Recently one of my Facebook friends has been posting snippets from the Proust questionnaire on her wall. Seeing these got me thinking about my own answers.
Quick fact – Marcel Proust did not actually write these questions, as many believe, but penned his responses to a character-assessment interview from an an English confession-album when he was a teenager. Much later, the manuscript of his answers to these questions was sold at auction for a pretty penny and ever since then, his name has been inextricably connected to the questionnaire format.
I’ve always loved reading the back page of Vanity Fair with these questions with their clever caricature cartoons. Whenever I do any air travel, that magazine is my go-to plane reading.
Since I do not have a cartoonist available, I leave you with a photograph that I feel embodies me, in my youth and today. Quintessential Frances, and my Proustian answers…..
What is your current state of mind?
A touch agitated, in need of a snack, a raise and a cleaning lady.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A room full of flowers with which to play, cake to eat with no fear of fatness and a life with absolutely no deadlines or budgets to comply with.
What is your greatest fear?
Being stuck with many lifetimes with my father ahead of me.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Marie Antoinette with a touch of Joan of Arc.
Which living person do you most admire?
His Holiness Radhanath Swami.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My wicked combination of self-loathing and petty vanity.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Spinelessness and moral weakness.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Shopping at Whole Foods twice a week and never a batting an eye about spending money on delicious healthy food and excellent dark chocolate.
What do you most value in your friends?
Their sweet tolerance of my wildness and flakiness.
What is your favorite journey?
The cliff walk in Small Point, Maine, where I summered as a child.
What is your most treasured possession?
My chapel-length wedding veil from 1917.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Good handwriting and niceness.
On what occasion do you lie?
When I’m bored in conversation and don’t feel like explaining myself.
Which living person do you most despise?
All the rich old men in government and big business who don’t give a damn about people’s suffering or basic human rights.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My hardcore, big-hearted, devoted husband Thaddeus.
When and where were you happiest?
In the Rockies, whenever the first snow falls.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Longer thinner legs and better organizational skills.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
So far, my self-extraction from the shackles of substance abuse using simply my stubborn will and yoga practice.
If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
One thing? Jeez! More love, less selfishness. More honesty, less complacency.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Helplessness and voicelessness against violence and human cruelty.
What is your favorite occupation?
Making a tasty mess in the kitchen with an abundance of ingredients while listening to girly tunes.
What is your most marked characteristic?
A flair for the dramatic and a penchant for wearing too much fine jewelry for normal occasions.
Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Celia from The Night Circus. I want to be her.
How would you like to die?
Old, content and Self-realized.
What is your motto?
Love and Bouncies!