Laughing at School

| July 7, 2010

Philosophy is properly home-sickness; the wish to be everywhere at home.

—Novalis

Laughter is in league with the guilt of subjectivity, but in the suspension of law which it announces it also points beyond that complicity. It promises a passage to the homeland.

—Horkheimer & Adorno

Can one find oneself at home in the classroom? Both a surrogate home and the quintessential other space, the journey out and back that marks coming of age. Don’t we learn that we can never really come home, that it is home that eludes us? Does not the teacher feel this more acutely than most? Is that why we speak so wistfully of the student’s futures?

Witness Novalis’ precision: it is not that we wish to go back home, but that we wish to be at home while away from home.  To be at home in the world for once. A comical affair. The too somber classroom keeps us from finding our way home, but not in the way we would suspect. It is not that the classroom/home is recognizable by its ebullient laughter. It is that we cannot help but laugh at finding ourselves at home there. This? This is home?