Saturday, May 25, 2019

Chris Hedges and Wallace Shawn on politics, playwriting and power

The two discuss experiences working in other countries and how those experiences led them, as Hedges puts it, to “grapple with the reality of empire.”

In this week’s episode of “On Contact,” host Chris Hedges sits down with actor, playwright and essayist Wallace Shawn for an in-depth conversation on art, philosophy and the current state of American politics. Shawn, perhaps best known for his role in “The Princess Bride,” discusses his new book, “Night Thoughts,” as well as his past political plays such as “The Fever” and “The Designated Mourner.”

Shawn tells Hedges that he used to be a “complacent liberal … someone who wanted the miserable people to be less miserable, but didn’t see my own role in making them miserable.”

Hedges notes that many of Shawn’s plays examine “the assumptions of the intellectual elite,” although Shawn says the development of his writing was largely “unconscious.”

“Once I accepted the idea that I could despise myself, and even hate myself, I felt a kind of liberation and freedom,” Shawn continues. “If I allow myself to have thoughts that reflect poorly on myself, the universe of things I can think expands enormously.”

The two also compare their experiences working in other countries and discuss how those experiences led them, as Hedges puts it, to “grapple with the reality of empire.”

Above, watch the full interview, which also features a segment by RT America correspondent Anya Parampil.

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