With a nod and a bow to Proust

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.

  1. What do you consider the lowest depth of misery? Being utterly alone. Quite distinct from blessed solitude.
  2. When and where were you happiest? Meeting Lady R and courting her.
  3. Where would you like to live? Where I am now, though we’re also dreaming of moving up the coast, soon as we can.
  4. What is your favorite occupation? Writing.
  5. What are your most marked characteristics? Let’s start with quirkiness.
  6. 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.
  7. What do you most value in your friends? Reliability.
  8. 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.
  9. How would you like to die? With the least inconvenience to those around me.
  10. 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?


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