Sunday, October 11, 2009

Proust Questionnaire

I'm working on a new feature for the AWG Website- a "Meet the Board Members" spot in the form of a Proustian Questionnaire. If you read "Vanity Fair," you'll recognize the format as the last page of every issue- the one where a famous person answers questions about his or her esprit.

For those who don't know, Proust was a French intellectual and writer whose weighty tome, A la recherce du temps perdu, has overwhelmed and intidmidated many a student of French literature. I will say, however, that his famous description of the taste of a madeleine (a delicious French tea cake) transporting him back in time to a distant memory is one of my favorite images in literature, perhaps because it is so true. Don't we all have those Proustian moments when biting into a sweet or smelling something cooking creates in our minds powerful images of times past? It happens to me often, and after my memory recedes, I always, always think of Proust's madeleines. I'm knutz-- I know.

Back to the point: The Proust Questionnaire is based on a popular party game from the late 19th century, wherein guests were asked to answer certain soul-searching questions which were then shared around the room, and everyone oohed and awwed and enjoyed learning deep things about their friends. Thrilling, I know, but this is what happened when people didn't have t.v. or Wii. The questions are now called "Proustian" because he answered them twice in his life, as a young teenager and then later as a young man, and the change in his answers apparently shows the depths of his literary genius. I can't attest to that, but I can say that answering these questions is an intellectual challenge. They really make you think about yourself, and the results are fun. I just did it and thought I'd share my answers, just for shits and giggles. Maybe you might want to play along too? If so, leave your answers in the comments or link to a similar post on your blog.

Here goes... Kate's Proustian Questionnaire, Age 30.

- What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

My education.

- What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Comfort—a cozy couch, a glass of red wine, a crackling fire, a good book, a dog at my feet (or on them, whichever the case may be)

- What is your current state of mind?

I am Unsure.

- What is your favorite occupation?


- What is your most treasured possession?

My wedding ring.

- What is your favorite journey?

To a new place.

- What is your most marked characteristic?

My good looks. No really—my sense of humor? I have no idea.

- When and where were you happiest?


- What is it that you most dislike?

A lie.

- What is your greatest fear?


- What is your greatest extravagance?


- What living person do you most admire?

My mother.

- What is your greatest regret?

Not getting a useful degree.

- Which talent would you most like to have?

To play the piano.

- Where would you like to live?

Near friends.

- What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Being incapable of providing for oneself or one’s family.

- What is the quality you most like in a woman?


- What is the quality you most like in a man?


- What is your most admirable trait?


- What is your most deplorable trait?


- What is the trait you most deplore in others?


- What do you most value in your friends?


- Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

James Bond.

- Who are your heroes in real life?

Those who attempt to improve life for others.

- What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Being good.

- Who are your favorite writers?

Hemingway, Shakespeare.

- On what occasions do you lie?

When necessary.

- Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Like- I use it entirely too much-- makes me sound like a Valley Girl.

- If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

My career (or lack thereof).

- What are your favorite names?

Jack, Elizabeth, Bernard (must be spoken with a British accent, “Ber-nerd”)

- How would you like to die?

Without knowing.

- If you were to die and could come back as a person or thing, what would it be?

A beloved dog.

- What is your motto?

“If you’re going to do something, do it right the first time.”

1 comment:

  1. I love the questionaire! I LOVED reading this and finding out more about you!! And, I might LOVE filling this out on my own blog (it'll help a bit of writer's block!). Interesting choices on fictional hero and favorite writers.