Wallace Shawn // My Dinner With Andre (1981) Director: Louis Malle
Posts tagged Wallace Shawn.
Wallace Shawn From the 2000 WNYC radio broadcast of THE DESIGNATED MOURNER directed by Andre Gregory. You can find the entire play here.
One day she said something to me like, “I don’t understand your relation to society. I don’t understand your relationship to the world you live in.”
“Can I tell you something?” I said snappily. “Do you know something? I don’t understand my relationship with my own ass. I mean I was standing naked in the bathroom this morning, and when I saw my ass in the mirror I just said to myself ‘What is that? What is that? And what does it have to do with me?’”
The chambermaid’s condition is not temporary. A life sentence has been passed on her: she’s to clean for me and to sleep in filth. Not, she’s to clean for me today, and I’m to clean for her tomorrow, or I’m to clean for her next year. Not, she’s to sleep in filth tonight, and I’m to sleep in filth tomorrow night, or some other night. No. The sentence says that she will serve, and then on the next day she will serve, and then she will, and she will, right up until her death.
Nothing is changing in the life of the poor. There is no change. Gradual change is not happening. It’s not going to happen. It was only something we talked about.
My feeling in my heart a sympathy for the poor does not change the life of the poor. My believing fervently in gradual change does not change the life of the poor. Parents who teach their children good values do not change the life of the poor. Artists who create works of art that inspire sympathy and good values do not change the life of the poor. Citizens inspired by artist and parents to adopt good values and feel sympathy for the poor and vote for sincere politicians who believe fervently in gradual change do not change the life of the poor, because sincere politicians who believe fervently in gradual change do not change the life of the poor.
All right, go ahead. Go ahead. Say it.
The life I live is irredeemably corrupt. It has no justification. I keep thinking that there’s this justification that I’ve written down somewhere on some little piece of paper, that I can’t remember what’s on the piece of paper, but that it’s sitting in the drawer of some desk in some room in some place I used to live. But in fact I’ll never find that little piece of paper, because there isn’t one, it doesn’t exist.
There’s no piece of paper that justifies what the beggar has and what I have. Standing naked beside the beggar — there’s no difference between her and me except a difference in luck. I don’t actually deserve to have a thousand times more than the beggar has. I don’t deserve to have two crusts of bread more.