Readers of Vanity Fair magazine may be catching a similarity between its back-of-the-issue Proust Questionnaire each month and many of my Tendrils postings this year. One difference is that when interviewing a chosen celebrity figure, each question gets a single answer, while Tendrils, with its listings of ten items, demands a full count on both hands, one-two-three on to one-zero.
The questionnaire itself, attributed to French author Marcel Proust (1871-1922), became a popular “confession album,” a kind of Victorian parlor game. When published by his son-in-law, the French president, it was subtitled “an album to record thoughts, feelings, etc.”
Frankly, they’re usually difficult for me to tackle. More personal than I usually navigate. But doing them as an exercise for Tendrils has had me reviewing much of my life from a fresh perspective, and maybe also is giving you a better idea of what makes me tick.
Still, some of them haven’t prompted a full ten responses from me. Here are some examples.
- What do you consider the lowest depth of misery? Being utterly alone. Quite distinct from blessed solitude.
- When and where were you happiest? Meeting Lady R and courting her.
- Where would you like to live? Where I am now, though we’re also dreaming of moving up the coast, soon as we can.
- What is your favorite occupation? Writing.
- What are your most marked characteristics? Let’s start with quirkiness.
- If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? I’ve long admired hawks, but now eagles and osprey, more so.
- What do you most value in your friends? Reliability.
- If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? They’re incredible. If I could, I’d leave each of them with a billion to do with as they wish. The world would be much better for it.
- How would you like to die? With the least inconvenience to those around me.
- On what occasions do you lie? Half-truths, since I’m conflict-averse. That is, omissions, rather than commissions
Anyone up to answering one or all of these now?