Thursday September 10th, 2009

“Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!”

princess_bride-vizzini-3Wallace Shawn has written several plays, and his acting credits number 125 on IMDb. But like the brilliant and versatile Alec Guinness, who will always remain the Jedi in the brown robe to some, to many Shawn will always be most famous for his (hysterical) turn as Vizzini in The Princess Bride.

Now, a collection of Shawn’s essays has been published, and the Huffington Post has posted an adapted version of the book’s introduction. It begins with some pleasurably playful metaphysics:

At any rate, I didn’t ask to be an individual, but I find I am one, and by definition I occupy a space that no other individual occupies — in other words, for what it’s worth, I have my own point of view. I’m not proud to be me, I’m not excited to be me, but I find that I am me, and like most other individuals, I send out little signals, I tell everyone else how everything looks from where I am.

Later, Shawn has some fun with the image of Eleanor Roosevelt to describe the differences between his skepticism and his mother’s earnest charity:

Mother loved UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, which helped poor children all over the world, and she loved the United Nations; and, to her, being an American meant being a person who loved the United Nations and was a friend to poor children all over the world, like Eleanor Roosevelt and Adlai Stevenson. . . . I never became as nice as my mother. But by the time I was 45 I understood a few things that she’d overlooked. I suppose I’m something like what my mother would have been if she’d gone down into her basement and stumbled on Eleanor Roosevelt murdering babies there.

(Via Book Bench)