The Proust Questionnaire

On wandering and lost conversations.

Do you have a minute to wander? How about an hour to stop, pause, reflect, and think? Take notebook, some scratch paper, a word-document (if you’re brave, and can trust yourself not to wander over to the vast glorious internet pages in the middle of a thought stream, then do it on some online forum–personally, I, at times, cannot trust myself to navigate the internet-world-of-focus, and thus devote my wanderings strictly to pen-and-paper, humoring myself in a cubby-hole in nature, watching in silence and thinking, speculating, pontificating. But already I digress).

If you don’t have an hour to wander, ask yourself for a few minutes: why not? What are you doing instead, and what is taking up the time? The best part(s) of my week are the four to ten hours I spend analyzing, reflecting, planning, and escaping the manic nature of the “doing” to think and observe on what I’m trying to achieve in the macro. Coupled with action is an ability to wander, explore, and lean into new realms first within your mind, and soon after, with action.

One of the things I’m noticing recently is that one of the worlds rapidly disappearing from our everyday experiences (and I vastly over-generalize), is that of extended, prolonged conversations. In a world of schedules, timely meetings, vapid amounts of computer use, and ample amounts of uni-directional screen time, I think we’re losing the ability to communicate effectively with our voices and noises. We are humans, prone to conversation, to the fluidity of the medium of both words and sound, of spoken and non-spoken language. When was the last time you lingered over a meal, spent time dallying in difficult realms, exposing the nuances of thought threads, braiding and unbraiding them together?

As a second follow-up to the last post about asking each other interesting questions, let’s borrow from a previous philosopher and scientists and thinker–Proust. The Proust Questionaire is a series of questions (of Confessions and Confidences) that the question-taker delighted in exploring. If you’ve got a moment, and a notebook, take time to ponder one (or more!) of the following questions.

The Proust Questionnaire.

The assignment: Answer the following questions, in a reflection session (1 hour?) or 30-minutes with your notebook.

If you’re feeling brave, send me your answers, or leave one answer to ONE of the questions in the comments below. I’d love to see the best of them–and if I get enough responses, I’ll follow up with a best-of post.

  1. Your favorite virtue
  2. Your favorite qualities in a man.
  3. Your favorite qualities in a woman.
  4. Your chief characteristic
  5. What you appreciate the most in your friends
  6. Your main fault
  7. Your favourite occupation.
  8. Your idea of happiness
  9. Your idea of misery.
  10. If not yourself, who would you be?
  11. Where would you like to live?
  12. Your favourite colour and flower.
  13. Your favorite prose authors.
  14. Your favorite poets.
  15. Your favorite heroes in fiction.
  16. Your favorite heroines in fiction.
  17. Your favorite painters and composers.
  18. Your heroes in real life.
  19. Your favorite heroines in real life.
  20. What characters in history do you most dislike.
  21. Your heroines in World history
  22. Your favorite food and drink.
  23. Your favorite names.
  24. What I hate the most.
  25. World history characters I hate the most
  26. The military event I admire the most
  27. The reform I admire the most
  28. The natural talent I’d like to be gifted with
  29. How I wish to die?
  30. What is your present state of mind.
  31. For what fault have you most toleration?
  32. Your favorite motto.

 Answer one and leave it in the comments!

If you'd like to get my blog posts by email, click here.

12 Responses to The Proust Questionnaire

  1. Rachel Smith says:

    9. Working in an 8-5 job and feeling “stuck”. THIS is pure misery (I’ve been there…but escaped, thank goodness).

  2. Teresa says:

    My main characteristic is whimsy.

  3. Krista says:

    #12: I love all colors – they are the lifeblood of our aesthetic experiences. I like them robust and vivid; rich in character and true to real life. I love the earthiness of rust and the depth of espresso; the vibrancy of celadon and burnt sienna; the delicate warmth of cream. (My least favorite colors are those that I feel lack “presence” or “substance” – mere whispers of the color world – that being the pastels, particularly the “feminine” ones: lavender and pale pink.) It can be said that my favorite flowers fall in line with the same adjectives I assign to “great” colors – I like my flowers bold, powerful, and with substance. I love dahlias, cockscomb, peonies and sunflowers. My least favorite? Roses and tulips, clearly. (And baby’s breath is an outright abomination.)

  4. Kay Gish says:

    1. Integrity – seems to be quite a shortage these days!!!!
    Rachel – we travel quite a bit. I love interviewing people. It is amazing how people open up while traveling. I guess it is a non- threatening environment.

  5. Tom Pryor says:

    My motto: Success is NOT logical. This is the secular version of my life verse, Romans 12:2.

  6. Matt says:

    32. Your favourite motto
    Never abandon your dreams just because someone not living theirs told you to.

    Closely followed by
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

  7. Matt says:

    Your favorite heroes in fiction.
    Logan Montstuart (Any Human Heart by William Boyd), Ender Wiggen (Ender series by Orson Scott Card), Peekay (Power of One by Bruce Courtenay)

    Your favorite heroines in fiction.
    Harriet the Spy, Hermione (Harry Potter), Matilda…I am a bit worried that all of these comes from Children’s lit…perhaps I need to read more fiction that features strong female characters.

  8. Cat says:

    I’ve been sitting on these for a while…
    #7 Story telling – telling them and collecting them
    #13 So many to chose from…Jane Austen; Roald Dahl; Dr Seus (though he could be fav poet) Jean. M Auel;
    #16 Ayla (from the Clan of the Cave Bear Series)
    #27 Favourite reform NZ leading the way in giving women the vote (FYI I am a proud Kiwi) and Kate Shepard is also one of my heroines in real life
    #32 My favourite motto(s) and both are mine;
    I am everything and everything is in me; followed closely by
    I’d rather be nuts than ‘normal’

  9. […] you to Sarah Kathleen Peck from It Starts With, who featured the Proust Questionnaire in a recent post and inspired me to try it again at this […]

  10. […] The Proust Questionnaire (I Recommend Everyone Do This) […]

  11. […] few months ago, one of my favorite bloggers, Sarah Kathleen Peck, wrote a blog post about The Proust Questionnaire, a series of introspective questions a young, pre-writer Marcel […]