Saturday, February 13, 2010

In 1892, Proust sailed the survey ocean blue

Oh man, have I got something epic for you. The very first official chain survey of any significance dates back to the 19th century. 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. It is, in essence, the most awesomest of awesome surveys ever devised. Vanity Fair uses this interview in almost every major interview they do, and James Lipton of Inside the Actors Studio rambles off a shortened version on his wonderful show. The basic Proust Questionnaire is below.

Disclaimer: I will attempt to answer these questions as honestly as possible without acting like a show pony. If and when a joke is inserted, it is only because it seemed appropriate at the time, not in order to amuse you. Let’s see my nature REVEALED! (magic!)

1.What is your idea of perfect happiness? A river cottage in upstate New York where I write my bestselling novels and play the part of sexy, gardening mom.

2.What is your greatest fear? Failure

3.What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Deplore is a strong word. I don’t know that I deplore anything about myself. I’d be my own friend. But I guess in some ways, my tendency to analyze and analyze and refuse to classify things as black or white (which also happens to be one of my favorite things about myself) can be somewhat debilitating when I’m trying to make a quick decision.

4.What is the trait you most deplore in others? Apathy and ignorance together are the perfect storm for me. I will give you a 20-yard stare until you are no longer in my presence. I’ve heard my looks of disgust are also fairly obvious.

5.Which living person do you most admire? Good question. What’s unusual about me is that I spend very little time admiring actual people, unless it is for something simple like managing to be hot and intelligent at the same time. I prefer to admire works in and of themselves, rather than the people that put them together. I guess I admire really talented writers the most, but the fact is that no one was able to do anything without the help of someone or something else.

6.What is your greatest extravagance? I tend to let myself go when it comes to being introverted. I forget to remind myself to do things that I need to do, because I’ve grown up with this idealistic view of what it is to enjoy life. I end up spending a lot of my time and energy cooking or sitting with a coffee and pondering ideals. If I were to cut that time in half and spend it working on my current stories in progress, I’d be done by now.

7.What is your current state of mind? Relaxed, but edgy. I’m very much aware that this is my Saturday to myself, and yet I slept through half of it, which makes me somewhat panicky that I wasted too much of it away. I’m not very good with down time, and I seldom know how to handle it properly.

8.What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Abstinence from sex.

9.On what occasion do you lie? When I haven’t sufficiently figured out how to handle the ramifications of telling the truth, which is a seldom case, but occurs from time to time. Usually I lie by keeping my mouth shut until I’m ready to debate.

10.What do you most dislike about your appearance? I wish I was taller with longer legs. I have a long torso that makes my legs look stumpy.

11.Which living person do you most despise? You know, I bet a lot of people would put down actors or rude people they know, but I have more of an issue with people that knowingly misuse their power. A lot of people out there aren’t intelligent enough to be fully aware of their power of influence, but those that are and misuse it (to me) are deplorable. Case in point: Bill O’Reilly

12.What is the quality you most like in a man? Variety. I feel like most positive traits that I would say (such as confidence, opinionated, being considerate, honest, romantic) have a breaking point. There’s always a tipping point where too much of a good thing turns into the reason I can’t stand you. I need a man that knows when enough is enough and can juggle several positive traits and interests.

13.What is the quality you most like in a woman? Camaraderie. People can say “everyone is an individual” as much as they want to, but there is a profound difference in the way women and men think. I really appreciate my female relationships, and I’m very much aware of the uniqueness of those feminine qualities.

14.Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I say Jesus Christ too much. I also say “sir” when I’m mad at someone, and I really like British slang, which makes me look like the biggest douchebag.

15.What or who is the greatest love of your life? Christopher is my greatest love, romantically. It’s sappy as hell to say that, but my favorite thing about him is that he challenges me in a lot of ways. I like a good challenge. Interestingly enough, my gut instinct answer to this question, however, was not a romantic one. I think it is naive to think that the only significant "great loves" in life are fulfilled by other people. That isn't always the case. I suppose my ‘what’ would be writing. It’s the only thing that makes any sense to me.

