What a fluid transition from Bieber to Proust.
Close friends to my perman-friend delivered a small multifaceted gift box to us three weeks ago. Inside the box, we found salt and pepper shakers unapologetically labeled “Heroin” and “Cocaine,” and a big burgundy book adorned by gold scriptures of the Assouline variety, titled “The Proust Questionnaire.” A long time admirer of Marcel Proust, I couldn’t chalk up my fixation to much more than burning jealously–for he was born in Paris, after all–and sweeping emasculation: will anything comparable to In Search of Lost Time ever exist in both length and substance? Sure, I had heard of The Proust Questionnaire, if not because I studied literature than certainly because I am an avid Vanity Fair reader.
But when I opened the burgundy hardcover and found what seemed like the very familiar answers of Proust to a questionnaire that he’s become so widely recognized for popularizing, an obvious, albeit self indulgent, urge to answer the questions personally attacked me too. I flipped through the pages and learned wildly intimate things about outstanding individuals who had previously seemed so remote.
Brigitte Bardot wished to be a fairy if she were not herself. Alain de Botton’s favorite name is Eloise (he also have the same birthday as me,) and Diane von Furstenberg’s heroines of fiction are all mothers.
In my answering of the questions–I would like to die while buying expensive shoes at age 101, my idea of misery is perpetual entrapment in my thoughts, my idea of happiness is a glass of wine and good conversation with my parents, grandparents, brothers and husband and my present state of mind goes, what is life if not a celebration, and what is celebration if not for life?–I was forced to reflect on that which had seemed so distantly foreign. Ultimately, I learned how wholly and closely these answers manifest within me.
I now urge all of you to take a look at the Proust Questionnaire, re-purposed below, and to share in the comment whatever answers you’d like to. It is unassumingly therapeutic to project such raw honesty.
Your favorite virtue.
Your favorite qualities in a man.
Your favorite qualities in a woman.
Your favorite occupation.
Your chief characteristic.
Your idea of happiness.
Your idea of misery.
Your favorite color and flower.
If not yourself, who would you be?
Where would you like to live?
Your favorite prose authors.
Your favorite poets.
Your favorite painters and composers.
Your favorite heroes in real life.
Your favorite heroines in real life.
Your favorite heroes in fiction.
Your favorite heroines in fiction.
Your favorite food and drink.
Your favorite names.
Your pet aversion.
What characters in history do you most dislike?
What is your present state of mind?
For what fault have you most toleration?
Your favorite motto.
And though it’s been removed, I think it is considerably enlightening to think about how you would die if the option were yours. If you’ve already answered these questions, do it again! Revisiting Proust is never a bad idea.