I think the last time I thought about this was in 2009; five years later, both parents and my dog having died in the meantime, seems a good place to update.

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Still: walking on the beach at Jekyll Island, and photographing outdoors. Also: Expecting nothing other than that the rug will be pulled out.

2. What is your greatest fear?
Pretty much the same as five years ago: Violent death for me, my dog, other loved ones. Having the choice of killing someone else or being killed.  Rape. Dental work.

3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Desire for pleasure and aversion to pain. These lead to most violent actions.

4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Contempt. Flattery. Manipulation. Sureness of one’s rightness. Inability to move beyond the past. Victimhood.

5. Which living person do you most admire?
No one in particular comes to mind. Someone with balance, grace, who listens fully and without expectation. Someone without preconceptions even about that with which they are most familiar. Someone with clarity of heart and mind.

6. What is your greatest extravagance?
The same as five years ago: Not having to work for money.

7. What is your current state of mind?
Calm, open.

8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Still: Being busy, efficient, productive.

9. On what occasion do you lie?
To spare feelings, to avoid consequences.

10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
Still: My stomach, since I was a child.

11. Which living person do you most despise?
Still: No one. There are behaviours and attitudes I wish were extinct: anything deriving from groupthink and mob behaviour, animal cruelty and neglect, the urge to revenge, appropriated grief, manufactured drama.

12. What is the quality you most like in a man?
Knows how to fix things. Resourceful. Resilient.  Makes me laugh. Lacks bitterness. Gentle.

13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Listens well. Makes me laugh. Gentle. Affectionate.

14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I complain too much, using various words and phrases.

15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
The natural world, ocean, beach, sun, sky. …”Start seeing everything as God, / But keep it a secret.” – Hafiz

16. When and where were you happiest?
One instance: With two friends (c. 2005) having dinner and talking, so simpatico, one long evening in Maine.

17. Which talent would you most like to have?
The talent to put people at their ease, to ease suffering and anxiety.

18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would be more loving. I would be able to fly. I would be able to understand all animal languages, including human ones. I would be able to narrow selections down to “one thing” instead of a handful (not).

19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
This: “To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.” — Brenda Ueland

20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
Still: I hope this won’t happen, but if it does, maybe a grain of sand.

21. Where would you most like to live?
Near the beach and ocean. In a small house that’s just big enough.

22. What is your most treasured possession?
Health, true friends.

23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
To witness an animal harmed. To see one’s own violence (rivalry, mimesis, envy, hatred, desire) in someone else without recognising it.

24. What is your favorite occupation?
Looking and recording.

25. What is your most marked characteristic?

26. What do you most value in your friends?
Casual affection, not easily offended or hurt, forgiveness, attentiveness, benign and steadfast interest in others, few complaints, silliness. Wholeheartedness. Insight.

27. Who are your favorite writers?
Mostly poets. “When I speak of poetry I am not thinking of it as a genre. Poetry is an awareness of the world, a particular way of relating to reality.” — Andrei Tarkovsky

28. Who is your hero of fiction?
Maybe (anti-hero) Greg House from the TV show House MD. Or maybe his friend James Wilson.

29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
I don’t know much about historical figures. Probably a writer or poet, maybe Virginia Woolf.

30. Who are your heroes in real life?
Heroes don’t appeal to me.

31. What are your favorite names?
Sallie, Lucy, Zoe, Gemma, Pippa.

32. What is it that you most dislike?
Driving in snow and ice. Talking on the phone. Finding hidden meat in restaurant fish or vegetable dishes.

33. What is your greatest regret?
Not buying spouse’s parents’ condo on Jekyll Island when we could have.

34. How would you like to die?
Still: Painlessly, happily, with a feeling of peace and well-being. Or: “I’d rather die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like his passengers.”

35. What is your motto?
“I began to understand
how a poem can happen: you have your eye on a small
elusive detail, pursuing its music, when a terrible truth
strikes and your heart cries out, being carried off.” — from “Detail,” by Eamon Grennan


One thought on “Proust Questionnaire updated

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