.


About W. S. Lien

Tweed Wearer - Country Lover - Teacher Researching Professionalism and Identity@Clare College, Cambridge - Keen Amateur Photographer - Devotee to Poppy my Labrador
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