The Proust Questionnaire Answered
By Chris M. Barkley:
From the Vanity Fair website:
The Proust Questionnaire has its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature. Here is the basic Proust Questionnaire.
1) What is your idea of perfect happiness?
To be listening to music, reading, writing or creating something of value.
2) What is your greatest fear?
That my life has no meaning and nothing I have done has any value.
3) What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Without a doubt, I procrastinate way too much. I’ll work on that tomorrow. Promise.
4) What is the trait you most deplore in others?
When people impulsively give in to their most inner crassness and do things to please themselves without a thought to how their actions might be interpreted by others.
5) Which living person do you most admire?
Currently, the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle. I also admire the men and women of law enforcement and public safety, who put their lives on the line EVERY day.
6) What is your greatest extravagance?
I LOVE buying music, books and films. What I take for granted everyday is a pleasure that is denied to a great number of people in the world.
7) What is your current state of mind?
Troubled, but feeling hopeful.
8) What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Modesty or moderation. When I was younger, I tried to dial back my self-worth and ego to appease other people, which, I think, held me back in my development as a person. As I’ve grown older, I learned the hard way that those sorts of feelings are actually harmful. If you’re good at doing something, ANYTHING, you have to be your own cheerleader first before you can get others to believe it. Occasionally, you’ve got to cut loose and feel it, otherwise you’ll tie yourself in emotional knots.
9) On what occasion do you lie?
It’s usually a selfish impulse to protect myself from some stupid mistake or faux pas that I should have avoided in the first place. Shameful, but true.
10) What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I would love to have been three or four inches taller.
11) Which living person do you most despise?
I TRY not to despise anyone because hating takes a lot of personal energy and is distracting me from more important concerns. Having said that, Donald J. Trump has worked himself off of my Christmas card list..
12) What is the quality you most like in a man?
Honesty and a sense of humor.
13) What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Honesty and a sense of humor.
14) Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Gotcha. Really? C’mon Man!!!!!!
15) What or who is the greatest love of your life?
I have the privilege of having two exceptional people in my life; my daughter Laura and my life partner, Juli. I LOVE them both so much.
16) When and where were you happiest?
When I am in the company of the people I love and good friends.
17) Which talent would you most like to have?
One day, I would like to learn how to play musical instrument, such as a guitar or the piano.
18) If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Well, I am learning to be more decisive, be less of a procrastinator and try not to be such a hoarder. Every day is a challenge.
19) What do you consider your greatest achievement?
That I am a loving parent who has successfully raising a responsible adult.
20) If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
I honestly can’t fathom to idea of being someone or something else. One thing is certain; not as a lobster. PLEASE!
21) Where would you most like to live?
Anywhere my partner Juli happens to be.
22) What is your most treasured possession?
The love I feel for Juli and Laura. It is greater than any physical possession I have. (Except for those 1966 copies of Justice League of America, numbers 46 and 47.)
23) What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Being depressed, mainly about my own state of mind or being worried about my country and our world.
24) What is your favorite occupation?
While I love my current occupation as a bookseller, I would gladly trade it in to be a full time, professional writer.
25) What is your most marked characteristic?
My dry and somewhat caustic wit. And my big nose.
26) What do you most value in your friends?
Honesty, loyalty and Vernor’s Ginger Ale..
27) Who are your favorite writers?
Harlan Ellison, Rita Mae Brown, Octavia Butler, William Shakespeare, William Goldman, Aaron Sorkin, Elmore Leonard, Dashiell Hammett, Gregory McDonald, Raymond Chandler, Rex Stout, Jack Vance, Jim Bouton, Theodore Sturgeon, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Robert A. Heinlein, Leonard Maltin, Kage Baker, Kij Johnson Nnedi Okorafor, Lois McMaster Bujold, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Alfred Bester and Alice Sheldon (James Tiptree, Jr.) .
28) Who is your hero of fiction?
I tend to gravitate towards film characters than literary ones. Lately I have been drawn to Max Rockatansky and Imperator Furiosa, the haunting main characters of Mad Max – Fury Road.
29) Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Until Lin Manuel-Miranda enlightened us all about the life of Alexander Hamilton, I wouldn’t have an answer to this question.
30) Who are your heroes in real life?
Teachers, cops, fire fighters and all other first responders. They should be the most respected and highest paid workers in America.
31) What are your favorite names?
Laura and Juli, of course.
32) What is it that you most dislike?
Arrogance, avarice and dishonesty are at the top of my list, especially if that person happens to be an elected servant of the people.
33) What is your greatest regret?
That I spent nearly forty years wondering if I could be a writer instead of BEING a writer.
34) How would you like to die?
Quietly, of old age if at all possible, watching Casablanca or 2001, A Space Odyssey. Otherwise, it should be in a spectacular fashion, with tons of spectacle.
35) What is your motto?
“No Surrender, No Retreat.”
With MANY THANKS to Vanity Fair magazine.