Behind the curtain

2006-11-17

in Daily updates, Oxford

Dinner in hall, Wadham College, Oxford

Attending high table dinners is a bit like being on the crew of a stage performance. You are not an actor, but you get to see actors when they are being human – you see them in their ‘green room’ state. Also, you begin to understand the kind of dynamics that underlie theatre as a presentation to the outside world. The illusions that the audience buys into automatically are made transparent to you. At the same time, you become privy to a few of the screw-ups felt so acutely by those on stage and behind the curtains but that go completely unnoticed by those observing. I even got to operate Wadham’s infamous espresso machine tonight; Starbucks missed out on a quick study, when they denied me a job last summer.

Whether you’re interested in levels of analysis, bureaucratic politics, or epistemic communities – IR students will know what I am talking about – the MCR/SCR divide is a fascinating case study.

PS. One member of the IR faculty has been especially kind to me, at the last few dinners. I should find some way to thank him.

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