The Proust Questionnaire
I had a lot of fun answering questions from the proust questionnaire.
If you want a survey that helps you “know thyself” try these 35 questions below.
After I completed my responses, I asked my brother Andrew to answer the questions privately then give me a call. He and I have never discussed Proust, nor these Q’s directly, and did not know each other’s answers.
I thought it would be a good idea to record our conversation to share as a podcast and for us to look back on as we age. It also allows anyone who is interested, more insight, context, and nuance into the answers themselves.
Here is what I wrote (with some elaboration marked by sections in parentheses*) in prep for this call.
1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
2. What is your greatest fear?
3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Capacity for nihilism.
(Note: I am extremely optimistic! My answer to this question simply reveals a vulnerable / basic human characteristic :-) Essentially, from time to time, I question myself, my ideas, actions, and pursuits. If you do not do this, I don’t believe you! : ) I am very happy, and operate daily from a place of gratitude and ambition to make a positive difference! — Listen to the audio if you want more context on this Q.)
4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
5. Which living person do you most admire?
6. What is your greatest extravagance?
7. What is your current state of mind?
8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
9. On what occasion do you lie?
Not sure. When I am scared. (My brother gives a better response about “not appearing ignorant, and thus preserving one’s own reputation.)
10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
11. Which living person do you most despise?
Trump be he.
12. What is the quality you most like in a man?
13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Epic. Fundamental. Articulation.
15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
(Abstractly) My art. (Concretely, my family.)
16. When and where were you happiest?
When I am learning/creating.
17. Which talent would you most like to have?
Engineering or design.
18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My mind. (Listen to the audio for context :-) I do not think I am a genius nor that I am any more intelligent than any of you. I do however, celebrate my perspective, which was cultivated through years of education, introspection, and action. I for one, grew up in a town of 350 people in the middle of nowhere in northern Michigan. (Hint: Not the most progressive, liberal, intellectually curious, artistic, values-driven, entrepreneurial, creative environment.) Today, I am as far removed from that psychology as humanly possible. That took time and deliberate education + self-study/self-improvement to replace.)
20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
Music. (Bring me back as Mahler 5 ;)
21. Where would you most like to live?
22. What is your most treasured possession?
My ideas. (Again, not trying to be pretentious! Ideas are what make me happy :-) Material objects just don’t mean as much to me (although I love having a roof over my head, comfortable shoes, great food, excellent coffee, etc) they wouldn’t be as meaningful in the grand scheme of things as my relationships, ideas or art.
23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
24. What is your favorite occupation?
Artist or architect. (Listen to audio for full context :-)
25. What is your most marked characteristic?
26. What do you most value in your friends?
27. Who are your favorite writers?
Boethius, Lucretius, Plato, Seneca, Lao Tzu. (Among many others mentioned in the podcast.)
28. Who is your hero of fiction?
A philosopher king.
29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
An outcast. (I didn’t have an exact historical figure. I don’t have the audacity to compare my life to many of the folks I truly admire.)
30. Who are your heroes in real life?
My mom, brother, and dad.
31. What are your favorite names?
32. What is it that you most dislike?
Illness / sickness.
33. What is your greatest regret?
I don’t have one.
34. How would you like to die?
35. What is your motto?
Change the way people THINK, change the world.
A tweet from 2016.