Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Proust Questionnaire

It is widely acknowledged that adding one’s mom on Facebook can bring nothing but gloom and anxiety. That axiom was momentarily proved wrong when my mother shared the Proust Questionnaire. Needless to say, I didn’t know who Proust was or why we should bother about some questionnaire bearing his name. A quick search on Wiki revealed that Marcel Proust was a French author of great renown who had filled a questionnaire twice in his lifetime (a common trend in those times) and the difference in his answers showed how his thought processes had changed with his life’s experiences.

A quick look at how Proust had answered made me cynically suspect that it was a clever attempt at impressing the ladies. However I have to grudgingly accept that as far as attempts at self-discovery go, there is a point in answering such questions and then look at them some time from now to see how things change. So I have boldly decided to pull a Proust. For some reason there is a mild difference in the two sets answered by Proust and I took the liberty of merging them.

While at first glance the questions seemed to border on the trivial, they were surprisingly difficult to answer. At the end I was left with a depressing feeling of a complete lack of depth on what I know about myself and the world. It’s obvious that more effort needs to be invested in the right pursuits.

It is highly advisable not to read Proust’s own elegant replies before one attempts the questionnaire as it is bound to influence how one may answer. So here are my own answers.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Inability to communicate.

Where would you like to live?
A country with no little guys.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Happiness is hypothetical.

To what faults do you feel most indulgent?
Faults which make life more amusing.

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?
Edmond Dantes, Howard Roark and Bertie Wooster. Anyone who knows exactly what he wants.

Who are your favorite characters in history?
Alexander for setting the benchmark so high on what one man can achieve.
Ashoka for symbolizing everything my country should be about.
Che for walking the talk.
Gandhi for his utterly brilliant and sometimes exceedingly cunning politics.
FDR for showing how anything is possible.

Who are your favorite heroines in real life?
All single mothers.

Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?
Any character which forces me to imagine in painstaking detail how they may have looked like.

Your favorite painter?

Your favorite musician?
Hans Zimmer and The Beatles

The quality you most admire in a man?
Loyalty, courage, zeal

The quality you most admire in a woman?
Patience, tenderness, spirited

Your favorite virtue?

Your favorite occupation?

Who would you have liked to be?
Who but me again. But perhaps a bit leaner and more aware would be good.

What do you most value in your friends?
Loyalty and frankness

What is your principle defect?

What is your favorite color?
Anything which occurs in nature.

What is your favorite flower?
Depends whom I am getting it for.

What is your favorite bird?
The eagle

Who are your favorite prose writers?
Wodehouse and Dickens

Who are your favorite poets?
I have read too little to decide but I always liked Tagore.

What are your favorite names?
The one which is whispered.

What is it you most dislike?
Arrogance and disloyalty.

What historical figures do you most despise?
Churchill, Mir Jafar and General Dwyer.

What event in military history do you most admire?
War of 1971.

What natural gift would you most like to possess?
Discipline and charisma

How would you like to die?
Without pain and with a smug look.

What is your present state of mind?
Lazy and disorganized.

What is your motto?
Failure is acceptable but not regrets.