And I’m back. On a day I’m not hungover in Spain and with my answers to the Proust Questionnaire though I’ve been reading Rimbaud all day.
(Let’s just mix Proust and Rimbaud today. Here’s a photo of me in Paris in 2010.)
Proust didn’t invent the questionnaire but he did answer the questions in a confession album/confession book. Twice, in fact. In 1886 and 1891. A confession album being a type of parlor game Victorians were into. But really, who knows how honest any of them were. My aim here is honesty.
1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being in love, making art, and not having a job.
2. What is your greatest fear?
3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
How stubborn I am to try something new in my life as opposed to in my poetry.
4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Feeling sorry for one’s self.
5. Which living person do you most admire?
I try not to have heroes or role models.
6. What is your greatest extravagance?
Living in New York City and being a poet.
7. What is your current state of mind?
8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Being diplomatic. But of the classic 7 heavenly virtues, temperance.
9. On what occasion do you lie?
When I don’t want someone to feel embarrassed by something they can’t control or are already aware of.
10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
Not being taller.
11. Which living person do you most despise?
12. What is the quality you most like in a man?
Confidence and mental strength.
13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Confidence and irreverence.
14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Always and never. Both are unconvincing.
15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
16. When and where were you happiest?
Alone in the Maldives for 17 days last year. I was happy. Not sure anyone can know when they were happiest. Memory changes with time.
17. Which talent would you most like to have?
I’ve often wanted to sing / be in a band.
18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I wouldn’t be a poet.
19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
Next time I’d like to be much stupider, simpler, and insanely wealthy.
21. Where would you most like to live?
If not New York, London.
22. What is your most treasured possession?
I don’t think about things that way. But I like my signed first edition of Truman Capote’s Music for Chameleons because it was given to me by a friend and it helped me creatively.
23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Having to sell your time on Earth doing something you don’t want to do.
24. What is your favorite occupation?
I like writing and reading but I like writing more than reading yet I do it less.
25. What is your most marked characteristic?
I know what I want.
26. What do you most value in your friends?
They don’t let me get away with bullshit.
27. Who are your favorite writers?
I will read anything Bret Easton Ellis writes.
28. Who is your hero of fiction?
Odysseus. (Endurance. Mental strength. Plus he was hot.)
29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Not sure there is one specifically but probably artists who were generally misunderstood and not appreciated in their time due to politics, lack of taste, or various other reasons that had nothing to do with their work.
30. Who are your heroes in real life?
I don’t like having heroes.
31. What are your favorite names?
Sebastian and Francesca. I also like Lucas or Luke.
32. What is it that you most dislike?
Not being free to do what I want with my day for any reason.
33. What is your greatest regret?
Being a poet.
34. How would you like to die?
35. What is your motto?
Do what you want.
#9 - This is a perfect, compassionate answer and I love it.
#20 - Absolutely. Cannot wait to be a wealthy simpleton in my next life.
AD, you are so clever and smart and brilliantly protect your heart, mind & gentle sensitivity with the articulate armor that is your intelligence and wicked wit. Bravo! Music for Chameleons is one of my favorite books, too. If you have not read Capote’s Children On Their Birthdays I will find a copy for you to add to your collection. See you on 27 March at your reading at Albertine.