The Proust Questionnaire is named after Marcel Proust – the writer. The list of questions was not created by him, but popularized by his answers and eventually resurrected as a common interview guide. I collect questions as a hobby, and these are great additions.
As an exercise in writing, and in thinking, I’ll provide my answers here. I hope you enjoy what I have to say.
1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
You know what they say about happiness not being a destination, but it’s a means of travel – and I like that idea a lot. I choose to be happy, and that’s perfect. That being said, time spent with friends comes pretty close to perfect happiness.
2. What is your greatest fear?
Rejection and isolation. Not being connected to others. This is a very deep question.
3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
It doesn’t take hold very often – but I hate the feeling of being critical towards others. Everyone is fighting a battle, and trying their best. And, I think, being critical of others only comes out when we are really mad at ourselves.
4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Selfishness, and being inconsiderate of others. I guess, that is because, it is a quality that I would hate to see in myself.
5. Which living person do you most admire?
I really don’t have one person that I look up to or admire. But, I do have lots of “virtual mentors” that have inspired my over the years. Also, inevitably, if you admire someone too greatly, you will eventually be disappointed by them.
6. What is your greatest extravagance?
I’m willing to spend lots of money on high quality food. Fine dining and fancy eating can cost a lot of money here in New York City.
7. What is your current state of mind?
Optimistic and hopeful.
8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Patience is overrated. I put a higher priority on having a strong sense of urgency. Life is too short.
9. On what occasion do you lie?
Only when I let fear take hold. Honesty is among the highest of virtues.
10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
It’s what is on the inside that counts. But I am always trying to pack on some extra muscle too.
11. Which living person do you most despise?
I don’t have time for hate.
12. What is the quality you most like in a person?
13. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Recycling words, cliches, and catchphrases is a rut that’s easy to get stuck in. It might be filler words like “uhm”, “ya know,” or “right” (I’m guilty of all three). “Like I said…” is another that’s hard to listen to. Maybe in the future, AI can listen to us all day, and give us a weekly digest of how to improve our speech along with a list of overused phrases.
These are my answers, and I hope they help you get a better idea of who I am. One of the most interesting applications of these queries is in fiction writing, to help build realistic characters. Creating worlds with living identities is an art, and characterization questionnaires are a helpful tool in adding depth.
I plan to continually return to this post and update my answers over time.