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The Proust Questionnaire - click opera
February 2010
 
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Thu, May. 25th, 2006 05:11 am
The Proust Questionnaire

On the occasion of my return from America to Europe, I decided, just for fun, but as sincerely as possible, to answer the Questionnaire Marcel Proust administered to himself at the age of 13.



1. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
PROUST (aged 13): To be separated from Mama.
MOMUS: To lose any sense of one's own value, and the world's.

2. Where would you like to live?
PROUST (aged 13): In the country of the Ideal, or, rather, of my ideal.
MOMUS: Tokyo.

3. What is your idea of earthly happiness?
PROUST (aged 13): To live in contact with those I love, with the beauties of nature, with a quantity of books and music, and to have, within easy distance, a French theater.
MOMUS: Having my back scratched. Possibly in a house designed for me by Atelier Bow Wow, but it's not crucial.


4. To what faults do you feel most indulgent?
PROUST (aged 13): To a life deprived of the works of genius.
MOMUS: Sartorial eccentricity, sexual perversity, popinjay pretension and the generous side of exoticization.

5. Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?
PROUST (aged 13): Those of romance and poetry, those who are the expression of an ideal rather than an imitation of the real.
MOMUS: Sherlock Holmes, Tintin, Don Quixote, Tristram Shandy, Mr Palomar, Marco Polo.

6. Who are your favorite characters in history?
PROUST (aged 13): A mixture of Socrates, Pericles, Mahomet, Pliny the Younger and Augustin Thierry.
MOMUS: Siddhartha Gotama, Sei Shonagon and Epicurus.

7. Who are your favorite heroines in real life?
PROUST (aged 13): A woman of genius leading an ordinary life.
MOMUS: Japanese art and design students.

8. Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?
PROUST (aged 13): Those who are more than women without ceasing to be womanly; everything that is tender, poetic, pure and in every way beautiful.
MOMUS: The Bilitis of Pierre Louÿs and the Juliette of Shakespeare.

9. Your favorite painter?
PROUST (aged 13): Meissonier.
MOMUS: Paul Klee.

10. Your favorite musician?
PROUST (aged 13): Mozart.
MOMUS: John Cage.

11. The quality you most admire in a man?
PROUST (aged 13): Intelligence, moral sense.
MOMUS: Compassionate thoughtfulness.

12. The quality you most admire in a woman?
PROUST (aged 13): Gentleness, naturalness, intelligence.
MOMUS: Refined playfulness.

13. Your favorite virtue?
PROUST (aged 13): All virtues that are not limited to a sect: the universal virtues.
MOMUS: Remaining interested in things. I mean the right things, not sweepstakes sudoku.

14. Your favorite occupation?
PROUST (aged 13): Reading, dreaming, and writing verse.
MOMUS: Bathing in a Japanese hot spring.

15. Who would you have liked to be?
PROUST (aged 13): Since the question does not arise, I prefer not to answer it. All the same, I should very much have liked to be Pliny the Younger.
MOMUS: If I'm allowed to be a god, then Amaterasu, the Japanese sun goddess. If I have to be a man, Li Po. But I can think of few lives better than the one I've had as Momus.

28CommentReplyShare



(Anonymous)
Thu, May. 25th, 2006 10:27 am (UTC)

I used to think like you Nick.


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maestrozen
maestrozen
maestrozen
Thu, May. 25th, 2006 11:05 am (UTC)

It seems the young Proust was a very sad little man.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, May. 25th, 2006 11:11 am (UTC)
nothing wrong with

sweepstake sudoku


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(Anonymous)
Thu, May. 25th, 2006 11:16 am (UTC)
Re: nothing wrong with

...but is it art? :o


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(Anonymous)
Thu, May. 25th, 2006 12:29 pm (UTC)
no,

I just thought it was the little things.


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atarashi
atarashi
atarashi
Thu, May. 25th, 2006 11:50 am (UTC)
i had to memorise Li Po poems when i was a kid

i still remember this one:



(to be read left to right, row by row, instead of right to left column by column)

why Li Po, by the way?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, May. 25th, 2006 12:43 pm (UTC)
Re: i had to memorise Li Po poems when i was a kid

Good poems, good beard, good hairstyle. And how could you not love a man who "is said to have drowned in the Yangtze River, having fallen from his boat while drunkenly trying to embrace the reflection of the moon"?


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(Anonymous)
Thu, May. 25th, 2006 01:26 pm (UTC)
Re: i had to memorise Li Po poems when i was a kid

Li Bai/Po/Rihaku I totally understand. I think I have dreamt that dream once or twice.
But I would love to hear you elaborate on Ameterasu. I always found Susanowo too a bit scary, and staying in the cave wouldn't have been much fun.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, May. 25th, 2006 01:40 pm (UTC)

'Here we part, friend, once and forever.
You go ten thousand miles away...
(from memory)


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akabe
akabe
alin huma
Thu, May. 25th, 2006 04:57 pm (UTC)

ewig, ewig. always been curious about this. finally got around to it thanks to this post


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eptified
eptified
H. Duck
Thu, May. 25th, 2006 06:13 pm (UTC)
Re: i had to memorise Li Po poems when i was a kid


I have an odd feeling that I've mentioned this on click opera before, but Tawada Yoko in an anthology (which is I believe called Holidays in Europe) tells the story of Li Po drowning in a tremendously beautiful way. Her playfulness is more animal than refined but none the less awesome for it. Dig her!

Also I would hesitate to be Amaterasu, if only because you'd have to deal with being a political stooge. How does a goddess deal with the fact that her creation myth was ginned up to give a certain tribe spiritual authority over the tribes of Japan to go with their newfound temporal authority? It probably leads to nagging self-doubt.