16.When and where were you happiest? I feel like it’s natural to pick a day with a big monumental event, or a day in our childhoods when we didn’t have any worries. It’s weird because the other day I was thinking that if someone asked me “what was the happiest day of your life,” they would be really disappointed in the answer. It was actually the day that I got my very last graded college paper back. It was actually sort of a sad moment, because I got an ‘A’ and got a lot of praise, but I was walking around campus to all of my favorite buildings and I was crying thinking about how much I love and would miss college and a structured learning environment. But at the same time I was incredibly comfortable and happy knowing that I knew who I was as a person. I’ve always been very proud of the fact that I’m comfortable with who I am and that I know very specifically what it is that makes me happy.

17.Which talent would you most like to have? I wish I had a more creative mind visually. I’m creative in very technical ways, but I have a hard time with original visual things.

18.If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I might tone down my cynicism. Working in newspapers has made that grow, and I used to be a much more trusting individual.

19.What do you consider your greatest achievement? I suppose it’s worth mentioning that I managed to become a newspaper editor by the age of 23, having had no previous experience a year and a half ago. I’m pretty proud of that. Mostly my greatest achievement is finding a way to make myself a writer. I think it takes a certain amount of bravery to follow your heart when you’re picking your career.

20.If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? I think it would be interesting to be a dolphin, and they’re intelligent beings that have sex for pleasure. Score.

21.Where would you most like to live? I don’t care much where I live. I care more about who is around me. I also actually enjoy the idea of moving a lot. I’ve always had a lot of conflicting desires and dreams, and I plan to live an abundance of lives in one. I suppose if I could have my family and friends nearby, a few of the places I would enjoy living for a while are Paris, Portland, San Francisco, New York City, Chicago, Denver, and DC.

22.What is your most treasured possession? Hmmm, I don’t really have one, which is strange because I have a lot of collections and trinkets and memory boxes that mean a lot to me. But I could live without all of them. I suppose I would say Lacie, my portable hard drive, because it has all my manuscripts and music on it.

23.What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Boredom

24.What is your favorite occupation? Writer

25.What is your most marked characteristic? My sense of humor is pretty recognizable.

26.What do you most value in your friends? Trust and reliability

27.Who are your favorite writers? Oh man… the golden question. Cormac McCarthy, Martin Amis, Ayn Rand, Dennis Potter, Paulo Coelho, Joyce Carol Oates, Dosteovsky, J.K. Rowling, and Roald Dahl are a few.

28.Who is your hero of fiction? I quite enjoy Equality 7-2521 from “Anthem.” I’ve read that book so many times, and that character has so much depth and feeling with so little time on the page. He epitomizes the human condition, which is exactly what fictional characters are supposed to do.

29.Which historical figure do you most identify with? I don’t identify with any that I can think of, just because we don’t hear about a historical figure’s past prior to achieving awesomeness. I think it’s safe to say that I have not achieved that level of prowess yet. But I do identify with Ayn Rand a lot in that she felt very “ahead” of cultural ideologies. She could feel them molding the world in a way that she didn’t approve of, and I can relate to that in a lot of ways. The only way she felt she could deal with it was to magnify her fears in the form of writing in order to force people to consider the consequences of their actions, or in many cases inactions. I can really identify with that feeling.

30.Who are your heroes in real life? I don't have heroes, but I have a newfound respect for my parents, who I am only just now getting to know from an adult perspective.

31.What are your favorite names? I really like William for boys. I like Emma for girls. I generally also like most reasonable unusual names, but that does not include celebrity made-up names.

32.What is it that you most dislike? Um. Spiders. And pubic hair that is not attached to a person.

33.What is your greatest regret? Not buying chocolate ice cream at the store a few days ago.

34.How would you like to die? Feeling fulfilled, and with dignity.

35.What is your motto? That mottos are limiting and gimmicky.

1 comment:

  1. Denver? you say? This was great Jana...love you:)

    ReplyDelete