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bklyndispatch
bklyndispatch
in exile
Thu, May. 25th, 2006 01:10 pm (UTC)

i think you have (re)started a very old meme here.


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reflejos
reflejos
erasmo spicker
Thu, May. 25th, 2006 04:03 pm (UTC)
Momus

By some discussion in my blog I was guided to re-visit the page I made as Momus's greatest blogging hits:
http://www.monadas.net/momus/
It covers just a year of blogging. ¿Any of you have a personal favorite?
(The domain name: monadas, is the spanish word for monades, Leibniz's concept of the individual that is also a reflection of the whole)
Today's entry should come in the category: momus about momus.


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cityramica
cityramica
cityramica
Thu, May. 25th, 2006 04:14 pm (UTC)

you rather resemble your fictional heroes.
that was nice to read. It made me picture you as either very young [like Proust] or on the brink of death. Perhaps each in turn because you feel in this self-interview/meme to be a very innocent, whistful, and idealistic in a way that children [pre-adultifying tremors & traumas] and the dying [in the thoughtful life-span reminiscence and acceptance phase] appear.

"Refined playfulness." I like that a lot. Could you offer an example?

Have a safe trip home, Nick.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, May. 25th, 2006 08:14 pm (UTC)
broken english

i was just wondering if you speak perfect english when speaking english with asian friends. one of my best friends is thai, + while she speaks very decent english, she often leaves out plurals, articles + sometimes words altogether. we're close so i usually know what shes talking about but i talk to same way to her, in broken english. its partly because precise grammar will confuse her when we're talking casually + i figure i should just have her understand. and partly i do it because i enjoy saying "i open for you" rather than "i'll open that for you." just wondering people's opinions.

i can see how from a third party this would seem obnoxious + ridiculous. or pejorative to the asian trying to master english.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, May. 25th, 2006 09:39 pm (UTC)
Re: broken english

I do find myself slipping into "Jinglish" with my Japanese friends, yes. You get a sense of what they will and won't understand, and speak a Japanese-friendly English. Which probably helps when it comes to learning Japanese too...


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cityramica
cityramica
cityramica
Thu, May. 25th, 2006 10:25 pm (UTC)
Re: broken english

i start dropping my L's for R's. As in, "Rearry?"
Totally involuntary and a very pesky habit.
Start putting "ne?" at the end of everything too.


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zzberlin
zzberlin
hh
Thu, May. 25th, 2006 08:50 pm (UTC)
Head of Some Guy

9. Your favorite painter?
MOMUS: Paul Klee.
HARRIET: Me too!

11. The quality you most admire in a man?
MOMUS: Compassionate thoughtfulness.

12. The quality you most admire in a woman?
MOMUS: Refined playfulness.

I think my answers to numbers 11 and 12 would be the same quality. But things were different in Proust's day, I suppose.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, May. 25th, 2006 09:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Head of Some Guy

I think my answers to numbers 11 and 12 would be the same quality. But things were different in Proust's day, I suppose.

Well, I'm resistant to the erosion of differences, cultural differences or gender differences. I think listing the same qualities for men and women might well qualify as Procrustean Seeing.


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zzberlin
zzberlin
hh
Thu, May. 25th, 2006 10:01 pm (UTC)
Unity's no fun

<< The trouble is, Procrustean Seeing is Panglossian. Like Dr Pangloss, it prefers to put its head in the clouds and see universal unity. >>

I see your point. I am not one to do away with useful distinctions! But still, my most admired quality in other people, whether male or female, is competence. For me, for this question, I see no distinction between the sexes. But that's just me!


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nato_dakke
nate
Fri, May. 26th, 2006 02:35 am (UTC)
Re: Head of Some Guy

Is that to say that if a man had those traits you want in women you wouldnt admire him? I think what you and Proust are doing, reasonably so, is using different kinds of admirations.
I want different traits in my political leaders, and heavy thinkers than I want from the girl I spend my naked sunday mornings with. However I would still admire a woman who posessed the traits I'd like in a leader, I just wouldnt (neccesarily) want to get intimate with her.
So maybe it's more procrustean to break humanity into genders but not into its relations to you, the individual. I don't want all women to be "fuckable", but I do want all the women I fuck to be "fuckable".


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nato_dakke
nate
Fri, May. 26th, 2006 02:43 am (UTC)
Re: Head of Some Guy

the implication of course being that if I were to want all women to be fuckable that I would have no attainable position for them other than that of "fucked by me".


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jermynsavile
jermynsavile
jermynsavile
Fri, May. 26th, 2006 12:11 am (UTC)

"Sartorial eccentricity, sexual perversity, popinjay pretension and the generous side of exoticization." First thing that I can, for a while, wholeheartedly sign up to!

Look forward to your reports on returning to Berlin. Maybe it's something about the location but the NY art stuff leaves me fairly cold.


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hello_mike
Mike
Fri, May. 26th, 2006 12:57 am (UTC)

I (aged 9 or so) found a copy of The Complete Sherlock Holmes, which was ridiculously thick, smelled wonderful, and had 1200 or so pages of small text on thin old bookishly-yellow paper.

It was wonderful.

Proust perhaps should have spent more time on his bicycle.


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myrtle_stars
myrtle_stars
Fri, May. 26th, 2006 01:53 pm (UTC)

haha. I just saw this, and his later questionnaire, in my development of European English Class. That cat was tres way smarter then most people my age and older at the very young age of 13. Your answers are quite interesting as well. :) For ex. I dig the thought of aspiring to become one who exercises "refined playfulness."

Thank you for reminding me about this questionnaire.


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Jun. 9th, 2006 04:48 am (UTC)
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